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How Does a Self-Taught Computer Geek Get Hired?

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the self-made-man dept.

Businesses 523

An anonymous reader writes "I'm essentially a self-taught computer geek who started learning BASIC at age 12, but decided NOT to do the traditional computer-nerd thing (comp sci or physics, computer degree, etc.). I've essentially kept up with computers as a hobby, teaching myself web-design, Linux/LAMP, Javascript, and now Drupal. I've worked for a short time at a web dev shop but mostly have just done freelance projects and here-and-there stuff for websites or projects, many of which have gone under or are no longer accessible. I'm creative, have Photoshop/GIMP skills, I'm personable and self-motivated...and I'd like to get a 'real' job now but I don't really look like much on paper — how can I (specifically with Drupal) make myself look good on a CV and/or establish solid credentials that will make people more willing to take a chance and hire me? Will Drupalcon 2012 help me make inroads? Are there other ways to 'prove' myself to be a capable web admin/developer?"

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523 comments

Why do you want to be hired? (5, Insightful)

CmdrPony (2505686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189274)

Instead of running your own business. Then you don't need to provide your quality and skills to anyone, and it can make more money in the long run as you are not limited to your salary and don't have to fear getting fired. If you know web-design and running Drupal, then start to work with those. Make your websites. Now, learning some information about other subjects will help. Learn things like marketing, SEO and in general running a business. Most of the information can be found on webmaster forums. Then it's up to you - you can even sell your services to local businesses. You also have the added benefit of working with your projects instead of someones else, which is always more boring.

It seems like most people, especially geeks, want to take the easy route and try get a job. Being self-employed or running a business isn't all that hard and it is much more rewarding, especially for a computer geek now in internet age.

Re:Why do you want to be hired? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189326)

Instead of running your own business. Then you don't need to provide your quality and skills to anyone, and it can make more money in the long run as you are not limited to your salary and don't have to fear getting fired. If you know web-design and running Drupal, then start to work with those. Make your websites. Now, learning some information about other subjects will help. Learn things like marketing, SEO and in general running a business. Most of the information can be found on webmaster forums. Then it's up to you - you can even sell your services to local businesses. You also have the added benefit of working with your projects instead of someones else, which is always more boring.

It seems like most people, especially geeks, want to take the easy route and try get a job. Being self-employed or running a business isn't all that hard and it is much more rewarding, especially for a computer geek now in internet age.

In this economy I'd take a salary (certainty) over the kudos of being an entrepreneur (uncertainty) any day of the week. Competition is stiff in the web dev/design market. Makes much more sense to throw your lot in with a group of established designers and developers that have a client book.

As an alternative, I'd suggest looking at big corporates that have marketing/web dev teams and apply for those jobs instead. You're less likely to be as harshly scrutinised by people as clued up as yourself and your salary is not dependent on how many clients you secure or websites you build as your job will be focused on your own company's website. Whilst not a long-term solution, it may be the viable in road you are looking for.

Re:Why do you want to be hired? (5, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189540)

In this economy I'd take a salary (certainty) over the kudos of being an entrepreneur (uncertainty) any day of the week.

I would too. After seeing a program about successful entrepreneurs I think this means that neither of us are cut out for running a business. The ones who succeeded often did so after several attempts, putting in long hours, sinking their own assets into the business, failing and then doing it over again. They had a drive and ultimate confidence in themselves that meant that they would never be happy taking the safer option of a salary, unless it was short term during which they would scrimp and save what they needed to start another business.

Re:Why do you want to be hired? (2)

Plunky (929104) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189632)

As an alternative, I'd suggest looking at big corporates that have marketing/web dev teams and apply for those jobs instead. You're less likely to be as harshly scrutinised by people as clued up as yourself and your salary is not dependent on how many clients you secure or websites you build as your job will be focused on your own company's website.

But, to get past big corporate HR you will generally have to have qualifications and certificates. The more the merrier.

Re:Why do you want to be hired? (4, Interesting)

capnkr (1153623) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189640)

Like the OP, I am self-taught, and am of the same mind as CmdrPony, having done it myself. If you need to start working right away...

Start your own shop, but count on the website/SEO/marketing side of things to start slow and develop (no pun intended) over time - likely several years. The market for "website developers" is fairly well saturated, albeit with far too many that are no more than Dreamweaver/FrontPage/MSWord-using ex-construction worker/secretary types who are 95% clueless yet able to put up a $200 site in a few days by advertising on Craigslist. Yes, your site may be far better, but money talks, and many clients don't understand the finer points of what makes a really good, nice-looking, fast rendering, cross platform website, or what SEO is and the kind of time it can eat.

Until you have a solid core of client sites showing your skill and capability and helping you sell at a price point that makes it worthwhile, your working capital and day-to-day income can be supplanted by the other computer skills you have: repair, networking, etc... Be willing to make on-site visits (even to homes - at least until you get too busy), and have a fast response time. Come up with good ways to describe common computer problems and your fixes for them in normal human-speak - people do like to understand a bit about what you are doing, and teaching them a little helps them become better users and clients.

Find a small, cheap location where you can set up half a dozen systems while you work on them, get some biz cards made, and put out your shingle. If you do a good job, word of mouth will start putting feet in your doorway in a matter of months, enough traffic to live off of so you can begin to grow and thrive and start getting website work, likely from many of the same clients whose system you maintain, once they realize that their super-cheap website really is for the dogs. Being their trusted and proven IT guy helps you sell yourself in this area - they understand that you know what you are talking about, and will be more willing to pay you a fair price to help them market themselves better online. Good luck!

Re:Why do you want to be hired? (3, Informative)

CubicleView (910143) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189334)

Maybe he should, maybe he shouldn't but either way that's the anwser to a question he didn't ask.

Re:Why do you want to be hired? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189846)

that's the anwser to a question he didn't ask.

He didn't ask it outright, but very often people ask for overly specific answers when they haven't really thought through their actual problem. Sometimes (well, most of the time if you're doing IT support for example) it's better to ask what they're trying to do before giving them the answer to their actual question. Maybe this guy would hate to work for himself, or maybe he just needs a little inspiration.

Re:Why do you want to be hired? (4, Insightful)

MatthiasF (1853064) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189350)

I'd suggest getting to know more open source projects, starting with Drupal was a good idea.

Get to know Open Atrium, design some nice themes for it or make a module to solve a problem someone has, then post it all online someplace that allows people to post comments or a download count.

Having a list of achievements on the Internet, with people giving feedback or allowed to see your progress, can be a resume in itself.

Re:Why do you want to be hired? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189446)

Many independent contractors are hired into permanent positions, if you want that path.

Re:Why do you want to be hired? (5, Informative)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189450)

It seems like most people, especially geeks, want to take the easy route and try get a job. Being self-employed or running a business isn't all that hard and it is much more rewarding, especially for a computer geek now in internet age.

Guilty!

I hate marketing stuff, I hate business stuff, and I really hate "networking" .. what I love is building software. I'm happy to be able to come in, do my thing, and let someone else worry about all that other shit. Long as I'm reasonably well treated and paid... I'm happy being a wage slave.

I suspect the same is true of most geeks. As a community we are not known for wanting to wear suits, speak in buzzwords, work with excel and powerpoint, etc. Some pull it off, and some even enjoy it, but I think for the most part we like to be in the background doing our thing while the "suits" figure out how to make money from it.

