Graduated last year...no job

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cp83 in New York

53 months ago

Same old story. Graduated last year with a combined degree in computer science and physics (note: NOT dual degrees) and no internship experience (I was pursuing one but it fell through, 3 guesses why). I had one job interview in June, a couple phone interviews with a second company in October, and nothing else since then. I'm already coming from a position of weakness to begin with since I'm aiming for entry-level, but my qualifications aren't that great even for entry-level (my GPA isn't very good either, but I'm not advertising it on my resume).

At this point I'm wondering what I should do. I considered hiding out in grad school but for reasons not worth going into that's not an option. The other option that came to mind was pursuing certification so I have something more to put on my resume than school projects. The specific cert I'm looking at is the Sun Certified Java Associate since it seems kind of in line with what I already know and what I want to do. But the test itself plus the practice test is $350, which I can afford (*coughwithparentalassistancecough*), but I don't want to invest in something that might ultimately never pay off.

I guess I'm wondering is if I'm simply in an irredeemable position and should look for something else to do with my life, because after the last 8 months I really feel kind of worthless as a prospective software engineer and I can't think of anything else to do with my degree.

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Vertruen in Pleasant Valley, New York

53 months ago

CP83 Hang in there. I graduated with a BS degree in 1978 as a Chemist. The economy was bad like it is now. You are in a good position because the demand for Software Engineers will improve. Show employers you are serious about pursuing a career as a Software Engineer. Get the certification. You may want to work on a software project of your own or get involved with an open-source project. Find some kind of work (i.e newspaper delivery, Burger-King etc) to show that you are willing to work.

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Mike in Chicago, Illinois

51 months ago

I would recommend finding an open source project to work on while you continue to search for a job. Show people you have a passion, and keep honing your skills. Might want to check out StackOverflow careers as well.

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eagle1970 in Rochester, New York

50 months ago

cp83,

Have a back-up plan in case your IT career goes nowhere. The labour market now is flooded with people with more experience than you looking for work. There is no guarantee that things will get better. Vertruen, who responded above needs to understand that it is not 1978. Do not depend on IT/CS/SW Eng to be a lifetime, stable career.

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Mike in Chicago, Illinois

50 months ago

I have to push back some on what eagle1970 said. Yes, it's not 1978 in the sense than you can't simply apply to any major corporation, claim you're a programmer, and be set for life (I'm being hyperbolic, but you get the point).

If you have a passion for IT, and have the skills to back up that passion you can find work, especially if you're willing to move. I do admit it can be tough to get your first gig, but make the most of it and learn everything you can.

I've only been in the field a few years, but I graduated with 11 job offers, and every time I've put my name back into the market, I've been flooded with opportunities (granted, I am usually looking in larger cities). I did not go to an Ivy League school or have friends hook me up with jobs, I just know where to look, and how to present myself.

Most of my friends (including dramatically more experienced developers) have never had much trouble finding another job. I do suggest sticking to smaller private firms that don't have to layoff or outsource development simply to meet short-term financial goals.

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Vertruen in New Freedom, Pennsylvania

50 months ago

Rochester, NY is not a good place to be working in Software. There are opportunities there but pay is low, supply is high compared to demand. Rochester has Paychex, MVP Healthcare and a couple other regional companies. The cost of living is very low compared to the rest of NY state,

I live in the New York Metropolitan area and am willing to travel. I am currently working in PA. My company is having trouble finding an adequate number of people. The pay is good. I have been in IT for 18 years now. There was a time I thought it was probably a mistake to stay in IT.

IT is not what it used to be in the 1990's but it is still much better than what it was in the late 1970's. A career in IT is a reality although it may require an attitude adjustment if 1990's conditions are expected.

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Mike in Chicago, Illinois

50 months ago

My current company in Chicago is also having trouble finding qualified applicants. It's absolutely unbelievable how many reasonable looking compsci grads that come in for interviews and can't code their way out of the room.

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joseph_porter in Fremont, California

44 months ago

Getting a software job isn't always easy, especially since the interviews can be tricky. Keep applying and you're bound to get an interview somewhere.

