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Ask Slashdot: Computer Science Freshman, Too Soon To Job Hunt?

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the get-a-job dept.

Businesses 309

First time accepted submitter stef2dotoh (3646393) writes "I've got about a year of computer science classes under my belt along with countless hours of independent online and tech book learning. I can put together a secure login-driven Web site using PHP and MySQL. (I have a personal project on GitHub and a personal Web site.) I really enjoyed my Web development class, so I've spent a lot of time honing those skills and trying to learn new technologies. I still have a ways to go, though. I've been designing Web sites for more than 10 years, writing basic PHP forms for about 5 or 6 years and only gotten seriously into PHP/MySQL the last 1 or 2 years on and off. I'm fluent with HTML and CSS, but I really like back-end development. I was hoping I might be able to get a job as a junior Web developer, but even those require 2+ years of experience and a list of technologies as long as my arm. Internships usually require students to be in their junior or senior year, so that doesn't seem to be an option for me. Recruiters are responding to my resume on various sites, but it's always for someone more experienced. Should I forget about trying to find a junior Web developer position after only one year of computer science classes?"

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Move to India (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975115)

they're not hiring in the USA any more.

Re:Move to India (3, Insightful)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 4 months ago | (#46975293)

Or move to India so you can come back on an H-1B

On a serious note, if someone is asking for 2+ years experience for a junior position, they're smoking crack.
Perhaps they really want intermediate people at a junior salary.

Re:Move to India (0)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 4 months ago | (#46975567)

if someone is asking for 2+ years experience for a junior position, they're smoking crack. Perhaps they really want intermediate people at a junior salary.

You do realise a trade apprenticeship (bricklayer, plumber, etc) lasts twice that long, right? Having said that, not many people take up plumbing as a hobby for 10yrs before getting their ticket. IMO, 5ys INSIDE an industry is when you can start calling yourself "experienced".

Skilled Trades (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975743)

Yes, but they're professionals in skilled trades, not CS grads who think that makes them programmers.

IT needs to be a skilled trade with trade schools (3, Insightful)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 4 months ago | (#46975907)

IT needs to be a skilled trade with trade schools and not years of class room with little hands on work.

Re:Move to India (1)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 4 months ago | (#46975731)

Have you looked at job postings lately? Slave labour (aka internships) positions are available but many, I would even venture to say most, entry level positions are asking for 2-3 or 3-5 years experience required. This is how they make it look like there's a labour shortage so they can get the cheap foreign labour in the country - jack up the requirements, don't interview anyone who applies, then whine to the government that there's no one to hire.

Focus on your studies as much as possible (5, Interesting)

xtal (49134) | about 4 months ago | (#46975117)

You are making a huge financial investment in both real dollars and opportunity cost.

Don't worry about developing web sites. Spend that time advancing your core knowledge. Learn as deep and as abstractly as you can. The technologies will change, the knowledge will not.

Any job you take now will likely not impact your career. Find out if there's a professor you can work with in another faculty instead - by going up and down halls knocking on doors if possible. Chances are they have some IT problems that need solving this summer or know someone who does.

Re:Focus on your studies as much as possible (4, Informative)

mlts (1038732) | about 4 months ago | (#46975219)

Instead of jobs, I'd look for internships as well. Internships get you actually in front of people who hire, and this is quite important, as showing on a resume that you worked for a company or two will put you further ahead than someone with a degree but no documented work experience other than a Starbucks position.

Professors can be of help, but a lot of them tend to work isolated from the "real" world. Their world has little pressure from H-1Bs and offshoring (other than foreign competition when it comes to textbook publishing,) so they may not know or care about trying to find work once one gets the degree.

Projects can help too. If one is a good coder, joining and looking at an OSS project might be a help come resume time. Doing a coding project that is something other than the usual smartphone/tablet app is going to get one noticed.

Finally, keep an eye on the market. What was needed four years ago may not be needed now. However, embedded programming always needs good people. It isn't a commodity job (thus the offshore dev houses are not worth the time), so it can be a niche for a career.

Re:Focus on your studies as much as possible (0)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 months ago | (#46975309)

Instead of jobs, I'd look for internships as well.

That makes absolutely no sense at all.

Re:Focus on your studies as much as possible (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975747)

Instead of jobs, I'd look for internships as well.

That makes absolutely no sense at all.

I'd assume that he really meant "Instead of [just paying] jobs, I'd look for [unpaid] internships as well".

I'm not sure it was really worthy of comment, given that the poster's intent was somewhat obvious.

Re:Focus on your studies as much as possible (-1, Troll)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 months ago | (#46975873)

the poster's intent was somewhat obvious.

I've seen two bums off their heads on butane and nail varnish gibbering away. They seemed to understand each other perfectly well.

I'm not a bum.

Re:Focus on your studies as much as possible (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975893)

the poster's intent was somewhat obvious.

I've seen two bums off their heads on butane and nail varnish gibbering away. They seemed to understand each other perfectly well.

I'm not a bum.

The jury's still out on that. But it is clear you're an asshole.

Re:Focus on your studies as much as possible (1)

JCaptainP (2702995) | about 4 months ago | (#46975905)

Companies gauge employees more and more based on experience and many see students without internships as scarred. I would say you should get an internship with the biggest most reputable company you can find and start learning backbone technologies their. It's typically true that you can always migrate to smaller companies but not from smaller to larger firms easily.

Secondly, you don't want to be looked at as a low level commodity, which most "web people" are perceived to be - rightly or wrongly. You're a CS major, so you should really be moving into a software engineering role. Much of the software designed uses internet based technologies anyway, so you can happily make your passion a reality via a similar role.

Thirdly, don't be meek w/ recruiters, they prob. know way less then you about technology. Interview every chance you can get to get experience. Remember there's a huge dearth of good tech people out there. Salaries are very high once you get going so they should be very happy to get a good cheap intern or part-time person.

