You have worked really hard for the last two (or four) years, hitting those books and writing code. You have the Java certifications and degree in hand. Now you are tirelessly searching the job boards for that first job. Unfortunately, every employer keeps asking for “experience” but you have none. What is a coder to do?
Let’s talk about how you can get a competitive advantage in today’s job market.
Certifications and proficiency
First and foremost, let us talk about those certifications.
The truth is that employers are not interested in whether or not you are certified. That’s not to say it doesn’t have value. The value lies in the fact that to obtain the certification, you had to demonstrate a proficiency in Java that most students cannot say they possess. This is to your advantage. Make sure you list that at the top of your resume, but do not count on it being the sole reason you get a job.
Do I need job experience?
Let’s address the experience factor. Experience can come in many shapes and sizes. Most students take it to mean that they must have job experience. But this is not always true. In many cases, I have hired individuals who have participated in open source projects and contributed significantly to them.
What is an open source project? Developers often have side projects that they want to do for fun or as a contribution to the developer community to help solve problems.
Node.js is one of those open source projects. I am quite sure you have heard of Linux as well. Yep, you guessed it, open source.
So, seek out an open source project and contribute. Not only will you gain experience. Many of the developers hosting these projects are more than willing to help guide and mentor a young developer. If you are interested in finding an open source project to contribute to, the first place you will want to look is GitHub.
Github: An interactive approach to becoming a software developer
Now, that brings up another point. Get on Git!
GitHub is a tool for source code control. It allows multiple developers to work and share a project in different locations. It is more than that though. GitHub is a community of developers.
One of the hardest things when vetting a potential candidate is determining whether or not they can really write code or the quality of their code. Enter GitHub. GitHub allows us to search a candidate’s language interest and their activity as well as see code examples. Sure you have that cute portfolio in which you posted your assignments. However, programmers are not interested in this. Most hiring managers do not have the time to go download some third party tool and check out your code. Most, however, understand GitHub and have access to it because they use it daily to host their own company’s source code.
So, if you are on GitHub and have contributed source code and I see it on your resume, this is to your advantage.
In today’s job market, competition is fierce among graduating students. To get your resume noticed and increase your marketability, you have to make yourself stand out from the rest of the group. Following the steps I have outlined will greatly enhance your chances of becoming the next Rock Star developer.
Oh yeah – if you are interested in an open source project with me, please e-mail me at Tillman.Adrian@spcollege.edu. I’d love to have you.