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how would I get my work taken seriously in a professional environment?

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If I (as a programmer) want to get my foot in the door in a professional environment, what type of projects would I need to do? Btw I'm not talking about games, I'm talking about web development and anything .net. For example, I know charles petzold's .net book zero front to back and I have written several small c# programs.

Also w/ php, I'm learning about security and how to fight things like sql injection, etc.

But I feel like programmers are screwed when it comes to a portfolio. What can we really show off?...it's not like an artist who can actually show his skill level visually. We have to depend on networking and all that stuff. Amirite? ;o

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I think to answer your question we'd need to know more about your background and previous educational or work experience.

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Make some stuff, put it out there, and you'll have something to put on your resume.

Basically, if you don't have anything out there at the moment, then you don't have enough experience to consider getting a job professionally.

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To be honest, I have on my laptop (for when I finish Uni) a Folder called "Portfolio" where is just have sub folders for all my XNA games(only thing I have done at the moment.) and all there Source code, imho the most important thing a programmer can have is source code (Duh :p)

Also, most programming jobs seem to make you do a little coding task before they accept you.(I think)

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All *GOOD* programming jobs will make you do a test.

Think about it this way;

Some companies don't make you write code but just sort of ask "so... can you program then?" and let you in if you say yes.

That's peachy if all you need to do is get hired.

However, think about what you'll find when you get there. That's right. The guy across the desk from you or at the table the other side of the room won't actually be able to program because people at the company don't HAVE to be able to. It's a sort of "nice to have" aspect.

And that's peachy as well. Until you have to work with them and then it all goes horribly wrong because in order to do your work, you have to do his as well...

And then think about other things -- if they don't make programmers do programming tests, do they make sure the accounts clerks can process expenses and payroll correctly?

Quality comes from the people in a company.



How you get a 'foot in the door' is to go for junior roles.

There's an expectation there that you'll be able to write simple programs, but that you don't have experience at bigger stuff. Instead, you'll get partnered with someone who'll teach you how to do larger things.

Well. That's the idea. The question to ask at the interview is if you can MEET the person who would be your mentor. If they blink and say "who?" or "your what?" then you won't get one. Keep looking until you find a company who say "sure, I'll just go get him[1]".

And then you get to learn how big software is built by watching it being done.


The other thing you will almost certainly need is a degree in something useful. "Something useful" doesn't just mean compsci or comp engineering, although those are good choices. Chemists, physicists, mathmoids and even electrical engineers can all make the leap to software. Many of them are very good at it. A useful degree is one which needs you to do a decent amount of maths and understand big wadges of technical stuff.


You CAN do it without a degree.

But by far and away the easiest route through this is a Bachelors in a computing subject. That route is so much easier that companies actually turn up to campus before you graduate to see if they can find people to hire, and at that point they're not expecting portfolios. Just the graduation certificate.




[1] The chances of it being a "her" are pretty small -- I'm usually the only female developer on a team, never mind the only senior one. There is a joke that on any given software team the number of men who share the same first name will outnumber the women and it's truer than it ought to be.

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and I have written several small c# programs.


Do serious (= bigger) stuff.

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I was hired a as a web developer couple months after I finished school. My resume had my college credentials, and in my cover letter I talked about an 8 month project I worked on as part of school, as well as a small project I did part of a co-op. If you don't have such projects, talk about in your coverletter things you've done. Such as small projects you've built yourself, the concepts you've learned from doing so. It sounds like you know some concepts, so I suggest putting something small together. I realize it may not be a "real" project, but it's something. Maybe scratch your own itch if there's something that would make your life easier.

Mentioning open source projects you've worked on can be good as well. They can see your code that way. If you haven't worked on any, maybe try to find one you like and can contribute to.

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Quote:
Original post by Fl4sh

But I feel like programmers are screwed when it comes to a portfolio. What can we really show off?...it's not like an artist who can actually show his skill level visually. We have to depend on networking and all that stuff. Amirite? ;o


If only there were some way to showcase your work. Like open source participation, blogs and web pages hosting and describing existing work, discussion forums through which to present knowledge and similar.

Quote:
All *GOOD* programming jobs will make you do a test.


While definitely the lesser of two evils, consider how low on skill scale programmers are.

"So, you are applying for a job as a surgeon. Let's just go quickly over this test:"
- What color is the blood of a human? What about a dog?
- Describe, in your own words, what pain is.
- Look at the instruments on the table over there, please point out the scalpel.
- A patient has a headache. Demonstrate out of box thinking.

And experience would show, than 9 out of 10 active surgeons, full-time employed in hospitals, would not pass this test.

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I'd say keep writing stuff in C#/ASP.NET. Learn some web design skills and create some web templates and/or try and get some web development work as a freelancer but most importantly remain as active as possible. Employers like people who are enthusiastic and are actively contributing outside of University.

A degree only gets you an interview, you then need some experience to draw from during your interview.

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Original post by Antheus
If only there were some way to showcase your work. Like open source participation, blogs and web pages hosting and describing existing work, discussion forums through which to present knowledge and similar.
I am always curious how much these actually count for. Sure, getting a non-trivial patch accepted into the linux kernel will carry a lot of weight in certain circles, but do less prestigious open-source projects merit a line on the C.V.? Does discussion on GameDev (no matter how knowledgeable you demonstrate yourself to be) count for anything unless one is lucky enough to be interviewed by a fellow GD'er?

