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I'm a web developer with 10 years of experience in the Microsoft stack. I was brought to the US by my company, but my contract has ended.

I want to continue pursuing a career in the US, but it seems there's a focus on networking while still in college. Due to my foreign education, my networking occurred elsewhere. However, because of this network effect, it seems most developers in the US only have to apply to one or two jobs throughout their career.

Am I handicapped by not having a professional network in the US?

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closed as off topic by rjzii, Mark Trapp Feb 13 '12 at 19:32

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No but you may be hurt depending the terms of your right to work within the country. –  Rig Feb 13 '12 at 0:52
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Under NAFTA, provided you have a bachelor's degree, you should not have much trouble staying in the US. The list of professions to which is applies is here. –  Peter K. Feb 13 '12 at 1:15
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@PeterK. - NAFTA only applies if the OP came to the US from Canada or Mexico. Otherwise, he's under the much more restrictive H1B program, which requires a company to sponsor his stay in the US. –  rtperson Feb 13 '12 at 14:34
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@rtperson: I was responding to the original post, which specified that the OP was from Mexico. –  Peter K. Feb 13 '12 at 15:35
    
Given the answers this has attracted, I'm convinced this is a general career issue, not a problem that requires the unique insights of other programmers, and is off-topic here. –  user8 Feb 13 '12 at 19:33
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4 Answers 4

Most answers miss the timing of the situation. It seems to me that @Jorge wants to get to a position in "now-time". This will deter all his networking efforts.

I had exactly the same discussion with friends of mine: There is an proper time to network and that is way before you need it. I have been into some meetups and saw people coming up almost like holding a "I want a job" sign. The problem is that networking applies soft influence: you've seen a person some times, you have similar interests, you saw him and approved in social surroundings and now that his contract is close to finish, you will help him find his next position.

If you just pop up now, it is very difficult for people to realize if you want to exploit the event, how good your skills are, if you care at all and mostly if you will say "yes" to everything in order to get a job. It has happened many times over: colleagues come and ask me something along the lines of: "If I get to that networking event, will I find a job?". I believe that this is not the case (plain luck excluded), same with employers: If I go to that event, will I hire a "ninja" employee? (No again, good IT people have options).

At that point, what you need is to visit job fairs or talk to a recruiting agency.

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I didn't ignore he was looking for a job. I just answered the question he posed, and made a comment on what I feel was an incorrect statement. –  Ramhound Feb 16 '12 at 14:14
    
@Ramhound My answer was complimentary to yours, emphasising on the time factor. Networking is a "soft" thing and requires time, something the person asking the question definitely does not have. In any case question is "off-topic" so we cannot contribute further. –  dimitris mistriotis Feb 16 '12 at 14:53
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Find a local meetup (or 4) and got to the meetings, better yet give talks. I have managed to do this around Tel Aviv quite well despite the fact that I don't actually speak Hebrew worth a darn. Its just a question of putting in the time.

(Also showing up early to help setup the chairs etc often is a good way to talk to people)

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I'm an American who didn't network in college. I've gotten much better at networking since then. I joined some local meetup groups, I've talked with recruiters, I've joined local tech groups on linkedIn, etc. It's made a world of difference for me.

Growing up in a small city (20,000+ people), I found it much more difficult to network, so I moved to a large city (1 million+ people), and I find it much easier to network, many more opportunities, etc.

If you are in a small city, I encourage you to look at moving to a larger city. If you are in a larger city, search for Microsoft programming groups that meet regularly, and try to join them. Also, you may want to e-mail some recruiters in the area. I know recruiters get a bad reputation within our industry, but they've really helped me with jobs in the past.

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However, because of this network effect, it seems most developers in the US only have to apply to one or two jobs throughout their career.

This is false.

Am I handicapped by not having a professional network in the US?

Yes, Anyone who does not network is handicapped, your problem is not unique to you. The solution is to network.

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"This is false." Try absurd. The only people I know of who have had "1 or 2 jobs" are old, old school cobol programmers. Everyone else seems to have about a 5 year shelf life in a position. –  Joel Etherton Feb 13 '12 at 14:40
    
I don't know about developers in US, but I had 4 different jobs already (4 months, 6 months, 2 years, 5 months now) and I am 26. –  gruszczy Feb 13 '12 at 14:46
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Surely "having many different jobs" is qualitatively different from "having to apply to many different jobs". You could, at least in theory, get lots of jobs by being approached by people as a result of your networking skills. –  thesunneversets Feb 13 '12 at 17:11
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