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First of all, I would like to explain that I live in Brazil and English is not my main language. If you find something that doesn't make sense, or its wrong, please correct me. And our school system is different from US, UK or other places, so I will try to explain it to improve my question.

I'm 17 years old and I'm looking for my first job, since I finished school and I want to make something useful with my time and start my professional life.

In Brazil, to study in a University, everyone has to do a exam called "vestibular" for every university that you want to try to apply. Since I failed this year, I will study (there are institutions who prepare students to these exams) but I also need to find a job.

However, my CV isn't blank. In Brazil there are institutions which are comparable to vocational schools worldwide. I have a diploma in IT (in Portuguese: Técnico em Informática).

But I didn't worked before, and I wasn't able to do any internship while I was studying (I don't know in other countries, but here is required that a intern must be studying).

And I have a personal trouble: I can't study in my house. When I was studying I managed to learn C# and start to programming software, but in my house I'm kinda "blocked" by distractions. In a work environment I sense that I will be much more useful and learn more.

This week, I have send some emails to some companies that my friends recommended but none replied to me at all. Many friends and relatives have told me stories of friends (or themselves) whom started to work with no experience and manage to learn everything they needed on the job. I do know how to write code, but I can't call myself an expert and I'm afraid that a lack of a previous job would compromise everything.

What should I do in this situation? Should I try harder to find a job, give up this year and try to focus on studying or try to build a "reputation" through other means?

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    Hey athos, for English being your second language and from what I can tell having spent no time in a primarily English speaking country, your post displays a very good understanding of the language, sadly more than some Americans. I don't know enough about Brazil to offer specific advice, but I would recommend contributing to open source as a way to build experience. You can even start by just raising issues on github or by editing documentation. For your own stuff, think of a problem you solved via code and make it public. – Andrew Bartel Jan 24 '14 at 5:42
  • What should you do for what? The question is pretty open ended. Narrow down a bit. – Ricketyship Jan 24 '14 at 6:44
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    @Unsung Done. That works? – user14274 Jan 24 '14 at 6:55
  • @athosbr99 Looks better! Thanks for the clarification. – Ricketyship Jan 24 '14 at 6:59
  • "I will study and prepare myself, and when my opportunity comes, I will be ready." - Abraham Lincoln – Code Whisperer Jan 24 '14 at 15:19
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If I see your problem correctly, you have one year to spend and you want to earn during this time to support yourself.

Possible solutions:

  • Freelance. This is one of the best ways to learn new things. You can start with a project for free for a relative/friend and if it turns out good, you can spread the word. (you can make good money if your project is a good one)
  • Enroll for technical courses which last for a shorter duration. (Requires money).
  • Apply for jobs using your diploma certificate as a reference. This doesn't require any money but you can end up spending a lot of time in waiting for offers.

My suggestion:

Keep applying for companies and freelance at the same time. Remember, the general thinking is once you start applying you'll get a job immediately. People spend months searching for jobs. You are in your first week of searching. Keep your spirits up and keep applying. When companies hire newbies, they pretty much know that you might not be able to contribute immediately. What they look for instead is the learning ability and your skill set (Which I assume you have gained from diploma).

Hence, be ready to accept initial rejections and when you get an offer, be humble and learn as much as you can at the job.

  • I guess you got my hopes higher. So I shouldn't freak out that the first emails didn't had a response? I had a project that I didn't know if I should start or try a job in a company, but I guess that I should really start it. Thanks! – user14274 Jan 24 '14 at 7:22
  • @athosbr99 No you shouldn't freak out based on the first few responses. In job market, even experienced professionals struggle to get a new job. If you have the right attitude, you can succeed with your project/job. – Ricketyship Jan 24 '14 at 7:24
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Everyone has to start one or the other time.. There is a so called cycle

  • You get a job.
  • You get experience.
  • You become eligible for more jobs.

But the real cycle is

  • You have experience.
  • You get job.
  • You get more experience.

Job is not the only source to get experience. Everyone has to start one or the other day. If you know how to code and if you are willing to learn things, you will find a new job. Just dont loose hope.

  • Thanks for the advice, but I really don't seem to get your point... – user14274 Jan 24 '14 at 6:16
  • i mean if u are not able to get job,try to get experience through other things like free lancing,or get into some small project or part time project,which will enhance your skills and give a boost to your resume. Side by side you can keep looking for new jobs too. – siddharth gupta Jan 24 '14 at 7:18
  • Now I see. I guess that you're right, maybe freelancing will help me more in this situation. Thanks! – user14274 Jan 24 '14 at 7:24
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One addition to the other answers you have received, get involved in an open source project. There are many available and being able to put on your resume that you have contributed to project X will go a long way. This will also typically force your code to go through reviews, which will be a big chance to improve.

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It's good that you are looking for a job in your 17's. I had just started my graduation when I was 17.

At this age, working as an intern would have been a good option. But since Brazil has a constraint that an intern should also be studying, it would be better if you start learning some technology that is trending in your area or something that you really want to see yourself specialized in.

Along with this you can work as a freelancer if you have good knowledge of some programming techniques. You have said that you hold a diploma in IT. I don't know how much it is valued in your country. If it has that much value, you can apply for a job on the basis of it.

You said that you have shared you profile with some companies. Keep trying for more. Get in touch with professionals. LinkedIn could be a better option for it.

Finally, you are just 17. You have a lot of time to learn new things. So it would be better if you focus more on learning.

  • I guess I'm really too young. But even without any pressure from my relatives, I think that I should get into the job market soon. I will follow your advice on LinkedIn though, and start freelancing. Thanks! – user14274 Jan 24 '14 at 7:23