Re:Why do you want to be hired? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189548)

Partner up with someone who gets off on the marketing and promotional crap, and you've got yourself a business...probably a better one than if you were to take on everything by yourself anyway.

Re:Why do you want to be hired? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189478)

Being self-employed or running a business isn't all that hard

You obviously have never run a business before.
As a coder who has done exactly that for the past 10 years, I can say, it can be a real slog.

Agreed I am now earning more than I could employed, but the first 5 years are make it or break it.
Not knowing where your next mouthful is coming from requires certain nerves. You will under sell yourself.
If you are doing it alone (like I have done) it is even worse, you can lose touch with peers to be able to pulse local market direction.
IMHO it requires an immense amount of discipline, a stable mind, good communication skills (which many coders lack) and a little luck.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started.
Though maybe that was a good thing. I do have no regrets.

Re:Why do you want to be hired? (5, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189498)

Being self-employed or running a business isn't all that hard and it is much more rewarding, especially for a computer geek now in internet age.

Having worked in various sized companies, from self-employed through 10, 20 and 500-1000 people, it became apparent to me that all businesses need:

1) Sales and Marketing
2) Accounting
3) A product

If you have no interest in 1) or 2), being self-employed is not for you. Also, when taking into account what you get paid for your "Product" as a coder, bear in mind the hours invested in Sales, Marketing, and Accounting for essentially zero compensation..

Re:Why do you want to be hired? (4, Informative)

achbed (97139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189756)

I second this. Running a small business is a different animal altogether. Unless you can make enough to support hiring someone to do your marketing and accounting, don't go here. It's a world of pain if you screw things up (especially from a tax perspective). In addition, if you're having trouble getting a job, it's going to be just as hard (if not harder) to develop a client base to support a small business.

Oh, and I assume the reason you're looking for work is to get money in your pocket. If you start a business, be prepared to lose money (and potentially lots of it) in the first several years while you get your name established.

If you go the independent contractor route, be aware that a lot of businesses are getting really picky about independent contractors as states begin to crack down. I've had several friends lose their gigs because the business says that they don't meet the stringent "requirements" in the law for being classified as an independent contractor and the business could be fined severely for "misclassification of employees" (note that this applies to the US, your locality may vary).

Re:Why do you want to be hired? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189790)

Being self-employed or running a business isn't all that hard and it is much more rewarding, especially for a computer geek now in internet age.

Having worked in various sized companies, from self-employed through 10, 20 and 500-1000 people, it became apparent to me that all businesses need:

1) Sales and Marketing
2) Accounting
3) A product

If you have no interest in 1) or 2), being self-employed is not for you. Also, when taking into account what you get paid for your "Product" as a coder, bear in mind the hours invested in Sales, Marketing, and Accounting for essentially zero compensation..

"In this economy" and all that rot, unless you're an orphan, you're probably related to an unemployed person or persons who happen to specialize in need #1 and need #2. Possibly someone typing in a non-techie website right now, that all they need to start their own business is a tech/product guy, if only they knew an interested one...
Of course family businesses can result in some of the most spectacular business related drama known to mankind. Be careful not to end up on Dr Phil or CourtTV or whatever its called now.
On the other hand, if you're both currently unemployed, what were you going to do today otherwise, watch Oprah reruns?

Re:Why do you want to be hired? (2)

jareth-0205 (525594) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189582)

It seems like most people, especially geeks, want to take the easy route and try get a job.

Or... you might find that running a business and writing software are very different skills. Running a business takes you away from the thing that you actually want to do! I know, I used to freelance, but now I work in an office where someone collects the money and finds the client. Much happier.

Re:Why do you want to be hired? (5, Insightful)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189754)

Being self-employed or running a business isn't all that hard

I wish you had said that at the beginning of your post, so I could have stopped reading. This is absolutely false!

You can be the most brilliant technician in the universe, and still crater your business if you don't have the sales persistence to turn those technical skills into money, and the support team to handle users' invariably simple problems while you focus on the next big thing, whether that's the next version of your product, or a separate item with strong cross-marketing potential. Just because a handful of ethically-questionable teenagers won the dot-com lottery, does not mean the same will happen to anyone with basic web development skills they picked up from a few Youtube videos narrated by 12-year-olds.

To the OP: if you want to find work, contact staffing/contracting agencies near you. They will find you paying gigs, and the experience you gain there will be more valuable than any paper knowledge you have amassed up to this point. There are lots of hobbyists like you, but companies are interested in people who can efficiently solve business challenges. If you really want to stick with web development as a serious career, then start putting together a portfolio. Don't rely on web sites staying up indefinitely with your old code, take screenshots and document them, briefly explaining (to prospective clients) why you were the right person for the job and what kind of unique or high-level skills helped bring it together. Take a dozen of your best examples and arrange them into a nice sleek gallery page. Get stupid old business cards printed with an eye-catching design and a memorable URL to your portfolio, and pass them around. You want people to see your work, be wowed, and contact you because you're the designer/developer they want for their business. Sell yourself!

Re:Why do you want to be hired? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189798)

You don't sound like you are a whiz who needs a job. Think different! You sound like a Woz who needs a Jobs. See if you can find one - then change the world.

Re:Why do you want to be hired? (5, Informative)

cultiv8 (1660093) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189826)

I've run my own one-man Drupal shop for 6 years, keep this in mind if you decide to go this route:
  • It'll take 3-5 years to build a decent portfolio and client list
  • You only get paid when your clients pay you (it can be feast or famine)
  • Find a Drupal/PHP programmer who can do the stuff you can't or don't want to do
  • Go to DrupalCon, Drupal meetups, Drupal camps, etc. MEET PEOPLE IN YOUR SITUATION.
  • But don't confuse this with networking; go to Chamber of Commerce events, tradeshows, BNI, etc. GET CLIENTS
  • Volunteer, freely give advice, offer discounts to non-profits, help out on Drupal forums, etc.

Most of this is business advice, not Drupal advice, but it all goes hand-in-hand. Make a name for yourself. Be good at what you do. Manage expectations with clients. Get a brochure and business cards. Write a blog; I wrote a book on Drupal [slashdot.org] which has been amazing for business.

This economy is a bitch. Good luck if you start your own thing.

Examples (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189296)

Show examples. Show your hobby projects. Show sites that you've built and that currently are in use. Show contributions you've made to open source projects.

New Examples (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189520)

If your portfolio consists of stuff that's gone offline, make something new. A web site about yourself would be good start. Another –completely different in design – dedicated to your favorite not-embarrassing hobby would be a good idea. The content doesn't have to be extensive or outstanding (though it wouldn't hurt if it could bring in a little ad revenue), just enough to demonstrate your design and development skills.

Re:Examples (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189534)

Show examples. Show your hobby projects. Show sites that you've built and that currently are in use. Show contributions you've made to open source projects.

This.

I was in a similar position but maybe a bit more specialised in web dev. Never did it in college / uni. By 18, when I went for a web dev job, I had loads of example websites that I could show at my interview. Of course I took a slightly lower pay, but I was very quickly up to a decent wage.

Experience and examples beat qualifications. Especially considering the poor level in which it's taught in uni in the UK.

