Basically, my situation is that I graduated with a liberal arts bachelor's degree and I've fallen into an online marketing position. While the job isn't strenous and the hours are care-free (no one cares if I come in a few mins. late) the pay is low and there really isn't any upward mobility. I've done a lot of HTML and I thought about getting more involved in the technical side of things, so I thought about Java and took some classes at the local university to perhaps change careers.
I had been applying to a number of places and I've gotten a few bites (even one offer, but the pay was a little lower than I was expecting) but I keep looking at Java offers on many Internet sites and, although there seems to be plenty of them, every one of them wants a million years of experience dealing with a million different technlogies. Am I really looking at an uphill battle with no CS degree and no experience?
Secondly, I was contacted for an interview last month with a particularly small company. It wasn't coding in Java per se, but more Perl/PHP work. Even though it wasn't exactly my skillset, I still agreed to meet with the company. However, the place was very hard to find and I made the fatal mistake of showing up late for the interview. Knowing that this was pretty much a deal-breaker, I offered to "reschedule" (i.e. he can blow me off) but he insisted on having the interview. After 5 minutes of me talking, he decides to cut me off and say to me "you have no passion for this line of work."
This disenfranchised me to no end. I barely opened up Eclipse or looked at any serious Java code for a good month, month and a half after this. I've been wondering if he is right. After all, I haven't really finished any sort of project to showcase any employers. I've been reading lots of books, working examples, taking classes all in my spare time but there really isn't anything significant I've completed. After coming home from a long commute, I try to concentrate on building something but I just end up surfing the Web or watching TV because I'm so tired. Maybe this isn't for me.
I've been looking at NYU's Master's program in Direct and Interactive Marketing. Maybe that's more up my alley. Maybe that's where I will be able to find a job, rather than trying to hunt for some IT / jr. programmer position where I could be canned in 3 months. I dunno...
I'm not sure what I'm really asking here. I guess only I can really answer if this is something I'm cut out for. Although going for an MS in Direct/Interactive Marketing may be a better career move, I'm not exactly jumping up for joy about it. And I'm finally starting to look at code or tutorials again.
If there's anyone with any sort of constructive criticism or words of advice, I'd love to hear from you. Thanks.
Am I really looking at an uphill battle with no CS degree and no experience?
Yes, you are.
The general belief in the industry seems to be that more and more software work will go to offshore locations with lower labor costs. That doesn't bode well for it as a long term career. Unless you truly love programming, you can probably find a better choice elsewhere.
Now is a particularly bad time to be entering the industry, since it seems a fair number of people are graduating who do have CS degrees, having chosen their major four years ago at the peak of the internet bubble.
Don't let some egomaniac (the interviewer) discourage you. If you're spending *any* free time studying Java, I'd say you have passion to learn.
The challenge with starting a project for the sole purpose of learning is that it's difficult to come up with a problem to solve (i.e. the domain). Try to think about something practical that you could use in your daily activities. For instance, you could write a program to track how much you eat per week. Or maybe a system to track how much time you spend doing individual tasks at work (good for tracking time wasted gabbing with that annoying tech lead in Meaningless Drivel ).
The fact is, you will be fighting an uphill battle finding a job with your qualifications. That aside, I think if you could complete a small project in your own time and could effectively talk about it during an interview you will land a job. It might not be the highest paying to start with, but you will have your foot in the door.
What do you want to do? if you don't know, ask yourself what's important to you? Do you want to spend your days writing code? Sitting in front of a computer? Sitting in meetings? Returning phone calls? Writing documents? Do you want to travel? How much? How important is money, influence, good hours, job flexibility? Do you want a well defined position or a free form one? Do you want to work by yourself, on a small team or a large team? Where do you want to be (in terms of career, family, life goals) in 5 years? 10? 15? 20?
First decide what you want to do. Then go do it. If some stranger who knows you for all of 5 minutes says otherwise, &*#$ 'em. I can't count the number of people who told me I wasn't good enough. I try to use that just to inspire me to succeed. (If your friends and those who know you well make suggestions, then that's another thing, but who the hell is this guy to tell you what to do?)
Mark Herschberg, author of The Career Toolkit