Re:Focus on your studies as much as possible (2)

catmistake (814204) | about 4 months ago | (#46975363)

Don't worry about developing web sites

I see we have a seasoned computer scientist in the field!

/sarcasm wtf

FYI graphic designers calling themselves developers develop websites. And they're great at it. Computer scientists should stick what they're good at, which has nothing to do with markup languages nor computers nor programming.

Real computer scientists do one, the other, or both:

1) RECKONING

2) SCIENCE

Re:Focus on your studies as much as possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975431)

As somebody who started (but didn't complete) a bachelor's in computer engineering (which has its fair share of programming requirements), I can safely say that even the 200-level esoteric courses (algorithms, data structures) will be what sets you apart from the standard web developer (which in my experience either means self-taught or associate degree) later on in your career.

In the short term, you're probably just what a web studio would want to bring on board. My boss (the owner) at the web studio I work at hires not so much on college education, but rather on adaptability, core competence, and a desire to grow as a programmer. I feel like the 4-year curriculum doesn't prepare you too well for that kind of work, as they spend more time on big-picture concepts than on applicable practices; in contrast, my time at a 2-year institution primed me with the actual technologies (SQL, Java, HTML, etc.) that got me a job. I wasn't quite motivated enough to learn stuff in my free time and needed a bit of a push from my education at the time.

Were I in your (OP)'s position, I would consider taking odd jobs to garner experience and pad the resume, but the education is tough to resume later if you walk away from it now. The best of both worlds.

Re:Focus on your studies as much as possible (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975525)

This is terrible advice. Aggressively pursue employment or internships. I routinely sit on hiring panels for entry level and experienced positions. The major on your resume will guarantee your resume will make it to the stack I have to look at for an entry level position. In descending order of importance, the following affect where you rank in the list of people we extend job offers to or even interview.
Relevant Work Experience
Relevant Internships
Relevant Hobbies or Relevant Extra-Curricular Experience (ACM, etc)
Name of School
GPA

What I want to see on your resume is:
Skills that I believe will be applicable to my positions
Experience that substantiates the skills you claim to have proficiency in

There are a LOT of CS majors where the rest of the parts of the resume are blank, or sparse. If that is what your resume looks when you decide to enter the workforce it will be undifferentiated. I don't believe you when you tell me you know some language or system and there is no work experience to back up that assertion. Classes don't count in the eyes of the hiring board. Hiring the wrong person has huge real and opportunity costs, so in most cases we prefer to leave a position unfilled than to hire someone we don't think can cut it. Show me as many instances as possible outside the classroom where you faced a problem relevant to the position for which you are being hired and you solved it.

Re:Focus on your studies as much as possible (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975881)

your company must routinely hire idiots. you'd turn down an MIT grad with no job experience over some shithead who had a shithead job doing low level coding for a company...

Re:Get a job as fast as possible (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 4 months ago | (#46975675)

HR only gives a shit about experience and holes and your resume. Not how much you know or can do. They are the gatekeepers who will let you beg for a job or be invisible to any manager.

One thing I observed was in the early 1990s the market was not hot. In the late 90's a cab driver could make $80,000 a year after reading learn c++ in 21 days! In the mid 2000's the market was cold and I remember seeing on Slashdot "DO NOT BE A CODER. INDIANS ARE TAKING THEM" and "ALL I got WAS 33,000 A YEAR? etc". Today it is hot again!

Get in while the market is still warm. Intern, develop some website stuff for small business and friends. Do everything you can as in 4 years we maybe in another recession again if history is any guide.

The great recession ended in 2009 and it is has been 5 years. Every 7 a new one starts, stocks crash, employers stop hiring, efficiency experts make people do more with less and lay off and the cycle repeats. Now you have your fancy piece of paper but with ne experience :-(

Now what?

Do not be that man. Ignore other advice and go work part time. Even quit school if you can pull 70k a year in 5 years. in 4 years time HR will care more about your lack of experience and holes than your piece of paper. True some will filter you out but mostly large boring companies anyway which are not fun to work for.

Re:Get a job as fast as possible (0, Troll)

BitZtream (692029) | about 4 months ago | (#46975815)

2007-2009 was not "a Great Recession", it was a culling of businesses that had absolutely no right what so ever to exist. Businesses that deserved to exist survived pretty easily. Many that didn't deserve to survive did as well.

If you think that time period was 'hard' in any way, your in the wrong line of work and probably just another idiot we should keep out of the work force for anything that requires thought. Very few people that didn't deserve it were effected, I'm sorry if that hits close to home but the truth tends to hurt.

You have no idea what hard times are, it's unlikely they have occurred during you life time assuming you are a US citizen, unless you're in your 90's or 100's

Sounds like you have the experience (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975123)

Seems to me you have way more than 2+ years of experience. Add it to your resume in a way that makes it seem legit and important, but also truthful.

Things Don't Add Up (4, Insightful)

ranton (36917) | about 4 months ago | (#46975279)

Seems to me you have way more than 2+ years of experience.

While he says he has 10 years of web designing experience with 5-6 years of dabbling in PHP, he also says he really enjoyed his freshman level web development class. I had about 7 years of rudimentary programming experience before college, and all of my programming classes in the first two years were mind-numbingly boring and basic. And I was still not good enough to work as a professional developer. I have never met a self-taught developer that enjoyed their 100-200 level programming classes; they just suffered through them until the real CS classes started.

It sounds like this student is a self-motivating learner, and if that keeps up he will do quite well. But there are probably still huge gaps in knowledge that would make working in the industry very difficult at this point. I would suggest to do everything you can to get internships even in your Fresh/Soph summer, but understand you probably aren't ready to be employed as a software developer yet. I have known people who caught a lucky break writing basic websites for a family friend or something similar, but that was long before there were tools that help even laymen get a SMB website going in no time.

Re:Things Don't Add Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975369)

But there are probably still huge gaps in knowledge that would make working in the industry very difficult at this point.

Really only true with self-education done wrong. Most college-education is done wrong, and as a result, most college products are know-nothings.

