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I am a recent grad with a B.S in Computer Science. I did quite well in school, but now that I'm ready to start a career, I am struggling with finding good software positions.

I don't feel well prepared for what is needed. My primary challenges have been programming problems, and the lack of knowledge on relevant software frameworks and tools. I've had few interviews and screenings, but no luck. Most applications come back with not qualified.

I've been using online resources to learn more relevant software tools and I have knowledge of most standard data structures, sorting algorithms, space and time complexities, OOP, basic OS and computer organization. Yet, still struggle to find clean solutions, let alone efficient solutions on complicated programming problems in a timely manner.

So I would like to ask:

What more can I do?

Where I can see noticeable improvement in my problem solving abilities with these programming problems that will help me pass the technical interviews and actually feel like I have a grasp of whats going on.

I know this can have biased answers, but I thank anyone for any advice or comments.

  • Are you applying for entry level or experienced positions? Have you worked with you school's placement department? Companies hiring for entry level or straight out of college usually understand the lack of experience – cdkMoose Feb 23 '18 at 17:46
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    You really just need experience. Grab any job, and within a very short time you can worry about making good money. Although degrees a sometimes required to "tick the box", it's just all about experience in software at the moment. – Fattie Feb 23 '18 at 17:49
  • Start building anything. a website, a chrome plugin, or anything. something to show what you can build, and how you code. Put the project on Github and refer the companies to your repositories. Also, what technologies did you use in college? – crh225 Feb 23 '18 at 17:56
  • @cdkMoose Yes, I've been applying at mostly entry level, and still surprising I'm looked over. – Lfpse20 Feb 23 '18 at 17:58
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    @Fattie Career and Education advice is off topic for Software Engineering. – Dan Pichelman Feb 23 '18 at 18:15
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As a recent graduate, you might want to set you sights a little bit lower. When I got my first job as a programmer, there wasn't much of a technical interview other than some simple loops and if statement checks, but I also wasn't applying for a job at a high-end tech company. They wanted to make sure I had a good foundation of understanding, but recognized that they would be teaching me a lot of new things.

It sounds like you are applying for positions that require some working experience or are extremely sought after and require additional levels of selection.

  • This 100x. It's tough out there so grab what you can grab @OP. I started working as a QA Analyst during black box + automation that gave me more exp coding in VB. Took this (though not ideal) to pay the bills + exp. Moved from QA > BA > BSA and I'm now doing backend development. – Isaiah3015 Feb 23 '18 at 18:02
  • Thanks @curt1893, I've been focusing a lot on entry level/new grad positions for my applications, but I never actually considered different companies might have different expectations of their entry level/new grads positions. So it makes sense to start somewhere, and work my way to the top. Thanks again. – Lfpse20 Feb 23 '18 at 23:17
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You should search and apply for jobs that say Junior Level Software Engineer. This means the company knows you are fresh into the software scene, and they are willing to train you because they know you don't have a lot of experience.

Another thing that may help you is find a recruiter, or recruiting company. They will send out your resumes to companies that have open positions, and you wont have to waste your time applying.

Regarding your technology stack, I make it a goal for myself to learn something knew everyday, or try and work on a computer project of my own everyday. Decide what types of software programming you like. Web, mobile, embedded systems... and apply for those types of roles.

In the image below, one of them even say that training is provided.

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  • Thanks @crh225 for the suggestions. I have actually applied to that company several times, but havent heard back at all. I will look into recruiting companies though, seems like a good idea. And, I am on the same boat as far as learning something new. I do want to keep learning. – Lfpse20 Feb 23 '18 at 23:23
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IT is an interesting industry, to say the least. There are still quite a few of us self-taught hackers out here, and the quality of education varies so wildly that an education alone won't necessarily open too many doors. Experience matters.

As Curt1893 said, you do need to set your sites lower. You simply don't have the experience to pass the more advanced technical interviews.

In addition, GET THE EXPERIENCE volunteer for any local charity, the volunteer office of a local hospital is always a good start, but any charity is good. Also, if you can get in through the volunteer office, it gives you a foot up in the application process. Even if you can't get into the hospital or charity, you will have experience on your resume for other jobs.

This is how I got back to work after an extended illness of more than 5 years. It works.

  • Thanks @Richard U, I never considered the volunteer part. Seems like it would be good idea in the main time to gain experience. I will look into that, thank you. – Lfpse20 Feb 23 '18 at 23:26
  • @Lfpse20 good luck – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Feb 24 '18 at 1:55
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For your own skills:

Practice, practice, practice: Build experience by contributing to open source projects. Answer questions on stackoverflow.com. Hang out in other forums and help people. AFAIK Automattical, the company behind Wordpress, tends to hire people who they know from their forums and contributions.

Read timeless books, like the Pragmatic Programmer, that teach you the thinking / concepts / reasoning behind programming, not jut the syntax of a certain language or tool.

For applying:

Carefully read the job ads you reply to. This may sound trivial, but as a hiring manager looking for an experienced C++ programmer, I still get resumes from people who either mention C++ only in a list of keywords, or who don't mention C++ at all, even though the job ad calls for at least 3 years of real world C++.

If you have a github account, include it in your resume, but only if the code you put on github is worth showing. Some people have homework code on github that hurts their chances of getting hired.

You could also check out the Career Tools podcast; they have free recommendations on how to write your resume, plus a (non-free) set of podcasts on interviewing.

Last but not least turn on the "looking for a job" flag on linkedin.

  • Thanks for the advices @Robert. I'll tailor my resumes more with projects I've work with, since thats the only experience I have to show at the moment. And, I do have that book on my list to read, with so many things I need to learn, hard to figure what I should be focusing on most. – Lfpse20 Feb 23 '18 at 23:11
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I agree that education is not a big consideration any longer in the world of IT. At my last company, we had a few computer science grads and they were unable to solve even the most basic of programming problems. Companies are smarting up on how they are recruiting with tests. Many use it as a screening to even begin getting considered so you might waste a lot of time and get passed before even seeing someone.

My recommendation is to start looking online for practice tests that companies might put out. Each company is different, but they all look to see if you can solve some basic problems.

Even then it's not guaranteed to get an interview. You just have to keep applying and hoping to land a job.

When you are at your job interview, don't try to focus in on data structures and things you don't understand. If you do, they'll start asking questions in that direction. Instead focus in on your strong points.

  • I think you've confused a diploma with an education. Someone "unable to solve even the most basic of programming problems" didn't get an education, even if they got a sheepskin. – Ben Voigt Feb 24 '18 at 2:59

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