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My Game Plan

Matt Spencer
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 09, 2012
Posts: 9
I am just over half way done with my Associates Degree, and I am taking CS 1400 this Spring (the first real programming class), which uses "How to Program: Java 9th Edition(Deitel)".

To cut to the chase, I want to be able to get a CS job. I want to be able to work while I continue a bachelor, and hopefully before I finish my Associates. Basically I am cutting from 5 classes a semester to 2. I want to take my new extra time and just focus on my major's subjects which will mainly be Java,

My general idea is to work extra hardcore on the Java while I take this first class and also get the SCJA certification. I guess I want some advice on what I can do now to help me get my foot in the door in a job(like Certification to Associates Level jobs). I am going to pick Advanced Java as my "First and Final,Choice Pick" instead of Intermediate VB, C# or C for my Associates. So I am looking to build skills for a Java Programmer job, because it makes the most sense based off what I will learn in class.

I guess my problem is, I just don't know exactly what the good jobs want from me. I want to get the certification and degree to get the training, cause I don't already have the necessary skills that I would need for entry level positions. I just don't know if the certification or Associates is even enough these days.


Darryl Burke
Bartender

Joined: May 03, 2008
Posts: 4531
    
    5

Hello Matt, and welcome to the Ranch! I've moved your thread to a section of the Ranch devoted to job discussions as it's not a good fit in New to Java.


luck, db
There are no new questions, but there may be new answers.
Junilu Lacar
Bartender

Joined: Feb 26, 2001
Posts: 4458
    
    6

Just speaking from my own perspective, as someone who interviews candidates for positions on my team. Your mileage may vary but for what it's worth, I look for good basic programming habits as well as some soft skills. I look for people who understand that programming is as much about writing something that others can read and understand as it is about solving a problem. I look for a good understanding of the use of object-orientation, understanding of the concepts of high cohesion and loose coupling and ability to apply these concepts with SOLID design principles. I look for people who can communicate well and are not afraid to ask "stupid" questions, since our work has to be highly collaborative. I look for people who are eager to learn.

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Deepak Bala
Bartender

Joined: Feb 24, 2006
Posts: 6661
    
    5

I guess my problem is, I just don't know exactly what the good jobs want from me


Most companies recruiting for entry level positions looks for soft skills; good understanding of the basic building blocks; willingness to learn.

I just don't know if the certification or Associates is even enough these days.


Yes and no. I've come across - 99% on SCJP - so many times that I've learned to ignore that certificate when I see it on a resume. The irony is, I passed the SCJP myself. That said, if you learn hard and pass the SCJP, you have an advantage over someone else. Personally, getting through the SCJP has helped me in my career several times.


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Matt Spencer
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 09, 2012
Posts: 9
That is the kind of information I was looking for. I mean there will be dozens of jobs I could get with a CS Associates, but each is going to have different requirements, so I am trying to just focus on Java, since its the language they are going to teach me. I am fairly certain all the potential jobs have a closely related job duties.

I know that not all jobs require the certification and/or a degree, but I think its "my" best shot at getting a job.

As far as being a good worker and student, I have those qualities for the most part. But, when your trying to find the people who can do the job and meet your requirements, how do they prove it to you?
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1671
    
  14

I'm in the UK so our education system and job market is very different, but I'd recommend you also look out for opportunities to broaden your skills profile a little beyond the JVM as well.

A huge number of commercial Java applications are based on a 3-tier approach, with some kind of web front-end, a Java application server in the middle and a (usually relational) database for persistence on the back end. Learn a bit about these non-Java technologies e.g. look at HTML5/CSS/JavaScript for the web side, some SQL and simple data-modelling for the DB (plus the basics of Java database interfaces like JPA). As a newbie looking for your first Java job, nobody will expect you to be an expert in these things, but gaining some understanding of the world outside the JVM will be helpful to you as a developer working in the context of larger systems. There are a lot of Java developers who don't seem to know or care about anything outside the JVM, so be one of the smart ones who does. And it's fun to learn different stuff anyway.

Good luck!


No more Blub for me, thank you, Vicar.
Matt Spencer
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 09, 2012
Posts: 9
These small details are really helping out. I have a pretty good idea on where I am at now, its good getting real advice. I also skim through forums to find good info, the Big Moose just seemed to have better info.


I started going to school because I thought I needed the AS degree to get an entry level programming job. Now that I have finished off all my non-major classes, I can finally get the training I need. At this point, I have not been to work in 3 years. I have only 6 months gap between my last job and when I started school, but I think just being away for so long isn't helping, cause of the adjustment factor.

I have an ePortfolio which I keep things I have done at school. I was thinking about making a page, where I load up all the code I write, and just put everything I do on there so I have something to show. I am also gonna make a page where my teachers and other professionals can post a note about me, like an overall note about my skills; like a recommendation. I figure once I have this, I can ask professionals such as yourselves, whether or not you think I am ready.