Re:Things Don't Add Up (1)

ranton (36917) | about 4 months ago | (#46975639)

But there are probably still huge gaps in knowledge that would make working in the industry very difficult at this point.

Really only true with self-education done wrong. Most college-education is done wrong, and as a result, most college products are know-nothings.

I was referring to my opinion that anyone who is really enjoying and learning from freshman level web development classes probably has huge gaps in their knowledge. I am mostly a self-educated developer, and I am doing very well in my career, so I don't hold anything against those who feel a BS in CS isn't always necessary. But this is true for only a very tiny minority of people.

Re:Things Don't Add Up (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 4 months ago | (#46975687)

Anyone worth their salt with 10 years experience can pull in big bucks. Maybe not in rural Alabama, but in Texas, California, North Dakota, New York, and other places that have high tech companies and can't find enough candidates.

Go study kid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975133)

Jobs will be there when you're a senior. Then you can do some internships.

Re:Go study kid (2, Funny)

immaterial (1520413) | about 4 months ago | (#46975157)

I got to see Jobs give the commencement address at my friend's graduation from Stanford a while back. But I'm pretty sure that by the time this kid is a senior, Jobs won't be there. He's kind of dead already.

Re:Go study kid (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975551)

Your comment is disgusting and shameful.

Re:Go study kid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975693)

yes, i am ashamed for laughing at your comment. This kid has been designing websites since he was 10 years old? That explains Slashdot BETA

Web Dev is not CS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975141)

Since when did a year's worth of web dev qualify as "CS"?
You're not CS, you're just some web dev taking web dev classes at the local IT schoool.

If that's all you have to offer, then I can definitely say you're too early in searching for "back-end development" jobs.

Captcha: generic

Re:Web Dev is not CS (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 months ago | (#46975345)

Since when did a year's worth of web dev qualify as "CS"?

Who claimed that it did? And where?

If someone wants you... (1)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | about 4 months ago | (#46975145)

...they will hire you.
It doesn't matter where you are IMO. I have a kid here who is a Sophomore in his CS degree path and I have him doing basic web design, MySQL maintenance and other odd things when I need him. He is not full or part time, but I do pay him by the hour when he is doing a job for me. Keeps him fed and he works for cheap so it works out for us both.

Anything but web designer (5, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about 4 months ago | (#46975153)

First, the world has enough "web designers". Learn how to code the hard stuff, do distributed systems with no UI, do low-level coding and debugging, spend the time to develop real skills. Eventually take the "write an OS" and "write a compiler" classes any decent program offers. More than anything, be writing code as much as you can for any reason. "A writer writes," and a coder codes.

In the meantime, summer internships are good, they'll help more than your degree in landing your first full-time engineering job. It's really hard to find one summer of your freshman year (though it's worth putting in the effort to apply, just to learn that skill too), but summer after sophomore year is a real possibility. But note that recruiting for summer internships starts over winter break for the big companies, and pickings get slim as the year goes on.

Re:Anything but web designer (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 4 months ago | (#46975233)

First, the world has enough "web designers".

Gah! The very first thing I thought when seeing the summary was, What ever happened to Algorithms + Data Structures = Programs ?

Re: Anything but web designer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975543)

The modern website often has both of those things.

Re:Anything but web designer (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 4 months ago | (#46975565)

Is it still in print?

Re:Anything but web designer (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 4 months ago | (#46975637)

Doesn't appear to be.

It's a long way to the top... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975159)

If you want to rock and roll.

Finish the degree. Cutting it short, to focus on web development - (a job that is a dime a dozen) - is not a career building decision.

Dead tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975177)

PHP and MySQL are on their way out. SQL in general will always be useful, but Postgres is the most popular right now. As of PHP, it has a reputation of being an ok language but most likely to write horrible code in. You should look into Python or Ruby if you want a proper server side language. I would give Javascript a shot, too. Both server side and client side since you are a web centric developer.

Re:Dead tech (5, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | about 4 months ago | (#46975627)

No, at this point he shouldn't be giving a flying fuck about languages. He should be studying data structures, algorithms, and learning how to break down problems. Languages don't matter, if you know the other stuff you can pick up whatever language you need in under a week.

Comp.sci and HTML?... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975197)

What kind of a course are you taking that makes you think web development would be the pinnacle of your life?.... Your post is just sad.

Do you have the time? (4, Insightful)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | about 4 months ago | (#46975201)

Keep in mind: Freshman year you're going to have the most free time out of any other year. By senior year your workload is going to be double or tripled.

With that in mind: I'd focus on your studies. If you have spare time, focus on getting other classes out of the way so you won't have to take them later. Or take other classes that could develop your degree and help you learn things you didn't know before. Take a network security class, or a graphics class. Something outside your wheelhouse.

If you're already at 18 credits and finding yourself bored: Work on your own outside project, contribute to open source project, etc. Whatever you do, do not commit yourself to a regular job with expected hours.

For reference: I worked while I was getting my degree (had to, I paid my own way) and it delayed my graduation about a year to a year and a half. So I'd only recommend doing it if you need the money.

Re:Do you have the time? (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 4 months ago | (#46975227)

Egad, what terrible advice. Yes freshman year is the lightest workload if you came from a good HS but it can be hard for people that come from crappy school systems.

But there is something more important and that's having fun. Collage is the last real time in your life you can goof off and have a good time without severe repercussions. Studies need to be important and good grades a must but with the lighter work load freshman year you should be having fun. That means making friends, dating and having a good time. Once you graduate are looking at almost 50 years of continuous 40+ hour workweeks with 2 weeks of time off a year.

Enjoy collage, its your last chance to act like a kid.

Re:Do you have the time? (1)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | about 4 months ago | (#46975251)

Egad, what terrible advice. Yes freshman year is the lightest workload if you came from a good HS but it can be hard for people that come from crappy school systems.