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Original post by swiftcoder
Does discussion on GameDev (no matter how knowledgeable you demonstrate yourself to be) count for anything unless one is lucky enough to be interviewed by a fellow GD'er?


Depends what you're posting. Personally speaking I've had a more than a few offers of interviews / freelance work as a direct result of my GD posts & GD articles.

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Original post by swiftcoder
Quote:
Original post by Antheus
If only there were some way to showcase your work. Like open source participation, blogs and web pages hosting and describing existing work, discussion forums through which to present knowledge and similar.
I am always curious how much these actually count for.

If it gets used and reviewed, then it has merit.

Kinda like having a previous job, there are other people who have deemed your work useful, and other coders who have had the chance to interact with your code.

At absolute minimum it demonstrates that developer had to put thought into build and distribution process, which is probably worth more than anything in actual development, and is something that 95% of "home" projects never attain.

Code is worthless. The problem it solves is where the value is, and by having no users, no matter how elaborate, it isn't worth anything.

Trivial example - how many people stumble on trying to distribute VS application. How many of them have solved the very first hurdle of runtime libraries. But how many went beyond to consider static linking, make an installer, test it under xp through 7. Or went to use localized version of windows.

Ah - but a hobbyst cannot do it, too expensive, too complicated. Precisely. Solve these hard problems, and you demonstrate knowledge. That is what users will see - they will never see the code.

Quote:
Sure, getting a non-trivial patch accepted into the linux kernel will carry a lot of weight in certain circles, but do less prestigious open-source projects merit a line on the C.V.?

Linux kernel is a closed community.
But if someone makes a useful and usable project that gains popularity among different kinds of users, there is a job at Google waiting for them. No, seriously. Just build something that makes a few rounds and gets some attention, and Google sends an interview invite, perhaps even skipping the lowest tiers, and goes straight to actual teams that work on similar projects. Just check around how many open source authors got hired this way. Most of Google projects started this way - it needs to be a web service, not just some source dump.

Building something like that shows that person is capable of more than just banging out code. But most companies of certain type prefer enterpreneurs or people with similar experience. The IT world on the other hand requires pedigree, and that requires years, even decade of steady progression and collecting pieces of paper that claim you are competent.

Ah - but it's hard to make something so outstanding. Yes, it is. Competition in software development is fierce.

Hence the alternative - study at university, get internships, graduate, get certifications, get junior job, work 5 years and build network while climbing up, either vertically or horizontally, then finally move into CxO or founder or similar position.

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"And experience would show, than 9 out of 10 active surgeons, full-time employed in hospitals, would not pass this test."

I sort of understand -- and I feel that I shouldn't have to prove basic skills in this way, but having been on the other side of the table, it makes rather more sense. You would be STAGGERED, full frontal jaw-on-the-floor, heart-poundingly FURIOUSLY amazed how many allegedly "good", "experienced" developers can't actually write code at all.

I've seen people with upwards of 5 years experience utterly, utterly fail to write simple programming tasks. A few years back, a boss said of his programming interview, "half the people we get in here fail it".

I'm talking about agents have screened them, they've been phone screened. Then they've turned up for a face-to-face, trotted out answers to C++ questions and are finally are given a computer, a sorting task and two hours.

Grown men left in *TEARS*.


It truly gave me the scare of my life seeing that process in action because I thought incompetence was the EXCEPTION.

And I'll tell you want, it answered a long standing question I have about what the hell is wrong with the IT industry. The answer is simple; well upwards of half the people are either lying on their CV to other people or are out-and-out lying to everyone including themselves when they say they can write software. This fully explains those stats about 80% of projects being cancelled having overrun too much... I'm just amazed ANYTHING gets done.

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1) Buy and read this, if you can manage to gather all of the knowledge in this book , you'll know at least 5X what most of my colleagues know. It takes some times and multiple read-throught
2) Pick a target environment to specialise in between those Winform LoB applications, ASP.NET , Sharepoint, WPF/Silverlight. Pick up a relevant book on whatever technology you decide on, if you pick anything web , learn javascript too, and don't learn from tutorials showing how to call some premade api , learn the javascript language , then learn an API (i'd suggest jQuery as it is microsoft friendly with MS supporing it officialy).
I'd Recommand the following Books: WPF , Asp.Net, javascript, jQuery
3) Decide if you want to work on cutting edge and have a bit of a harder time finding a fitting job , BUT a easier time getting said job, people competent in new technologies aren't all that common so if that's for you learn all the .net 4 specifics , skip ADO.Net and go for Entity Framework 4, skip remoting and learn only WCF etc.
4) Get a MCTS in the specified area you picked up (or , if you feel like it , a MCPD). I wouldn't bother with MCPD as the certification is just to say "ok i don't have a programming school on my cv , but i have this cert, can i at least get an interview?"
5) Have a small project ready in whatever combination of technology you decided to specialise in
6) Code isn't all what matters and in an interview you may have to answer some questions but the guy interviewing you will not go dig up your code , make sure your project is working clean and bring a computer on which you have tested it runs to show it off if you want to. No point tidying up the code no one will read, just make sure it runs. If going for the New Tech in point 3, make sure to have a speech ready on what these new tech brought for this mini project, where they helped , and how your knowledge of those could make projects go easier/better/faster etc.

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