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  1. #1
    jonny87 is offline Member
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    Default What level is need to get a graduate/entry job in programming?

    I've just completed a maths degree and have been looking for jobs in London in data analyst, consultancy, mainly, but not because I am passionate about these area, but because I think I will have a good chance at getting these jobs.

    However, I have just been teaching myself Java over the past couple of weeks and absolutely love it. When I was at school I taught myself HTML, javascript and visual basic and enjoyed making things from these, but since then I have completely forgotten about programming. Over these past two weeks I have done online video courses on programming fundamentals, OOP, Java, and now learning about design patterns.

    I have realised that I think I would really like a job in programming. I have a naturally analystical mind, love understanding how things work and creating new things, love problems solving, love puzzles etc.

    My question is, realistically what level do I need to be at to get a job in programming? And, if possible, is it realistic to get to this level in say two months if I spend 6-8 hours per day learning?

    To give you an idea of the speed I learn at, in two weeks I have covered and understood the syllabus of the Oracle Level 1 Java SE exam from scratch, along with programming fundamentals and OOP courses I mentioned above. I have been watching all videos at about double speed, and following along by creating my own code using what I have been learning. I have also been writing down any questions I have had along the way which I look up in my own time.

    I personally feel that in one or two months at this rate of learning I could complete the Oracle level 2 Java SE exam, however I understand that there is a vast difference between having the technical knowledge to pass an exam, and having the technical intuition and isight that only comes with experience.

  2. #2
    gimbal2 is offline Just a guy
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    Default Re: What level is need to get a graduate/entry job in programming?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonny87 View Post
    I've just completed a maths degree
    Nice.

    and have been looking for jobs in London in data analyst, consultancy, mainly, but not because I am passionate about these area, but because I think I will have a good chance at getting these jobs.
    Ouch, that's pretty much one of the more terrible reasons. How can you ever stay motivated that way?

    I recognize most of your post, I'm the guy who advised you to post this in a discussion forum rather than on SO. Given your new additions to your description, I don't know what to advise anymore though.
    "Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon." -- Alan Perlis

  3. #3
    KevinWorkman's Avatar
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    Default Re: What level is need to get a graduate/entry job in programming?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonny87 View Post
    My question is, realistically what level do I need to be at to get a job in programming?
    This is going to depend entirely on the types of job in your area, what your portfolio looks like, your previous experience, etc. Where I live (in the US) you almost always need a degree from a 4-year school to get a programming job. You can sometimes get around this if you have a ton of prior experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by jonny87 View Post
    And, if possible, is it realistic to get to this level in say two months if I spend 6-8 hours per day learning?
    I don't want to discourage you, but no. If you're already an expert programmer, just not an expert Java programmer, then perhaps you could pick up enough in 2 months. But if this is your first exposure to programming, 2 month is nowhere near enough time to be considered a professional programmer.

    You say you've learned some topics, but have you done any projects that use those topics? Have you started a project from scratch and taken it to completion? There's a huge difference between "following along in a book and thinking you're getting it" and "being faced with a big problem (create an application that does XYZ) and a blank page".

    The best (only) way to learn how to program is by programming. You say you've already "covered and understood" OOP, but how have you used it? Java is a huge beast; what part of it are you learning? Client-side Java (Swing or JavaFX?), server-side Java (what frameworks have you tried?), Anroid, JavaME, something else?

    All that being said, you might want to give yourself a pet project to give yourself some of that hands-on experience. Create an application that does something useful for you, or create a little game (start small, think Pong instead of Minecraft), or an Android app, or a small web application.. the possibilities are endless, and they give you a chance to explore the Java world and showcase how you've actually *used* your programming knowledge.

    Again, I don't want to discourage you, but this stuff takes much longer than 2 months.

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  4. #4
    gimbal2 is offline Just a guy
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    Default Re: What level is need to get a graduate/entry job in programming?

    I must add that while for 99% of the people in the world that is true, having a degree in math can actually help to enter into environments where being skilled in math is a requirement and you could possibly make it happen that you can learn the programming part through training provided for by the company. Fact of the matter is that software engineers with a good basis in math are a dying breed.

