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What exactly constitutes a year of experience?

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What exactly constitutes a year of experience? Are there guidelines for calculating your experience? Most of my career has been in small companies where you wear many hats and are doing Java for a week here, C++ a week there. VB for a day or two fixing bugs, writing shell scripts for a day or two here and there, etc, etc... needless to say I don't have a log where I write down how many hours I have with various technologies.
I usually just grab numbers out of the air (with a little common sense applied) when asked how much experience I have with this or that. How does everyone else quantify their experience?
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- Let's say you are at a company for 2 years.
- Let's say you do Java programming for 6 months and actually complete a MVC type application. MVC - Model View Controller, JSP, Servlets.
- Let's say you grabbed the SCJP2 exam while you are at it.
- At interview. You say you have 1 year of Java experience.
- On the other hand, if you spent 2 weeks playing with Java then a month later another 2 weeks. And you have a total of 6 months (spread over 2 years) - but never completed a Java project start to finish.
- At interview. You say you have 6 months of Java experience.
- If you say you have a year of experience... you can be sure to get into a question/answer/discussion session regarding the entire lifecycle of the project you worked on.
- If I were the interviewer, I would have you go to board and write out project specs and rough design of project.
- If you did MVC, then I would hit you up on MVC (just the basics).
- If you did SCJP2 -- then I would consider it fair game to have 30-60 min discussion regarding various areas of Java programming. You should be able to hold a conversation and be able to contribute to the conversation regarding Java programming.
- If all you had was 6 months ... then I may/may not get into discussion regarding Java. I would take bigger picture of your education and overall computer experience into consideration and put more weight on those areas.
- Basic idea here. I don't want you comming in here saying you got a year of Java experience, and yet have not completed at least one project.
- And based on my notes above, it's very easy for an interviewer (via discussion session) to learn if you are bluffing or not. If it's not an area of my specialty, then I would bring in one of the more technical team members to conduct the discussion.
- Note, as an interviewer -- I am going to hold a discussion as opposed to an interrogation. I am NOT going to give an assessment test. Hell, I assume you can read a book -- so why memorize every nitty-gritty detail. I want someone who can work through a problem - not just recite facts, or be a walking compiler.
- Now, getting back to your original question.
- If you say you got a year. Be prepared to go to whiteboard and draw/explain MVC. Be prepared to go to whiteboard and draw/explain project. Be prepared to explain how you are advancing your Java studies (reason why I put emphasis on SCJP2, SCWCD, etc --- it's something I can take to management and say "look at this guy - he's done something").
- I saw "go to whiteboard". This is you chance as a candidate to really SLAM the interview.
- At an interview, 99% of the candidates will NOT bring their whiteboard markers and do a presentation.
- Well, I am going to tbe that 1% who does. And if the interviewer asks me about MVC - I am going to take it and run with it and just slam the living crap out of it.
- Now I have shown leadership, communictaion, organization, and technical skills all in one sweep.
- So why this long post....
- You need to find your comfort level.
- The answer to your question does not lie in "actual hands on work experience" It lies within "how comfortable you are with Java".

- With my post, I've tried to set the boundaries between what I feel should be your comfort level with regards to "6 moths" or "1 year".
- You've held an IT job for over a year - so you have some room for "give and take" with regards to experience time. Personally, I would take into accout the amout of time in preparing for SCJP2 exam along with the project experience and add them together.
- Hope this helps.
John Coxey
[ July 16, 2003: Message edited by: John Coxey ]
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what about no experience but tertiary degree qualified and lots of certs like 7 or 8 around the same fields like scjp scwcd, scbcd, scjd, scea etc...
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