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New Grad in Computer Science Seeking Advice for Finding First Job

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Hello Everybody!

I recently received my grades back 2 weeks ago, and I will be receiving my BSc degree in 2 weeks. (Yay) However, I am having difficulties finding employment in my field. I am mainly looking for an entry level job in software development with either Java or C++, since I am most confident with these languages. However, I am not too picky since I do not have a lot of experience as a programmer and I really want to get my career started very soon.

I have been job hunting full time for 4 weeks now, and I have revived very little replies form hiring companies. (3/48 so far). I know I realize now I should have started job hunting way before that, however I struggled a lot in my final semester and had little time left for that (got some really good grades so it was worth it). I do not have a lot of work experience as a programmer, because I stayed in school full time during the summers to speed though my degree, due to financial and personal restrictions. I did have the opportunity to complete two small part time contracts with great satisfaction from my former employers. In hindsight, I would have done things differently, but this is my situation right now.

I realized now I may be at a disadvantage once compared to my peers, who had the opportunity to do co-op and summer jobs in their field.

My main questions are:
1. what can I do to improve my approach to finding entry level positions with potential employers? So far I have been applying to most companies that welcome new grad applications. I also have been talking to a couple of old peers who refereed me to hiring managers/senior developers they were buddies with.

2.What can I do or mention to make my my application towards job openings more appealing? I've been constantly reviewing my resume/Cover letters to keep them in tip top shape for the jobs I apply at. How do I communicate my (genuine) interest in the jobs I am applying for without sounding desperate or bothersome to hiring managers?

3. What are hiring managers generally looking for in new grad applicants in software development? What can I expect in a job interview for these kind of positions?

4. What kind of salary can I expect/ask for when applying to jobs was a new grad?

My goal right now is to obtain a full time and entry level permanent position. I must admit that this whole job hunting stuff is not my best skill, and I do not know where to find all the resources I need for my job hunting endeavors. I would like to thank you in advance for reading my post and talking the time to reply.


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Well four weeks is not that long to start with, so do not panic. Your rate is not that bad 3 on 48. I remember to have to have written about ten application, to get one interview, 20 years ago. There's one thing I must warn you for though. It concerns your third question. The people you encounter being a junior might be those Human Resource kind of people. They do not look at your technical abilities, they do not care at all about your grades. They are playing sort of amateur psychologist. It sets your teeth on edge sometimes. If you refer to your good grades and technical abilities, these people would only be irritated. (Probably also because at school these HR employees were not the ones getting high notes in exact science fields ) You have to be happy, enthusiastic. You have to be sociable. You have to have hobbies and sports that involve playing together in a group. You have to be active in the conversation, not even care about the subject. You have to be nice and slime up, so to speak. They should just 'like' you. Technical skills are less important when you are just graduated and you apply for a junior position. (Well at least, that was my experience 20 years ago.)

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3/48 as a beginner....don't be disheartened. It happens to most people. If you are smart and know the basics, then getting a job becomes easier. Too easy if you are a genius.

Some things I noted which are important for entry level Java positions, don't know if you did them already -

1 - Data structures and algorithms - As a general software developer, you have to be excellent at this. (Intermediate ok)
2 - Source control and management - SVN, GIT (Basics only)
3 - Test Driven Development (Basics only)
4 - SQL and JDBC (Basics only)

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Consider getting involved in some open-source projects. You will see a lot of code written by a lot of people, you'll start writing some of your own, and can use it as resume filler. Often htere are local user groups you can join to meet others in your field.

Try thinking outside the box. Sure, we all know about Amazon, Google, and Microsoft having large IS shops, but the field is huge in many other areas. For example, there is tons of IS work going on in Healthcare right now, and you may not have considered working for a hospital since IS is not their primary purpose. The same may go for a financial institution or car rental company or brewery (as an aside, you may be able to guess what city I live in by me naming those specific industries).
Consider Paul's rocket mass heater.
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