The first job is always the hardest to get and I'm no exception. I'm 23 years old and I have no college degree but planned on going to college this year if all goes well (CS of course). I'm self-studying java right now. I know most of the topics related to the language besides the more advanced topics and I'm beginning to look at open source projects. I would like to find a job (at least a part time job) after a year or two when I'll gain more experience and learn more about java technologies and other technologies that interest me.
Finding a job will be a bit difficult because most of the people (or a lot of them at least) at my current age already have 2 years or more of experience, so I will be somewhat disadvantaged. Should I start building connections and joining websites such as linkedin ? I never bothered to look into it because I'm not much of a social network person.
If I start contributing to open source projects and create personal projects for 2 years could I apply for jobs that require 1-2 years of experience? Does this experience count ?