But there is something more important and that's having fun. Collage is the last real time in your life you can goof off and have a good time without severe repercussions. Studies need to be important and good grades a must but with the lighter work load freshman year you should be having fun. That means making friends, dating and having a good time. Once you graduate are looking at almost 50 years of continuous 40+ hour workweeks with 2 weeks of time off a year.

Enjoy collage, its your last chance to act like a kid.

Well, I didn't mention dating or having fun, but that's not bad advice either. :)

Seriously OP, this is going to be one of the best dating pools you will have in your whole life.

If the OP is looking for things to do with his/her time, I was kind of assuming the whole social thing had been considered and rejected, but if your school is being paid for and you've got the time, it is one of the best time's in your life to live a little.

Re:Do you have the time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975415)

Seriously OP, this is going to be one of the best dating pools you will have in your whole life.

Seriously, not true. Maybe if you're trying to settle down right after you get out of school. Or if you plan on just letting yourself go.

Re:Do you have the time? (5, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 months ago | (#46975337)

Enjoy collage, its your last chance to act like a kid.

Don't eat the scissors, and don't run with the glue. Ah, those were the days.

Re:Do you have the time? (1)

ranton (36917) | about 4 months ago | (#46975597)

But there is something more important and that's having fun. Collage is the last real time in your life you can goof off and have a good time without severe repercussions. Studies need to be important and good grades a must but with the lighter work load freshman year you should be having fun. That means making friends, dating and having a good time. Once you graduate are looking at almost 50 years of continuous 40+ hour workweeks with 2 weeks of time off a year.

Enjoy collage, its your last chance to act like a kid.

Egad, what terrible advice. This student is already self-motivated enough to learn independently and look for employment to learn job skills, and you want him to just goof off instead? College is not the last time someone has the chance to act like a kid. The last time is the two years after college when they are living at home working at a fast food joint looking for a real job because they goofed off during college.

Seriously though, at 18 it is time to start acting like an adult because you are an adult. Grade school is when you act like a kid, and high school to a lesser extent for all but the highest performers. Learn how to be a productive member of society in college.

I don't mean you can't have any fun. Just no more fun than you will have in your late 20s. Its not like your life ends once you actually start your first professional job.

Really? (1)

dsginter (104154) | about 4 months ago | (#46975203)

You're a *real* CS major, from the sound of it (not one of these "CS because it is profitable" people). To the point: if you graduate, then you have failed. When you are sleeping on the floor, then you cannot fall out of bed. This is the definition of college and you are there now. Build something of use - anything. But do it well and you will eventually find your niche before you graduate. On the other side of the coin, if you do graduate, you'll have a great "plan b" for the rest of your life. But concentrate on finding entrepreneurial talent at your school and do something with it.

Re:Really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975237)

Better advice: use your time in university to concentrate on your studies rather than trying to come up with some bound-to-fail get-rich-quick entrepreneurial scheme as this idiot is suggesting.

Re:Really? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975319)

Please do not take this guys advice. He has drank the Silicon Valley kool-aid. Try to do side projects if you have time for them, but to think of graduating as "failing" is the stupidest thing I have ever heard.

Re:Really? (1)

gtall (79522) | about 4 months ago | (#46975713)

More to the point, all you've been taught in freshman year is a few languages and technologies, you've not done any actual computer science yet. You have one chance (now) to learn enough computer science to last the rest of your career; that computer science will prepare you to work just about anywhere, except for... ...you have precious little domain knowledge. Most computer scientists are not going to be hired for web development or anything else that can be done in China or India. There are a lot of niches in chemistry, biology, etc. where you marry domain knowledge with computer science. Fill one of those niches, and you'll be set for awhile.

Re:Really? (1)

Elfich47 (703900) | about 4 months ago | (#46975781)

Unless you are so busy that your start-up is consuming more time than your studies, finish your degree.

Stop Doing Web Development (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975213)

I'm a web developer making a bit over $200k/yr. I can tell you what worked well for me: stop focusing on web development and get deep into C++ for a couple years. Learn how the best C++ developers think. Learn to fear your language because it's too complex and irrational. Get a job or don't. Then go back to web development and it'll be trivially easy.

Re:Stop Doing Web Development (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975559)

I'm a web developer making a bit over $200k/yr.

My friend makes $359/hr working from home! It's really easy - you can too! Read more at http://fake.co/RuScAm [fake.co]

Different focus, I think (3, Interesting)

david_bonn (259998) | about 4 months ago | (#46975223)

I wouldn't worry about some list of technologies. I wouldn't worry about n years of experience in some field.

Technologies come and go rapidly.

It would be better to focus on what problems you have solved, and how you used technologies you knew and came up to speed rapidly on technologies you did not know to solve those problems. Come into an interview with working software you can demo and code you have written -- and expect to talk about what you are showing.

Also, bypass recruiters as much as possible. Work connections through friends, family, and school to get an interview. Expect to get turned down more than you get accepted, but eventually something will turn up.

Re:Different focus, I think (2)

Elfich47 (703900) | about 4 months ago | (#46975771)

At this point in a career, recruiters are the way to go. Until a solid collection of connections through work experience can be built up recruiters can find jobs faster that you can.

Re:Different focus, I think (1)

buddyglass (925859) | about 4 months ago | (#46975901)

Dunno, I find recruiters pretty darn useful. Annoying when I have a job I'm happy with, but useful when I'm between jobs.

Go for it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975225)

The sooner the better. I made the mistake of waiting until the end of my college experience to go job hunting and I was left competing with people who already had a couple years of real world experience under their belt. Web development isn't the end-all-be-all, but it should get your foot in the door if that's the only positions you can find to apply for. Long story short, if you can get it and still maintain a decent GPA, then go do it. 2 years experience + a GPA over 3.0 is better than a 3.9 with zero experience.

Just don't lose sight that University is for the deep understanding of the topics and that real-world experience is usually very superficial in that you don't end up learning much unless the job is very demanding on the algorithmic side.

