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job wanted, no degree

Chris Nikitas
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 30, 2013
Posts: 9
Hi all,

It's a question for a friend, but will use the first person to make it easy.

I do not have a university degree, but I love programming.

I have the ECDL certification and already have completed the Introduction to Programming course offered by edX and MITx.

I am in the process of getting the XML Master Basic Certification and the Java SE 7 Oracle Certified Associate (OCA) Certification.

I live in London and I am looking for my first job in programming. I am 28 years old.

Can you please advise on how I should go about to at least get some interviews?

Thanks,
Chris.
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 31079
    
163

What is the ECDL? This website implies it means you know how to use a computer. But that's can't be right.

It sounds like you have the very basics of programming. That might qualify you to get an internship or a volunteer position. Even an internship is tough. College interns have more knowledge than you at the moment. I think you r best is to try to volunteer as you learn more. Or do something for yourself. You might have more success in a smaller market. Like develop and app for the iPad, Android, etc so you have something you can point to.


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Chris Nikitas
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 30, 2013
Posts: 9
Hi Jeanne,

Thanks a lot for your reply.

ECDL is indeed a certification of use of the MS Office suite. Having no formal degree education, even this certification makes sense to show people that I am not computer illiterate.

You are very correct by saying that I have the very basics of programming but everybody starts from the basics. That's why I posted here to get some advice on how to proceed in order to secure some interviews in the near future.

The plan is to acquire the following within the next few months:
- XML Master Basic Certification
- Java SE 7 Oracle Certified Associate (OCA) Certification
- Oracle 11g - SQL Fundamental Exam or Java SE 7 Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) Certification

I have already looked at volunteering but doesn't seem to be a lot out there.

As you mentioned, internships usually require that you are studying towards or have completed a degree, so it is extremely difficult to even be considered for such roles.

Unfortunately my finances do not allow me to pursue a degree at the moment, therefore I am trying every other possible way.

Am open to any suggestions.

Thanks,
Chris.
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1873
    
  16

Well, if you're in London you're better off than most other parts of the country, as there is a huge range of IT work around in London. Getting a job with little or no experience and no degree will be tough, but you (your friend) can explore various options e.g. networking, acquiring relatively low-end skills that you can exploit to get your foot in the door, and so on.

Networking:
Google for "Java user groups london" and you'll probably find lots of options, hopefully including some near you. Also look at meetup groups e.g. http://www.meetup.com/Londonjavacommunity/ and the many venues that offer informal talks and techie get-togethers e.g. Skills Matter http://skillsmatter.com/user-group/java-jee/london-java-community

If you're looking at other languages/tools etc, do similar searches for those terms. And check your local college as you might find study opportunities there, possible careers advice on getting into IT, or at least some options for networking with other people interested in IT.

Go along to meetings, talk to people and - if the opportunity arises - offer to help out with any projects other people might be running in their own time. This will give you a chance to learn from more experienced people, and perhaps lead to other opportunities down the line.

Skills:
Take a look at what you can offer right now, compared to what the job market seems to be demanding in your area e.g. look at tech job sites like Job Server. Although you probably won't see any entry-level jobs there, it will give you an idea of what skills are in demand locally.

One area you can learn on your own from books/tutorials to some extent is basic website development e.g. using a mix of PHP, JavaScript, HTML, CSS and one or more of the widely used content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress or Drupal. Don't rush into taking responsibility to build somebody's website on your own just yet, as there is more to a robust and maintainable website than just a few pretty pages, but maybe look for opportunities to work with somebody who knows what they're doing (especially with regard to security). One option might be to focus initially on customising templates for CMS like WordPress, as this is mainly front end work without too much heavy duty programming, but it's the kind of thing the customer really likes to see and might be willing to pay for. Even if this kind of work isn't your long term goal, there's a lot of it around, it can often be fitted around your day job, and it may help you to get some IT experience on your CV.

All the noise about London's "Silicon Roundabout" is largely hype, but there are quite a few web-based businesses setting up there, so it might be worth trying them out for some internship work if you can offer them some basic IT skills and can afford to work for free/peanuts for a few months. Also maybe look at working up some simple demo projects - or websites - to illustrate the skills you've managed to acquire so far, as this may be a quick way to distinguish yourself from the people who simply say they can program but have no evidence for their abilities.

Incidentally, the public sector is always short of IT skills, even at a relatively low level, and these days there is a lot of pressure to reduce dependence on agency staff etc, so many organisations are recruiting entry-level staff instead. Talk to your local careers office to see if they can point you towards any suitable opportunities.

Volunteering; Look at http://www.it4communities.org.uk/

Learning more:

  • Your local college may teach IT evening classes/weekend classes, often towards industry certifications, although you're already acquiring these of course.
  • The Open University offers computing courses, many of which are excellent, although these are very expensive these days and they've cut the range of courses available following changes to government funding.
  • Coursera is a great place to find free online courses on a huge range of techie topics, including basic programming/web development. You might well find that some courses have local groups in London where you could learn more and esxchange ideas.
  • Also check out Udacity which offers fewer courses but may be more flexible as you can work at your own pace.

  • Good luck.


    No more Blub for me, thank you, Vicar.
    Jeanne Boyarsky
    author & internet detective
    Marshal

    Joined: May 26, 2003
    Posts: 31079
        
    163

    I assume people are computer literate if they are applying for a programming job. It's fine to show, but I don't think it will help/hurt.
    Chris Nikitas
    Greenhorn

    Joined: Oct 30, 2013
    Posts: 9
    Chris, thank you very much for taking the time to write such a comprehensive answer.

    I will look into the local colleges and make sure that networking is put in the todo list.

    Web development was quite an idea to be honest and it is surely something we ll need to look into.

    Thanks again for the time you took to reply.

    I ll keep you posted on the progress...

    Ta,
    Chris.
    chris webster
    Bartender

    Joined: Mar 01, 2009
    Posts: 1873
        
      16

    Chris Nikitas wrote:Web development was quite an idea to be honest and it is surely something we ll need to look into.

    Definitely check out some of the courses on Udacity then e.g. Web Development, as they seem to offer tuition on pretty up-to-date technology - and it's free.
     
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