Landing Your First Web Programming Job In 2011
Too often I have friends who are recent grads or are considering switching careers to become web programmers who ask me for tips on landing that first “real job”. Obviously, we all face a challenging job market and even with the surge in tech jobs, it can still be challenging to get your first job. Every job requires some degree of experience but how the hell do you get experience if the only way to get a job is to have experience?! This can be very discouraging, frustrating, etc. I was once an entry-level programmer and now I’m on the decision making side of the table (Don’t get this confused, I’m not the boss). Based on these experiences, here is a checklist to help you land your first web-programming job.
Master A Language But Be Open To Others
When I entered the job market, my most proficient language was Ruby. I also knew PHP but was convinced that Ruby on Rails was the coolest framework ever. I even got a certification in Ruby. Despite this, my first job was at a firm who primarily used ASP.NET and Visual Basic. I didn’t know an ounce of ASP.NET. This seemed silly to me at first but then I learned that part of being a successful developer is adapting to new languages, technologies etc. In fact, this is what makes or breaks a developer because technology is always changing, forcing us to constantly learn. I quickly got accustomed to the syntax of this foreign programming language and was able to make the best of it. This is why it is important to master a language and be ready to adapt to others.
Leverage Employed Friends
The old marketing concept of “Foot In the Door” still applies today. A powerful weapon to land your first job is to know someone at the organization your are interested in working for. Don’t be afraid to ask friends for help! If you are anything like me, you are only friends with people who can do you favors. So use them! And chances are, there is some type of referral bonus they can receive for getting you hired.
Express Wiliness To Learn
When I am interviewing people, the phrase I'm waiting for is, “I am willing to learn.” That’s it. If you are wiling to learn, you have a long successful career ahead of you because believe it or not, you are still going to be learning even when you are in a senior level position. Technology will continue to change and you have to always be willing to learn in order to stay relevant.
CODE CODE CODE
If none of this gets you the job, start writing a web application and move to Palo Alto.
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