Go for it (1)

jakeguffey (587607) | about 4 months ago | (#46975245)

I say you should go for it. I don't think that the recruiter thing is the best way to go, though. As you have experienced, recruiters generally have their hands tied as far as what they can present to potential employers because of experience and degree requirements. That said, look locally. I grew up in a tiny dying town with almost no jobs in IT, but there was a local IT business (WISP, consulting, PC repair) that I got to work for as a helpdesk tech my Senior year in high school. When I went to college, I left on good terms so I had a Summer job waiting for me. Throughout college, I worked there and for the school of Engineering's network helpdesk. When I graduated, I was able to go on with a degree and experience to get the job that I wanted and now I'm working as a network security engineer and I'm 5-10 years younger than all my colleagues.

The point is, maybe don't look for an official start to your career right now. Instead, look for work locally that will get your foot in the door and give you experience. Find a local IT consulting or web design house and ask to work for them. Sell yourself like you did in this submission. If that doesn't work out, talk to your university. I don't know what they have going on, but I'm sure there are plenty of opportunities for undergrads to get involved. Talk to the helpdesk for your particular school within the university (like ECN at Purdue); talk to the university's global helpdesk (like ITaP at Purdue); talk to your professors. If none of those turn up anything (which I find highly doubtful), look into contributing to open source projects. Drupal, Joomla, and friends are possible projects to start with. Just don't quit looking for opportunities wherever they happen to appear and remember that there are more local opportunities than you may realize.

Consider freelance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975247)

Since you have a lot of web development experience, why not focus on going freelance for a while? See if you can pick up some odd jobs, small local businesses often have a website. Ask around with family and friends, see if they know anyone looking for a website. You might find you can take on a few smal projects, make a little money and pad your resume in the process.

Walk into any dev shop and offer services (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 4 months ago | (#46975265)

I hired quite a few people like you, after 1 year of school, they learn more in two weeks of instructions here than in 1 year of college, I do not pay them until they are ready to work on a project. I would say that you would be better served working for free somewhere for a few months until you become productive enough to do some real work. Beats paying some university for years of almost fully useless shit while accumulating tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt and then coming out into the real world to compete in an ever more business hostile environment.

Re:Walk into any dev shop and offer services (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 months ago | (#46975413)

As someone who consistently rants about the constitution (albeit with inconsistent spelling), why do you think the 13th amendment doesn't apply to you?

Look for summer internships (1)

mrsam (12205) | about 4 months ago | (#46975267)

$Dayjob$ hires talented interns from local scrools of higher learning, every summer. Many of them come back for a few years, as they finish up their bachelors.

Your university most likely has a few beaureaucrats in some kind of a career placement office, of sorts, that are likely have leads to local companies who have open summer internships.

A few of the best $dayjob$'s interns get a job offer, after they graduate. And all of them earn some beer money during the summer, and have something to go on their resume.

www.mieweb.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975281)

They hire intelligent people. Formal education is optional.

wrist tapper (1, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 months ago | (#46975301)

I still have a ways to go, though

Indeed. Writing English would appear to be a major section of your route.

Re:wrist tapper (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975439)

I still have a ways to go, though

Indeed. Writing English would appear to be a major section of your route.

The question was not the brightest in the world, but the grammar was not so troublesome [stackexchange.com] ....

My Advice (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 4 months ago | (#46975889)

Indeed. Writing English would appear to be a major section of your route.

My advice to the kid is; don't grow up to be this guy.

Might as Well (0)

The Cat (19816) | about 4 months ago | (#46975317)

Get started now. You're obsolete at 28 anyway.

Are you an autodidact? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975729)

28 might be a bit of an exaggeration... at 35 I've never had any shortage of companies bidding for my services yet. Oh, and I started at 18, no degree, all self taught. Never had any desire to move to management/executive positions. I have been everywhere, seen everything, and have enough money banked that I could probably choose to retire if I really wanted to, but I would be bored, I enjoy working too much.

Bottom line, there is no correct answer to the question posed by the OP. If you are an autodidact, you will have no trouble picking up all the necessary skills. If you aren't, you might do better to choose a different field because you can't expect the skills you learned in school to carry you for the rest of your career. In fact, it seems like they stuff they teach you in school is already outdated right away.

A year too late. (2)

dohzer (867770) | about 4 months ago | (#46975327)

Should have skipped university and gone straight for a job.

Re:A year too late. (1)

proca (2678743) | about 4 months ago | (#46975609)

This is bad advice unless you are writing brilliant native code by age 15. Someone who just completed their first full-scale website has a ways to go before he's viable in the job market for a competitive job. Plus you'll miss out on all the parties, girls (or boys I guess), and networking opportunities that school can provide.

Soon to Hunt for a Job (0)

hackus (159037) | about 4 months ago | (#46975331)

1) If you went to school, and Daddy paid for everything. and you have no debts.

I wouldn't worry about it. Chances are your Dad will have your job waiting for you too.

2) If you went to school, and you relied on loans...and have over 100K in debt.

Be very very worried.

Prepare to get SWAT teamed if you can't pay it back.

I am not joking. http://www.rawstory.com/rawrep... [rawstory.com]

The bankers or the criminal cabal which runs the country now and controls our military, want their money.

They want it NOW.

Do not be lured into a false sense of deferrment security.

3) BE prepared to get another eucation:

Which would be, you went to school, and soon you will forget everything you learned. Why? Because you went to school to prove you are obedient, and follow orders, not because you are good at anything really or even that you learned a skill.

So your degree is a signal, or a mark of obediance. This mark, which many corporations value obediance above all else, shows you do not ask questions outside your training and know just enough to push the buttons.

But, you probably already know that by now....and if you do not, then you are the perfect job candidate, so it may not be long before you are hired. If you can just hold out in the parents basement for a couple of years, you might get a job.

If you do not, you probably won't pass the job interview even if you get one.

4) Finally...the good part.

