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I just can't win!

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Well, when I graduated college I got a regular job at SuperTarget just to make some money while I was trying to find a job. Well, after getting a little discouraged in my initial job search I got too comfortable working at SuperTarget because I loved my hours 4am-12:30pm because I got off and had the whole afternoon/night as free time which I usually spent programming. Well, I let a little too much time slip by and by the time I realized it a year had passed and I was still not employed in my field. So, now that I am trying super hard (landing atleast 1 interview a week) to get a job IN MY FIELD, lol.. I am running into a problem of references. Since it has been so long (a year) really, none of my professors even remember me that much if they are even still there/reachable with the info I have. I have not worked in the industry so coworkers are really out. And I am only in touch with one of my seven classmates. Since I have had several interviews now and haven't had much luck or heard anything back, do you think it is my references that are hurting me? What should I do in this situation?

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Didn't you have any jobs before graduating?

I haven't finished college yet, but I have three references, one written and two by phone. They don't have anything to do with computers, but at least they can say I was never late or away and that I did a good job.

Really if you've waited this long to find work and knew employers(other than McDonalds/Target) wanted references, what did you think would happen?

Quote:

What should I do in this situation?


Perhaps just try to find jobs close to your field(rather than "in"). At least that way you can build some references and it might look better than Target.

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you might have to wait a little longer but start moving around lower level jobs that are associated to the job you want to get...

If you can get 2-3 names associated to yourself to show that you are able to work in something similar or related then its not a big deal to get the jobs you more want.

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I doubt they care about references (I have never been asked for a reference at a job interview, nor do I ask for them when I am involved in interviewing). Employers care about your experience with whatever skill set they are looking for. You are most likely applying for jobs which you are not qualified for due to lack of experience. If I saw your resume and it told me you were one year out of school and still working at Target, you would never even get to the interview stage. Sorry, but that is the cold reality. This is why it is so critical to get an internship while you are still in school. If you did not take advantage of internships, then you missed the boat and life is going to be tough at first. Hopefully you did *some* networking while in college (there is more to school than just classes ya know). Contact your peers and see who they are working for. Otherwise, lower your expectations and take what you can get. Pay your dues for a year, and then start looking for a better job after you have real world experience. Your next job will be waaay easier to land.

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No, that is just the thing, I have over 20 people I can use as references. However, none of them are "professional" references that I keep getting asked for and only one that is related to my field.

Ya, one year out of school is hurting me, however, I was looking during that time, just not super hard like I am now. I just had a hard time finding jobs that I was a match for.

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Quote:
Original post by Nabren
...do you think it is my references that are hurting me?

No. Generally, references are to vouch for your character, work ethic and stuff. They'll get asked some fluff questions about your technical skills, but that's simply to determine if the reference is himself ethical.

Quote:
What should I do in this situation?

Keep looking, keep working. When I (finally) graduate college - with a humanities degree at that - I couldn't get a job in my field because nobody knew what cinema and cultural studies majors were supposed to do! I fell back on my IT skills, but it took a long time for me to get an entry-level programming job, probably due to HR bias against my resume (no recognizable tech companies recently, non-tech degree). After spending several months struggling as a part-time sysadmin/support grunt, I got a biz dev position in the game industry. From there I jumped to a software development position writing database automation, and now I'm a web developer at a large media conglomerate. In a year and a half I also added $20,000 to my annual income.

Patience. You'll be fine.

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Hi.
I'm finishing college this year and I will probably be in the same problem like Nabren. I'm from Poland and in here it's hard like hell to get programming job without university or technical university paper in hand so how can I help myself to get started in the field?
I'm mostly learning at home and with good results I think but how can I help myself that way???
I don't have any idea. Is someone considering community projects as references when interviewing?
So many questions and so few answers in my head...I'm scared to finish shool.

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In my experience my references were only contacted after the job offer was given. The companies in question were primarily concerned with what I know and what I can do. For my first job they wanted to see examples of my work - fortunately I'd spent a fair bit of time doing some console hacking, which happened to be very relevant to what they needed me for. I went to my first batch of interviews with an xbox under my arm and demonstrated some graphics demos, I also compiled my best work, took screenshots, made a web front end and put my work on a CD to leave with the companies which had my name / address / telephone number on the sleeve. At interviews I tried to present myself as smart, punctual, honest and friendly. On my CV / resume I tried to extrapolate good work experience from my previous jobs even though they were unrelated.

Suffice to say that I landed a job working with one of the coolest companies ever, working on high profile games, and I had the time of my life. Previous experience: call center assistant and security guard (!!).

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The best thing you can do for yourself is to get into the internship program if your school has such a program. If your school does not have an official internship program, look for companies that offer internships and that will work around your course schedule. Many times the company will transition you from intern to full-time employee after you graduate. Even if they don't, you will have the real experience you need to get another job without too much trouble, not to mention that you will have built a network of industry professionals who can alert you about open positions that they know of.

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References are needed only to show that you have a work ethic. If your boss at SupGet knows what it is you really want to do, thinks you're a great employee, and is a good guy, you can ask him to give you a good reference.

But even more than references, you need a portfolio. Work on some mods or indie projects - collaboratively. That'll accomplish two things: not only building a portfolio, but netting you more references.

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References don't matter that much (especially when going for your first industry job...), what matters is your portfolio / demo disc, or whatever you choose to use to show you've got talent/experience.

Simply showing off a college degree won't do it, you've got to have actually done something, such as made a freeware game.

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Hey Nabren I have a gread idea.
Perhaps we can start our own project. This way we will have something to put in portfolio, learn a little about team work and share our knowledge. What do say? I'm programming in c++ and have intermediate knowledge about OpenGL, Win32 and other related stuff. Recently I'm develpoing my own interface exorting framework to facilitate work with dll's and networking.

