Getting a Software/Web Developer job with a non-CS/IT degree

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youngPro13 in New York, New York

25 months ago

Hello All,
I'm a graduate student majoring in Professional Studies with concentrations in Web Development and Project Management. I am nearing my graduation and would like to know how difficult it might be for me to find a full time software developers job this summer?
I have almost 2 years experience as a web developer and I am currently interning in one of the BIGGIES (non-IT) in NY! But, I am still curious to know if my non-CS/non-IT degree could be a hindrance in me finding a full time job!!
I am also an international student. So, I would be seeking employers who could sponsor me! I would appreciate any useful points regarding this.

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NorthOfTheD in Troy, Michigan

25 months ago

The fact that you do indeed have a couple years of web developer experience in the bank (Yes -- "experience" is now as valuable as solid gold) means you'll actually have a shot at attracting a company's attention. Companies don't become instantly overjoyed by a candidate's qualifications (especially in that field) with a simple mention of a degree anymore. They want to see proof that you know what you're doing, and that you're good at it!

So, your challenge won't necessarily be passing yourself off as a competitive candidate without the optimal degree. Rather, your focus should be on providing a method for the potential employers to see your skills and abilities; i.e. building a portfolio, a unique website highlighting yourself, work samples (paper or online) that are similar to the types of projects you'd be taking on at the new company, etc.

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youngPro13 in New York, New York

25 months ago

Hey NorthOfTheD,

Thanks for your inputs. My main concern is that I have heard of a lot of companies filtering the resumes they receive through degrees as well. So, there's a chance that I might miss out on a good company. Should I really be worried about such factors? Also, I am studying more CS/IT courses through sites like courseera and udacity to enhance my knowledge. Could mentioning this on my online portfolio/resume be worth it?

It would be nice to receive more helpful inputs from others as well.. :)

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Riot in Ware, Massachusetts

25 months ago

What college or university are you earning your "Professional Studies" degree from? I haven't heard of this major before. If you're attending a for-profit, it might be detrimental to your job search.

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youngPro13 in New York, New York

25 months ago

I'm doing it from Rochester Inst of Tech, Rochester, Ny!

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youngPro13 in New York, New York

25 months ago

I'm doing it from Rochester Inst of Tech, Rochester, Ny! The major is also known as multidisciplinary studies...
While searching for an internship as software/web developer, I had interviews from 10 employers! 1 rejected me... 2 accepted me.. and I discontinued the hiring process with the rest...
BUT, I'm not sure if the scenario would be same for a FULL TIME job!!
Any inputs?

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Riot in Ware, Massachusetts

25 months ago

The fact that you'll have a degree from a recognized university along with work experience and an internship should help a lot to alleviate not having a "typical" degree for a software engineer. I would think that your ability to get an internship in software should signify that companies will look at your resume. Beyond that, nothing is certain, as we are still in a down economy. My advice would be to make a good impression and as many connections as possible at your internship. Also use your school's Career Services office to the fullest extent possible. Good Luck!

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youngPro13 in New York, New York

25 months ago

My work experience isn't really INDUSTRY based! I was working on 2 jobs as web developer on campus.. one was for 9 months.. 2nd for 6 months.. and this internship of 6 months is my 1st step in the Industry..
Should that be any cause of worry? A senior recruiter from Tek Systems told me it shouldn't really matter because I have very solid skills.. But, I read here in 1 of the forums that "People from Tek Systems tell you what you want to hear"!! :/

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NorthOfTheD in Troy, Michigan

25 months ago

youngPro13 in New York, New York said: Hey NorthOfTheD,

Thanks for your inputs. My main concern is that I have heard of a lot of companies filtering the resumes they receive through degrees as well. So, there's a chance that I might miss out on a good company. Should I really be worried about such factors? Also, I am studying more CS/IT courses through sites like courseera and udacity to enhance my knowledge. Could mentioning this on my online portfolio/resume be worth it?

Yes it's very possible - even likely - that some companies' resume scanning process will view a BS degree (or higher) as an absolute requirement. But, that's fine, and it's out of your control anyway. Don't let those who are mistaken about degrees having more value than verified experience and skills get you down.

I got my current job by having experience in the field; but my degree itself doesn't have a great deal in common with the profession that my "college experience" says I should have. I see this becoming rather common with IT and web development related jobs.

Personally, if I needed to hire a PHP and MySQL developer (for example), I don't necessarily care if you have a Masters degree or flunked out of junior highschool - as long as you can demonstrate that you're proficient in creating and maintaining sites that utilize PHP/MySQL. Many people I work with would feel the same way.