MIllions of H1B1 Visa people are poring into the country right now from other parts of the world in anticipation of amnesty, free food, health care by the US government. This program started under Bush, is already completed by Obama, so now it is just a simple matter of an executive order.

If you do not get a job before this happens, and you owe ANY student loan debt, I would change my name, and move out of the country otherwise they will hunt you relentlessly for the money, which given the job prospects, you quite likely will be paying by the time you are 82 years of age.

For those of you who did not go to college and started working at 16, are debt free and started your own business like I did, and then moved it offshore in the I.T. field.

Way to go smarty pants, this post isn't for you.

Re:Soon to Hunt for a Job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975391)

Did you even read your own linked article? It retracts it's statement and points out the article they link to was removed entirely. The warrant was for a criminal investigation, not defaulted student loans.
As someone who was actually READ THE MPN for student loans, they're not as god awful as the Internet likes to pretend. Yeah, granted that they stick with you through bankruptcy sucks but loan servicers practically trip over themselves to offer you help on making a payment plan that will fit your income. Plus there's all the non-payment periods you apply for if you're not making enough income to pay them back. And if you somehow fucked up so bad that you'll never make enough to pay it all back the loan is forgiven after 10 years of on schedule payments of whatever amount you could afford.

Do loans suck? Yeah. Are student loans ideal? No. But they're not the horror the internet likes to claim.

Re:Soon to Hunt for a Job (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 4 months ago | (#46975549)

A degree is a signal... not a mark of obedience, but is much more of a breadth of knowledge than depth, while still indicating a certain minimum level of competency in field of focus. It's an indication that you have the ability to stretch your boundaries of knowledge beyond that of a merely a narrow field of focus and are likely to adapt well to a completely unknown future. I don't know what kind of schools you know of where people go to CS and learn to just follow orders, but where I went, the focus was on learning how to learn.... and if you just mindlessly did whatever you were told, you just might squeeze by first year, but I doubt you'd make it through second year without your GPA falling below acceptable levels, and blocking any further progress.

I'm not saying you should need a degree to be successful, but making up complete bullshit about it just because you managed to carve your own path to it does not make it worthless for other people.

Look for relevant work first, any job second ... (1)

MacTO (1161105) | about 4 months ago | (#46975335)

The most important thing is to gain employment experience before you graduate, and the more the better. If at all possible, get a job that is somehow related to your career objectives. This will help you gain experince, find direction, and develop relationships that will help you later on. If that fails, try to find work that will have skills that are transferrable to your desired industry. Even mundane office work will allow you to acquire the skills required of technical workers, even if those are soft skills (e.g. how to interact with managers). If that fails, take anything -- but continue to look for something that will lead you down the career path that you desire.

The reality of the matter is that the hardest part of starting your career is entering the job market. Part of that is just getting people to recognise that you exist, but part of it is being able to function in the workplace. Businesses are far more likely to look at you if they already know who you are, see that you have relevant experience, or know that you can function in the workplace (e.g. interact with colleagues, can take initiative, have a good work ethic, etc.). Unfortunately a fresh college graduate with little work experience only touches upon those with their schooling. On the other hand a fresh college graduate with four years of work experience has a much more solid foundation.

Get your degree first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975361)

Most companies won't consider anyone without a degree. Yes there are exceptions who will, but I think you're wasting your time if you apply to a bunch without having a degree yet.

Yes, too soon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975365)

You don't know what you want to do until you've been exposed to more of the field. If you apply for a job contingent upon graduating, you're wasting everyone's time. No one will keep a job open three or more years for you.

Create a Website (1)

BradMajors (995624) | about 4 months ago | (#46975399)

You need to create a website. Create a website that shows off your web design skills and link it with your resume. You can also do some cheap web design jobs on Fiverr or elsewhere to further show off your skills.

It is difficult to hire a web designer if you have never seen something they have done.

There are other factors to consider (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975403)

As has been already mentioned, do you have the time? If you have the time, then sure. Real-world work experience is 100x better than book learning. I've worked with people with multiple CS degrees that couldn't code for sh*t. I got my first software job when I was 17, no degree, and 1 year of college that I couldn't afford to complete. Now, 6 years later, I'm an iOS development contractor and I rake in $50/hr. No degree. My hourly rate has been going up steadily for years now, and I don't expect it to stop any time soon.

So I guess it really depends on what you want to do in life, how good you are at what you want to do, and what you're passionate about. In my experience, having a portfolio of awesome work you can call your own means more than a piece of paper from a college or university.

Go with the Education (1)

Zmobie (2478450) | about 4 months ago | (#46975409)

My advice is invest in the education. I had a similar situation when I was in my second year (I had been doing software development as a hobby for about six years by then). A guy came to me who had a small business developing business websites and managing them. He wanted me to come work for him, but it would have turned into a full time job and I likely would have had to cut back on study time. Yes, I would have made a lot more money earlier, but there were several pitfalls I identified and they kept me from doing it.

First, pigeon-holing yourself into a technology set is a bad idea. You may know HTML/CSS/PHP/mySQL, but those technologies have somewhat limited job opportunities. If you have a very strong fundamental understanding of Computer Science (and in spite of the nay-sayers, the piece of paper to back it up), that becomes a huge asset in the job market. I work with the .NET framework now and a variety of enterprise level applications and language types (I think the count is up to twelve distinct ones that I have done professional work with now), which is a lot different than what I did six years ago.

Second, even taking the money now, you will limit the amount you make in the future and in the long run end up making a lot less. The guy offered me pretty good money, but I already make double what I would have made with him. In three years I have out-earned what I would have made in six working there, and on top of it I have a LOT more room to move up still doing what I love. Not to mention I have the option to go back for my master's now and open up even more future opportunities. There are always outliers that will drop out into some great thing and make tons of money (Gates, Zuckerburg, etc.), but the odds are really not in your favor. If you are going to make tons of money, it will probably be later on in life anyway.