Re:Examples (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189556)

Show examples. Show your hobby projects. Show sites that you've built and that currently are in use. Show contributions you've made to open source projects.

Also local volunteer work. Sounds like the OP is Mr Webmaster at heart

teaching myself web-design, Linux/LAMP, Javascript, and now Drupal.

You set up the local homeless shelter promotional/donation seeking/contact page website, assuming they somehow don't have one, for free. Actually it costs you a little to register the domain, whatever. Schmooze at the organizational meetings with the group's volunteer accountant, who hires you to fancy up her self promotional website for a very nominal fee (probably not enough to buy dinner, barely enough to break even after paying for the homeless shelter domain registration out of your pocket). The accountant is best friends with a local bank manager, who needs to hire an IT worker with excellent references... This was more or less how a friend of mine started out. Next thing you know, she's working at the bank, in a paradise of AS/400s and token ring (yeah, this was awhile ago).

You can also go the "work at a startup" route. They might not pay you, or might not pay you much, but its something to do, and looks interesting on a resume.

Take on some jobs and get a name for yourself (4, Informative)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189300)

http://groups.drupal.org/jobs [drupal.org] also, be active in drupal projects and build a name for yourself.

Re:Take on some jobs and get a name for yourself (1)

jobstractor robin (2519304) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189622)

There are also a number of jobs (including drupal ones) listed over at http://jobstractor.com/ [jobstractor.com] (my site). That site lists jobs posted on twitter so you can get directly in touch with the people listing them and often miss out the middleman of recruitment consultants. As someone who recruits occasionally I can testify that having examples of recent work you can point to is very useful. Another option might be to take on unpaid work with a view to getting some more experience you can show off to recruiters. Good luck.

Portfolio & Certification (5, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189308)

What you're looking for is a portfolio. They're common in any artistic arena such as photography, web design, hair styling and fashion.

You need to SHOW people what you have done, using examples relevant to what the potential employer would be interested in.

Also, just to make the HR people happy, get some certifications.

Re:Portfolio & Certification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189494)

werd up, homeslice.

Re:Portfolio & Certification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189558)

Agreed. You're still fighting an uphill battle without a CS or SE degree, but a portfolio and certs will help tremendously.

Re:Portfolio & Certification (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189692)

There's not a certification on the planet computer related worth more than the blank piece of paper it's printed on outside of the upper level Cisco certs.

Can thank books and bootcamps for that.

Some software certs (SAP, PeopleSoft, etc) are still worthwhile, but those you can't just take a test on.....

Certs, to me, when I look at resumes, are nothing but tiebreakers between candidates who are otherwise equal (exception being, again, high level Cisco certs).

Show your code (-1)

stm2 (141831) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189310)

If you are a good dev., you can show your code on github or any similar repository. This should be enough, at least for those who care on code and not only in papers.

Start at bottom. We all did. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189312)

You need to work on a helpdesk.

If your lucky you will be noticed. Don't try to show off.

Learn an Enterprise Class OS. AIX. Solaris. HP-UX.

Profit.

Re:Start at bottom. We all did. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189504)

He wants to be a web developer, not a network admin. If he's just interested in full time work of any kind, then yes, help desk is probably a semi viable option, but it will not get him any closer to being a web dev. I mean, he could get a job as a janitor too, that's starting at the bottom, and it's equally relevant to his field as help desk.

Freelance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189318)

Do freelance work. The money will be poor to begin with but that's to be expected - you have yet to build a reputation.

Sites like vWorker.com are good for this.

Once you have some "on paper" experience, think about transferring your skills into full time employment. That is, if you want to stop freelancing.

Contract work (1)

Corwyn_123 (828115) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189336)

If you feel you have the qualifications, try to get a contract job through a contract agency.

I'd also recommend, when looking at the jobs requirements, do what you can to meet as many qualifications as possible, that includes getting certificates that they require, like A+, etc.

Once you get one contract, even a short term one, you can put that on your resume and go from there to find others later on down the road.

Demonstrable experience - with evidence in support (5, Informative)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189354)

Evidence, evidence, evidence.

I don't work in the IT or compsci sectors, but I think there are a few general principles about how recruitment works that you might want to note.

You don't have formal educational qualifications. Obviously, that's a handicap. However, you're not in a field here where qualifications are a legal requirement (unlike, say, medicine or law), so it's not insurmountable.

Some employers still have a policy of requiring a degree from all applicants, but - personal view here -in many cases they're foolish to do so. In the current climate, a lot of bright people are choosing not to take on the expense and debt associated with a degree. I see a lot of employers insisting "graduates only" who are achieving little except needlessly inflating the starting salary they need to offer (though by less than in the past - the graduate premium isn't what it was).

I've done a fair old bit of recruitment over the last decade or so and what a sensible employer will be looking for - when recruiting people for their "first proper job" - can be distilled down to: a degree of committment (as in, ability to stick at something which is difficult and takes time), reasonable interpersonal skills and, where appropriate, technical competence.

Interpersonal skills you'll need to demonstrate at interview (and by writing a half-way competent CV and application form). The ability to stick with something and technical competence might traditionally be demonstrated - to a basic level - by the fact that the applicant has both had the perserverence and the ability necessary to earn a degree (though with degrees as debased as they are these days, it's increasingly difficult to use this as a firm indicator).

So without a degree, you will need to have independent evidence of committment and technical ability. You've done some freelance projects - that's good. The companies you did them for may have gone under, but you kept your own work, right? Right? And maybe if those companies aren't around any more, there's less of an issue in sharing the work you did for them as part of your application?

In addition, if you've done any non-technical work - even just office admin and stuff - that's also good and worth including in your job applications - particularly if you can get a reference. It shows you can get along with people in an office environment on a day to day basis, turn up for work on time, follow basic codes of conduct and so on (which is something that a surprising number of people - even graduates - in some fields especially graduates - fail at). Don't under-estimate this one. As a recruiter, in 95% of cases, I'd rather see a few summers spent temping in a "serious" workplace on a CV than some glamorous, expensive (and usually irrelevant) piece of gap-year do-goodery.

Remember, being at a technical disadvantage, you'll need to use hard facts to sell yourself so far as possible. Part of TFS reads like a "personal statement" from a CV. Saying stuff like "I'm personable and self-motivated" is all well and good, but it won't get you a job. You'll need concrete evidence to demonstrate your skills and your ability to stick with a task. So yeah, I hope you kept all that evidence of your previous work.

Support (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189468)

Apply to tech support at Dell [dell.com]. They're hiring dozens of techs right now. They'll probably try you out if you interview. Then you make many technical contacts (100+) for other positions.

Re:Demonstrable experience - with evidence in supp (1)

3count (1039602) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189484)

A degree isn't only about training. It is just as much evidence that you can set a long term goal and achieve it, and jump through all of the hoops necessary along the way. After hiring a number of people with and without degrees, I find it says a lot about their attitude towards how to accomplish something. I'm not saying it is bad, only different, and that employers pay attention to those things. I would add to other advice here that you should highlight long term accomplishments. If you set up and ran your own consulting business for a while, that would help to convince me that you are not looking to just hop from the easiest thing to the easiest thing and can really persevere through the BS to get the job done.

Re:Demonstrable experience - with evidence in supp (2)

achbed (97139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189638)

A degree isn't only about training. It is just as much evidence that you can set a long term goal and achieve it, and jump through all of the hoops necessary along the way.

