Many programmers nowadays learn programming on their own and don't feel the need to attend to college since they've already attained the knowledge.

So my question is: Without a job experience in a firm and a degree, what is the best way to prepare your resume?

How should you write down experiences that you gathered without working with payment to your resume? The open source projects or private projects are surely an experience that proves the skill and knowledge level but which section of the resume should they be written in?

What can I do to project that I am qualified for the job?


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    Is this leaving direct from school (not university but high school) at age 16 or 18 - or are you older wanting to switch careers with no formal computing. – Neuromancer Aug 22 '18 at 20:23

That's really hard, because in my area, more and more employers are requiring degrees and even prefer advanced degrees. And even more important than that is experience - getting that first job is hard. For people attending college, they can often use internships and work study jobs as some evidence of job experience.

Without college or experience, one of your best bets might be to volunteer and do programming work for a non-profit. That way, you can show some job experience, even if you're not paid. Of course, you will also have a repository of work you've done on your own to show. Another option is to write applications and sell them, so that you don't need a standard job at all. Or you can add the self-employed part to your resume.

Part of the problem is that writing code is only a small part of being qualified for a job. And until you have had a job, you don't know what you don't know. So, in that case, even if the job is not in programming, it is good to do something paid, if you can find it, so you can indicate experience in having a job.


(Putting on my hiring manager hat) You may not even get past our HR for an interview without the college. But ignoring that for now ...

What's your experience? What kind of coding projects did you do that you can show an employer that you have the chops? Volunteer work, self-study assignments, written articles, anything? Even if it's not hard-core programming, if you can show me something you've done where the skillsets can be transferred to my job requirements, I may take a chance on you.

Even better if you have that on a laptop you can take to an interview, or it exists on the web, and show me in person during the interview.

I've interviewed a few people that tried the approach of 'I have a college degree, therefore I don't have to show you anything.' None of them were hired.

Certifications also help as it proves a certain amount of skillsets.

Also I wrote the article Contracting: How to go out on your own that may give you a boatload of other ideas for your situation.

Also I've noticed a pattern during my 20ish years in IT in that when the economy is good college requirements are relaxed, and when the economy is bad employers will often use a college degree requirement as an easy way to weed out the large number of candidates.

Good luck.


Another idea is to go for an internship, as the hiring criteria is significantly lower then a full-time employer. Most internships are unpaid so you'll have to figure out your finances to pull this off. But if you complete the internship and do it well, most companies use internships as their own recruiting as they've already seen you working in their building, so if you do well it can be a relatively short path from intership to full-time employee.

Again, good luck.

  • Or an apprenticeship if those are available – Neuromancer Aug 22 '18 at 20:25

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