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is experience of open source useful?

Kshitij Ktambe
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 04, 2004
Posts: 29
My question to the hiring managers.
If a newly graudated student participates in an open source project. how much weightage is given to this experience during hiring process? Is it gonna help new graduates to step into job market?
Jay Shin
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 14, 2004
Posts: 169
Originally posted by Kshitij Ktambe:
Is it gonna help new graduates to step into job market?


Not really.

How much a college student can contribute to major open-source projects? I doubt most college students who don't have real industry experience can contribute much to these projects. Maybe just simple testing and finding bugs and sending bug report e-mail to the original author (things like click, click, click to see if all the links are valid)

I've seen many job candidates exaggerating/lying about their experience with open-source projects.

Yes, it's fine to play around with those open-source softwares. It's great learning experience for college students.

I've also seen exceptionally bright young students who already developed significant open-source softwares while in their college years -- these are hard to find though.
[ September 04, 2004: Message edited by: Jay Shin ]
Lionel Orellana
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 19, 2004
Posts: 87
It might not get you a job by itself but it helps in creating a personal profile. Some recruiters may ask about open source (what do you think of it? what projects do you know?). If you have participated in one, even with a small contribution, that shows you are interested, that shows you get involved. It's just one thing in which you could get a tick during the interview ...

I haven't been in an open source project myself, but got some questions like that in a recent interview ... it would have been nice to say "I'm involved in this and that project" ... it doesn't matter how much you do, the whole point of open source is to help each other to build something together ... if what needs to be done is to change the font size then you change the font size and you contribute to the whole community development approach ... it would be silly to lie or exagerate your contribution ...

I find the most important thing in an interview is to create that profile of yourself ... here's my experience, here are my certificactions, here my open source projects, here my magazine subscriptions, here some articles I've written ... all those things build up and leave the interviewer with a good impression ...

BTW I don't have half of those things ... yet ....
Helen Thomas
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 13, 2004
Posts: 1759
Any experience you have in open source may count towards points awarded in Open University Degrees. I think it ought to.


Le Cafe Mouse - Helen's musings on the web - Java Skills and Thrills
"God who creates and is nature is very difficult to understand, but he is not arbitrary or malicious." OR "God does not play dice." - Einstein
Warren Dew
blacksmith
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 04, 2004
Posts: 1332
    
    2
I've found that in interviews, technically savvy managers do pay attention to open source and other personal projects involving a significant amount of software development. Be prepared to answer questions on what you actually did, and preferably to demonstrate the product and show them the source code that you wrote for it.
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16145
    
  21

One nice thing about a lot of open-source projects is that very often the CVS archives are available on the Internet. Someone who's making serious contributions is probably going to be committin under their own name, which means that it's easy to see what kind of work they're doing.

From that perspective, I'd give more weight to the open-source person than the person who "participated in a team developing long-tailed hamsters using nuclear fusion techniques".

Als, besides the CVS, OSS projects often maintain developer mailing lists, where you can see what kinds of questions and answers this person is contributing, if they're openly accessible.


Customer surveys are for companies who didn't pay proper attention to begin with.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
I do a lot of hiring. I give minimal weight to open source stuff. What I do give weight to is someone who can bring in well written source code (no one has time to check your CVS logs and look through your work on their own) and say, "here's what I did" and explain it to me. Even better is to also have a live demo of the software.

Just putting a line, "I did foobar" carries very little weight.

--Mark
Ilja Preuss
author
Sheriff

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:

Just putting a line, "I did foobar" carries very little weight.


So, if someone who writes that in their resume, do you ask him to show you what he did? Or should he be more offensive about it?


The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny - it is the light that guides your way. - Heraclitus
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16145
    
  21

Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
I do a lot of hiring. I give minimal weight to open source stuff. What I do give weight to is someone who can bring in well written source code (no one has time to check your CVS logs and look through your work on their own) and say, "here's what I did" and explain it to me. Even better is to also have a live demo of the software.

Just putting a line, "I did foobar" carries very little weight.

--Mark


My CVS archives are easily browseable online as are my Internet apps. Some of my non-Internet apps are documented on my website, but I don't expect people to download and install foreign software. I wouldn't. It's a major security risk, among other things. But I learned a long time ago that it's pointless to bring a hefty stack of stuff to an interview. You waste your time and the interviewer's if you have to keep fumbling for materials. It makes you look less competent. These days I stick to a few copies of articles I've published and a resume. For the rest, most potential employers have a web browser handy these days.

I interview well. Once I leave the premises, I'm generally either out of the running or on the short list. And people on the short list are the people in which you expect to get a significant return in time and money, thus worth the investment of researching how well they program and if it's a good match for the people they'd be working with.

Because once that person gets hired, somebody is going to end up having to deal with that person's code sooner or later.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Ilja Preuss:


So, if someone who writes that in their resume, do you ask him to show you what he did? Or should he be more offensive about it?



Thus far, it's never been a deciding factor. Either I'm not interested enough in the candidate to bother to talk to them about it (i.e. I don't bring them in), or there's enough other interesting things on their resume to talk about.


Tim,

I agree with you that a hefty stack can look bad. I would recommend that a candidate have maybe 3-8 pages of "self-contained" code (i.e. a few classes that work together) that is very well documented that can be easy pulled out. Better yet, a "packet" which includes: short project overview and you contribution, some screen shots of examples of it's use, an architecture diagram (highlighting your area of contirbution) and then very well documented source code. The type of thing you can leave with an interviewer. I think interviewers who say, "oh you have source code, let's see" are generally unprepared and then waste time reading the code and trying to understanding during an interview. The packet is something you can either walk them through (think of it as the handouts to your interview presentation) or leave with them, and is self-contained enough so they can look through it later. If someone brought that in to an interview with me, I'd be very impressed.

--Mark
Billy Tsai
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 23, 2003
Posts: 1304
I think having experience and good skills in Struts, Tomcat, Spring, Hibernate, JBoss, MySQL, unix and linux are useful especially if have some certifications in some of those skills would be helpful.


BEA 8.1 Certified Administrator, IBM Certified Solution Developer For XML 1.1 and Related Technologies, SCJP, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCDJWS, SCJD, SCEA,
Oracle Certified Master Java EE 5 Enterprise Architect
 
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
 
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