    But agreed, 2 months is a crazy target. In 2 months you can learn the language syntax and a little more.
    "Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon." -- Alan Perlis

  5. #5
    KevinWorkman's Avatar
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    Default Re: What level is need to get a graduate/entry job in programming?

    Agreed. The math degree will definitely help, but to really market yourself as a programmer, you need more than 2 months of following youtube tutorials.
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  6. #6
    jonny87 is offline Member
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    Default Re: What level is need to get a graduate/entry job in programming?

    Thanks for all the posts.

    Maybe it is best to get a job now then and keep learning in my own time.

    I was hopeing that I would be able to learn in the next few months because I am living with my parents at the moment while I look for graduate jobs, and so I can spend 10 hours a day learning this stuff (after 2 months = about 600 hours), whereas once I start work I estimate about 2 hours per day average tops on learning which will mean it will take best part of a year to learn what I can learn in 2 months now.

  7. #7
    KevinWorkman's Avatar
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    Default Re: What level is need to get a graduate/entry job in programming?

    You're also assuming that you can really spend all 10 of those hours learning programming. That's not how it works, at least not for me. For most (all?) non-trivial problems, you have to spend time *away from the computer* thinking about them, how to break them down, the different approaches you could take, etc. I solved my most recent big problem while watching Fringe, haha, and I bet that over 50% of difficult programming problems are solved either in bed or in the shower.

    That's a bit of a joke, but my point is that programming isn't just memorization or number crunching that you can throw 10 hours a day at and expect to come out on the other side some type of super-programmer. There's an art to it, and that might be the part that takes the longest to understand, because you don't get that understanding by staring at a computer screen. You get it by chewing on problems, breaking them down into smaller pieces, and coming back to each individual piece one at a time.
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    Default Re: What level is need to get a graduate/entry job in programming?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonny87 View Post
    Thanks for all the posts.

    Maybe it is best to get a job now then and keep learning in my own time.

    I was hoping that I would be able to learn in the next few months because I am living with my parents at the moment while I look for graduate jobs, and so I can spend 10 hours a day learning this stuff (after 2 months = about 600 hours), whereas once I start work I estimate about 2 hours per day average tops on learning which will mean it will take best part of a year to learn what I can learn in 2 months now.
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    gimbal2 is offline Just a guy
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    Default Re: What level is need to get a graduate/entry job in programming?

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinWorkman View Post
    and I bet that over 50% of difficult programming problems are solved either in bed or in the shower.
    You're just censoring here; it happens on the toilet most of the time!
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  10. #10
    jonny87 is offline Member
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    Default Re: What level is need to get a graduate/entry job in programming?

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinWorkman View Post
    That's a bit of a joke, but my point is that programming isn't just memorization or number crunching that you can throw 10 hours a day at and expect to come out on the other side some type of super-programmer. There's an art to it, and that might be the part that takes the longest to understand, because you don't get that understanding by staring at a computer screen. You get it by chewing on problems, breaking them down into smaller pieces, and coming back to each individual piece one at a time.
    That's a good point and makes a lot of sense.

    I am hoping (and expecting) that my maths experience will come in useful here because maths afterall is all about understanding different problems in different ways, and thinking of various ways to solve them, including the most efficient way possible. Understanding how the different parts of a mathematical problem and solution fit together I think will be much like understanding how the various parts of a program fit together to achieve the desired goal. I think this what you are talking about here in relation to programming and I think because of my experience in maths, I will have a headstart in this compared to others who are starting programming from scratch.

    However, I understand that solving a problem mathematically or with code are different in many respects, language syntax, nuances of the working of a particular programming language and design principles are obvious ones that come to mind. There are probably many other respects which they differ in that I am not even aware of.

  11. #11
    gimbal2 is offline Just a guy
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    Default Re: What level is need to get a graduate/entry job in programming?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonny87 View Post
    However, I understand that solving a problem mathematically or with code are different in many respects, language syntax, nuances of the working of a particular programming language and design principles are obvious ones that come to mind. There are probably many other respects which they differ in that I am not even aware of.
    The act of programming is actually not very different; it will take you more than 2 months but that is something you can learn, quite easily. What people fail to realize is that software engineering is not all about programming. There is a whole range of skills attached to it that cannot be taught in a book and cannot be taught in a classroom. But as long as you keep using your brain, you'll be fine.
    "Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon." -- Alan Perlis

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