Third, you don't truly know what you may enjoy yet. I went through several iterations of what I wanted to do within the field before I settled on what I do now (heavy business logic and engines as well as architecture software development). I originally wanted to do game design, then moved a bit into web, and then a bit into securities (I still do a bit of these three, but they are not may passion). My senior year is when I really figured out where I wanted to go because I saw and tried a bit of each part of the field. You may end up sticking with web development as a passion, but I would give it some time first. The experience and such you get from going through a CS program is very different than just reading up on the subject and playing with things yourself. Not to mention having a basic understanding of the other aspects of Computer Science will help your chosen field. I honest to god hate graphics work, but understanding the basics of it makes it a lot better when I write code other people have to hook into.

The one thing you will want to do though, work on some personal projects, which it sounds like you already do. I did several in my spare time when getting my degree and it greatly impressed the employers that looked at me. Prioritize your studies first, but the side projects can give them an idea of what kind of initiative you take, your level of creativity, and even let them somewhat see how you've grown as a developer (which gives them good indicators how much you can grow with a professional entity and access to much better resources). Keep with it I say, once you graduate you will see how valuable that degree ends up.

PHP is out, javascript is in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975433)

PHP is on the way out so don't think you're so hot just yet. Real work is good experience but for now you are way better off staying in school and working on CS core skills. You should try to get an internship though it will be tough after just one year. If nothing comes up then mess around with some personal side projects over the summer. That combined with good grades will land you an internship for sure next summer.

I'd hire you, except maybe one problem. Learn from (5, Interesting)

raymorris (2726007) | about 4 months ago | (#46975453)

You sound like the kind of person we may be looking to hire soon. I've hired a few people with your level of experience.

> I can put together a secure login-driven Web site using PHP and MySQL.

Error. One of the companies I own is based on a single product, a SECURE login system. I've been studying security for over 20 years and I've been programming longer than that. We came out with our login security system fifteen years ago and we've been doing real R&D on it ever since. We've found a couple of serious errors we made several years ago. That means that with 10 years of professional programming experience, fifteen years of security experience, and five years of security R&D, we didn't have a secure system. I guarantee you're not far, far smarter than us. If you think you've made a secure authentication and authorization system suitable for the demands of the public web, that's only because of how little you must know about the threats you face.

Have you read the 2001 Pennywize whitepaper, or one of my writings about the Pennywize vulnerability? If not, it's a pretty safe bet that you've coded the exact same vulnerability. That issue makes brute force orders of magnitude easier, such that it becomes pretty trivial to overcome any attempt counting that you think you're doing.

You mentioned you had some publicly available code. If you link to it, I'll be glad to point out two or three significant security issues in your code (if it's for use on the public internet, where it will be attacked daily.).

Assuming you're willing to learn about security, to be humbled, you.can send your resume and a link to ray@bettercgi.com .

The other suggestion I have for you is if you do work these next few years, think mainly about what you can learn from working. Don't consider the salary when deciding whether or not to take a position, but rather accept one (or not) based on what you can learn and who you can meet. Working on autonomous cars at Google for FREE would be wiser than working on yet another message board system for yet another local web design shop for $35,000. The "just another job" option gets you $35 K. Working on the autonomous cars gets you the opportunity to learn from the best and brightest in the world.

Re:I'd hire you, except maybe one problem. Learn f (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about 4 months ago | (#46975613)

Do you have a link for that vulnerability, some googling isn't turning up anything much of relavence.

HR lies. (4, Insightful)

seebs (15766) | about 4 months ago | (#46975469)

Okay, real simple:

HR people put things on "job requirements" which are not actually required.

This is an intentional thing, done to try to find "highly confident" people.

Basically, they think they are selecting for confidence and zeal. Mostly they are selecting for dishonesty and "can't follow simple instructions". Anyway, just send the resume in anyway. Don't lie on it or anything, just send it in anyway. When they realize that there is no such thing as an "entry-level" person with "2 years of experience", they'll look at the rest of the pile.

Re:HR lies. (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 4 months ago | (#46975697)

HR does not lie when they say (must be currently employed) and no gaps more than 3 months long in 5 years, and years of experience.

I have a good relationship with the HR department at my employer. They tell me if they do not see any commitments of at least a year it goes in the trash. If they see a hole more than 3 months old it goes in the trash. Other stuff, yes it is a plus, but they are sticklers with everything else.

The only way to get in is to quote the job description per verbatim sadly. They get 400 applications a week and yes they need filtering. Even then they always complain they can not find qualified candidates. If they take a risk they get yelled out for hiring idiots and having low retention rates. It is about their own asses reducing risks then giving people a chance and finding candidates.

Re:HR lies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975867)

HR does not lie when they say (must be currently employed) and no gaps more than 3 months long in 5 years, and years of experience.

I have a good relationship with the HR department at my employer. They tell me if they do not see any commitments of at least a year it goes in the trash. If they see a hole more than 3 months old it goes in the trash..

Then where you work sucks. Your HR department belongs in the trash.

Re:HR lies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975897)

HR does not lie when they say (must be currently employed) and no gaps more than 3 months long in 5 years, and years of experience.

I have a good relationship with the HR department at my employer. They tell me if they do not see any commitments of at least a year it goes in the trash. If they see a hole more than 3 months old it goes in the trash..

Then where you work sucks. Your HR department belongs in the trash.

HR's job is to not hire the right candidates. That is what the manager who needs an employee is for. Their job is filter it out and keep costs, lawsuits, and employee retention down. It is what they all do and managers directly hiring people can wreak havoc on numbers like the above because he is friends of someone who used to work with employee X.

Name one HR who doesn't do that? Some will want only 2 years experience per employer etc. HR's job is to take away risk

Re:HR lies. (1)

Elfich47 (703900) | about 4 months ago | (#46975757)

At the same time if I am comparing twenty resumes and one says: 5 years relevant work experience and the other nineteen say: 5 years relevant work experience and a BS in comp sci the one resume that doesn't have the BS is going to get passed over on the first pass.
When an HR rep has to review 20-50 resumes for a job opening any deficiency or typo will get you passed over without a second thought.

