My interest in programming started in highschool or (Gymnasium) as we say in Sweden, and I did lots of projects, which I don't have today. Then I started university completed about 6 courses in mathematics and 2 programming courses. But I couldn't handle it at that time, and now I don't have the option of completing my education formally.

It's my dream to become a professional programmer or developer, I'm 24 now and I'm totally lost. I know lots of theoretical knowledge, and know C, C++,C#, Java, Python, x86 Intel asm very well. I know how a CPU is built from nand gates, and basics of algorithms and datastructures, but I don't know what to program, so I don't have many completed projects.

I have tried to get into opensource, but I have no idea how to do that in a good way.

To be clear what I'm asking for is advice on what is a good way to become a professional programmer. What do employers seek when they hire? How to get the experience they want when they hire you.

And if you think my question is to broad, just tell me a good project to program to hone my skill, or even better if you can recommend a good way to get started in opensource.

  • 1
    I think this question is like asking what to do instead of how to do. Yes, "how" is "what" detailed. Possible answers could include "take this job", "do this work", "take this education" and stuff. So I guess this question is going to be closed.
    – user27584
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 9:24
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    Quick comment in lieu of full answer: Employers usually say what they are looking for in job adverts. This may include 'softer' skills such as team working, initiative, etc. Go find 10 or 20 job listings that appeal to you, compile a list of the qualities they want, and figure out how to tick those boxes. Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 10:35
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    My interest in programming started in Gymnasium too... when I realized I would never be able to climb the rope :p Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 14:30
  • Consider freelancing
    – HLGEM
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 15:40

3 Answers 3

  1. Keep asking your question online - there are many responses to your question in YouTube and Job sites and all over. Keep looking for the answer that suits you personally.
  2. Write programs for charities, NGOs, churches ... just do something voluntarily for free. It may help them, and you'll gain experience. Then:
  3. Put your finished code on GitHub, so potential employers can see that you're building a portfolio.
  4. Answer coding questions on StackOverflow. Since you know stuff well, you can help other students. If you're good, your reputation will grow and be something you can show to employers.
  5. Use your Java skills to write Android apps. It's cheap and easy to post them on the playstore, and will give you practice and you may even sell something. But mostly, you'll be showing what you can do.
  6. Above all - be persistent. You are -for now- a salesman, and YOU are the product. Sales is often a game of odds - the more times you try, the more chances to "win".

Have you considered applying for entry-level programming jobs?

You did not complete your university education so graduate schemes may not be open to you. However, there may be apprentice-style roles or intern/industrial trainee roles that you could apply for.

Other entry-level paths into computer programming roles may be found at universities or science companies where a versatile programmer can implement and maintain systems for the specialists/academics.

I can't comment in detail on job-hunting in Sweden, but you could start to look at internet job boards, job centres, and websites of local firms and universities.

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    In the Nordic countries, there really isn't a concept of entry-level programming position. At least in the way I understand there is in, for example, the US. Pretty much all job postings for developers always state "Bachelor or higher degree" as the very first requirement. The best way I can think of is to either start your own business (hard to find clients though...), or apply for start-ups where you can start to build your professional experience. Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 14:43
  • Seriously there is no Apprentice or Technician route into industry in Nordic country's
    – Pepone
    Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 22:39

What do employers seek when they hire?

I want someone who can write code. It's not real complicated. But a part of your question is very concerning:

know C, C++,C#, Java, Python, x86 Intel asm very well

but I don't know what to program, so I don't have many completed projects

First, I find it highly unlikely that you know all of those very well - especially C++, which has notoriously many nooks and crannies.

Secondly, I find it impossible that you learned them well if you didn't write projects in them.

During an interview, being unable to evaluate skill appropriately is a significant red flag. Wanting to be a programmer but no programming on your own is also a significant red flag for me (though less so to others).

The good news is that there are a whole lot of terrible programmers. It will take some persistence in applying to jobs, but as long as you can write code you'll eventually find someone. And all you need to learn how to write code is a computer, some time, and the discipline to actually practice.

  • I'm sorry if i was not clear, i can program and i have done lots projects in the past, none i have today. In school i built a mips processor on a fpga using xilinx. I learned intel x86 asm when messing around with schellcodes. What i dont have is expereince in building real projects, not a pet project. On interviews the reason i could not get further was the lack of real experience. I need to start learn to develop real applications big and useful
    – proeng
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 14:32
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    @proeng - sadly, there are many companies who only count "professional" experience as experience. Even open source is insufficient for them. The only way I found to escape that situation was to keep applying to jobs. It only takes one company to take a chance on you.
    – Telastyn
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 14:35

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