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I just had a few questions that maybe some people in the industry, or people that have been in my shoes can help me fill.

I will not put you to sleep with boring details, but a little back story will help. I am currently attending a three year Computer Analyst program at St. Lawrence College, and entering the work force next year. I am currently working in a co-op program with a company doing mainframe programming. A lot of my peers got placements where they are doing more object oriented languages which is what I love. I do not see myself in the mainframe world when I graduate since I don't have that passion for it.

First question is how do I keep myself relevant in OO languages, I know that doing personal projects and learning outside of school is something that is important. My struggle is that I am still very new to programming (not doing any before college) and I cannot seem to be able create person projects for myself.

Also I understand that as a college graduate that I will not have a similar education as someone with a degree. I currently feel that this is going to set me back from other candidates. I don't feel that I cannot program at their level, but they do have a higher level of education than I do. I know its a vague question and it is really situation dependant, but how do I tell employers that "Hey I can do as good of a job then him, just give me some time".

Thanks for your time in advance, looking forward to hearing from you.

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marked as duplicate by gnat, BЈовић, Martijn Pieters, thorsten müller, StuperUser Apr 15 '13 at 8:08

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6 Answers 6

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The trick with applying for jobs is accurately selling yourself to the employer. You don't want to tell them you can do things that you really can't but you also don't want to sabotage your self and make yourself seem less capable than the next guy. Take time with your resume and reword things and rearrange things such that you're accurately selling your abilities to the people you'll be interviewing with. Remember that while education is important, (which you have by the way), employers are more concerned about knowing that if they hire you, you'll be able to do the job they need to be done. This can be determined from education, projects you've been involved in and other things. Put anything on your resume that speaks both to your abilities and character and I'm sure you'll do well. Also I strongly recommend that you start applying now as it takes quite a while to go through the application and interviewing process especially if you're applying for larger companies. For smaller companies you'll want to be looking at January or March.

As far as keeping your skills up, really the best way is to do projects as you mentioned. If you can't think of things for yourself which I can totally understand, then pay attention to things friends and family are saying and look for ways you might be able to implement programs to help them with their needs. You could always do contract work as well and make a few bucks. www.guru.com is a great site for contractors. Out side of that there are many open source projects that you can get involved with online.

Good luck!

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If you're not good at coming up with personal projects for yourself, you could browse sites like SourceForge, looking for an open source project you find appealing, and contributing some code to that. This will give you experience not only developing code, but will also expose you to version control, which at least in my experience most people don't really deal with in college. Contributing to projects like can really help your resume stand out, especially if you're worried about competing for jobs against someone with more education.

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github.com is also nice, and more motivating imo because of the "social" aspect (also, git is much nicer and more powerful than svn :P). –  crazy2be Jul 4 '11 at 23:01

In addition to looking at open source projects, I would recommend looking at projects on freelancing websites like www.guru.com or www.scriptlance.com. You can look at projects that people want and try creating the product yourself. This will likely expose to you different areas than you learned in college and help build confidence in yourself. If you create a project that is fairly common, you can then attempt bidding on projects and just modify your project to meet their needs.

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Easy: Get yourself a job doing non-mainframe programming. Work REALLY hard and do REALLY well at it. Learn a lot from the people you work with. Get promoted or move to a new job. In interviews a year or two from now, your work will speak for itself.

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Have you looked into nearby user groups of any OO language? For example, there may be a Java users group or a .Net users group that could be a way to make some contacts, see some OO code, and get your foot into that world if you want to get more of a variety of experience. That would be my suggestion along with remembering to look at the career services department of your school to see if they could help you find a job after you graduate since those can be the positions where the company knows the person may have limited real-world experience but does have some book smarts as they did graduate from the school.

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I think I was in a similar situation to you, my first programming class I took was my soph year of college. I have always been able to find projects to work on in my spare time. Projects ideas have always just come to me without having to think about them. The last two projects I did while still in college involved baseball and the new language I was learning at work. After a few months of learning the language I started getting ideas about projects I could do in it. Getting ideas from the things you like is a good start.

I wouldn't worry about comparing yourself to other people with a degree. Even though my degree prepared me a lot there are SO many countless things that you will learn while on the job. Once you get the opportunity you have the chance to prove yourself.

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