Not having a degree myself, I find this answer patronizing and just plain wrong. There are many circumstances whee not having a degree is no fault of your ow (including lack of funds/loans, better opportunities, etc). At this point in time, a degree is simply a "checkbox" item for HR to use to filter candidates. No degree, no chance as HR tosses your resume before it gets to anyone doing the actual hiring. So the real problem for you is how to get through the HR filter.

The real trick to landing a job in this situation is who you know. Get out there and talk to people. Show your skills in a way non-tech people can "get". Impress the right people, and keep them in your back pocket. Every decent job I've had has come by impressing the right people and having them think of me when they see a need. By doing this, they are willing to stick their neck out and tell HR "Interview this guy, regardless of resume".

So while a portfolio is helpful, getting your face out there, having conversations, and attending conferences are all part of getting a name/face for yourself. I got my first real job by refusing to sell someone a product they didn't understand. They ended up hiring me because of my honesty and the fact I was willing to say "no this isn't what you're looking for".

Re:Demonstrable experience - with evidence in supp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189636)

usually the media talks to me by painting me into the picture. They love to make me a terrorist, for example, or a death row criminal. I'm so used to being painted into the picture, I get annoyed when it doesn't happen.

I'm scratching my head, knowing they want me to think this is about me... but folks, I have a master's degree in rocket science! And worked for Ticketmaster on an operating system at age 20! Ticketmaster is in a business where there is a low cost to entry and lots of competition and they won the battle!

I'm hardly uncredentialed, but I know you want me to think this is about me.

God says...
C:\LoseThos\www.losethos.com\text\BIBLE.TXT

eed of Jacob and David my servant, so that
I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have
mercy on them.

34:1 The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, when
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and all his army, and all the kingdoms
of the earth of his dominion, and all the people, fought against
Jerusalem, and against all the cities thereof, saying, 34:2 Thus saith
the LORD, the God of Israel; Go and

Re:Demonstrable experience - with evidence in supp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189674)

No it's not foolish to have a degree, it shows that you went through education even if it's sitting down knowing that whatever the teacher is saying is old news for you and it might mean several thousand dollars or A JOB in the field instead of doing your own thing

Re:Demonstrable experience - with evidence in supp (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189810)

It depends. If I'm hiring and I see a candidate with good grades in a sensible/relevant subject from a university I respect, then yes, the degree counts.

If I see a candidate with mediocre grades in Media Studies from an institution I don't respect, then I'll be fighting the temptation to assume that they went to university because they got to 18 and just followed what has, for many people, become the default path and then done the minimum to coast through. What that degree is demonstrating is that the candidate follows the path of least resistance. In those circumstances, I might be looking favourably upon a bright and enthusiastic 18 year old with some interesting extra-curricular projects who at least knows what he wants to do with his life.

In the days before the huge expansion of higher education, when going for a degree wasn't yet the default expectation for every middle-class kid, then yes, getting a degree almost always showed a degree of committment and dedication (or in a few cases, the luck and/or brilliance required to bypass those). Today, you have to be a bit more discerning.

Resume Builder (2)

wiley001 (1549705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189360)

As stated before..Take on some odd jobs (or do some demo work, not for a customer, but for building a portfolio). Once you have a decent size portfolio, showing how well you do in the field, you should be able to find an employer to 'take a risk' on you. (I say that loosely because although you could be the best programmer/designer ever, unfortunately you dont have a piece of paper backing that up). I was in a similar boat as you, only with Programming more so than design (C#, C++, AS3, etc). Once you build out a small little resume you can substitute a formal degree with work experience. I'm at my third programming job now (prior was a contract job and most recent was a game studio that shut down). All is well and the money is good, you just have to be patient and take your lumps. (Remember that youre technically 4yrs ahead of the curve. So even if you get a low(er) paying job, youre still coming out ahead.

Portfolio (5, Informative)

zcomuto (1700174) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189370)

Portfolio, portfolio, portfolio.

Don't let a piece a paper show a potential employee that you have the skills on just that, paper, actually show them what you're capable of. Build a portfolio of work, showcasing your best products and sell yourself through that.

If an employeer doesn't respect or look to the portfolio of a potential employee in that line of work, truth be told they probably aren't worth working for.

Re:Portfolio (1)

rjune (123157) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189612)

I would suggest finding some non-profit organizations and offering to develop/redevelop their websites. Many of them use template web pages that are of decent quality, but don't really stand out. A number of them would like to add more functionality, such as a "Members Only" area or a self service address update function, but lack the time or capability to set this up. Part of the work could include documentation, update procedures, etc. The websites of these organizations are generally hosted by a third party so after the initial meetings, you wouldn't have to spend a lot of time traveling. Even 3 or 4 of these would be a good start to build a portfolio and you would be able to pick up some references. A potential employer (or customer) would be able to easily check out your work.

The only way, regardless of eductatopm (1)

sanermind (512885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189372)

You have to show you skills. Make a name for yourself. Contribute validly to some projects.

If you're skills ultimately are matter of 'gimp' playing-around? Than you're probably screwed and haven't learned anything real yet.

(Well, unless you want to specialize in photo-editing or graphic-design or some-such... in which case, community college might be your best bet) If you want to be hired as a coder, without the often-times nonsense of formal education, than you have to prove yourself. Contribute to a meaningful opensource project. Be noticed for contributing some code that actually does something (vs. confused bug reports). Real skill is rare enough, and a resume that shows an active participation and contribution to a notable project is probably a better thing that a formal accreditation (from many schools, at least).

Make a resume (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189382)

Just list (in reverse chronological order) the projects that you did and what was your contribution to them. Use terms as "Drupal programmer" when applicable. It is good to just list the technologies and tools that you used; intermediates use them as keywords to search for candidates.
Try to keep the list under two (printed) pages, make a selection of projects if needed. If you're aiming for a job as "creative designer" have a portfolio with your best design work that you can demonstrate in a job interview.

BTW, companies mostly look for the same things in an employee as they look for in a contractor: someone who can do a job.

contribute (1)

Tyra3l (2519290) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189388)

You should start contributing to drupal modules and eventually becoming a maintainer for some modules.
The drupal community and market share is really huge, so the are many openings for people with decent skills.
The only thing that you need (except the skills and experience) is some visibility and credibility. You want to be the guy who make things done, and others will notice you.
Those kind of contribution is also a huge bonus in your CV and you got that while contributing to the community, so it's a win-win scenario.

That's just my 2 cents ofc.

Don't Box Yourself Into Just One Platform (4, Informative)

blcamp (211756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189394)

Not knocking Drupal or any other CMS, but don't get yourself boxed into just one specific platform. Keep up on where the overall development world is going.

Most shops still build their websites in-house from scratch, without a CMS. Many strictly-Microsoft shops purposely avoid using Sharepoint, for example.

Remember when ColdFusion was a big deal? Not so anymore. GoDaddy is dropping it from their hosting accounts.

