Some particulars, to be followed by a generalized, yet specific question:

I got my BA (in English) 6 years ago. I had been an occasional programming dabbler since 1995-ish (HTML/CSS/JavaScript, mostly). After a couple of years of dissatisfying corporate work (neither English nor programming related), I began seriously training myself in software development a few years ago, specifically in Java and Android, with yet more dabbling in python.

I believe I am prepared for software development full-time, but it's tough to prove without workplace experience or a relevant degree.

Basically, how do I convince a company to take me on as a lower-paid trial employee, or essentially an intern without the current school connection?


It's still possible to get an entry-level position without a Computer Science related degree, at least in my part of the world.

One of the keys to success might be to try to find a position where you can capitalize on your domain knowledge and/or the degree you have. Assess your actual experience and try to find companies in that field who are looking for beginners. Perhaps even the company where you currently work has an opening? I have hired entry-level folks from other departments within my company in the past. They had something that other entry-level people couldn't have - knowledge of the company's culture, products, etc. In many cases it worked out very well.

You might also try to contribute to an open-source project as a way to add to your reputation, and to give you opportunities to network with people who might have job leads. I have friends who took that route and were able to land contracting positions as a result, without having a formal Computer Science background.

Good luck!

  • 4
    I got hired (BS agriculture, self-taught dev) through an open-source project. It's especially worth attending meetups related to whatever you chose to contribute, as it's a fantastic way to network.
    – Melissa
    Apr 20 '13 at 17:36
  • I have joined a mobile dev meetup and am slated to present on one of my of my projects. It definitely seems like one of the more promising avenues.
    – anthropomo
    Apr 23 '13 at 18:39

Have your efforts with Java and Android led to you finishing and releasing any Android apps? That would probably be the most effective entry into a development role without any workplace experience or a degree.

Mobile app development is not as "wild west" as it was a few years ago, but from my observation it's still a field - particularly in an agency environment - that you could break into on the strength of an app that you've developed, rather than a previous Android developer role on your résumé.

If you haven't completed and released any apps, do you have any half-finished ones or any ideas bubbling around that could become finished apps with some focused time?

  • I have a few unpolished apps on Play. About 500 users between the three of them. They were more learning projects than something I expected to be particularly successful. They are functional, if not impressive. I have tended to move on when a project has taught me what it can. Same name on play, if you want to judge for yourself.
    – anthropomo
    Apr 20 '13 at 4:27

You might consider approaching some non-profit organizations in your area. They usually can't afford programmers, so it would be more in the nature of an unpaid internship. But developing an app for them would give you solid work expereince that would include determining requirements and dealing with the users to get things the way they need it as well as the development parts. You might even consider suggesting a mobile app for them. You might even research grants and apply for one to get a chance to be paid for your work. As an English major, you could probably do a pretty good job of writing a grant application and thus might have a good shot of getting one.

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