I am a Bsc in computer Science ( 2002) and a SCJP 1.4 since last february. My first contact with java as a student was in 1999 and since then I have never stopped reading and practising my skills. I have very broad java knowledge and now I am preparing for the SCWCD. For the last 6 years I have been working as an IT specialist for a local authority organization, but only in the last 8 months I have been used as a java programmer. Since then I created a distributed application with Swing, JDBC and Access, built a knwoledge base for officers of the local authority and IT people, and been looking after the intranet databases. My problem is: I want a new job as a java developer/programmer but I can't quantify how much experience I have. Shall I count only the 8 months I have been working day in day out in java ? or should I include all this years as a student and the time I have spend studying for the SCJP exams ? Please help.
Well, you could give them both. Distinguish between 'on the job' experience and 'hands on' experience of Java. It would be hard to just say, 'I've got five years experience' when the chronolgy of your C.V. would show that this wasn't the whole truth. Better to pre-empt their first question while still putting your point across.
Sell it positively that you have used Java at work and have studied it extensively over a longer period. People who just use it at work may not have had the breathing space to learn as much as you have.
When people say about "years of experience" in IT industry (especially Java programming position that requires B.S degree or higher), it means years spent ONLY in full-time paid job after graduation from college.
This excludes all the intership/co-op/voluntary job/college project/work with professor/any part-time job.
You mentioned you worked for 6 years as IT specialist while you were attending college. This is irrelevant.
You should say you have total 8 months of experience only if this job was full-time paid position - otherwise, you have zero years of experience.
My first employer after college gave me full credit, in terms of salary and initial assignment, for my paid part-time programming while in school. The less experienced people hired alongside me were assigned to maintain the data dictionary and I'm sure they counted that as programming experience.
As for the elements of your part-time job, your resume can be written without specifying how much time you spent programming. You will naturally give more detail about the programming work than the non-programming work.
Be candid in the interview. There are interview questions that are hard to answer unless you have professional work experience beyond personal projects.