You can still apply for an internship - most software ones pay about 20 bucks an hour....even an unpaid one is good to just get some experience.

Dont worry about the economy, you can still find a job, just be persistent.

Certs don't make much of a difference - showing that you're intelligent and motivated does.

I'd recommend that even before you get an interview you start preparing since it takes some time to prepare.

Check out this site - it helped me get my last software job:

www.programmerinterview.com/

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Pam in Fremont, California

28 months ago

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Alex in India

26 months ago

Mike in Chicago, Illinois said: My current company in Chicago is also having trouble finding qualified applicants. It's absolutely unbelievable how many reasonable looking compsci grads that come in for interviews and can't code their way out of the room.

Software is not rocket science and I have seen dumb guys with no programming background doing equally good ,since they learned all the stuff on the job .

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Mike in Toronto, Ontario

24 months ago

I live in Hamilton which is about an hour away from Toronto, and I'm having one heck of a hard time finding work in the software/web development field. I have travelled to toronto and the area, and even niagara falls. I don't drive. I take a bus. I have sent numerous resumes, got a few interviews and no luck. I finished school three years ago with a diploma. Does anyone know where I can find a north america map showing companies in high need of programmers and whether or not the companies can accept people working remotely for them?

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true in Hatboro, Pennsylvania

19 months ago

Alex in India said: Software is not rocket science and I have seen dumb guys with no programming background doing equally good ,since they learned all the stuff on the job .

I agree with this completely. I know if you are using a Microsoft language, it is 75% automated and high-level. Some people just don't like giving people a chance. They simply dismiss them as unable to code like it is something ingrained into them. It is taught. Even though they think it is rocket science to code in a language that completes your lines of code for you, it simply isn't. There are plenty of candidates around, it may be your companies attitude. I have experienced interviewers that simply want to chew new people out and spit them out bombing with questions they learned on the job.

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MarkP in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

18 months ago

I graduated in 2002 with double degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from a top-20 rated program. Have sent my resume out to thousands of employers, and over the past decade, have rarely received a bite. The hiring situation for software engineers over the past decade has been horrible. Its nothing to do with *you*, its the market. When people aren't getting interviews, firms have no way of determining whether they're dealing with someone who can barely code, or someone who is a superstar-coder. That's just how bad things have become.

Its especially bad in Canada because talent is like flies on sh*t when it comes to the very few well-paid jobs that are out there. And a lot of Canada's tech industry has dissappeared.

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MarkP in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

18 months ago

Mike in Chicago, Illinois said: My current company in Chicago is also having trouble finding qualified applicants. It's absolutely unbelievable how many reasonable looking compsci grads that come in for interviews and can't code their way out of the room.

Coding is just one part of Computer Science, and when you give a coding test on an interview, you very well may be rejecting a lot of great applicants who just aren't 100% up to date on the particular language du jour but could be up to speed within weeks if given an appropriate mandate to participate in your company. I'd suggest looking at projects (school and personal), marks on coding-oriented courses, and how well the students did on the systems engineering (ie: operating systems) types of courses as interviewing metrics.

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Mike in New York, New York

18 months ago

MarkP in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan said: I graduated in 2002 with double degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from a top-20 rated program. Have sent my resume out to thousands of employers, and over the past decade, have rarely received a bite. The hiring situation for software engineers over the past decade has been horrible. Its nothing to do with *you*, its the market. When people aren't getting interviews, firms have no way of determining whether they're dealing with someone who can barely code, or someone who is a superstar-coder. That's just how bad things have become.

Its especially bad in Canada because talent is like flies on sh*t when it comes to the very few well-paid jobs that are out there. And a lot of Canada's tech industry has dissappeared.

I can't speak much for Canada, but in the USA I've never had any issue finding a job. I graduated from a good, but mostly unknown school in the midwest. I had 11 offers before graduation. I've been on 2 job hunts post-graduation. Each time I received multiple offers within a couple weeks.

I actually had a friend move from Chicago to Toronto and get a software engineer gig pretty quickly. Maybe you should

For many professions the economy is a serious problem. Software engineering is not one of them. You should do some introspection and see what the real issue is.