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I have a very extensive portfolio.

An in-depth Unreal 2004 mob. Extremely modified.
A 3D Breakout Game.
Numerous small projects through-out college.
Numerous projects i've been working on by myself.

The portfolio isn't the problem. I just can't figure out what I am doing wrong. I understand the stuff really well, I pick up things in a snap. It took me 3 minutes to understand the idea behind object oriented design having known nothing about it beforehand, including how polymorphism works.

I guess it really is the 1 year out of college hurting me, but even then, I have gotten interviews and most have told me they would call me even if I DIDN'T get it, and some it's been over a month and no word. I guess maybe I should of called them back but I didn't want to seem impatient since they said they would call me EITHER way and never did.

I am always looking for more experience, Mortilles and I think it would be fun to work on something with ya :)

I am weak on OpenGL as I have been trying to learn .NET and DirectX (since that is what it seems most employers want) but as I said I pick up things very easily so as long as I have documentation for OpenGL infront of me I am good to go. All the other logic/algortihms/etc stay the same, just the graphics/sound that is mainly different.

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I think that you should call them. Perhaps they have someone and forgot to call you... or perhaps not.

So PM me if you are really interested in doing something with me. I'm excited about working with you too...

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Quote:
to get a job IN MY FIELD


Your field is point of sale retail.

Quote:
Original post by Nabren
I have a very extensive portfolio.

An in-depth Unreal 2004 mob. Extremely modified.
A 3D Breakout Game.
Numerous small projects through-out college.
Numerous projects i've been working on by myself.


How many of those are commercial projects?

Quote:
I just can't figure out what I am doing wrong. I understand the stuff really well, I pick up things in a snap. It took me 3 minutes to understand the idea behind object oriented design having known nothing about it beforehand, including how polymorphism works.


"Without prior knowledge of OO I was put in charge of design of Java point of sale application to manage 10 users, 9000 products in 250 categories. Application was completed and deployed in 2 month time. On this project I gained working knowledge of design patterns, UML modeling, unit testing and OO application development."

Quote:
I guess it really is the 1 year out of college hurting me, but even then, I have gotten interviews and most have told me they would call me even if I DIDN'T get it, and some it's been over a month and no word. I guess maybe I should of called them back but I didn't want to seem impatient since they said they would call me EITHER way and never did.


This is common practice. When you test 500 people a year for entry level positions you don't call them back. There's simply too many.

The only people that get called back are those who could, for various reasons, use this against the employer. These are usually people who already have connections, or who already have a name in the same type of industry. Ignoring those could mean image smear. Ignoring everyone else however is a cost-saving measure - time is money. Harsh reality. Even in countries where law says otherwise - nobody is going to sue over something like this.

Quote:
I am weak on OpenGL as I have been trying to learn .NET and DirectX (since that is what it seems most employers want) but as I said I pick up things very easily so as long as I have documentation for OpenGL infront of me I am good to go. , just the graphics/sound that is mainly different.


"Without practical experience in OpenGL I developed a 3D breakout clone. It won third place in a competition and was completed in only 2 days"
"Developed a Quake model viewer in C# using DX 9 that was used in development of a $NAME mod"."

Quote:
All the other logic/algortihms/etc stay the same


No, not really. SimCity 4 made incorrect assumption about memory layout differences between nVidia and Radeon series, which resulted in poor performance on Radeons and required a patch. Quote:
Quote:
"We recognize that ATI Video Cards do not scroll as fast as the game intended. This is an inherent conflict between the game scrolling technique and our memory tiling achitecture and not a hardware bug. We are working with Maxis to come to a better solution so please stay tuned."


The comments in "" are what you should be using instead of "I learn fast". Whenever you say something that cannot be backed up with actual work it not only carries little value, but has negative impact - it means you're over-estimating yourself, and aren't capable of estimating your true skill.

Unless you can put in a form of an actual project/work/task/sale, then it doesn't exist.

Even if someone provides you with a reference, it'll be something like this: "although he wasn't familiar with OO, he was assigned a design role on a FooBaz project which he completed on time, and demonstrated fast learning ability".

But until you actually do something with your skills, they don't exist.

BTW:
- what did you graduate in?
- what is the field you want to work in?
- which positions are you applying for?
- what are your technical skills (languages, APIs, tools, frameworks)?

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Haha, can't believe I overlooked that and forgot to mention what my degree was in, sorry!

I have an associates degree in software engineering and a bachelors degree in game software development. I feel most comfortable with C++ although I have dabled in many other languages.

I understand employers not calling everyone back because of money and such, however, what I don't understand is why they tell me they will if they have no plan to. That is what is still confusing me. Maybe it is just as a formality? But since when is lying formal?

Either way, no none of my projects are commercial, but how can they be when I have yet to get a job in the industry?

I have been programming since age 11 and have always wanted to do it as a career so I am patient. I just figured maybe even after the five recent interviews I had someone would of atleast called back and said "Sorry, we went with someone else"

They all seem to of gone really well; in that they liked what I said and felt I was knowledgeable on the subject. I definately feel I am not making a fool out of myself in the interviews and that is what is causing the lack of calls...

Either way, maybe I just have been unlucky and opportunity is right around the corner! Thanks for all the input so far, everyone.

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Quote:
Original post by Nabren

I feel most comfortable with C++ although I have dabled in many other languages.
Quote:
Either way, no none of my projects are commercial, but how can they be when I have yet to get a job in the industry?


How about you peek around this site a bit, and try to answer a few questions people ask? They are all real world examples, and they may give you a better insight into your actual experience.

And since you say you learn fast, even if you don't know the answer, you can look it up before answering.

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