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As a side note, if you interview somewhere and they don't ask you to write code in the interview... think twice about working there. You are unlikely to be working with folks from whom you want to be learning.
Toggle Commented Feb 25, 2010 on The Non-Programming Programmer at Coding Horror
Early on in these comments was a fellow who had a lot of IT experience and wanted to move into programming. He asked how to get an interview. The first problem is the folks who get payed 40k+ to do string matching between resumes and job descriptions (90% of HR... there are a *few* who know what they are doing, but only a few). Once you get past them your second hurdle is to convince someone of the following things: 1. You can write code 2. You will listen and work *with* a team. 3. You have the mental firepower necessary to improve and for listening to do some good. Those are the basic requisites for an entry level position. 2 and 3 are probably something to be determined from your past experience (were you the solo IT guy at a small firm, or did you work as part of a team, moving from entry level to supervisor etc. The best way to address #1 is (are you ready for this?) Write some code! If you can include a link to code you've written in the resume, it will help a lot. Every technical person will unable to resist checking out your actual code. (though they may reserve judgment on whether or not it's actually yours). It's key that the code is NOT just some example from a book or one of the mini-problems that people use in interviews. You should pick something you want done, and write a program that does it. (in my case, before my first job I wrote a mostly functional Java Swing Application that acted as a board for playing my favorite board game, including rules enforcement). Another, even more powerful alternative is to find an open source project that you like that is written in a relevant language, and check out the source code. Then go look at the bug tracker and try to find something that looks small and simple. Go see if you can solve it. When you have, join the dev-list, and send a message saying you think you have a fix for bug #whatever, and you would like to know the best way to submit it. Do what the folks on the dev list ask of you, and be prepared for the very likely event that they will ask you to change something. Do it willingly and politely, and try to make sure you understand why they want you to change things. Submissions to open source projects are a great way to both learn to work in programming groups, and to demonstrate programming that is not a trivial exercise. Put links to the bugs you fixed, or features you implemented in your resume, PLUS links to your interaction with the dev list (these are usually archived on the web somewhere). The interaction should be with the same email that you use on your resume so that there is no dobut that it is actually you. I did this with Apache Ant, and I learned a LOT (that's where I heard of books like Pragmatic Programmer and Effective Java), and it helped me get into the industry. As a bonus, I get the gratification of knowing that most of the people who interview me probably are already using my code :). So if you want to get a job writing code, you shouldn't wait for the job to start writing code. And if that sounds like work and not like fun, maybe writing code isn't for you?
Toggle Commented Feb 25, 2010 on The Non-Programming Programmer at Coding Horror
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Feb 25, 2010