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No work experience, or degree.. How to get a job ?

 
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Hi, I've been reading this forum for the past hour. I feel jealous of programmers. After sending out my first 50 or so resumes, I am getting next to no response. A couple of staffing agencies, young associates. I'm 29, have been battling a disability for ten years. Beginning to recover in recent years, I've started going back to school. Now I owe a lot of money for federal student loans, and only my small disability income to pay it. I want to get off that, and become a programmer. I have no B.S. degree or relevant work experience, but I've been coding in Java for over a year, and make excellent grades in school when I can function properly. I am terribly afraid to answer on an application that I am "disabled," fearing that it will hinder my chances for gainful employment to zero percent. I do fine with a job. I am punctual and courteous. But, I am trying to find a roundabout way into getting a programming job. It seems there are positions in quality assurance and "software engineering technician" jobs that might lead to programming, given I maintain my effort and persistence towards this goal, from within a company where I could meet and talk to the programmers. My best friend was a programmer for five years, walked away from it, saying he "hates computers," and now works for half the pay doing labor. I made a 3.75 in community college over 17 credit hours last term, but this term I have had to withdraw. I am going back next month, hoping for another good term. However due to mounting debt I am seeking immediate work, stating on my resume that I will work unpaid for 90 days. Given a task, I can work diligently towards completing the work, and I don't feel that pursuing my junior college studies another year will be a real benefit past the work experience that I may gain through employment over the next year starting now, or very soon. I sense that should I be hired immediately, I would gain two or three times the knowledge and experience that school can provide.

I've gone on long enough. This is a friendly place. I know there are individuals like me on the forums, maybe not legally disabled, but smart people having trouble finding meaningful, interesting work. Just the other day I was able to help for the first time in the beginner forum, and it felt really good.

My small vignette. I've never had my own resume before this month. There are positions in data entry available, but do you think that I should hold out for the types of semi-programming jobs mentioned above, or can any type of computer job lead to programming, given the right motivation and persistence?

Thanks for reading.
 
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I only have a few moments so I skimmed your posting. First, search this forum for others who have asked this same question (or close variants of it).

If you are applying to a major corporation (e.g. Fortune 500 in the US) having a disability can be an advantage (rightly or wrongly) as they often want to get their diversity scores up.

--Mark
 
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If you are applying to a major corporation (e.g. Fortune 500 in the US) having a disability can be an advantage



I have to agree.

Interviews will try to measure your skill as a programmer as well as your problem solving ability and communication skills. Keep working on those. Try to figure out what went wrong in an interview or selection process. Keep trying. You can do it. If you dont get selected dont be dissapointed. Try again and stick to it.
 
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I would say try getting into some html type positions first as opposed to data entry. Also dont hesitate in applying for government jobs as well, you may also ask around your university
 
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Data entry does not come under programming and would not help you much.

IMHO, if you are really interested in programming set a specific goal for yourself in any one chose language of your choice,for example Java as you mentioned. Try to set a specific goal and work in that direction and keep working on it. Your goal should be to gain expertise in that programming language. Persistance will definately pay off!
If you have the rights skills people will not have a second thought and they WILL hire you. What matters is your professional life profile.

Need less to say. If you know where you want to be then you can be there!

To put a quote from Richar Bach's book:-
"You are never given a wish without being given the power to make it true.
You may have to work for it, however. "
 
Jesse Crockett
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Thanks for the votes of confidence. It comes as a real surprise to hear that a disability could help my application. I've decided, upon hearing these remarks, as stated (rightly or wrongly), to apply for work in the larger companies in the area, the same companies where I was most afraid to apply. I'm confident that I can write efficient code, but frequently as I've read here, that those mystic first 2+ years of experience, that half of it is just proving that one can fit into the daily office routine. Thanks again for your kind words.
 
Mark Herschberg
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BTW, I would even contact HR at Fortune 500 and ask about programs for disabled workers there. There is probably even a special office or person in HR specifically assigned to disabled employees. There are also, n major cities, sometimes diabled career airs catering specifially to people with disabilities.

--Mark
 
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Hi Jesse,

I've got a few comments.

I am terribly afraid to answer on an application that I am "disabled," fearing that it will hinder my chances for gainful employment to zero percent


This is understandable - but the worst you can do is to try to "hide" it,
because the companies will most likely notice that you are "diasbled" sooner
or later. When you mention that you are disabled remember to stress, that
you are smart, able to "perform well" at work and do the duties that are
required. Depending on your disability you could suggest less than a 40h
work week (e.g. during a trial period).

Working for free:
This is tricky. As I see it, your doing the company a favour by working
for them right Furthermore, if the jobs worth doing it is also worth
paying for. Remember, however, that this is my personal oppinion - if it
is custom to offer to work for free (to get a "foot inside the door" so to
say) in your region of the world (Im assuming the US) then continue to do
so. Alternativly, stress (in the application) that the pay is not your
motivation for working - learning, getting expirience in the companys domain
and so on is.

School:
Even though it might take some time I think you should work on ending your
program at college.

Application:
Try to get a friend or family to look at your resume and application. It is
important to get some feedback.


I wish you the best of luck.

/Svend Rost

p.s. See Marks advice on Fortune 500 companies
 
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Something I always tell anyone looking for a job; make contacts. At this stage more than 50% of your efforts should be focused on networking with people. The best advice I was ever given, was when someone told me that the quality of my career would be determined by the quality of my contacts.
 
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Your college probably has a co-operative education or career placement office. They will have job leads that are specifically for students or entry-level career-track people. Co-op jobs are great for getting your foot in the door at a company and proving your worth, not to mention they will be more understanding of time you need to take classes.
One thing you should look into doing is getting together some code to show off. I used to have a code portfolio on a floppy I'd send out with resumes (now I just point prospective employers to the .com's I maintain). A couple of useful little utilities packaged with source and documentation says a lot more than putting buzzwords on a resume.
 
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