Keep your foot in general Java or .NET or PHP development... stay focused on the bigger picture, not just in a specific type of project. Watch the trends. What may be popular today will become passe tomorrow.

i am on .. it's been tough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189400)

I am a self taught computer geek as well. I started pretty much the same as you. I have always had to fight to even get interviews. But, once I got the interview... they almost always hire me on the spot. It has always been difficult to get over that "you need a degree to be interviewed" mentality. I owned my own business for 7 years. What that really taught me was that I am a much better geek than accountant. I always struggled with keeping things in line. I didn't try to cheat mind you ... it just isn't my strong point.

I have been approached for jobs in business meetings with clients, vendors, and even contracted business partners. Anyway, I'm not just here to brag. I actually do have a point. The main reason all of those people hunt me down, so to speak, is because I don't talk out of my ass. When I don't know something, I say "You know I have heard about that, but I don't have much experience with it." Then I go on to explain why.

I was actually offered a job as a J2EE programmer, over hoards of other candidates, not because I knew it inside and out, but because I sat there in the interview and told the vice president flat out, that I have ZERO experience it with it. Then I went on to explain that for most of my employees Java was never worth the investment. And that they are all doing just fine on the platforms I worked with them to get put into place.

They offered me the job the next day.

Bottom line, If you know what your are talking about, and don't bullshit people. They know and most of them, unless they are bullshitters themselves respect it more than any college degree.

Show 'em what you can do (1)

jholyhead (2505574) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189404)

Build a portfolio of good work. Do work for charities if that's what it takes. Most employers will be more impressed by examples of what you can do than by a diploma from a Java factory. Of course, all this relies on the assumption that you are good, which if I'm honest, has not been my experience with 100% self-taught developers and that goes double for self-taught PHP developers. If you want to make yourself stand out, you might want to consider other languages. A developer who only knows 1 language is rarely an indicator of quality. Learn Python or Ruby and you'll stand out from the Graphic Designer wannabee developer crowd.

Get that degree (4, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189408)

Basically, it is not possible for any prospective employer to assess your skills. Programming skills, sure, but there is a lot of other important things you learn when getting a degree. These are hard to assess in your case. Sure, there are a lot of incompetent people _with_ a degree, but you can usually spot them, because they do not have the hands-on skills.

My advice would be that for the moment stay self-employed and start to work on getting that degree. I have taught several classes for people that were in your situation (i.e. already working for some years but no degree) and all that I met later though it was very much worthwhile getting it. This was for a BA in EE (with a lot of comp-sci) and some went on to get an MA in addition. The problem here is that until you are fairly advanced in your studies, you do not see that the work is indeed worthwhile. For example, if you are smart then one thing you learn is that concrete technologies are almost meaningless and there is a whole layer of meta-technology behind them, which is eminently worthwhile picking up.

So, no, a degree is not worth a lot by itself, but if you are already reasonably good in a field, it is what you need to advance. And I am not talking about the piece of paper here, although that also has some importance.

show proof (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189412)

You've been doing stuff so you have code to show off and you should do just that. That will make a huge difference whether you have a degree or not.

List your github URL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189416)

Always more important than qualifications, experience, or knowledge of the particular languages I'm hiring for: if you list a place where I can look at your code, your interactions with the code of others, how well-organised your commits are, and just what you've actually done, then you've already got a huge advantage over everyone else in the pool. It is shocking how many people expect to be hired without giving examples of what they would be hired to do.

Avoid HR!!! (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189420)

If you see a job lead you are interested in, find a way to contact whoever is doing the hiring directly and avoid HR. They never know what IT qualifications are, so they end up hiring fresh college grads and cert chasers. If you are good and have natural ability, get some face time with the people doing the hiring/requesting. Once you convince them they might want you, passing your resume through HR becomes trivial.

Release commercial products (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189422)

I have the same problem. I have self taught my self how to program. Seriously if you want to learn how to code these days there are tons of internet tutorials. It's almost more efficient to learn and produce some results.

My suggestion is to produce as many commercial products as possible and add it to your resume. I personally made 20 iphone apps. Most people just assume I have an engineering or comp sci degree.

Re:Release commercial products (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189516)

I have the same problem. I have self taught my self how to program. Seriously if you want to learn how to code these days there are tons of internet tutorials. It's almost more efficient to learn and produce some results.

My suggestion is to produce as many commercial products as possible and add it to your resume. I personally made 20 iphone apps. Most people just assume I have an engineering or comp sci degree.

I call B.S. If you really have authored 20 iPhone apps, where is your self-serving plug-link in your sig?

Contacts (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189424)

Said in the tone of "Plastics" from The Graduate: "Contacts."

If you've got no paper (diplomae), there is no other way to get paid what you are worth. Your prospective employer needs to know what you are able to do for them before they commit to pay you. Also, the fact that you haven't put up with the standard Academia B.S. calls into question whether or not you will put up with the standard workplace B.S. You need personal contacts who can vouch for your abilities and work ethic over a beer.

Actually, people with lots of degrees can benefit from that too, if they want to get good jobs without having to move across the country.

If you want a Drupal job, get known around Drupal. (4, Interesting)

Letharion (1052990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189454)

For some of the Drupal-shops, including the one I work at, community involvement is highly rated. Contribute to the larger modules, Views/Panels, or Core itself. Get some CTR-rating. (certifiedtorock.com). The number may look meaningless, but people look it up when they are introduced to a new "Drupal-person". You can ping 'letharion', me on IRC if you wanna get involved in the community. DrupalCon sounds like an excellent place to go, people are often recruiting at them. If it gives you more hope, my employer, NodeOne, has a large percentage of people with similar backgrounds as your, including myself. That said, CmdrPony makes a good point. Why not do something of your own?

Get more valuable skills. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189460)

> I'm essentially a self-taught computer geek who started learning BASIC at age 12, but decided NOT to do the traditional computer-nerd thing (comp sci or physics,
> computer degree, etc.)

Me too.

> I've essentially kept up with computers as a hobby, teaching myself web-design, Linux/LAMP, Javascript, and now Drupal

I dabbled into DirectX but am strong in "real" SQL (i.e. commercial databases), architecture of complex high performance applications and high speed signal processing.

> but mostly have just done freelance projects and here-and-there stuff for websites or projects, many of which have gone under or are no longer accessible.

Mine never were accessible. I created some O/R mappers for a mainstream language that failed comercially. Moved to alrge databases and high speed processing.

> and I'd like to get a 'real' job now but I don't really look like much on paper

And here is the difference. I am highly sought after working as team lead in a financial company where my team does mass data handling into a large scale database (production server sized at 21 terabyte).

See - even while ou are a geek, you always should target your work to something that opens career steps. My last offer was 90% of my freelance income as regular pay - which I declined. Geek != "working on stuffn oone pays on". Drupal & web stuff is alow paying corner every wannabe is in. Do harder to get at stuff more valuable for companies and the market is ripe for a taking.

> Are there other ways to 'prove' myself to be a capable web admin/developer?"

AAAAH. "capable web admin/developer"? You are aware this is the lower end of any geek work regarding payment? Unless you are a name brand every wannabe student is a web admin or web developer. Rarely anyone works lwith large databases and handles 400.000 complex SQL operations (about 2-3 million sql statements) in a handfull of minutes on a 100 thread data pump application.

I suggest you move into waters that pay better. And has less competition.

Re:Get more valuable skills. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189724)

This entire post screamed of you being a braggart.

