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I am in the last year of my BS in Engineering - Information Technology degree. Some things I have noticed while looking for jobs is that larger older corporations want you to know java or c# for their existing enterprise level systems, while most high-tech, startup or mobile centric software companies want you to know the latest languages, technologies and have experience with open source stuff. The startup/mobile company appeals more to me. The companies usually seem to have more young people working for them and advertise how fun it is to work there. I was thinking about trying to get a developer position in either mobile or web development fields.

My main problem is that I have no experience working just as a programmer. I have had an internship that dealt mainly with systems administration work, along with learning all of the corporate business side of things and helping the marketing team with their web page. Now in my last semester I am rushing to try to put together a portfolio. I have a wide variety of small projects in PHP, ROR, C#, along with hybrid type html/css/javascript mobile apps. None of these projects are what I consider to be completed and polished. I have a wide range of half done web apps.

Would it be a bad idea to but unfinished projects in a portfolio on a resume? I am really tempted into getting more into iOS objective-c development but would it be to late at this point? I know that it is important to master something but I only have a few months until graduation, would it be better to just go back and finish a small php app or something similar? (that essentially isn't really anything but a personal project). I feel I have a good understanding of core principles but don't know how to best allocate my time. Any advice would be helpful, Thank You.

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That is a really great question, as I find myself in a similar position, only I've been out of college for years. –  Austin Mullins Feb 5 '13 at 8:38
We tend to discourage questions about general career advice or "which technology to learn next" on Programmers. Nobody here can know you, your situation or predict the job market so they are impossible to answer with any expertise. For more information please read the FAQ. –  maple_shaft Feb 5 '13 at 12:48
... when I was a junior developer I found what benefited me more was improving soft skills to land an entry level job, despite technology. If you can demonstrate an ability to learn quickly and have infectious optimism then you will do well no matter what. –  maple_shaft Feb 5 '13 at 12:51
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closed as off topic by maple_shaft Feb 5 '13 at 12:47

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1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Demonstrating that you are a finisher is important

It is very easy to start a project with all the excitement of developing something new and bold. The difficult part is to successfully finish a project. That is a valuable skill that you should demonstrate. It will differentiate you from your competitors in finding that first job.

So, what to do?

Try to pick a project that you really enjoyed working on. The language doesn't matter, only how much you understand about how it works under the covers. All those intricate details are what you will need to draw on when discussing it in an interview.

Catch all the bugs and make sure that project is open source and available on GitHub. Ensure that it has good supporting documentation so that a technical interviewer can go to it and learn about it. Of course it will have unit tests to show that you know about test driven development, won't it?

Finally put it down on your resume so that it can be easily found. Make sure it builds right out of the box, and that a technical interviewer could deploy it somewhere and see it work immediately.

You are now in a position to be confident going into an interview that you have something solid to discuss and demonstrate. And will probably have a lot of ideas about how that project could be improved.

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