Stack OverflowWhat does it take to be ready for the real world?
[+1] [14] Anon
[2009-12-16 21:39:45]
[ real-world ]

I read about a lot of programming related topics, but I'm never confident enough to find work doing programming. I'm confused, and just want to know what I need to to be hired.

Haven't you heard? Faking it is the new competent. - Ether
@Ether - and Agile is the new faking. - Norla
[+4] [2009-12-16 21:44:51] Agent_9191

One way to improve confidence in your skills is do some open source coding. It will give you the opportunity to prove you know what you're doing, and get feedback from other developers on the project.

Another way is to find a local user group and give a technical talk about a topic. If you can successfully present a topic (and/or answer questions on the topic) it's a great indicator you can work with it.

I've always wanted to help an open source project... the barrier of entry is difficult as I don't really know where to begin. - Anon
Typically the project will have a public Issues/tickets/bugs list that you can look into. Pull down the source code and dig into it until you have a rough idea of how the system all fits together (googling anything you're not sure what it is/does). Once you're at that point try to fix the issue/implement the feature. Then submit the code you wrote as a patch. - Agent_9191
[+3] [2009-12-16 21:45:40] Aric TenEyck

It sounds like you're looking for a programming job without a degree or other certification. In that case, networking is your friend. You should have friends and acquaintances who work in the software world. Their recommendations are gold. Once you have people who will be willing to put their own reputations on the line for you, the next step is to find a small company (they're more willing to hire based on skills and references; a larger company is going to want a degree) and get a testing or similar job. From there, you can gradually take on more responsibility until you're a genuine programmer.

(1) +1 for networking - also applies to those with formal education and working experience. - johnny g
[+1] [2009-12-16 21:50:52] micahwittman

SEE How to get my first programming job [1]

Also, here's a query result on stackoverflow that should help:

Finally, biographies of actual paths to coding jobs: how-did-you-get-your-first-programming-job [2]


[+1] [2009-12-16 21:51:44] BranTheMan

It takes experience to be ready for the real world! At least that's probably how you feel. I felt like that too, it's a real catch 22 and in a way it's kind of true.

You need confidence, and experience gains you confidence. Here are some ways to get the confidence-building experience:

  • Do an internship
  • Find some contract work, but start small -- don't get in over your head
  • Do work on open-source projects

One of the keys to the above examples is that you will get some guidance and positive re-inforcement from people in the real world that you're doing work suitable for the real world. Contract work and internship is probably one of the best things I've done for myself to gain the confidence needed to apply for programming jobs.

[0] [2011-06-14 00:55:12] Bean

Many small companies that are situated near universities hire part-time devs from those schools with little to no programming experience. In fact I got my very first programming job in the same way, and while the pay wasn't top notch, it was 16 hrs/wk of work that ~15/hr. Since up to half the work force is untrained students, they spent a lot of resources on training us to do effective Agile, unit testing, technical writing, and project management (if we stayed long enough)

The job interview contained a written test, but it was nothing a programming hobbyist couldn't tackle. Basic questions on sorting algorithms and big-O notation, questions on how to design data, and bug finding were the bulk of it. Nothing you couldn't find in a C++ primer or an O'Reilly Java book.

From there you have concrete stuff on your resume, and can move up the ladder. Good hunting!

[0] [2009-12-16 21:51:19] Jordan Messina

I think if you are really interested in programming and you WANT to learn as much as you possibly can because you live and breathe it, then showing that somehow will impress an interviewer. While they do love very smart people with lots of experience, if those people don't seem that interested or don't prove that they actually do this stuff in their free time and they're really just looking for a job for $$$, they aren't as interested. Prove to them you do this stuff on your free time, get into open source projects, post a lot on SO and other programming sites. If they see passion and the willingness to go out and learn on your own they will be impressed.

Also having a solid foundation of skills is good, so even if they ask a question you might not be able to answer, if you can think through the problem and show them you are a problem solver and can use your brain that helps too.

[0] [2009-12-16 21:43:34] Cory Petosky

To be hired you need to be confident enough about your programming. Basic skills aside, attitude and specifically confidence is what differentiates candidates in an interview.

[0] [2009-12-16 21:43:42] Russ Cam
  • Confidence
  • A good attitude to both clients and colleagues
  • Demonstrable knowledge and skills
  • Enthusiasm and a desire to succeed
  • Ability to solve problems using a rigorous and methodical approach
  • Ability to make bullet point lists

No one knows everything, so concentrate on the areas that you enjoy and become good in those. Once you feel ready, take on another area that interests you, be it language, framework, web development, desktop development, programming paradigm, etc.

I second the idea to join Local User Groups. Meeting other developers is a great way to make connections, hear about and discuss technologies that you're interested in.

[0] [2009-12-16 21:43:48] JasCav

Confidence is the key. You know what you know - take that and work with it. Be confident that you understand what you are talking about and what you are doing. People like to see confidence coming from other people. Learn to cultivate that in yourself and believe in what you do know and your career will grow from there.

(P.S. With all this said, confidence cannot be a replacement for actual knowledge. So, keep working hard and learning.)

[0] [2009-12-16 21:45:45] CheeseConQueso

coffee, interest, and vitamin C

[0] [2009-12-16 21:48:02] mouviciel

One possible way is: Be an expert of something rare which is needed by the company you want to join.

[0] [2009-12-16 21:48:52] Jon Seigel

Work on some personal projects for your own interest and experience. (It's a good thing to do even when you're working, too.)

[0] [2009-12-16 21:48:58] Hamish Grubijan

You bid, and then you become. Burnouts are a sign of ambition.

[0] [2009-12-16 21:49:48] ssg

A step into it.

Confidence usually develops on the run. You make mistakes and you learn from them which builds up experience and confidence. Don't be so pedantic about real world. Let the interviewer worry about it. Always keep an eye on your strengths and weaknesses and improve upon them over time.