First hand advice (5, Interesting)

un4given (114183) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189462)

I am a self-taught geek, similar to you. I was a construction worker, and I wanted to change careers. I don't have a college degree. I built my skills by taking a few night classes at a local community college and by spending a couple of hours a night (or more), every night, working in my home lab, doing networking/IT kinds of things, and writing code. Next, I got a job doing some IT work for a construction company, on a project where a lot of construction knowledge was needed.

After I got to the point where I felt comfortable with my skills, I put together a resume and got an interview with a small IT consulting company. I offered the company the following deal: Pay me whatever you want for 90 days. If at the end of that time I have demonstrated sufficient ability I want a raise to market rates. If not, I will move on, no hard feelings. Within 45 days, I got the raise. Within 3-4 years, I was making 100k a year.

Pick an area no one wants! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189464)

Same boat. I hacked away at computers during the 80s, encouraged by my parents. I hated school and college, I tried to go on to higher education but I just got so bored while a tutor who was barely able to write a line of assembly code in DOS, droned on about the basics of databases and spreadsheets. I bailed and got a job as an Ops monkey working graveyard shifts so I could teach myself about stuff I knew was going places. May not have become a developer as I wanted but I did get into being an Oracle DBA and Unix systems admin, keeps me in the backroom next to the real problems. To most people Unix systems admin and database admin, on big multi-petabyte DBs, is utterly boring as you hardly every use any GUIs, it's all terminal hacking which I love to bits.

While I have very few qualifications to speak of, I do have almost 25 years of solid IT experience doing the boring backroom stuff that no one else wants to do, so most of the time I have had no problems getting good contracts. Most companies barely understand what the backroom server environment is all about, so they'll hire you if you can prove a solid track record with other big name companies. Sure I would have loved to have gone to university just to ensure I had the letters after my name and the bit of paper to say I formally know about CS, but I just hated formal education I always got bored very quickly while in classes. You just have to sell yourself on your strengths, it's harder to prove your worth when you have no letters to your name but plenty of proper managers will hire real talent that has proved itself in the field. There are still some good eggs out there you just need to keep knocking on doors to find them.

Through the helpdesk (1)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189480)

Like most of the rest of us, you have to understand at the core level what you're going to be delivering and to whom one day. Learn what users are actually like and live the hell we all have at one point or another.

Pretty much my experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189496)

I eventually went to school to get my degree, but if you are persistent, you can end up being well respected and paid without that degree. Gotta find a place where you can get your foot in the door.

I started on the help desk, and one day one of our customers (defense contractor) was walking by talking about database woes, I jumped up and said I'd take care of it. Once you get that opportunity to prove yourself, you just have to sieze it and go for it. Id say that if you can't get in a position where you have exposure, don't bother.

I am now the lead developer, have a couple of software patents with my organization, and have created some rather large projects. I'm still working on the degree, but honestly, once you can prove yourself, its just going to limit you financially. You have to find an organization that realizes what value you are to them. Some do, some dont. I've left some that treated me poorly, and don't regret it for a second.

Elance.com (0)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189508)

and similar freelancing sites. elance is approximately the top tier among them.

your education, credentials etc, dont matter zit in these contract circles. maybe a little. but what matters is what you HAVE done that you can show (projects, websites, this that), and your feedback. people will look at what you have done, your feedback, and they will hire you. it may be hard to get projects and feedback at the start. but once you got 4-5 proper good reviews, rest will follow.

noone cares what you havent done. they care for what you HAVE done.

Good Resume, Portfolio & A Break (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189512)

I've been in the same situation a dozen years ago. Coding for most of my childhood, I tried taking comp.sci courses, only to see I was ridiculously losing time.

I worked my resume to make it clear I was self-taught, added elements on what I did, and added what I knew, mostly relative to that job offer.

Since you learned in your basement, you want to have elements showing you can safely work in teams, you aren't asocial, and you are reliable.

Then, hope for a break with a company who wants you. And go get them! :) You can do it!

This is how I did it (1)

SteelKidney (1964470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189536)

I'm also largely self-taught. Hammered out BASIC programs on my TI or C-65 as a kid, took a few classes in college, but mostly learned as I went.

Networking is important. Since your resume/CV isn't likely to turn any heads, someone more established recommending you can go a long way. Friends, online contacts, people you meet at conferences, anyone you can think of to get in your corner will be a big boost.

Have examples to show that you can do the work you claim you can. The Almighty Degree isn't the barrier it used to be, but at some point you will have to show that you can do the work. Also read as much as you can about the technologies you want to work with. You have to be able to be conversant in them during the interview. It isn't difficult to spot someone who is faking it.

Try very hard to work on a team. You'll learn a lot from a group of developers, including what habits are good to pick up and which ones to avoid. Understand, and accept, that you're likely to start close to the bottom as a junior programmer. Not a bad thing, really. Gives you a chance to get a lot of experience, and if the company you're with is the sort that doesn't believe in advancing programmers through their careers, more experience will equal better opportunities elsewhere.

Just lie (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189546)

Just lie. It's what everyone else does.

IT CALLED THE CASTING COUCH BUT TAKE HEED !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189552)

Since the couch is well used in the city by the bay, and you have lots of other guys doing it for free, wanting a rim job only, not a real job !!

Create Something (2)

sarbonn (1796548) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189564)

I totally understand your dilemma, because your dilemma has been my entire adult life. I learned BASIC programming 20 some years ago when I was a high school student and that's all computers could do. Then I went to a community college nearby (while in high school) and learned FORTRAN. After going to West Point for my education in physics (with no computers being used in schools back then), I did my time in the service and learned COBOL on my own. Meanwhile, I taught myself HTML programming so I could create some of the first web pages back in the day. During that time, I created computer games (lots of them) using whatever platform I could find, and they were changing practically every day. Luckily, after my military service, I was noticed by someone at Maxis Software (he played one of my old games programmed in BASIC), and I worked there (and then Electronic Arts) for awhile before realizing that without a computer degree, you really couldn't move anywhere. I was always relegated to the low programming (i.e. glorified tester) positions.

So years later, I ended up being a computer repair specialist, because I was also good at ripping apart a computer and putting it back together again. But trying to get a job in computer programming has been massively elusive for me. However, every time I have gotten close, someone has been interested mainly because of something I was able to show them as "proof" I knew what I was doing. Without that, I doubt they'd even take a second look.

Don't do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189568)

Look, you started when you were 12.

Computers are not just your hobby. They are your life. Don't ruin your life by turning it into a job.

Jobs are made for earning money for your hobbies.

If you turn your hobby into a Job what do you need the money for if no hobby is left?

Go work in the industry with people who use but not love computers. If you don't feel like you throw pearls in front of pigs after a week then you should stay.

