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Advice on career plan to gain entry level experience

Jason Hardaway
Greenhorn

Joined: Apr 11, 2011
Posts: 26

Hello, everyone.I would like to hear some advice on my current career plan. I tried my best to map this out to the best of my ability. Please, allow me to start from the beginning. I graduated from college with a B.S in Computer Engineering in 2009. From that time, I was unsure of the career path to take. Mainly because I did not gain any internship experience (I blame no one but myself on this but I wish I would have had a mentor to guide me.) At any rate, I hit the job boards looking for work as "computer engineer". As I'm sure you all are aware, I was looking for something vague during a time of economic meltdown. This, of course, did not create any good results. Fortunately, I was able to find work in a non-tech field but not gaining any relevant experience. Fast forward to the end of 2010, I discovered Java from recruiter mentioning it in phone interview. I've been studying Java ever since (in college, we used C++ so the fundamentals were not difficult for me to pick up).

Now to my current plan: I have done some research on this forum (and others as well) and I have decided that I would like to enter the software development industry and possibly web development as an entry level programmer. I've also looked at tips on the best methods to gain valuable hands on experience to market my resume and this is the plan so far.
1) Currently, I'm studying Head First Java 2 by K&B to build fundamentals
2) Next, will study for Oracle Certified Professional (AKA - SCJP) to continue to build foundation
3) After SCJP, I would like to contribute to open source projects to gain real-world experience while simultaneously marketing my resume with the SCJP. However, I seriously doubt that the SCJP will be enough without hands-on experience.
4) I would also like to contribute to non-profit organizations on java projects as well to gain more experience.
5) After gaining these experiences, I read on another forum that it would also be a good idea from a marketing standpoint to learn a web development language such as .NET, PHP, or C# Also, a relational database such as SQL. We used SQL in college so I have a little familiarity with it but I realize that more knowledge and experience is necessary to market it.

So, this is a quick overview of my plan. Basically, I would like to market Java to get my foot in the door as a entry-level Java programmer but I also understand that another language in the future could make the resume more attractive.

What do you all think? I understand that some of you here are hiring managers. Do you hiring managers think this is a good path to start? Also, what type of projects do you hiring managers look for on entry level work or does it matter?

I appreciate everyone's tips and advice. I apologize for the length of the message and I thank you all in advance.
P.S. I would like to have an entry-level position by the end of this year 2011. (Hopefully before, if it is possible because I try to study between 12-20 hours per week to get up to speed.)
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30919
    
158

Jason,
What is a computer engineer? (I know that's hot your question, but I'm curious if it is like electrical engineering or something else.)

#1-4 sound like a good plan. For an entry level job, a computer background + SCJP might be enough. Depends on your local market.

For #5, definitely SQL. Note that .NET and C# are in the same space as JEE/Servlets. I think it is more useful to try to learn either JEE or .NET in more depth rather than know both a tiny bit. I do think knowing web programming makes it a lot easier to get a job. Java is in wide use in web apps too. Or a lightweight language like Groovy.


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Jason Hardaway
Greenhorn

Joined: Apr 11, 2011
Posts: 26

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Jason,
What is a computer engineer? (I know that's hot your question, but I'm curious if it is like electrical engineering or something else.)

#1-4 sound like a good plan. For an entry level job, a computer background + SCJP might be enough. Depends on your local market.

For #5, definitely SQL. Note that .NET and C# are in the same space as JEE/Servlets. I think it is more useful to try to learn either JEE or .NET in more depth rather than know both a tiny bit. I do think knowing web programming makes it a lot easier to get a job. Java is in wide use in web apps too. Or a lightweight language like Groovy.


Hi Jeanne, thank you for your reply and advice. As for your question, a computer engineer is a hybrid field that studies electrical engineering concepts and computer science concepts. As a brief example, from an electrical engineering standpoint, I am aware of the fundamentals of circuit theory relating to resistors, capacitors, inductors, Ohm's law, transistors, diodes and the like. From a computer science standpoint, I learned the fundamentals of the programming language C++, covered the basics of UML 2.0, learned Object-oriented programming concepts, and also took a elective class that covered the basics of Relational Databases with SQL amongst other subjects.

I think this is the main reason why I was confused once I graduated because my field of study was very broad. Fortunately, I'm now able to have a better understanding of the path I wanted to take.
Once again, thanks for your reply. I will definitely take heed to your advice and I hope that I was able to answer your question.
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30919
    
158

Jason Hardaway wrote:and I hope that I was able to answer your question.

Yes thank you.
 
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subject: Advice on career plan to gain entry level experience