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Breaking into Java - would Spring certification help?

chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1846
    
  16

I'm a grumpy old Oracle developer, based in the UK, with about a year's experience of server-side Java (mostly acquired years ago with EJB 1.1 on J2EE), plus SCJP (from 2002), and intermittent exposure to Java/JEE and Java-related technologies (a little Hibernate, Groovy/Grails, Tomcat etc) in more recent times.

In the last few years, I've worked on a number of enterprise Java projects, but mostly from the DB side because most of these projects were already in deep trouble on the Java side and didn't need another inexperienced Java developer, but they did need my DB development skills on the Oracle side.

I'd previously spent several years trying to break into mainstream Java development, even offering to work for free on occasion, but found myself trapped in the usual "no experience = no job" and "no job = no experience" loop. Reading lots of Java books doesn't qualify you for a job, after all.

So instead I decided to focus on expanding my database skills into ETL/DWH, and looking at other technologies (e.g. Python and functional programming).

But I now have the chance to get some training paid for, and I'm thinking of doing the Certified Spring Professional exam, with the aim of trying to stay in work by re-badging myself as an Oracle/Java developer. I haven't done much with Spring, so this would also give me a chance to get up to speed with all that core Spring stuff, which would be good.

Of course, I know that vendor certifications are not especially well-regarded in the industry (my SCJP never raised much interest), but my potential funding is specifically aimed at training that leads to a "recognised" certificate of some kind, so that's where I need to look for options. I'm also aware that although there seem to be lots of jobs for Java developers, there are also lots of inexperienced Java developers around who would be competing with me for work and will probably have more recent Java project experience to sell. Unfortunately, I don't really have the people skills to go for non-technical paths e.g. business analysis, and I'd still be in the situation of having no obviously relevant experience.

So my questions to all you Java experts would be:

Does this Spring Professional certification carry any weight whatsoever?

Do you reckon it's worth doing, or should I look at other options?

And can you suggest any alternatives?

Any advice will be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Chris

No more Blub for me, thank you, Vicar.
Jimmy Clark
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Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
So instead I decided to focus on expanding my database skills into ETL/DWH, and looking at other technologies (e.g. Python and functional programming).


I would reconsider this decision. It may be better to expand upon existing professional experience, rather than embark on a new path if you plan to remain a "developer." Look into Dimensional Databases and Cloud Computing for example.

A lot of the selection and hiring process is based on perception. If a candidate has many years of experience in one area and all of a sudden changes, it is possible that they were never really that good or successful in the previous technology. What makes them think that they could be good or successful in something else. In a specific situation, this may be totally 100% false, but the potential is there for it to be perceived this way, especially if the candidate has communication issues.

Software engineering is a "people" process. Communication skills are very important as well as the ability to adapt well to working with others. This includes working with individuals from different cultures and age brackets. Another relevant "people" aspect is verbal language. Extra cconsideration is needed when dealing with someone who does not speak your own language very well. If you truly want to succeed in a software development role, maybe you should focus on some training in communications, diversity, etc. A Spring certification might not be too helpful if no one wants to work with you. Good luck!
Luke Kolin
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Joined: Sep 04, 2002
Posts: 336
Jimmy Clark wrote:If a candidate has many years of experience in one area and all of a sudden changes, it is possible that they were never really that good or successful in the previous technology. What makes them think that they could be good or successful in something else. In a specific situation, this may be totally 100% false, but the potential is there for it to be perceived this way


This doesn't make any sense to me. People who are "never really that good" in something don't do it for a long time - they move on much sooner.

Cheers!

Luke
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1846
    
  16

Thanks for your input, guys.

Jimmy:

You've given me some interesting points to consider.

You're certainly right about the difficulty of breaking into a new area in IT, and I have already been pursuing the DWH/ETL route as well (my last project was a DWH application). The basic problem from my perspective is that there simply aren't enough jobs around here, and about half of the "Oracle" jobs that come up also require at least some Java. Many of the others require specific Oracle packaged applications (like CRM, HR, Financials etc), where I'm in the same situation of no experience/no job, but with the added problem that I can't access the software to study on my own, unlike Spring/Java. So I've got to do something new, whichever route I take.

Anyway, I'm not sure how "new" Java is for me, really. The "new" bit is really the infrastructure of current JEE/Spring, not the language. I've been writing programs in various languages for 25 years, including a year or so of Java/J2EE, and I first started looking at Java right back in 1996. Java is unusual mainly in that it is the first language I encountered that was actually "cool", although these days it's more like the "IBM choice" - or COBOL with a pony-tail. And if the future is going to belong to JVM-based polyglot programmers (which sounds good to me), then it would probably be a good idea to get some more experience on the JVM in the meantime. Anyway, if nobody ever tried anything new, we'd all still be coding with ones and zeroes.

The problem is that although I'm an experienced developer, I'm an inexperienced Java developer, so I need to do something to help compensate for that if I want to get into roles that require an "Oracle developer with some Java". Recruiters around here ignore anything you've done on your own initiative in your spare time, but sometimes having the right buzzwords on your CV - like "Spring" - will at least get you past the recruitment agencies so that the client can judge for themselves if you've got the skills they need.

Also, this specific funding opportunity is tied to training up to a certain budget that will lead to some kind of "certificate", which obviously limits my options. Of course, I have been looking at non-technical routes out of the "developer" cul-de-sac as well, but (a) I really like development work and (b) I don't really have much of a taste/aptitude for the politics involved in management work. So I'm trying to expand my technical skills into new areas that will be both interesting and - hopefully - marketable.

As for the "people" skills and working with people from different cultures etc, again, you're right. Unlike many of my UK colleagues, I've actually worked abroad in a foreign language environment (Germany) for several years, so I have a great deal of sympathy with my (mostly Indian) onshored colleagues as they struggle to understand what we're all talking about: I've been that guy!

Anyway, thanks again.
Jimmy Clark
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 16, 2008
Posts: 2187
Good luck!

Aside, try to directly connect with HR departments of organizations rather than recruitment agencies. While there are senior recruiters that know what they are doing, there are also "creepy" recruiters that are strictly interested in their commissions and demonstrate poor interviewing and selection techniques.
arulk pillai
Author
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Joined: May 31, 2007
Posts: 3252
Anything that can boost your confidence, knowledge, and experience will really help. Good luck.


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Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
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Joined: May 26, 2003
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THe Spring course is excellent. While the certificate isn't as highly regarded as the SCJP (if at all), it comes with the class so you should take it anyway. And if your training budget is tied to the certificate, that's a great reason to take the class!


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chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1846
    
  16

Thanks for the input, Jeanne. You're right - it's the skills that count, not the certificate, although I'm hoping the cert might at least get me through some of the buzzword filters used by recruiters!
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
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Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30918
    
158

chris webster wrote:Thanks for the input, Jeanne. You're right - it's the skills that count, not the certificate, although I'm hoping the cert might at least get me through some of the buzzword filters used by recruiters!

The word Spring will do that .
 
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