I just finished my 9th working day as a professionalJava programmer and I am satisfied and very happy with it and about having passed the SCPJ2 certification with 98% score (because of the opportunity that it helped provide me). As of June of last year (1999), I didn't know Object Oriented Programming. I have been programming professionally for over 20 years but not using OOP. I never learned C++. C is as far as I got in "modern" programming technology, considering that my language of expertise for a long time was assembly language (16, 24 and 32-bit, big endian). Eight months after beginning to study full time OOP in Java I passed the SCPJ2 certification with the score mentioned above and then I started looking for work as a Java programmer, without professional experience in Java but with experience as a programmer, and having been out of the workforce voluntarily for two full years for study and other reasons. Five days after sending my resume to addresses I found in some USENET job related newsgroups, I had two interviews and a few days later two offers from those two interviews. Of course I had many other e-mails and phone calls... Considering that I had a very specific geographical area in mind for relocation, (South Florida, USA) I think that's pretty good Anyway, my first day at the job that I accepted I was bombarded (as expected) with the concepts of EJBs, JSPs, XML and Servlets. They of course knew that I didn't have experience in those (they did ask me during the interview), and I felt a little... OK, a lot overwhelmed. They did let me study at work during this time and by now not only do I understand the concept and needs of "Enterprise computing" and where J2EE fits in, but I am already contributing to the firm and today was a key day: Today I showed my tech supervisor that "there was nothing wrong with the code" that my co-worker and I were working with. BTW, my co-worker started the same day as I did except that he has years of C++ and Java experience. We were having a problem connecting to the outside world via a simple command-line Java program and it was timing out. Suddenly I remembered that I have a publicly available program in my Web site (this one) that does exactly that: retrieve the HTTP header of any file in a public Web server. So we downloaded my program, executed it and it also did not connect (it timed-out just like our test). We told our task leader that we thought that there was something wrong OUTSIDE our programs that was preventing us from connecting to the outside world, like maybe the proxy and/or firewall combo. We do have our usernames registered so that we can surf the Web. Also, TRACERT and PING both worked from Windows NT4 and 2000. That's why our tech sup said "it's probably the code. Double check it". I knew it wasn't my code because I have downloaded and run it from different client workstations successfully. We found out from the fourth member of the Java team that our tech sup has as few restrictions for his workstation as is possible in our enterprise and that if it was a firewall/proxy problem, it would not show up in his workstation. So I went, apprehensively, to his cubicle and asked him to please download MY PROGRAM from MY WEB SITE, which he did only to confirm that it worked perfectly and that me and my buddy were correct in that the problem was OUTSIDE our Java code. In other words, the modest work that I did (and published to the Web) during my study time paid off in saving us a half-day (at least) of searching for a problem at work. I am glad that it was my tech sup that saw it personally. I am a "contractor" now with an option in 3 months to become a 'permanent' employee which I would like to become because these people are using the most modern Java technology from Sun and IBM. Partial "moral of the story": If you have never worked as a Java programmer and are studying for Certification, spend time coding useful programs and make them available freely for your prospective employers to see. If you already are a paid Java programmer, you probably don't have a need for Certification. Except for purely personal reasons, which in my book are as valid as any other. Those are my $2.00 (not $0.02!) --- Tony
Tony Alicea Senior Java Web Application Developer, SCPJ2, SCWCD
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Building a Better World in your Backyard by Paul Wheaton and Shawn Klassen-Koop