The reason I posted is because I am not sure when or whether I am ready to apply for some jobs. I just figured I would be ready once I either get my first certification or AS. However I think I need to make sure I am well rounded, and have these other skills that you talked about.
Matt Spencer
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 09, 2012
Posts: 9
Here is a job I would like to get right now, but it asks a lot of things just like you said.

Government Java Developer Job:
"experience programming in Java, and they
should be familiar with the Linux (or related) operating system."

"Preference will be given to applicants with experience in programming Java, Java FX, Rich
Faces, Spring, Hibernate, JPA, HTML 5, CSS, JavaScript, AJAX, jQuery, and JSON. It will also
be given to applicants who have more than one year of experience using Swing"

Here is a list of other things I continually see:
J2EE/Java EE
Spring
Hibernate
Web Services
Object Oriented design
jQuery/Ext JS/Dojo
Eclipse
Ajax
XML
PL/SQL, Oracle
JSP, Servlets
GWT
Web Services (SOAP and RESTful)
Knowledge of Maven and Ant for build environments

The more I learn, the more I find out, and the more I need to learn. I guess I have more to go over than I previously thought. 90% of these jobs don't even ask for a degree or certification.
Deepak Bala
Bartender

Joined: Feb 24, 2006
Posts: 6661
    
    5

Here is a job I would like to get right now, but it asks a lot of things just like you said.


You may not need to know everything they ask for. Some companies try to stuff in every technical jargon they can think of. The idea is to get someone who knows as many frameworks as possible so they can skip from project A to B with ease. That almost never happens.

If you do not know a framework, you can say so on the interview. Get a high level idea of what the framework does. You can then say something like 'I know that hibernate is used as an ORM to persist relational models to a database, but I do not know the nuts and bolts of it'. Sensible interviewers will accept that answer.
Jeanne Boyarsky
internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30392
    
150

Matt Spencer wrote:90% of these jobs don't even ask for a degree or certification.

That doesn't mean they don't want a degree. Without any experience to speak of, the degree will still be looked at favorably. The job listing you quoted looks for experience. Pure entry level jobs usually do remember to ask for the degree.


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Matt Spencer
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 09, 2012
Posts: 9
I found some articles about what a good developer should know and what I should learn while I am still in college.

They say you should master one language first, which is Java for me. Then I should be fluent in RIA's especially Flash(which I am sort of good at). The big difference is knowing Web Services and Web Development, even if your not a web developer. Which is like knowing CSS, JS, HTML, and then knowing one of theses: REST, SOAP, JSON, or XML. Which lines up with everything I was told here.

The other stuff I read said that I should know at least one Dynamic or Functional system, like Ruby or Python. Then there is also things like Agile Methods, Domain Knowledge and Development "maturity/hygiene". Then again this is just stuff I read, but it seems to be similar to what jobs ask for.


So far I am pretty good at some of these things, but most of these things are new to me. I am going to get my degree cause I already did all the non-major work, so now I am finally doing lots of fun CS classes. I thought if I could study harder during this Java class, I could get certified and make my way up to an Architect. I also think with this new free time, I can re go over my Web skills and learn new ones like Python.
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1671
    
  14

Matt Spencer wrote:They say you should master one language first, which is Java for me. Then I should be fluent in RIA's especially Flash(which I am sort of good at).

Not sure about Flash as my impression is it's losing popularity now that HTML5 offers more functionality and Apple exclude Flash from their platforms anyway. Maybe ask around for advice on more open alternatives?

Matt Spencer wrote:I thought if I could study harder during this Java class, I could get certified and make my way up to an Architect.

Good to have some longer term goals, but it will take you a long time to gain the depth and breadth of experience you'll need to join the racks of professional software architects. Or as Brian Foote calls them:
Brian Foote wrote:a flaccid cabal of cartoon worshippers drooling over UML center folds ... totally divorced from the code

Matt Spencer wrote:I also think with this new free time, I can re go over my Web skills and learn new ones like Python.

Check out Coursera and Udacity which have several free online courses in Python and web development.
Matt Spencer
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 09, 2012
Posts: 9
Flash has the Flex and Air, and I thought it was used a lot at least for adobe web page makers, but I think I meant to say java script, because it is a huge part of my web development learning; but I do like flash though. Along with JavaScript, I am focusing on a book that teaches XML, CSS3 and HTML5 and how to use them together, cause I don't know XML, and using html and css will help me cause I know them well enough.


I want to ask those who have gotten jobs as developers or any professional programmers. Is there anything you wish you learned while still in school/pre working?
I know I have a big list of demands/things to learn, but when you got a job or your current job, was there any skills that you wish you had that could help you?

I am mainly asking about Associate Level programming. When I get a Bachelor, I want to do Game Programming, actually I want to make games for Android phones, but I didn't say this, cause I didn't want to make it too complicated. I just need to work by then, which is why I am looking into jobs at AS level while I finish up school and get some experience. There is much more to what I need to learn for gaming, but I need to build up to that level. Programming is like math, the more you know the better you are all around.
 
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subject: My Game Plan