I actually did this (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189574)

Slightly different story. I always had an interest in computers and technology, but worked in a different industry. When it came time to make the leap, I had no skills, no experience, nothing. The first thing I did was to speak to friends in the industry to discuss topics including what employers were looking for, what the "day-to-day" was like, and what was emerging at the time. Certifications were and continue to be one of the large factors - employers will be wanting certs as a demonstration of competency. So the first thing I did was block some time, study, and obtain an IT cert. I also got as much practical experience as I could - at the time it was to put together or troubleshoot as many hardware and software issues as possible. I also learned Linux and Windows from the ground, up. I was then ready to start my own business. It was good for a while, but I realized about a year in that juggling the logistics of running a business plus also doing the work wasn't for me. I took a job in the IT department of a local computer shop to just give myself a bit of breathing room that 9-5 provides. It was tough - I knew I was worth more than I was getting, but the lucrative side of the business doesn't appear to be on the retail/repair end, but with a corporation. Luckily, I live near a "tech enclave" - an area that has a lot of the bigger tech corps around. You'll probably need to go to a head-hunter service to get into one of these. You may be hired on a contract basis, for a limited length of time. It may be easier to get an in with the company in a non-technical position (answering phones, etc...), as some post-secondary (ie. a degree) may be required for new hires wanting technical positions. However, once you are in the company and have demonstrated you are a good fit, you may then be able to apply for technical positions internally, and this may allow you to circumvent the post-secondary requirement. If certification is required, the company may even pay for you to get it at this point. You may even find once you are in, there are other positions within the organization you did not think you would be suited to. Good luck!

nonsense replies (1)

negrace (984807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189580)

Gosh, so many nonsense replies here... The way to get a job is to apply for jobs! Once you get an interview (might take a while), they will see you are good, and you will be hired. My wife is a biologist, she had an empty resume saying "wanna be a developer", and she got her first job in no time. And that was during the crisis.

Go to college (4, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189584)

You don't have to do the four year marathon. You can do contract work to pay for your tuition. In the end, you'll make up for the tuition spent by making more salary than possible without that degree,

Of course you could go the self employment route, the success stories are few and you'll get paid less than a college grad for your talents.

It's possible, but branch out! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189586)

I didn't get a degree.

Get an internship or a job that pays crap just to get experience, once you have experience you're golden. From what I've seen, it's only companies working with ancient technologies that care about degrees, everyone else just wants to ask about side projects and what you can actually do. Contribute a ton to open source projects, also, they can be put on a resume like any other job.

However, don't rely on Drupal. Learn learn learn learn learn. Go learn Joomla, then how both works, then contribute to them, then work on something else. If you're not learning something new from a side project then drop it, at least until you have enough under your belt to ace every interview. I got my first big break about 5 months ago, and people always joke here about how I have experience with everything and the kitchen sink. My boss's love it.

It is possible, it is rewarding, it doesn't come right away.

Good luck!

Also, like everyone else has said, avoid HR.

My two cents. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189600)

First, where are you geographically located? Second, would you consider yourself an HTML5 programmer? I'll be honest with you, there is a LOT of work out there and in the HTML5 arena it increases by the day. Why? Because there are very few truly self-motivated highly skilled people out there. Colleges are churning out self-impressed prima donnas by the tens of thousands but folks that really are as you've described yourself are very difficult to find. There is huge potential for solid HTML5 guys (with all that entails) in the immediate term and for several years to come.

Been there and still working (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189606)

I'm the same as you. I'd learned as much as I could about computers and networking and had decided to switch careers. Watching an interview of a game dev back in '95 he gave advice which set me on the path and got me into a 15yr (and counting) career path. The advice was simple: Get a job where you are the bottom of the heap, but around people working in the industry. Ask questions. Bug others who know more to teach you MORE. Learn everything you can from them and do everything you can to show that you are able to do the job you want to do. When you've put in your time at the bottom, you'll move up the ladder.

Bend the truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189608)

The question you have to ask yourself is: are you confident that you will be able to do the job given the opportunity?

This might sound unethical, but lie. More often than not, the interview process is a joke and broken. Be confident in your answers and bend the truth. After all, given the chance, you are confident in your abilities to perform the task. Of course, target positions within your domain of interest and understanding. Entrance to any field is a b****.

I can't believe that nobody has said it yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189656)

Big tits.

similarity (1, Interesting)

g4b (956118) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189678)

your resumée sounds like mine. you just chose drupal over django, a choice i never would have made. php is over, really. it was only popular as long ASP and JSP were feared to become mainstream, now we have serious tools in the web, php is just the cheap aftertaste of the 90s.
also, with php you are basicly locked into the web business.

it does not matter how you are educated and which papers you have, getting a job is
  1. look who needs you and what is to do
  2. know what you want to do
  3. pick.

unfortunately, it depends on your country how you answer these question, it does not garantuee good salary to do what you love to, and lastly: sometimes it takes time. long time. life is up and down. so in the meantime, look that you can survive, and use your free time to conceive your own projects.

ah, last advice: people always advice. while you should take out compliments and critics of advices to consider, you should never think, anybody else than you can know whats best for your life. i think this is the best advice i ever got, just takes a bit to get it.

Like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189686)

I'm a self-educated network engineer. I've gotten lucky, but also worked hard. One thing I like about the tech industry is that people don't usually care if you went to school. They really only care that you can get the job done and won't just be taking the hiring spot of someone that can.

People networking: I've gotten almost every job I've had because I knew someone. If you know your shit then your friends will see that and might tell you about openings they know about. That being said, it's very good to make friends with people that are better than you are, technically. Try to get better than them. It will make you more skilled. These people probably already have jobs and even if you don't surpass them they might recognize your skills and help you find a job.

Experience you can put on paper: Get certifications. Skip the A+ crap. No one cares about that. Get your RHCE and whatever certs are relevant. It wouldn't hurt to volunteer at a non-profit. Build a website for that non-profit, or something. It will give you actual work experience you can put on that resume.

Apply everywhere: Go to all the recruitment agencies. Apply for lots of jobs. Even if you think it's a little beyond your technical skills. If they don't hire you they may think you would be a good fit for a different position they haven't opened yet. It will probably take some time to work your way up to the position you really want.

Btw, I've known several techies that have tried to work for themselves in this gig. It doesn't usually go well. It isn't as easy as it sounds. It takes some solid business sense and a bit of capitol to get things moving well enough to actually pay the bills. At least for me, jobs aren't as much for making money as they are for the free education. I try to pick jobs that will learn from. Then I'll be better and can get a better job. At some point I probably will work for myself. Probably after I get my CCIE and have some experience with it.

Don't focus too narrowly. (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189708)

how can I (specifically with Drupal)

Bad idea to focus too narrowly. Your average suit might not even know what Drupal is. Keep an open mind. The job you get manipulating Joomla or Wordpress might lead eventually to your "dream Drupal job"... however...

So, I think I wanna do BGP routing on Cisco routers because I happen to have years of experience and I'm extremely good at it. That's nice, if only there were any hiring spots for that skillset at a location and salary I can tolerate. "Meanwhile" I'm working with RoR and Perl and a variety of SQL backends. Heck I don't even know if I wanna go back to being a router jockey, as if that opportunity will ever exist again for me. I really miss those weekly 2am on call emergencies, err, no not really. But this job puts me close both physically and technologically to the local OSPF operators, so if I wanted to, it would be an easy stepping stone back into routing and switching.

started learning BASIC at age 12

See, you're not trying to write CGI scripts in MSBasic so we know you've got an open mind... Go with the flow. Drupal is cool, don't get me wrong, but its not the end stage of technological progress or the end stage of your career unless you're in your 60s and planning on this being your toe-tag job.

