Friday, October 26, 2018

No Software Degree? Don't Let It Stop You!

I saw a an article over on freecodecamp.org where the author tells his story about getting a development job without a degree.  I think it is so inspiring when people share their stories.

I also am an un-degreed software engineer and I’ve been working in the industry for more than 30 years.

I assume that if you are ready to jump in to software development without doing a 4 year program, that you are passionate about writing code! If that describes you, read on!

Here are some tips.
  • Don’t let anyone tell you that you NEED a degree. You can go and get one, sure and if that’s what you want, great. Go do it, but it will take you years and a lot of money.
  • Read a lot. Consume as much programming literature as you can. Read conference proceedings. Read code. Read the History of Programming Languages, read archives of Dr. Dobbs Journal. 
  • Learn several programming languages in different paradigms. I’m familiar with BASIC, 6502 assembly, Forth, C, Objective-C, Java and Smalltalk. Don’t be a one trick pony.
  • Make your own software. Participate in open source projects so you can learn team programming skills. Code with friends. Create your own applications. Write some video games. Try your hand at programming tools. I wrote Liberty BASIC (a popular programming language) in my spare time and now I sell it. If you have a dossier of interesting stuff that you’ve done, it will be easier to get hired. Haven’t done anything interesting? The degree may not be enough.
  • Network like crazy. Almost every job I’ve landed I landed because of people I met at the store, at church, at conferences (that I paid to attend myself), etc.  Join some programming groups on Facebook and meet local people using meetup.com.  This can be really important.
  • Be ready to explain what you know. When you do get that interview, who will hire you if you can’t show on the whiteboard what you learned from your work. Give them a post mortem on your own code. Be ready to say what you could have done better.
Good luck and please check out my Liberty BASIC product!  http://www.libertybasic.com
See you around!

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