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MarkP in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

18 months ago

Mike in New York, New York said: For many professions the economy is a serious problem. Software engineering is not one of them. You should do some introspection and see what the real issue is.

I've had my resume reviewed by a number of career counsellors who assure me that the resume itself definitely isn't the problem. But the employers I talk to (when they actually bother to talk to me) report that they receive dozens, sometimes hundreds of resumes. So it essentially becomes the luck of a draw on who gets interviewed and who doesn't. Maybe you got lucky, who knows. But to say that the economy isn't a problem in software is a significant mischaracterization of the truth.

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Mike in New York, New York

18 months ago

MarkP in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan said: Coding is just one part of Computer Science, and when you give a coding test on an interview, you very well may be rejecting a lot of great applicants who just aren't 100% up to date on the particular language du jour but could be up to speed within weeks if given an appropriate mandate to participate in your company. I'd suggest looking at projects (school and personal), marks on coding-oriented courses, and how well the students did on the systems engineering (ie: operating systems) types of courses as interviewing metrics.

Coding is just one part of computer science, but I'm not hiring computer scientists. I'm hiring software engineers. Coding is pretty important. I also never said it's the only part of the interview, or that I forced a language. In fact, coding is only 1 of many parts, and I let candidates code in any language (even psuedo-code).

I also don't ask academic and obtuse coding questions (e.g., implement merge-sort in c). I have been through the process at major shops like Microsoft and Amazon and find their processes arbitrary. Instead, I often ask candidates to walk me through the most interesting coding problem from the last month. Or if they claim to be awesome at something specific, like front-end web development in jQuery, they better be able to dynamically update some html.

Unfortunately, what I often find is that candidates can barely write any code. If they can't google the problem they're trying to solve and copy/paste from stackoverflow it's not going to get done.

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Mike in New York, New York

18 months ago

MarkP in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan said: I've had my resume reviewed by a number of career counsellors who assure me that the resume itself definitely isn't the problem. But the employers I talk to (when they actually bother to talk to me) report that they receive dozens, sometimes hundreds of resumes. So it essentially becomes the luck of a draw on who gets interviewed and who doesn't. Maybe you got lucky, who knows. But to say that the economy isn't a problem in software is a significant mischaracterization of the truth.

Seriously, I don't think the economy is the problem. Are you geographically mobile? My company is actually going through tough times and has laid off several software engineers in the last 3 months. Every single one of them found a job within a couple weeks (some in NYC, some in Long Island, one in Florida). Maybe you're targeting the wrong companies or the wrong locales. Maybe you should look for smaller companies that aren't targeted so aggressively by people. Keep in mind that if you find the posting(s) via a simple search, so did 100 other people. Maybe going to local events or meetups and networking would be helpful.

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Mike in New York, New York

18 months ago

true in Hatboro, Pennsylvania said: I agree with this completely. I know if you are using a Microsoft language, it is 75% automated and high-level. Some people just don't like giving people a chance. They simply dismiss them as unable to code like it is something ingrained into them. It is taught. Even though they think it is rocket science to code in a language that completes your lines of code for you, it simply isn't. There are plenty of candidates around, it may be your companies attitude. I have experienced interviewers that simply want to chew new people out and spit them out bombing with questions they learned on the job.

This is what I'm talking about. Even with Microsoft, and the higher-level .NET stack, saying it's 75% automated is crazy. Sure, you can have visual studio create a website project that's runnable in 5 minutes. But if you want to build something that's used by more than 10 people and is maintainable and scalable, you need some real depth of knowledge.

I do know lots of people who are self-taught (no college) and are outstanding developers. But they didn't just learn on the job willy nilly. They became passionate and lose themselves many nights and weekends just cranking away and honing their skills. Engineers are expensive, and bad ones are dangerous to the long-term productivity and technical outlook of a company. There's good reasons for companies to be overly cautious.

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MarkP in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

18 months ago

Mike in New York, New York said: Unfortunately, what I often find is that candidates can barely write any code. If they can't google the problem they're trying to solve and copy/paste from stackoverflow it's not going to get done.

