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I am in my second year of software engineering and is currently awaiting a part time job offer. Which is good, especially during these corona times when job opportunities have dried up.

The job offer is working in a business intelligence department and help them create Power Apps with various functionality for their clients. I love economics and IT so the job has elements I love. But I feel like Power Apps, while great for easy creation of apps, is another skill I have to spend time learning and that it wont necessarily develop me in more complex subjects, like the ones in school.

Programming and networking subjects have shown itself to be extremely complex and even though I am a decent student my head starts to spin whenever I open job applications a listing 10-15 technologies. Either I don't know how to use them at all, Azure, Node.js, Angular, REST, Spring Boot, Jenkins, JSON, Ruby, LAMP stack, Apache.... and the list goes on. Or I feel like I've only scratched the surface of it: Java, SQL, Docker, Linux. It feels like every lesson learned opens 10 new lessons. And with that I feel that a it would be better to have more technical part time job.

What do you think? Should I decline and hope for a more technical job? Or am I underestimating the experience I am going to get?

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  • We can't really make the decision for you, tell us how we can help? – Tymoteusz Paul Apr 18 '20 at 11:04
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Every lesson learned opens 10 new lessons.

Welcome to IT - or any other matter in life :) Oh and by the way, take a quick look at the first chart here to understand what that feeling is about: https://mensenengedrag.nl/2019/06/05/the-dunning-kruger-effect-in-innovation/

Should I decline and hope for a more technical job?

First job? Then don't underestimate the opportunity to get a foot in the door (network wise) and of showing you are willing and able to work. The first job is by far the hardest to land. Having proven that, you can move on later. Perhaps it boils down to what you want your career to look like? Do you want to be the hardcore tech type often shielded from the business people or have a more outgoing role like consultant or the like?

Am I underestimating the experience I am going to get?

You might be. A big part of many roles in IT is the ability to work with people and quickly acquire new technical, tool and domain knowledge - and in many roles (e.g. consulting) also business domain knowledge. By the way, do not underestimate tool knowledge. While the big picture and theoretical stuff taught in school is important - without working knowledge of tools used, you will loose out needlessly on productivity.

What work do you enjoy?

  • Tech subjects in and of themselves?
  • Helping people/clients
  • A particular field(s) of work or business domain that (e.g. economics)
  • What activities make you feel at your best?
  • Deep diving vs. be exposed to a variety of tasks (specialist/generalist)

How do you get the most of that in your career?

How do you get to work with these activities as much as possible?

What role and company will enable you to get the most fulfillment?

You might not be able to there in a straight line, but having an idea about what a fulfilling career would be like, sets you on the right part to achieve exactly that.

Role examples

  • backend developer (hardcore domain knowledge, specialist profile)
  • consultant (helping people, broader knowledge, greater variety of jobs)
  • DevOps specialist (again more technical specialist, but with variety in tools needed)
  • Frontend developer (often working with lots of different stakeholders in a project on very visual things)

A personal example

I am very interested in finance/investing and how people and organisations work, and today I find myself as Head of IT at a small Financial Services shop, neatly combining these things. Not without challenges though, since some of my personality is clearly that of a typical developer.

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    Hi, I dont know what i was smoking when i was unsure. This is great opportunity and probably covers more of my interest than is normal for a first time job. I somehow made a rather dubious assessment in thinking that "time spent learning powerapps" = "less sought after for a dev job". Which isnt the case at all. I want to say a BIG thank you for taking your time to create this incredible well thought and written response. It made me reflect upon my decision. Serously, thank you – fedoraHacker Apr 19 '20 at 9:32
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Last year of my degree I accepted a part-time job as a Digitizer for a small company in the mining sector. It was boring work and had very little to do with my computer science degree. While I was there I met the CEO of small geophysical survey company. He offered me a job as a full-time programmer starting after I graduated.

The feedback I was getting at the time was that there were only a few big companies that were hiring fresh graduates and that they had hundreds of applicants for very position. Without that break I would have struggled to get my first job.

Many industries are very insular. I have worked in mining, health, online gambling, education and marine logistics, and in many of those industries I would see the same faces over and over again. The advantage of a personal connection cannot be underestimated.

The company I worked for as a Digitizer had very flat hierarchy and the CEO was open and friendly and he introduced me to many people in the mining industry. One of those people happened to be my future boss. Within a few months as a programmer at the new company I was promoted to System Manager, which was less exciting than it sounds as they took advantage of my inexperience to have me do about 5 different potentially full-time jobs for only a modest increase in salary. But it paved the way for the rest of my career. By the time I moved on I was no longer a fresh graduate and I had practical experience in a lot of different roles though my focus was still software development.

I am an introvert and I am terrible at networking, but still about 40% of my jobs have come through personal connections, with the rest through headhunters.

A part time job can be a good way to get your foot in the door. Even if the work has little to do with your desired job, you can still prove that you can work with people and that will be a big question in the mind of any potential employer.

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    Thank you for sharing your story. As your story illustrates an opportunity like this will open alot more doors than it closes. Right know i dont know why assumed id be less sought after for other jobs if i did this. So massive thanks to you for writing down your experience and sharing it – fedoraHacker Apr 19 '20 at 9:44
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    I was fortunate. Everyone at that part-time job was very helpful. One of the advantages of small companies is that their can be less barriers and more communication between different levels. Can be, nothings guaranteed. – GeoffBurns Apr 19 '20 at 23:04
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When it comes to writing your resume, having a real paid job to put down is better than no job. Even working for an employer is experience in itself.

There are so many different languages/stacks/operating systems in software that nobody will ever learn them all. It's an industry where you will have to be willing to learn new things on a just-in-time basis, or else get pigeonholed into a dead-end niche.

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  • That is true, i realise my logic was rather unsound as i incorrectly assumed that other employers would want me less if i knew more in slightly different area. Which is just nonsense. Thank you for your response – fedoraHacker Apr 19 '20 at 9:47

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