The hidden job market. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189730)

Look for contract jobs advertised in the web in PeopleSoft, Oracle or Web design. Most of the listings will ask for qualifications and experience you don't have. But you are not looking for jobs. What you are looking for are the links to contractors who are looking for such jobs. Most of them are independent consultants. Some of them join together to own partnerships. Ask them to take you as an intern or a trainee and offer to work for free for three or six months to learn the job skills. They are likely to evaluate you based on your skills rather than qualifications. Once you break into this circuit, you survive by your skills, not by paper qualifications. Pay is good. Unemployment is low. Most of these jobs would require you to fly out on Sunday night and return on Thursday night to your home base. Jobs are called 4 by 10, for they put in 40 hours in four days.

As a fellow self taught CS type person (2)

croftj (2359) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189732)

Go to school!! That or get ready for many years of having to work harder just to prove yourself over and over again! Another alternative is contract to hire. That may work as well.

On another note,hopefully you have learned about the necessity of Version control. You also hopefully have been learning good CS practices such as only having one source for information (code functionality is information) abstraction etc. There are good reasons for these practices and the sooner you learn them the more valuable you will be.

Also, don't be a information hoarder or a primadona! Be willing to talk and work withouther sharing ideas and concepts. Sometimes the idiot next to you will surprise you with just all that he does really know.

Good luck!
    Joe

education does not matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189738)

I know a somebody who is a surf teacher for hobby, but has completely no teaching education. Now he's employed as a teacher and loves the job.

Get some evidence of your qualities and you should be ok. In your field of expertise experience is more important then education. Potential employers are willing to not look at your education if you can show relevant experience.

Freelance or get Degree! (1)

twiddler69 (2504140) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189744)

Unfortunately in the world we live in today, not having a degree will put you at the bottom of the list for employment. There are too many other IT people out there looking for work that have degrees and skills, employers don't have time to assess your knowledge, they want proof on paper. No degree? then freelance your skills like millions of other people.

Selfemploy, hired as onsite Consultant, Volunteer. (2)

Barryke (772876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189746)

1) As a student, i started my own business to make some money while doing what i like, and built a portfolio with that. Despite being hired elsewhere i today still develop websites and webapplications in my spare time. http://staesit.nl/ [staesit.nl] Also its a great way to finance your hobby.

2) I also had a student job at a "detacheerder" as how its called in dutch. I don't know the correct term in english (temporary job?), but when visiting the dutch wiki page i see the english equilavent is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temporary_work [wikipedia.org] but it contains some (for me) weird implications.
In essence, as a student i did work for http://www.ogd.nl/ [www.ogd.nl] which had me work on client locations to consult on specific computer problems i had experience in, do helpdesk work, program small applications and develop solutions.

3) I also did voluntary work for several IT-related events. I developed a screen overlay system for internet broadcasts, and built a tournament matching system for Netgamez. (sadly nothing i built this way ever was opensourced, most where rather embedded solutions)

I don't hear any ... real ... skill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189750)

Hi,

Sorry, but I seems you don't have any real special skill. I know other 'self leaned' 'nerds' that now have high positions in banks (ING, KBC), at Coca Cola (of all places), at Percona and one started his own company with great success. They succeeded because they had real skills and went for a specialty. Even I am an self employed self learned nerd, with enough success and 'special' skills to diversify me in the crowded market.

My advice: get some real skills. Durpal, some javascript and some photoshop work are not special skills.

I didn't know slashdot was changed in a job seeking site.

How did I do it..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189766)

I am self thought IT.
Starting off from a helpdesk when I was 16 to having worked at Google and Blackberry!

I can not make it more simple then this..... if you are good, they want you and that is how I did it.
Be confident about having the answers and the way to solve.

Just don't have many standards, cause working at google in HWOps was pure slavery back then and doing things the Google way is not expected in DC's... it is really more like slavery and betraying everyone to become someone! You gotta be able to murder someone and smile at the same time basicly! :)
(+4 years)

Working for Blackberry you have to be prepared to handle idiocracy, cause they refuse to do things right, but are prepared to pay you a lot for doing it wrong!
(a year)

Personally I like working for Goverments the most... noboby is something, tries to be something or is expecting something and they have shit load of funds to make you grow!

With every job it is the same in the end if you want to get hired. Make sure you are good and when being interviewd, be convident! You do not need them.... enough jobs out there!

JS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189782)

How well do you know Java Script? Can you define and give examples of using closure? If your good at that you can find a job in a lot of places. Drupal, is crap in my opinion.

I was in your situation (1)

jshipp (2519316) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189794)

my local college gave me the run around trying to graduate. i had over 100 hours and straight A's but they kept changing the degree plan until i dropped out without even a 2yr degree. I applied at every computer store around, which was only 3. they all laughed at me. that's when i started my own business. that was 10 years ago. since then, i have put them all out of business. and i did it without ever advertising. all word of mouth. i do all the work for practically every business in the city (a little over 100). it wasn't easy, sometimes i work 16 hours/day, 7 days/week. I'm so happy today, i wouldn't work for somebody else for twice the salary. now if i can just figure out how to get rich too...

Find the right company (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189806)

Everyone has already said 'You need a portfolio', and that is SO right. So I'll talk about the next step:

Find the right company.

The wrong company is a company that think college education means anything in and of itself. It doesn't. A portfolio shows your actual skill, and a good company will appreciate that. A good company will also have an interview that asks the right questions, and possibly asks you to show your ability. These are the companies you'll shine at. As a side effect, these are also good companies to work for, since they value skill and efficiency instead of paperwork.

But you still need that portfolio.

Contribute to a project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38189812)

If you want to get cred in the Drupal world try thinking up a new module and creating it.

Simply lie (1)

awjr (1248008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189852)

If you are going for contract work, the last thing people actually do is check your degree or to a certain extent, your work history. Be warned, the agent will call old work places to find new contract leads.

They just want to know if you can do the job, that you can do it next week, and you can hit the ground running. If you can tick those boxes, everything else is irrelevant. If you are sh*t, expect to be out of your job pretty quickly. Never lie about skills you have no experience with ;)

If you did work for a company that has now collapsed, even better. They can't verify your work experience.

If you see a skill being mentioned with Drupal, e.g. Agile, then read up on it and understand it. Even go so far as to use it.

A CV is not about being honest in your past. It's about selling yourself, the skills you currently have and making people believe you are a solution to their problems.

Oh one other thing, you need a website of your own.

Hire a resume writer (1)

Carik (205890) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189854)

Most IT people suck at writing resumes. Shop around for someone who has placed a lot of IT workers -- or at least some! -- and go with them. If you have any friends who hired someone, see how they liked the person they worked with.

A good resume will get you noticed, and they'll know the buzzwords that local businesses are looking for.

#1 thing to do ... (3, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38189856)

First and foremost, don't convince yourself you're better than you really are. You need to be honest with yourself about your experience before you can be honest with a prospective employer.

Being self-taught doesn't suggest you don't know the technology, but *does* suggest you may not know a lot of other things that are critical that come from studying things in school -- process, teamwork, communication, etc ...

Basically, don't BS yourself into seeking jobs you really aren't qualified for, particularly in this market. You'll just waste your time, adn the time of those you're talking to. You're going to have to build up the credentials based on your work experience that you lack in formal education. (And, I can tell you as someone who has done a lot of hiring -- a lot of the comments here are wrong... you need actual *employment* exprience, not hobby projects to show your abilities, because as I said, doing something with a team, on a deadline, is very different than doing something by yourself.)

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