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true greenhorn needs advice

 
Greenhorn
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I hope this is the best place to post this message. I am learning Java (currently self-taught) and am considering taking a course to increase my learning and speed-up my ability to find an entry-level programming job. I'm currently ten years into a career that is boring and not challenging. Rekindling an iterest I had in programming in college has been very exciting (I have a liberal arts degree).
Any thoughts on the following for someone in my position?
http://www.cce.umn.edu/ejdp/
Thanks in advance for any comments!
 
Ranch Hand
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Michael:
- Wish they had a program like that around here in Denver.
- I would take the class(es). If the college offers you a Java certificate - go for it.
- Definitely get up to speed on core Java, and get the SJCP under your belt.
- Next step is to get the EJB part done - this is the most important piece of the puzzle that I see being offered at the college you mentioned.
- Don't waste your time with the 18 month - $18.000 networking schools. Most are worthless (see www.jobcircle.com - discussion area).
- IMPORTANT!!! While taking classes at the college, grab an internship/project from one of your professors. If they have none, go hit up the CS Dept Head himself. Bitch and complain if you have to, you absolutely, positively must get some entry level experience. It's your money - if they want it - make 'em earn it. That's why I love MasterCard so much. If you can get the college tuition charged to a credit card - you can enlist the credit card company to yell at the college for you.
And, while talking with profs, you make some contacts too. Bonus, it's alot easier to talk to college professors when you are 30 than when you are 18. I guess it's because they don't see you as a little brat.
- While at the college - hit up their career placement center - hit it up NOW!!! TODAY!!! Let them help you with the resume, and job interview preparation. They may have leads on local computer jobs. If there is a job you see, even before finishing up the semester - go for it.
While at interview - if you feel you are underqualified - switch tactics. Go from trying to get a job - to trying to get/pry information from the interviewer. Most people love to show off their skills - it's called b.s. - and interviewers are no exception. Find out what skill sets the employer is looking for - how many people from your school have they hired, etc. Questions that you don't normally ask at interview. See my point. You have to be aggressive in today's world - and it's so hard to teach this to people.
- If you have a college degree already - list that on resume - it's ok - and really you should. But remember, you need to tailor your resume to the computer industry. If you did any type of computer work at your old job - list it - and list it prominently. If you have good managerial skills as evidenced by your work history - go ahead and put that down.
- If you shelled peanuts for a living - no one cares. But if you managed 500 peanut shellers and doubled the company profits -then you put that down. But don't get too technical - as people outside your old field may not know what you are talking about.
- Get a suite and tie. The business may be casual dress - but you ALWAYS show up in suite and tie for interview. If the interviewer wears overhalls and a bib with barbecue sauce all over it - (happened at PayLess Shoe Source in Topeka, KS last summer) - do not get offended. It's normal in this industry. The suite and tie and florsheims show respect - and boy do people just love that.
---------------
- The important point here is. Get some education. While there, use their resources - professors and career center. About 90% of the kids there will not do this. Put yourself in the 10% that do.
- Read some of the other posts on this "Job Discussion" forum for interview help/ideas. About 5-15 posts down.
- Remember, this computer field is not trucking - it's not a job - it's a career. Meaning - 5:00PM rolls around - work isn't over - it's just getting started. Either the system crashed or you have got studying to do. Just ask some of the other experienced folks on this board.
Hope this helps.
Johnny
(jpcoxey@aol.com)
 
Michael Leonard
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Thanks for your thoughts.
 
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Great advice from John. It might help you to hear my story. When I ran into difficulty finding a programming spot out of college, I used my accounting and finance training to score income. I fell back into PC repair and small-project programming as a consultant on the side, 5 years later. This led me to take a 2-year course in PC networking with Windows '95 back in 1996-1997. While in that program, the instructors kept saying that the future for programmers was dimming. Nonetheless I also took Visual Basic 6.0 and C++ to get a taste of object-oriented programming. In 1999, I took Java, the instructor for that class only knew C and C++, so I soon found myself studying on my own plotted course toward certification (the instructor even ask me to take over his class whenever he left town - which was every other week).
I started landing bigger projects, mostly distributed objects, using VB and C++, and finally, at end of 1999, I decided to post my resume on Computerjobs.com for Java-only spots. Within one week, I had over a dozen phone scheduled, and had to spend over 8 hours per day, diligently responding to email.
Within 2 weeks, I landed a job as a Java developer.
Good Luck! Go for it!
 
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Tom,
I think the market in 1999 was much better than now. I did some job hunting in the begining of 2000 (having less experience) and got much more responses than what I have now. Even though at the moment I have almost 2 years experience in the IT business.
AH
 
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