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I'm at the beginning of my career and I'm currently looking for jobs. I know that the farther you get away from college graduation, the more employers look at your experience as opposed to your actual degree. I'm wondering with the ultimate goal of being in software engineering/computer science, would taking a job in the IT field limit my options of getting into software engineering? Likewise would taking a job in software quality assurance limit me from pursuing a development position later, even though both are in software engineering?

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This may be a good question for Professional Matters (Currently proposed in area 51) Please go and commit to supporting this SE –  Chad Oct 28 '11 at 13:55
    
I know your question was focused towards the activities of the job limiting future opportunities, just wanted to add these links about non-compete that is stuff that some people don't really consider when joining a new company. bitquabit.com/post/enslaving-your-interns-for-evil-and-profit joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000071.html –  silverCORE Oct 28 '11 at 19:17
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6 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Yes, if you stick to a single platform/technology/domain long enough you will gain expertise but will be limiting your scope and exposure.

But often you would find people find it easier to change their career path in the early stages keeping with their interest and motivated by the need for professional development.

IMHO Being the Jack of many trades does help significantly in the scope of software engineering as it would give the engineer an overall perspective of various variables/dependencies, forecasting to better enable them to design systems which would last long.

Taking a job in SQA would only increase your awareness enrich your work as main developer .Any experience is valuable its up to you how much you can utilize it.

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I'm going to join in the crowd and say, in my experience, it is very easy to become locked into a career path by choosing a job that isn't what you want to do. It can be difficult to keep yourself from being locked into a particular PART of a development team in the job you want.

All that said, you will find people that make huge leaps into different fields. It is, however, pretty rare. In the current economy it may be beyond rare, as most employers will have plenty of applicants to choose from. You can set yourself apart if you try and maintain a connection to your desired field as a hobby, or side-job contracting. Maybe contributing to open source software, writing things at home, etc.

Personally I would try to hold out for a pretty good fit.. maybe not the perfect dream-job, but something a future employer would see as a minor change career-wise, not a huge leap. I think the prospects of a test-engineer/programmer being hired as a design engineer/programmer would be much higher than an IT worker making the same move.

Good luck

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Recently begun a shift in career. I've been coding software and web sites for about 15 years but the more recent years have left me looking like a mid-range web developer instead of business software project leader.

I had an odd string of interviews and resume remixes for a while. Finally what helped was a mix of a couple freelance projects to refer to as my most recent work and taking a slight hit in income to get a 'senior' job with a smaller outfit for one 6-month project.

This allowed me to show myself in a different light to employers within a fairly short amount of time.

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Well, my story is that I got an engineering degree in 2000 (with some emphasis on computer science), and landed my first job as an engineering and general IT support person. A couple of years into that, I started developing the company intranet, and in 2006 decided I could go full time. After a move in country (unrelated other than to explain a gap in my employment), I've been in full-time development positions since 2007.

So, it is possible to break into development from general IT - but I wouldn't recommend it for everyone. The breakpoint for me was being in the right place, and having the smarts to pickup the intranet project when it was needed - it was unbudgeted, and so I had no targets to meet, and was able to figure my way through it and develop a fairly robust system over four years.

If I were in your shoes, I wouldn't go this route - I did it because when I was 18 and 21 and choosing my next step, I didn't know where I wanted to be after those steps (I'm a bit clearer on where I want to be these days). If you've got a definite career goal, then you should work as direct a route to that as possible.

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It is easy to get typecast into roles. I have a friend who is a good developer, but he took a job as a tester out of college because the economy wasn't very good. Ever since then, most employers see his experience as a tester and automatically want to hire him for testing positions.

That said, I've seen multiple instances of QA engineers making the move over to a software engineering position, but this is usually by moving to an internal opening in the company, rather than the person applying to somewhere else as a developer. It's easier to switch roles inside the company because the people there know the employee and the quality of his/her work. Another way to switch is to go for higher education to further develop one's software expertise. In any case, I do think that the more you work in a field, the harder it is to switch.

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regarding easier to switch roles inside the company is Largely dependent on the size of the company.If its big then this argument holds good based on your relation with the immediate management. –  Aditya P Mar 15 '11 at 5:31
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It's how you show what you have gained. You're always going to learn a lot in each position you work in. If you take a QA job and then apply for a software engineering position later on, do your best to communicate the commonalities between the QA role and the software engineering position.

Both roles, for example, require:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Great attention to detail
  • Problem solving

Taking any job you're offered (while still keeping your end goal in mind) is the ideal step to launch your professional career.

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