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I'm a junior developer working a Microsoft (.NET) role and have been since graduating from my mathematics degree (currently, a little over 6 months).

I took this position to gain some experience commercially as a developer but now I'm worried that I will only be seen as a .Net developer.

I have considered machine learning but will my experience as a .NET developer be of any interest to a company recruiting for machine learning engineers?

  • How long have you been working as a .NET developer? I take that you graduated recently right? – DarkCygnus Nov 6 '18 at 19:11
  • A little over 6 months now – mirin Nov 6 '18 at 19:13
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I took this position to gain some experience commercially as a developer but now I'm worried that I will only be seen as a .Net developer

Since you are a recent graduate, and have "just" 6 months of experience in .NET it is unlikely that people will scratch you as solely a .NET developer.

They will see you are a recent grad, from a background different (but related) to CS, and understand that you are in the beginning of your career.

If you plan to transition to other areas, like Machine Learning, apply to such companies and focus your resume on ML relevant aspects instead. This would mean that you could include such .NET experience you have (so they see you have coding experience), but could benefit more from highlighting your Math background.

I have considered machine learning but will my experience as a .NET developer be of any interest to a company recruiting for machine learning engineers?

Yes, like I said it will evidence that you have experience coding, something essential in Machine Learning.

  • +1. I wanted to add that "machine learning" is something of a buzzword with employers at the moment (I'm in that space as well), and hiring managers will either be intrigued that it's on your resume at all or ecstatic that you have a coding background (of any kind) to go with it. ML expertise is language-independent, so it shouldn't really matter much what languages you know (unless it's R or SAS, in which case you're immediately much more attractive for ML-related positions). – Upper_Case-Stop Harming Monica Nov 6 '18 at 20:05
  • agree, although it is somehow language-independent, now knowing any programming language would be (for me) a no-go for any ML candidate I get. That is why showing coding experience (even better if on R, Python, etc) would help OP in their incipient career – DarkCygnus Nov 6 '18 at 20:14
  • That's my preference as well, but I think that there are increasing numbers of people in the ML space that "know" how to do it in Azure, where the coding is much less important. There are also a lot of people that are solid in R but don't understand the underlying math well enough to do ML correctly, even if they can write a script that produces a result. Anyhow, math degree + any sort of ML specialization = strong candidate for an ML position. – Upper_Case-Stop Harming Monica Nov 6 '18 at 20:20
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    I have used R during university. Sounds like it's definitely something I should mention for any machine learning related applications. Everything you have said has been very encouraging. Thank you for your clarification – mirin Nov 7 '18 at 8:02
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As someone who hires junior developers in a field that does not see much interest in the general hiring pool, I can assure you that having development experience from a previous job is better than having none.

If you want to go into ML or data science, you need to know how to program. It doesn't matter (in my opinion based on observation) so much what language. There is a small likelihood for companies to find graduates for junior roles that know the technology stack required in that field anyway.

If you were to apply for a role as, say, an Android mobile developer, and you would compete with someone with a computer science degree and half a year working as a Java developer, it might be a bit harder. In that case you would have to prove your soft skills are better, you have the ability to learn and pick up things and that in general you might make a better programmer than the other candidates.

However, since you want to go into a field where most people haven't got the exact degree for it (and degrees don't mean the world in software development anyway), I wouldn't worry too much. Your previous job proves that you can work. That you can learn a language. That you know how to write code. Now all you need to do is prove to them that you can also pick up a different technology stack.

If it was three or four years of experience in a language that is unrelated things would be a bit different. You'd have to convince companies that you really want to switch, that you are generally interested in this other technology. They might fear that you will be frustrated because your proficiency with that other language is way lower than with your .NET languages. That you might complain a lot and lower team morale that way. That you might suggest or simply go ahead and build tools in the language you know well. You would have to fight these prejudices.

But you're not in that situation. So, go for it! Don't worry about the half a year. It's actually a positive thing on your CV.

Good luck.

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