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About to graduate, any advice?

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Graduation is in site, I'm very excited to get out there in the real world and start "hacking" away. I cant help but to think that no matter what I do I'm never going to be prepared for my "first job". I feel that once I start working(learning) that I'll do an excellent job, my problem is when I start applying and they start asking.. have you done this.. have you done that... I cant help to think well yes I have... but then I start thinking harder and I'm like.. or have I. I battle with this type of mindset every day, because I think I'm top of my class in my field(computer science) at my school, or right up there with the very few that actually know how to code, or what your "taught" how to code. Yet I still find myself doubting myself, even though to me, there are more than enough that seem to be sub par performers when it comes to all aspects of OOP and/or software engineering. I feel that given a chance I will exceed whats expected of me, but who wants to hire someone who doesn't believe in themselves, which is and isn't the case. My competative drive pushes me, but just the thought of somone out there better than you(which is always the case) brings me back to why would they want me. My dad, whos a self taught software developer has been in the business for roughly 30 years, we talk sometimes, we love getting geeked out over problems either him or I are having, and everytime I tell him how I feel he just tells me there are a lot... a lot of people out there that cant code worth a hoot, and then there are some that can code but lack any sort of viable communication. Since I'm his son he always tells me I've got both, and when we talk about our problems he can tell that I know how to think outside the box when tackling a problem, but I wonder if he is just candy coating it because were father and son. I tell his when I'm on a roll I'm on a roll(planning/coding/debugging/modeling), but when I hit a road block, I suddenly feel like a fake!! He laughs and says I feel the same way all the time, especially when he has to learn something new or go back and do something he hasn't in years. Back to my point, what can I expect going out there in the real world, will I ever really be prepared, or just know that I'm going out there with the tools to "learn" how to learn to do what needs to be done, as quickly and efficiently as possible. Anyone that hires in the field, or has recently been hired, or just anyone in general... what do we look for in a person that makes them appealing. Sure, I've used c/c++, Pascal, Java, assembly, written a small scale database management program and implemented our own SQL operators, written a few small games(very small), how much of this is worth anything as far as "experience" goes. They one thing that I really am proud of(proud of the other things as well) was grading papers, because it let me take other peoples work, and disect it, figure out what they were doing here or there, which helps me with my own work. Points things out I want to stay away from, in some cases, use it, but the best thing was being able to read hundreds of differen't programs that all did the same thing and figure out how and why they did it this way, since I'll probably be doing a bit of this out in the real world, as far as taking someones junk and making it my own junk.. hehe. Thanks in advance for any comments or advice, if you read this in it's entirety I'm sorry if you were disapointed. Mike

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First, some general advice - relax :) What I mean by that is that as long as you work hard, focus on what you should do, you'll end up just fine. And IF you don't, well, you worked your hardest, so what else could you have done? :)

Just find what you like to do and focus on that. If it's games, then make games. I personally don't have a CS degree, so I am somewhat lacking in that area, but I love to work on games, and I did do a lot of hobbyist projects while in school. I leanred quite a bit about making games, and even though I didn't have a "traditional" resume, I got a job at a great company making AAA games.

The point is that all you can really do is just learn, work, and stay positive. I'm sure you'll do alright.

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0) Don't assume you learned anything, especially as a direct result of attending classes, doing assignments etc. Sorry. The only real way you can know what you've learned is to prove it to yourself, by doing. It sounds like you've been doing a fair amount of that, but see point 2.

1) The real world is full, to an alarming degree, of absolutely horrendous code, written by completely incompetent, so-called programmers, under the direction of completely incompetent, so-called managers (who often got to that position on the basis of senority as an incompetent programmer). Don't let the bogon radiation destroy your brain.

2) Regardless, there is hope.

3) Because Bregma pointed it out, and because I can't resist (although I have to admit I've seen MUCH worse from allegedly highly educated people - and not with ironic intent, either):

Quote:

// Only a first edit. I could have missed things or introduced serious errors
// or changes in meaning ;)

With graduation in sight, I'm very excited to get out into the real world and start "hacking" away. I can't help but to think that, no matter what I do, I'm never going to be prepared for my first job. I expect that once I start working (learning?), I'll do an excellent job.

My problem is that, when I apply for jobs and the interviewers ask if I've done this or that, I can't help but think "well yes, I have"... but then I start thinking harder, and wonder, "...or have I?".

I battle with a mindset like this every day. I think of myself as at top of my class in my field (computer science) at my school, or right up there with the very few who actually know "how to code", as opposed to just knowing what the classes supposedly teach you. Yet, even though a large number of people appear to be (in my opinion) sub-par performers - in all aspects of OOP and/or software engineering - I still find myself doubting my abilities.

I feel that, given a chance, I will exceed what's expected of me - but who wants to hire someone who doesn't believe in themselves (which is and isn't the case)? My competetive drive pushes me, but the mere thought of someone out there better than me (and there always is someone) brings me back to the question of why an employer would want me.

My dad, who's a self taught software developer, has been in the business for roughly 30 years. We talk sometimes; we love getting "geeked out" over our current problems. Every time I tell him how I feel, he just tells me there are a lot (and he means a LOT) of people out there who can't code worth a hoot, and then there are some who can code but are utterly unable to communicate. Since I'm his son, he always tells me I don't fall in either category; when we talk about our problems he recognizes my lateral thinking skills. Regardless, I wonder if he is just candy coating things because we're father-and-son.

I tell him when I'm "on a roll" (with regard to planning, coding, debugging, modeling etc.), but when I hit a road block, I suddenly feel like a fake!! He laughs and says he feels the same way all the time, especially when he has to learn something new or go back and do something he hasn't in years.

Anyway - what can I expect going out there in the real world? Will I ever really be prepared? To anyone who hires in the field, has recently been hired, or just anyone in general for that matter: what do you look for in a job candidate? I've used c/c++, Pascal, Java, and assembly; written a small scale database management program; implemented our own SQL operators; and written a few small games(very small): how much of this counts as valuable "experience"?

The one thing that I am especially proud of is that I got to grade some papers in college. This gave me the chance to take other peoples work, dissect it, figure out what they were doing here or there - and apply what I learned to my own work. Best of all, I could read hundreds of different programs that all did the same thing and figure out how and why each did things in a particular way. In the real world, I'll probably be doing a bit of this - i.e. taking someone else's junk and making it my own junk (hehe).

Thanks in advance for any comments or advice. My apologies if you read this in its entirety and were disapointed.
Mike


Writing skills do count; job applications generally require resumes and - at least as importantly - cover letters, you know.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Here's some advice:

Business writing: There are more types of punctuation than '...' and try googling for 'paragraph'.

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