Yes, too soon. (3, Interesting)

tpstigers (1075021) | about 4 months ago | (#46975521)

75% of students change their major at least once. You may be one of them.

Why do you want to get a job? (1)

jockm (233372) | about 4 months ago | (#46975569)

You don't say why you want a job? Do you feel you have gotten everything you can out of college? Do you need the money? Or are you just itching to get started in your chosen career?

Anything but the middle answer (money) is a bad reason to be looking for work while you are still in school. College is hard enough, and will consume far too much of your time for you to be adding a job as a programmer on top of it — and if it isn't, if everything is just a breeze, then you aren't pushing yourself hard enough.

Don't be in such a rush to get into the workforce. College is a time for you to build skills, be exposed to a broad range of ideas, and to round out your knowledge. It's also your chance to (re)invent yourself. Don't be in such a rush to get passed this, you will have the rest of your life to work.

Besides getting that degree shows potential employers that you can commit and see things through, and that matters a lot. It matters more than the subject of your degree in most cases.

Do it on the side (I did) (1)

proca (2678743) | about 4 months ago | (#46975581)

My background experience was very similar to yours going into college, and while my major ended up being neurobiology, I made money throughout college developing websites freelance for local businesses and school-related organizations. The way I found clients was to tell everyone that I knew that I was available for website contracting jobs and people would just come to me. I made enough to send myself to Europe AND still have money for beer.

Like you, I found front-end development interesting, but I really loved the back-end work. But if you want to be a full-stack developer one day, you should continue to hone your design skills so that you can complete a full professional-looking website all by yourself without anyone else's help. Also, don't write off front-end work as not being 'programmy' enough. With modern tools like Bootstrap to take care of a lot of the boring work (like forms) and the modern javascript libraries like Angular or Ember or ExtJS, you can do a ton of cool front-end work while still feeling like you're doing more legitimate coding.

get job asap. Forget school (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975583)

Get a job. If you like the more scholastic/theoretical aspects of computing you can still learn those on your own. With what you already know you can find an entry level job that pays at least 50K and if you reall ylike what you are doing and keep learning a lot within a year you could be make 80K+ . Don't let this opportunity to make a lot of good money and great truly productive experience pass you by

Tell me the difference between an INNER JOIN and.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975601)

...a LEFT JOIN, and an example for a good use of each. ( it's a question I used to assess peoples SQL skillset)

Then tell me the difference between an INTERFACE and INHERITENCE. ( it's a question I used to assess peoples PHP skills and general coding skillset)

Relax (1)

clockwise_music (594832) | about 4 months ago | (#46975619)

Relax buddy.

There's plenty of time for you to get into a job and begin working for the next 40 years of your life.

Enjoy university. Travel during your holidays. Volunteer. Go to church. Go ice skating. Play with lego. Don't do drugs. Floss.

Ob (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 months ago | (#46975677)

Dude, if you're already at college it's too late.

Sounds like you don't enjoy CS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975679)

If you dream of becoming a web developer, please quit college.
But be warned that most web development jobs are low wage jobs.

Bogus titles (3, Funny)

pla (258480) | about 4 months ago | (#46975699)

By the time you actually have two years of experience, you will count as a senior developer.

That said, I'll give you the same advice I give everyone that applies to my company - Learn the Microsoft food chain. Yes, I do Open Source dev on my own time too. I run and like Linux at home. But when I hire someone, I want you to know ASP.NET inside and out. You know PHP? Great... Cute... Next!

What do you want? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975739)

What do you want? If you want a job doing what you already know how to do, then push your resume out there. Job "requirements" are as flexible as the hiring manager wants them to be. I say that speaking as a hiring manager. They're intended to give a flavor of what the job is all about. Those requirements are not absolute. I've hired high school grads who did not finish college. I've hired people who completed CS BS, MS, and PhDs. The level of academic achievement does not predict commercial success. Drive and intelligence (yes, in that order) do so.

I'll also say that "put together a secure login-driven Web site using PHP and MySQL" is to computer science as "mixing flour, water, salt and yeast and seeing it rise" is to biology. I am not saying this to dissuade you. I'm saying this to put your situation into perspective. The freshman year of any academic program is not intended to be enlightening. It's more about getting all of the students on the same page for the next couple of years. If what you want to do for your career is more than you're doing now, then you should think hard about what you need to do (or learn) to get there. That might be staying in school. In the tech industry, employers who are truly interested in developing their employees' professional skills are few and far between. Yes, they do exist - so everyone who is thinking about saying, "Not where I work!" can lay off the keyboard now. However, for every one employer that is dedicated and successful at employee development there's a dozen who are not.

Another thought - what are you looking for out of your degree? Do you want a diploma in the same sense you might want professional certification? Are you interested in the academic experience? In a few years of the "college lifestyle"? In making contacts with professors and classmates? In learning job skills? Various universities and degree programs offer different combinations of the above. It's well worth spending some time carefully considering if what you're getting out of your education is what you want. A four year degree program isn't cheap, and the last thing you want is to emerge with a BS, a ton of debt, and realize that you aren't any closer to your dream than where you were at the end of your freshman year.

too soon to be office drone (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about 4 months ago | (#46975749)

I advise that you do riskier things at your age.

Take a summer and try to build an app with a few of your friends...try to make it be the next "big thing"...do something

Your future in the computing industry is foretold....just read through the pages of /. or valleywag to see what everyday workers say about their jobs.

That's your future.

Take riskier jobs now.

I'd say set up a web site (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46975783)

Auction off your virginity, charge $100 to make a bid.
Rinse and repeat.

Why work for someone else? (1)

vanyel (28049) | about 4 months ago | (#46975885)

The web developers I know have more work than they can handle. If you're good at building websites, make a portfolio and start marketing yourself. That gives you a flexible schedule to work around your studies, pays better, if less reliably, and gives you independence.

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