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Advice on starting a career in Java

Christopher Daly
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 01, 2010
Posts: 10
Hi All,
I live in the UK and I've got another two years left on my Open University, study at home, degree. I currently work as a software engineer on PLC and Servo applications I want to make the switch to Java. I'm 29 and its a bit of a career path change so I'm after a bit of advice on what I should be doing whilst studying for my degree. Should I be looking for jobs now? Should I wait until I have a degree under my belt? Are there other qualifications I could be working towards that would help?

Any advice would be greatly recieved thank you in advance,

Chris
Janeice DelVecchio
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Sep 14, 2009
Posts: 1659
    
  11

I am in a similar boat. Same age, going to college, changing careers.

I am one semester from graduating. I have a bunch of certifications (I go to wgu.edu ..... it's kindof a requirement). I am in the process of the Java job hunt now. I have a job in end user/helpdesk support, so it's a bit closer to where I wanna go in terms of where I was. I used to be a veterinary technician.

I read a lot. I make a lot of lists of what I know, what I don't know, what I want to know, what I want to be able to do. I answer and ask questions around here in the forums.

I read more. I write toy programs. I participate in the Cattle Drive here and the Facebook Programming Puzzles. I am creating a portfolio of stuff I've done so I can take it to job interviews*. I think of a lot of things for fun as if I had to turn them into algorithms for a program... this is something I've started since I read that popular job interview questions may involve how to create real life things in OOP. The example I think I saw was a request to design a chicken coop. Cool idea, because you think that a coop needs to hold chickens, food, beds, maybe a rooster, a chicken would be an object.... depending on how much time you were given, this could get pretty complex.

I read even more. I decided that to be serious about where I want to go, what I want to do, how much money I want to make, what I want to learn, I need to really focus on what I'm doing and spend time on it. I volunteer my time. I keep track of what I've done so I have stuff to talk about.

I keep reading (notice a trend?), I search for jobs, keep an up to date resume, do my best at professional networking, apply for jobs at companies that I think I'd like to work for, and keep a positive attitude.

Good luck!!

*Someone suggested this to me. So I read about it . The articles I've read say that <5% of programming job candidates show up to an interview with a portfolio. It's easy to put together (albeit a tad time consuming), and worthwhile... it can show someone what you can do. This effectively changes your focus (and the interviewer's!!) from "what you can't do."


When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all.
Christopher Daly
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 01, 2010
Posts: 10
Thanks for that, its always great to hear from someone in the same circumstances it gives you a bit of confidence that your making the right choices.

If you dont mind me asking what does your job in the Helpdesk involve?
Janeice DelVecchio
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Sep 14, 2009
Posts: 1659
    
  11

Christopher Daly wrote:
If you dont mind me asking what does your job in the Helpdesk involve?


Everything from end user email/application/website/OS support to hardware and software upgrades/installation to server maintenance and fixes... I maintain backups, troubleshoot networks, offer remote support, manage our managed services platform... it's kind of a jane of all trades kind of job.

I have A+, Net+, Security+, Project+, MCP certifications as well as a bunch of web development certs.... including Javascript and soon a SCJP (or whatever they call it now).
Christopher Daly
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 01, 2010
Posts: 10
How did you get a job at a helpdesk with no previous experience or qualifications?
Did you get all those certs through the Helpdesk job or did you do them off your own back?

Also, where are the facebook programming puzzles?

Sorry for the question bombardment...
Janeice DelVecchio
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Sep 14, 2009
Posts: 1659
    
  11

Christopher Daly wrote:How did you get a job at a helpdesk with no previous experience or qualifications?

I have always been interested/tinkering with computers. I worked a couple gigs as a contractor doing some computer things. Being in college helps. And I applied for A LOT of jobs.... eventually (on some level) it pans out to be a numbers game.

Christopher Daly wrote:Did you get all those certs through the Helpdesk job or did you do them off your own back?

School paid. I have to get them for college credit. It was a no brainer when I decided to sign up. See: www.wgu.edu

Christopher Daly wrote:Also, where are the facebook programming puzzles?

http://www.facebook.com/careers/puzzles.php

Christopher Daly wrote:Sorry for the question bombardment...

No problem
Jeanne Boyarsky
internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30076
    
149

Chris,
When do you graduate? If it's not too late, try to find an internship. Having some experience helps separate you from others when you do graduate.


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Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 37945
    
  22
Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:. . . try to find an internship. . . .
At many universities, Teesside included, most of our undergrads do a 3rd year in industry ("thick sandwich"). We have a placements office whose task is to send out people to their placements. I don't know whether the Open University have such a mechanism. Ask your tutors whether there is anything similar available. Find out whether you can help teach IT at your local 6th form college; again the tutors might know.
Christopher Daly
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 01, 2010
Posts: 10
Thats great advice thanks I'll look into it.
Dieter Quickfend
Bartender

Joined: Aug 06, 2010
Posts: 503
    
    4

Hi,

I have no degree or anything, no Bachelor's or Master's, but the past year, as I lost my job with the crisis, I followed a course on Java and it went really fast. I got up to speed really fast, learned well and made some nice projects. I started applying for jobs, which at first was depressing because a lot of employers don't take people without a degree. However, it's their loss and there's always people who look beyond. I ended up getting like ten interviews in one month and having to choose between two jobs. I'm now in a job as an instructor and my employer encourages learning, so I just did my SCJP and plan to get my SCWCD around the new year...

So never be afraid to change something, even without any degree.

At the moment I don't make as much as I did in my last job, but it won't take me long to get one up on it, and I'm doing something I love, getting relevant experience and a resume to be proud of. It's always a tradeoff, but as far as I'm concerned, quite a bargain.


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Mahmoud Hossam
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 74

I'm in a similar situation as well

I'm currently studying for the SCJP,but I'm facing a lot of difficulties


should I stick with SCJP,or should I start learning JavaEE and prepare myself for employment from now?
arulk pillai
Author
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 31, 2007
Posts: 3219
Mahmoud Hossam wrote:I'm in a similar situation as well

I'm currently studying for the SCJP,but I'm facing a lot of difficulties


should I stick with SCJP,or should I start learning JavaEE and prepare myself for employment from now?




I were you, I would move to Java EE, if comfortable with the Basic Java.


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Rajesh K Singh
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 22, 2006
Posts: 38
Java/J2EE is a headache, you have to learn new things each and every day, else you are dead.
why dont you learn Mainframe, AS400 or some tool like Cognos, MQSeries etc , this will be a easy path.
 
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
 
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