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A few questions for Java Employers.

 
Greenhorn
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Hi All,

This is my first post, so sorry if this violates any etiquette.

Hopefully this is the is the appropriate place to post this. If not, I apologize in advance.

I'm a self-taught PHP programmer, and I love PHP (please don't hurt me), but I've begun to realize that I need to grow my skills beyond PHP. I've decided to go back to school and learn a more widely used language, namely Java. To facilitate this, I'm applying for a grant. As part of the grant process, I need to interview a few folks who employ Java Programmers.

I hope it would be safe to assume that there's at least a few hiring managers on here.

So if anyone in that capacity would be willing to help me out with one or more of the following questions, it would be greatly appreciated.

1. What kind of experience are you ideally looking for in a candidate?

2. What key personal characteristics do you look for in a candidate?

3. What is your hiring process?

4. I will soon be graduating from a vocational school, what advice would you give me entering this field?

5. What are your experiences hiring from vocational schools?

6. Which school(s) would you recommend?

7. Is there anything else you'd like to share / advice you'd offer me?

Thanks for your responses; hopefully I'll be asking (and answering) some actual Java questions soon.
 
Java Cowboy
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Welcome to the Ranch. I've moved your question from the "Meaningless Drivel" forum to the "Jobs Discussion" forum - Meaningless Drivel is a "just for fun" forum where we generally don't discuss serious questions.

I'm not involved myself in employing Java software developers, so I'll leave answering your questions to others. Besides posting it on the forums here, you could try contacting IT companies or other companies that are looking for Java software developers in your neighbourhood directly and explain that you would like to ask a few questions because you need them for applying for a grant.
 
Marshal
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Welcome to the Ranch

I can tell you that experience varies widely. Obviously some people will be appointed with just‑oiut‑of‑University experience, i.e. beginners. Such jobs are often called entry‑level positions.
 
Rancher
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What kind of experience are you ideally looking for in a candidate?


That entirely depends on the position. Sometimes, someone fresh out of school/college is fine, sometimes you need someone with 10 years of (general or specific) experience.

What key personal characteristics do you look for in a candidate?


That, too, depends on the position, the team already in place, and the general situation of the company. One thing I always find important is for candidates to have a deep interest in technology, and be willing and able to teach themselves new technologies, frameworks, techniques, etc. While some of that can be facilitated by the team and the manager in the shape of books, conferences, discussions, brainstormings etc., someone who is not a self-starter will often be a no-starter :-)

What is your hiring process?


That varies so much between companies, and possibly even between openings for the same company, that I don't think it makes sense to outline a process here that might only be in use in a single company.
 
Bartender
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I can answer some questions from my personal perspective which might not necessarily always mean my employers point of view.

Eric Rhea wrote:
1. What kind of experience are you ideally looking for in a candidate?


That would depend on the position. For a senior position, I would expect a proven track record with the required skill set.

Eric Rhea wrote:
2. What key personal characteristics do you look for in a candidate?


Ability to think. I don't care if you give a wrong answer to something you do not know. What interests me more are your logical steps in arriving at the (albeit wrong) answer.

Eric Rhea wrote:
3. What is your hiring process?


That would depend on the company. Every company has their own work culture and processes.

Eric Rhea wrote:
4. I will soon be graduating from a vocational school, what advice would you give me entering this field?


Use your schooling to ensure you have a solid foundation and understanding of the basics. Then write code, make mistakes, learn. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Eric Rhea wrote:
5. What are your experiences hiring from vocational schools?


No idea what this means

Eric Rhea wrote:
6. Which school(s) would you recommend?


None.

Eric Rhea wrote:
7. Is there anything else you'd like to share / advice you'd offer me?


Never stop learning.
 
author & internet detective
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Eric,
Welcome!

Eric Rhea wrote:1. What kind of experience are you ideally looking for in a candidate?


Anywhere from interns to many years of experience. It depends on the position.

Eric Rhea wrote:2. What key personal characteristics do you look for in a candidate?


I vary what I'm looking for based on the level. I'm leaving out experienced here because you sound focused on new programmers.
Interns - Understand what learned in class, shows interest in going beyond that (reading, playing with code etc), some evidence of working with others (summer job, part time job, team project, volunteer work, etc)
Entry level - What I look for in an intern plus programming project experience (most entry level candidates have an internship in NYC so not having that, volunteer work or a part time job is a disadvantage)

I also look for things that I'm less aware of like communication.

Eric Rhea wrote:3. What is your hiring process?


In a nutshell, most employers look at resumes, conduct phone screens followed by an onsite interview.

Eric Rhea wrote:4. I will soon be graduating from a vocational school, what advice would you give me entering this field?


Gain some experience. It can be contributing to open source of volunteering somewhere. But don't just hand someone your school certificate and expect them to hire you.

Eric Rhea wrote:5. What are your experiences hiring from vocational schools?


(This is a bit rambly because I want to share my thought process and not just the answer). I want to say that I don't pay attention to where candidates go to school. I've hired people from city/state university (I'm a graduate of one for what it is worth.) But those are still 4 year programs. I don't think I've come across a resume from a vocational schools so I don't know that I have an opinion. That said, I suspect I would want to make sure the person really has thinking schools. Vocational schools have a tendency to be described as "learn to code in 3 months" type things and I'd worry about the candidate not knowing how to come up with an algorithm. In all fairness, I see this problem with people who go to non-vocational schools too, so I'm back to I don't know that I'd do anything differently.

Eric Rhea wrote:6. Which school(s) would you recommend?


Any. It's what you put into it that matters.

Eric Rhea wrote:7. Is there anything else you'd like to share / advice you'd offer me?


Create a portfolio. Have something (preferably online) to show employers that you can code. And of course, be prepared to discuss everything in your portfolio that you are asked about.
 
Eric Rhea
Greenhorn
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@Jesper -- Thanks for moving the thread. I had looked for something like "Jobs" but didn't find it. Guess that's what happens when I post at 2 am. Thanks for your suggestion about contacting local IT companies.

@Campbell, Ulf, Maneesh and Jeanne -- Thank you so much for your responses. I've got a couple of follow up questions.

Like, I mentioned in my original post, I'm a self taught PHP programmer. I do have about 7 years of experience working with PHP (anywhere from website design to building enterprise SaaS apps). It's my hope that my my experience combined with a degree / certificate focused on Java will count for a bit more than the cert alone. What kind of weight do you put on past experience with other languages?

I see that a lot of people are making a good point about hiring processes varying greatly between companies, and even within the same company. Would you say there's anything different about the hiring process of bringing on board a Java programmer vs other programmers? Also, are there any unique / different things you do at your company?

Thanks again for all your answers.
 
Ulf Dittmer
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Certainly knowledge of another language and development experience counts for *something*, but if it's specifically for a Java position, not for all that much. Depends on whether you can convince the company that in your/their case the general experience is more important than the Java experience - that may or may not be the case. More likely than not, you will have to compete with other Java beginners rather than folks with experience (although you can likely shoot for a somewhat higher salary).

As to certificates, assuming you're talking about the Sun/Oracle certs, I'd credit those for pretty much nothing, with the possible exception of the Enterprise Architect cert. There are job markets where those certs are apparently worth something, but far from everywhere.

I've hired both Java and PHP developers. For PHP positions you generally get a wider range of applicants, meaning more varied CVs, than for Java positions. So the screening process needs to account for that, but the actual interview and hiring process was pretty much the same.
 
Eric Rhea
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Thank you all for your responses. They have been most helpful. Wish me luck in getting my grant.

See you next time with some real Java questions!
 
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