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Getting a job Self-taught in Java

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Wow, all this dismal commentary bums me out! Consider me a big, fat counter-example to all the defeatists. I am self-taught, and in the Washington, DC area this fall, I had lots of job-hunting success. Read my account of job-seeking under the column in this Job Discussion category entitled 'The Experience Game.'
True, the job market has gotten worse in the last couple of months. But certain skills will set you apart.
1. Look for jobs in an industry you're familiar with. If you're coming out of Insurance, seek out MIS (Management Information Systems) jobs in Insurance companies. If you're in business, look there. When programming, it helps a lot to know well the data with which you are working. Even more important is that you 'fit in' to the organizational culture in which you seek a job. For example, I came out of a University teaching career in the humanities. When I was looking for an entry-level database position, the corporate folk in Columbus, OH thought I had 3 heads. I got serious interviews only when I began to apply for computing jobs at local colleges and universities. A year later, the corporate types loved me for knowing Oracle: they did not care where I had learned it.
2. Look at the best companies you can find. Bright, motivated people hire their own kind. So do mediocre people. The mediocre are protectionist--they resort to trite and formulaic criteria of "credentials" and "experience" to exclude those who might eventually show them up.
3. Finally, learn skills that will set you apart. In addition to Java,
Learn databases (sql, jdbc at least)
learn some XML (a good extra, and not too tough)
learn some Unix (some Linux on your home pc);
learn a little networking (if you're interested
All of this is tough to get? While you're looking for a job, VOLUNTEER for some programming work. Do ANYTHING to get experience writing real, usable code in a multi-user, multi-developer, environment. Such hands-on experience, while not ultimately necessary to learn Java or anything else, will satisfy the mediocre folks described in #2.
4. Prepare for a temporary move to where the job-market is best (big hassle? No problem. Keep your old apartment and sub-lease in the new location. You can move back in 6-months or a year with that all-important experience under your belt).
Do not give up. Attend local or on-line users' groups. Hang around the Java books at the local book store. Start talking to the people who actually do the stuff for a living. You will start learning useful, practical information immediately. Look at job descriptions, learn something about the skills described in them. If you do these things, you will make your own luck. You will come across an opportunity you would not have heretofore appreciated, and, thus informed, you will leap at it.
Good luck!
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Hi weaverbh:
Welcome to JavaRanch and we hope you find the information that traverses this Java forum, useful.
Since I noticed you used a single name username, please refer to our
Username Policy and then, after re-registering, please come back!
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