I want to move in to software development from a maths PhD, so this will likely involve a grad scheme and training.

How much does what I learn on the first job matter - for example, if I don't learn .Net or C# does it mean that I am unlikely to ever be able to take a job that requires knowledge of those languages. Or does it not matter?

  • Do you have any programming experience at all? If yes, what about software engineering? If I want an experienced C# programmer I'm unlikely to hire you; but if you're applying for an internship, things might be different.
    – rath
    Aug 5, 2014 at 10:06
  • Could you ask your question in generic terms and see if it still makes sense. For example, if I don't learn X does it mean that I am unlikely to ever be able to take a job that requires knowledge of X?. So, does if you don't know X then why should an employer who needs X hire you? Or did you mis state something in this question
    – Brandin
    Aug 5, 2014 at 15:32
  • @Brandin Well, if you want a generic version it is "If I take a job using Y, which is related to X, is the relationship strong enough that I can move in to an area that uses X". Seeing as that is not useful without knowledge of X and Y, my question was about how similar programming languages are considered in this sense - how strongly related do they have to be before being able to move jobs.
    – Tait
    Aug 8, 2014 at 15:19
  • I mean to fill in X and Y and then make sure your question is not "self-answerable" . For example if I ask "If I don't learn C++ does it mean that I am unlikely to ever be able to take a job that requires knowledge of C++?" I think I can answer my own question already
    – Brandin
    Aug 8, 2014 at 16:28
  • @Brandin There is a distinction between "hobby knowledge" and industry experience. I have done some small projects in C++ of my own accord, but no industry experience of programming, compared to someone who has spent ten years working with C, Java and Fortran at Microsoft, and then has done some C++ in their spare time, I think the latter may well have a good chance of getting the job. But if I remove C from their industry experience, I really have little idea of how much this will affect their chances - that is why I asked the question.
    – Tait
    Aug 14, 2014 at 7:19

2 Answers 2


It actually does not matter...What matter the most is how you develop yourself for wanted position. Ofc it can play a big role in your carrier and can be a great pushing you forward factor, but that does not define what you are and what you can do.

I started my carrier as database administrator as i was interesting in databases, I soon realised that my interest was no actually in databases it self but in that how they interacted with applications.

I landed my first job as DBA in big enterprise company as intern, worked there for about a year. When i realised that i don't actually have much interest in what i was doing. So i started learning web development, and started small as junior web developer at private company with like 10 people working there. Now i have worked for about 3 years in industry and working for a big company whos main business are loans, and i am growing constantly.

In short. Don't look at your first job as defining factor in your career. Look at more like getting experience in actual work environment, developing communication skills, working as a part of a team and so on.

Key factor in your carrier is how you develop yourself, it does not matter in which professions of area, but more how much you are willing to work with yourself.


Okay I'm confused, are you planning on going to grad school? Or are you just wanting a job in software with no/ very limited experience? If it's the later, why on Earth would a company hire anyone who didn't know the skills already? No company will hire someone for a software job without any software knowledge.

In many cases someone will get hired with the criteria they know language A but in reality first day on the job they are told they use language B. That's fine, because if you know one language it's not a stretch to pick up another (in most cases, not always of course). But not knowing any language? No way. No company has a new hire policy with the intent of teaching their new employee fundamentals of programing.

  • Sorry, I think there is an American/British confusion. We (i.e. in the UK) don't have grad schools. A grad scheme means (I think pretty exclusively) a kind of induction scheme run by a company for employees. They would hire someone with no experience, but who has shown a strong aptitude for that kind of thinking, to train them, since they then get bright employees who will likely stick around for a while. Does this really not happen in the US?
    – Tait
    Aug 8, 2014 at 15:13

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