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Programming career advice


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#1 Angoid

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 03:17 AM

Hi all!

 

Firstly, if this is in the wrong section then please accept my apologies and move to somewhere more appropriate.  Thanks!

 

I find myself in the position of being made redundant at work, where I work as a Support Analyst for bespoke products.  I have an interest in programming and have had experience in the following languages:

 

HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, MySQL - as a hobbyist only.  I've worked on websites for friends and for fun myself, but unfortunately I can't say I've got any commercial experience in these

C - I've written an application in C (I've separated this from the above as this was not a Web-based program) - again, hobbyist experience.

Oracle SQL - I've done some scripting in SQL and PL/SQL in a commercial environment, but it was a few years ago now.  With a bit of brushing up I don't think I'd have a problem being able to get back into it.

MS SQL - Querying databases and a little bit of T-SQL, not as extensive but more recent than the Oracle experience

I've also dabbled in Lua on a Ubuntu platform (Conky).

 

Unfortunately, I've not touched Java, not really.  But I'd probably not have too many issues picking it up based on the other languages I've worked with.

 

The two problems I'm consistently finding in job adverts are as follows:

1) "You will have had 2 or 3 years commercial experience" - trouble is, how do you get that experience if nobody is prepared to give you a chance?

2) for some bizarre reason, there is always, Always, ALWAYS one technology in the "required skills" section that I've never even heard of.  The most recent one was SASS (not SaaS, Software as a Service) - Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets.

 

Does anybody have any advice that might help me get into this field?

 

The other thought that occurs to me is to do a DBA course to become a DBA somewhere...


Edited by Angoid, 31 May 2017 - 03:20 AM.

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#2 KingDavidlll

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 09:32 AM

That's unfortunate, I wish you luck in your future endeavours.  

 

I won't lie to you, it will be hard to get your first job.  A lot of companies want software engineers/developers however they won't be willing to train you from scratch.  Once you do have that experience though it will be quite easy to get a job.  The thing about programming is usually companies wait until they need a programmer before hiring them.  It's good for experienced people as we can ask a lot more money from them, however they won't hire anyone who doesn't have commercial experience.  

 

If you have worked on web, try ask friends of friends to see if they have any small businesses who need a website and you can set it up for them gaining some invaluable commercial experience and then charge mostly for updates to it. Build a portfolio online then add a link in your CV to it.

 

If I were you I'd work hard and learn C# and try move into ASP .Net core.  There are currently quite a number of jobs within that.  Just put yourself out there and apply for jobs that you aren't qualified for.  Apply enough, see if you can pickup jobs off freelancer, be prepared to work for next to nothing and you'll eventually get into the industry. Unfortunately that's really the only way.  Once you're in it though you can get jobs left right and centre.  As you come from support you might be able to get into devops a little bit easier if you pick up some scripting knowledge!



#3 Angoid

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 03:13 AM

Thanks KingDavidIII, that's (unfortunately) the sort of thing I was expecting to hear ... it does make you wonder how anybody ever gets hired if they're not prepared to train and want the experience from the word go ... 

Although money isn't everything, the problem is I really can't afford to be out of work with a wife and child to support....

 

An idea occurs to me .... I do have a friend that wants me to work on a website, only been speaking about it this last week or so.

 

Another project I did some time ago could do with re-vamping to modern Web standards and methodologies.  Might be worth looking into re-doing that: as it stands, I'd be a bit embarrassed to link it in mv CV but if I could re-work it, then it'll definitely be worth adding.


Edited by Angoid, 01 June 2017 - 03:18 AM.

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#4 fishCode

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Posted 06 June 2017 - 02:34 PM

Hey Angoid,

 

While everything that KingDavidIII said is valid, I have some additional advice to offer you. I have a lot in common with your situation as I did a lot of PHP, MySQL, JQuery, CSS, and the various Web Design arts for years as a hobbyist; like you. I posed a very similar set of questions to myself that you have listed. I did some soul searching and spoke to a friend in the industry (software development that is). As it stands now I am actually working on my BS in Software Application Programming for Java. Here's some critical information that you need to know moving from hobbyist to professional regardless of whether you stick to web design or move to system programming:

 

Web Design: Frameworks!!

I have built entire blog sites with incorporated photo galleries and while it has given me a great deal of understanding regarding the programming languages involved, it is quite unnecessary and inadvisable to offer to a client. Frameworks like zend and WordPress are developed by countless people who do countless checks on the code; far more than you could ever do. No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to offer websites with the quality and security of a WordPress or zend based website. You PHP, CSS, and other skills will still be quite valuable here as you have a deeper understanding of what is happening under the hood and you will be able to correct issues that you come across.

 

Do not reinvent the wheel, it has already been researched, coded, tested, and implemented far more extensively than anything you alone can achieve. I strongly recommend learning WordPress, which is the industry standard and also allows you to make beautiful and extremely feature rich sites in a very short period of time. This quick turn around is what you will need in order to make a viable career in web design. If you get good enough at this you can actually contract people locally; look for businesses on google with no advertised website and approach them with a portfolio. Get some sites up and maybe even charge for monthly maintenance fees. After that you will have a resume for a development company when you want to transition or you can continue to freelance.

 

If you are going to get into system programming you will need to learn something like a C oriented language or Java, though there are many options to choose from. The advice I have received in this area is that the key to success in system/application programming is keeping up with the best practices and newest standards and being able to learn new technologies (i.e. it may be valuable to know, or be able to learn, other languages should a project require it). Quality of code, adherence to the latest best practices, and adaptability matters is what I gather. I was told that it is a good idea to get some sort of mobile apps written and on one of the App Stores to be able to show potential employers what you have done/can do.

 

Anyway, hope is not lost - it just takes a lot of work to turn that hope into a career. The quote at the beginning of one of my programming books says it all "Anything is possible if you work hard enough."


Edited by fishCode, 06 June 2017 - 04:52 PM.


#5 Angoid

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 10:11 AM

Thanks fishCode, very valid points and worth taking on board :)

 

I'm already familiar with C (again, as a hobbyist although I do also have some professional experience of Pro*C, a version of C that allows you to embed Oracle SQL statements) so I doubt Java would be that tricky to learn in the main, just the nuances of the language mainly.

 

Admittedly I'd never really looked at the frameworks (such as Zend and WP) - I can certainly get hold of them and have a play (at least to begin with).

 

Thanks again!


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