Why not just take their word for it, as professionals, that they can do the job? You don't set up a 'plumbing test' for the plumber before he works on the pipes at your house. You don't screen a lawyer on the minutae of some law passed 30 years ago before you engage him. Coding tests are unprofessional when applied to people who are otherwise qualified by virtue of having a CS degree.

As for using reference material, nothing wrong with that as long as its not copied verbatim. We actually have a fancy name for that, its called an #include statement in C.

Software engineering and computer science are basically the same thing, and most software engineering work isn't coding either. Coding is actually the most trivial part of the overall software engineering process.

Anyways, I don't mind coding tests providing that they're not arbitrary. I just wish that employers who gripe and complain about not being able to find qualified applicants would get out there and actually interview non-trivial numbers of applicants in good faith. Microsoft, for example, claims a labour shortage, yet interviews less than 1% of applicants to its software engineering jobs.

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Mike in New York, New York

18 months ago

MarkP in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan said: Why not just take their word for it, as professionals, that they can do the job? You don't set up a 'plumbing test' for the plumber before he works on the pipes at your house. You don't screen a lawyer on the minutae of some law passed 30 years ago before you engage him. Coding tests are unprofessional when applied to people who are otherwise qualified by virtue of having a CS degree.

The people who often hire lawyers and plumbers aren't capable of properly evaluating their abilities (I know I couldn't) so they defer to licensure, regulations, and referral. You don't just take their word for it either. If you do, you're being foolish. Coding tests are required because too many people, even with CS degrees from reputable universities, are terrible at writing code. I don't just say this because I'm assuming I'm perfect at interpreting interview performance. Rather, I have worked for years with ivy-league cs grads who were terrible and dragged down teams. Not all of them are terrible of course, but my point is simply that a cs degree does not imply what you think it implies.

MarkP in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan said: As for using reference material, nothing wrong with that as long as its not copied verbatim. We actually have a fancy name for that, its called an #include statement in C.

I totally agree. I was trying to say that some people are incapable of getting work done without it. They can't solve coding problems on their own, they can only copy other people's solutions.

MarkP in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan said:
Software engineering and computer science are basically the same thing, and most software engineering work isn't coding either. Coding is actually the most trivial part of the overall software engineering process.

Nope. they're quite different. If you think coding is the most trivial part, you've probably written nothing truly interesting in code.

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Bluetea in Texas

18 months ago

MarkP in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan said:
Microsoft, for example, claims a labour shortage, yet interviews less than 1% of applicants to its software engineering jobs.

Microsoft gets 75,000 unsolicted applications a week.

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rl09 in San Jose, California

15 months ago

I am a young software developer, grew up in the mid-west and I have no technical degree. That being said I have over 10 years of professional experience writing software.

Yes the economy is not in the best shape and things are very competitive, but I feel there is still a large number of firms, big and small, that have at least a small shortage of developers.

To the people that say "coding isn't rocket science", and it should be easy for anyone to get a coding job, what I'm hearing is you think "writing software with today's technologies requires little intelligence". It takes some simple common sense and at least a little experience with software engineering to know this is statement is specious. Sure there is less of a "learning curve" to understand the lexical details of a language like PHP as compared to others, but does that make solving any and all problems a "walk in the park?" In short think before you make ridiculous absolute statements like that.

Otherwise I can say that I was never handed a magic answer. There has never been a secret website or group that has "all the real jobs", and you can bet that many other people need a job too.

If one wants to write code, then as other's have pointed out, one simply needs to start writing code. There are so many resources, communities and projects that a budding developer could get there hands in. Being a part of a real project, or even making something in your personal git-hub work can speak volumes about your ability to get things done...with code!

The last thing I will add to this rant is I have a lot of experience with managers (HR managers, Technical PMs, etc...) who think that a solid developer needs to have some kind of encyclopedic knowledge of a language/tech/stack of some kind. These managers constantly complain that they can't find a valuable developer, and this is often because they have both unrealistic expectations, and are looking for the wrong values in a developer.

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