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I graduated high school last year and have not gone to school since. I don't have any plans at the moment for going to college, I want to work full time instead. My goal is to become a software developer.

How do I explain to a potential employer who is curious about my educational experience why I am currently outside of school without giving her the idea that I lack the education for the position.

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If you think you lack the experience for the position then you're not going to get it. That's not the mindset you want to be going into an interview with. Just because you're out of school and not going to College doesn't mean you lack the education to be a software developer.

Have you got any experience in the languages you are applying for or are you applying for entry level positions that don't expect you to know the language? This question makes a difference. If they don't expect you to know the language, then education isn't a massive factor in terms of the language. Your school grades will count but what will count more is how you think, do you have a logical approach to solutions, do you know any similar language? That's more important in a prospective entry level position where they are going to teach you. You need to show that you are receptive, eager to learn and most importantly, capable of learning.

If you're going for a position where you are expected to know the language, again you don't have to have a college degree, but you will have to demonstrate command of the language. Do you have code samples you can show them? Build a portfolio, even a small one, of sample programs and code you've written. Have you worked on open source initiatives? Great, show them you've contributed; this is all experience.

Not everything has to be about your school work for a school leaver.

  • I like your approach to this. True, you don't have to be in college or have gone to college to get a job, but I thought a lack thereof would hinder one's attainment of one. I haven't applied to any position, they have actually come to me. And I do not think they expect one to have knowledge of a specific language, but for the candidate to have the personality traits you listed. Also, I indeed have many code samples and am starting to work open source. – Me myself and I Apr 20 '14 at 17:30
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    A portfolio is a good idea, even if they don't expect you to know the language and/or the demonstrated code samples is in a different language - programming experience is programming experience. – Dukeling Apr 20 '14 at 18:55
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    @carson63000 only a short sighted employer will consider a degree essential. There is absolutely no reason why not having a degree will hinder his efforts to find a job if he can actually do the job and has examples to show employers as proof he can do the job. – Styphon Apr 21 '14 at 1:38
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    @Styphon sorry, I don't agree. Not every development job is building websites with PHP. Some genuinely do require a computer science background and it's not just an employer being "short sighted" when they say so. – Carson63000 Apr 21 '14 at 5:57
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    @Styphon I don't agree either. Many larger companies require degrees, partially to limit the applications; and many small companies who have been burned by hiring someone with no degree who wrote something unmaintainable will from then on want someone with a degree, in the hopes of getting something more standard. – thursdaysgeek Apr 21 '14 at 16:47

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