Now - It's certainly true that the degree might make a candidate stand out among the others at first, but if you can effectively demonstrate to the potential employer that you have the skills and knowledge to perform exactly what they need, suddenly everyone's "degrees" become less of a glowing star and more of a basic talking point. Remember that degrees don't guarantee that a candidate is truly qualified for a job, and thankfully many companies in the IT / web development fields are starting to recognize and appreciate this.

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NorthOfTheD in Troy, Michigan

25 months ago

Just a quick note of intent to edit ---

NorthOfTheD in Troy, Michigan said:

I got my current job by having experience in the field; but my *degree* itself doesn't have a great deal in common with the profession that my "college experience" says I should have. I see this becoming rather common with IT and web development related jobs.

This should state:

I got my current job by having experience in the field; but my *job* itself doesn't have a great deal in common with the profession that my "college experience" says I should have.

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youngPro13 in New York, New York

25 months ago

To be honest, I do have a Bachelor of Engg in Computers. I just opted for Professional Studies as my major (with concentrations in Web Development & Project Management) in my master's because I would like to have some management courses under my belt, so that things are a little easier when I apply for an MBA 3-4 years down the line (assuming I get a full time job this summer).

I am also volunteering my time and skills for another web development project outside of work. And, to add to that, I am thinking of learning ASP.Net and Python.
My current skills include: PHP/MySQL/MSSQL, JavaScript (jQuery), HTML,CSS and Drupal!

@NorthOfTheD: Since you seem to have great deal of experience, would you suggest that I get even better at my present skills or should I go out and learn things like ASP.Net and Python, and possibly create a project in them to add to my previous list?

Thanks a lot for your inputs till now. :)

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NorthOfTheD in Troy, Michigan

25 months ago

youngPro13 in New York, New York said: I am also volunteering my time and skills for another web development project outside of work. And, to add to that, I am thinking of learning ASP.Net and Python.
My current skills include: PHP/MySQL/MSSQL, JavaScript (jQuery), HTML,CSS and Drupal!

@NorthOfTheD: Since you seem to have great deal of experience, would you suggest that I get even better at my present skills or should I go out and learn things like ASP.Net and Python, and possibly create a project in them to add to my previous list?

Thanks a lot for your inputs till now. :)

You're certainly welcome, though quite frankly, I don't even feel like I have a great deal of experience in this area. I'm sure you're bound to eventually meet someone with more relevant experience that will be able to offer even more specific assistance or recommendations.

Regarding your question above, the answer I'd recommend involves you answering this question -- "What do YOU want to do?"

Because if you already enjoy standard web development on a Linux environment, it sounds like you're already focusing on the right skill set. I'm not sure what opportunities are available in New York (though I'd think there would be some), but I know in my area that if you're well-versed in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, and MySQL then at the very least you should have no trouble landing a job paying $15.00 an hour. If you have some experience as well, I suspect you should be able to secure a $45-60K salary.

That being said, is there another development language that you would like to specialize in? I'm a firm believer in the theory that you're more likely to excel in something you're passionate about, and there are certainly some benefits to specializing in specific languages and web development practices.

(continued..)

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NorthOfTheD in Troy, Michigan

25 months ago

Just to help give you some ideas and extra encouragement -- I have many college buddies and acquaintances in different web development fields, and none of them have had long-term troubles in finding a job with a respectable salary. One specifically scripts in Perl and PHP for the majority of his responsibilities. Another works with a development team building Java apps - and if you have any interest in Java, it definitely seems to be something worth pursuing. I see some job postings offering nearly $100K for an experienced Java developer. And yet another friend of mine builds custom WordPress themes for clients (kind of a marketing and IT role in one).

Learning a multitude of skills is never a bad thing. Just keep in mind it may really "pay off" if you eventually become a true expert at one specific, high-demand skill in this industry.

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youngPro13 in New York, New York

25 months ago

Hmm.. Got you! I spoke to a geek-friend over the weekend and that helped as well. He obviously told me something very similar... :)
I am going to opt for Ruby on Rails because I already have Drupal skills and Ruby on Rails is another upcoming thing in this field...

Going on the sidelines with this thread was my interaction with a few employers from Linkedin, which they themselves initiated. They told me that the degree doesn't bother them.. :D

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Sara in Rochester, New York

20 months ago

youngPro13 in New York, New York said: I'm doing it from Rochester Inst of Tech, Rochester, Ny!

I know this is old, but how in the heck do you worry about your prospects when you're getting an RIT degree? At least in NY, those alone are gold (though I sometimes wonder if all RIT grads are really that great). You even have a great, two-year internship. Don't you think you're too hung up on the "no CS" thing? I'm way jealous of how much you have going for you. Just get out there and do it.

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