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Pages: Programming: starting anew [1]
Author Topic: Programming: starting anew

Posts: 2

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2010-09-21 15-54-04

Programming: starting anew Seeking helpful advice on returning to a field greatly changed. I have a B.A. (1994) in Cognitive Science, with an emphasis in computer science and AI. Worked for a year developing an artificial vision system in C, on a Sun system. I was a skilled and confident programmer, efficient and productive. But I had a youthful change of philosophy and direction -- I wasn't ready at age 23 for the indoor work life yet. Long story short, I left programming behind and worked in totally unrelated fields for 15 years, even left the bay area for a while. I watched the tech bubble from afar, was sort of glad to miss all that craziness, though the experience of being part of it would have been valuable. This year, older and wiser, I moved back to the Bay Area, having decided to pursue a programming career permanently. My original training is way out of date (fluent in C instead of C++; ancient versions of BSD Unix), so I've been soaking up new languages, tools, and frameworks as quickly as I can. Over the past six months I've picked up a good working knowledge of Python, two flavors of SQL, and the wxWidgets GUI toolkit. I'm currently learning Javascript and a couple of different web development frameworks. Main problem: my resume is totally rusty. But I'm endlessly motivated, and a super fast learner with a very strong work ethic. It looks like the job market is pretty tough here and now, Web-2.0 Boomlet notwithstanding. But I have the drive and dedication to do whatever it takes. It is clear to me that programming is what I want to be doing. The specific project doesn't matter as long as I can work hard in a fast-paced and intelligent environment with a bright and motivated team. I would like to hear from anyone who can offer helpful advice to a job seeker in my position. The greatest obstacle I see right now is that entry-level positions aren't showing up online, and I don't have contacts in town. My bad -- I've been studying too hard and neglected to make time for networking. I need to find any way in the door. With a small investment in bringing me up to speed on the project at hand, some employer is going to quickly find me super valuable. The question is, where to find a way in?
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2010-09-25 16-10-58

B.A. in Cognitive Science? Only one school that I know of that offers B.A.s in science instead of a B.S. in sciences. Berkeley grad? Anyway, perl is hot, and the learning curve is quite easy if you know C. I would say it's time to install Solaris or Linux on your home machine (VMWare Server is free - so you don't have to mess with your windows partition), and the learn the fuck out of it with whatever you decide. Don't go for the quick hit. Javascript is hot only because AJAX is hot - don't fall for the quick fix stuff. Next, head to major company's websites, submit your resume, and in your objective, state you want an entry level. Also, in your resume, place as many skills as you can (C, SQL, etc.) Hit the job fairs with your resume in hand. Finally, if you want, post your resume here (with personal info removed), and we'll critique it for free.
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  • I keep hearing people get fired because
  • vanblarcom

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    2010-09-30 4-59-29-

    Yes, a_m_r A Berkeley grad, yes. I should have worked that directly into a career in computer science, or information architecture, user interface work (etc.) starting right then. Unfortunately I came out of college really jaded about commerce and cubicles, and wanted nothing more than to be a carpenter and live closer to the land. Someone forgot to tell me it was 1994, not 1974 ;) I hear you loud and clear about Linux. I've been at least using MinGW/MSYS on my Windows system, but I need to go ahead and get a true Linux partition going. I'd already been thinking that same thing. Thanks for the tip on VMWare Server. Good to hear someone describe Javascript as just a quick fix for once! I hear you there too, but you've got to admit it's on almost every job posting. Seems like one of the toughest barriers is that a cover letter and resume don't allow enough space to show what I know. For example, I can implement polymorphic multi-table inheritance in postgreSQL, mapped onto a Python class/object system, and create a flexible administration front-end for the objects therein. But there's really nowhere to put anything that specific in a resume. My resume seems to just raise the obvious question "so, you don't have any recent, related PAID experience?" It's hard to get around that.
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  • do i start my own website?
  • boot

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    2010-10-03 4-35-35-

    Contribute to open source, volunteer Get a certificate from a UC extension. It's quite easy to have recent experience on your resume, you just have to be creative. Heck, go to, sign up for a domain site, start a dinky web based business (who care if you have no customers), and say you programmed that. Also - with tech, cover letters are rarely, if ever, looked at for programming positions. For your resume, keep it simple. You've got to just have the key words to get through HR: For example: Skills: postgreSQL, Python, User Interface design, Object Oriented programming. Don't get too in-depth.
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