Landing your dream programming job is never easy. Especially now, when the world is more competitive than ever. Organizations and employers set up critical parameters and thoroughly go through one’s qualifications before settling for an employee.
So is it possible for a college student to get a programming job? If so, how?
Despite the difficulties, it’s absolutely possible. Being proficient in a programming language doesn’t always require academic certification. So, with or without a Computer Science major, you can utilize your knowledge of a certain programming language and rely on your experience to get started with your dream job.
In this article, I’ll share 5 specialized tips with you to help you on the way.
It’s often difficult, even for fresh graduates as well as moderately experienced applicants to start a decent programming job. So needless to say, the job market is an entirely foreign battlefield for college students. Since you’re still on the learning wheel, your knowledge and experience are both expected to be developing, yet limited. Keep in mind that these two are the decisive parameters for any job.
But that’s traditional talking. Textbook knowledge is barely enough these days. Once you leave the highway and start thinking outside the box, you’ll start seeing opportunities everywhere. So read along and try to relate to the featured tips.
What Are The Prerequisites For Programming Jobs?
Knowledge and experience. As simple as it gets. Your expertise in a programming language matters way more than your academic level or college major. As I’ve said earlier, you don’t need a computer science major to become a successful programmer. Yes a degree and background definitely help, but they’re not necessarily the limitations.
There’s a common misconception that you need to learn X number of programming languages or Y types of data structures to even hope to apply for a programming job. But that’s totally NOT the case. Learn, enrich, and focus on the programming languages you love. Wholehearted efforts never go to waste. But if you pursue the trend and jump from one programming language to another, you’re wasting your time.
Work experience, however, is a different story. And as a college student, you’re most likely to struggle in this field. Almost every programming job requires prior experience. This is to solidify your claim over the expertise of a programming language. Remember that experience is a valuable resource in your resume. The more you enrich it, the higher your chances are of landing that job.
The PARADOX Problem
“To get a job, you need experience. And for experience, you need a job.”
That’s the paradox problem for young people looking to enter the job field. And when you’re a college student with no actual degree, things will hardly be in your favor. So you’ll have to resolve alternate ways to get inside the system.
There are some part-time jobs or internship jobs that do not require any prior experience. Some companies offer a probation period for new employees as well. So if you’re entirely new to the working field, you may have to grind for a while before starting with a permanent job. Some independent projects and freelance programming gigs also act as valuable substitutes for job experience.
5 Tips To Get A Programming Job While Still In College
Now, all things aside, these are the 5 most important tips I can give you to start your dream programming job.
1. What Are You Good At?
The world of programming and data science is huge and expanding. Software development, web programming, data structures, database management, server maintenance, data analysis, etc are only but a few branches. So first and foremost, keep in mind that you cannot ace in every field. Don’t even try to. Determine your favorite field, stick to it, enrich your knowledge, and learn about relevant topics as well.
However, if you still don’t have any idea about programming languages, or don’t have a decent understanding of a specific programming language, then you’ve got a long way to go. And without determination, you’re wasting your time as well.
2. Specialized Online Courses & Certifications For Programming Jobs
There are lots of online platforms these days that offer certification programs on different programming languages. And the good thing is, they don’t take that long to complete. Most of these courses promise professional expertise within 5-6 months. So think of this time as an investment. Even if you’re at a beginner level, with dedication, you should be able to call yourself a decent programmer within 6 months or so.
Some popular online certification platforms are Coursera, Free Code Camp, w3schools, EDX, Udemy, Alison, Data camp, etc. Some of these platforms offer free courses as well. Free code camp is not only a free learning platform, they also offer certifications and specialized jobs.
So with online certification, you’ll have an easier time convincing your employers that you’re well suited for your field of work. Needless to say, you can complete as many programs as you like to add weight to your resume. But don’t stray too far from your field of interest.
3. Problem-Solving And Implementation
Simply learning a programming language is not enough if you don’t know how or when to implement it. Most of us complete our graduation without a clear idea of implementation. Remember, practical problems are way more different from those textbook problems. So besides learning a programming language, try to research and dig out possible algorithms that you may have to solve on a job interview.
Say you want a job at Google as a software engineer. What do you have to offer? How would they want to test you? And how do you qualify? Surely you’ll have to convince your employer that you can be an asset. And you’re familiar with such problems. So try to focus on solving practical problems as much as possible. Critical thinking is often helpful in such cases. And believe it or not, they make the differences.
Also, if you want to learn more about a job at Google without a Computer Science major, watch this video.
4. Freelance Programming Gigs
Freelance gigs are the easiest ways to gain experience and put your knowledge to the test. Freelancing jobs may be inconsistent and temporary, but they’re far easier to get. These jobs are more like contract jobs. But the best thing is, you get paid while you can learn. You won’t even require professional certification and knowledge either.
Most of the freelance programming jobs are posted by agencies, entrepreneurs, large companies and their associates, etc. Platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, Toptal, etc provide good opportunities for beginner programmers to participate in contract jobs.
Some common freelance programming jobs include Website programming, custom video/audio players, game interface, micro-controller, small web program, program interface for Arduino/Raspberry Pi, programming for mechanical keyboard switch, etc. Once you find the type of gig that suits you, take in different projects to hone your skill, make some money, and more importantly, earn invaluable experience and ratings from the client.
Freelance gigs also lead to good things! As you develop yourself as a programmer, your identity will continue to grow. So if companies or clients are pleased with your work, they may offer you a permanent job in their agency as well. So there’s always a chance to land your dream job as a programmer, without even actively applying for it. That’s why starters these days prefer freelancing as a way to earn and learn. Some even develop their agency based on freelancing to help others as well.
5. A Decent Portfolio
No matter how good you are at something, if you can’t properly showcase your skills and achievements, you’ll always be overlooked. So focus on developing a decent professional profile as well. The most popular and widespread professional platform nowadays is LinkedIn. Just create an ID, add your educational qualifications, and display your programming skills and certifications creatively.
You can also link your freelancing profiles to your professional profile to let potential employers learn about your skills and ratings. Most companies and employers these days ask for a LinkedIn profile attached with your resume. So be sure to present yourself in an insightful and organized way.
While an academic degree is a must for most jobs, programming jobs hardly need one. So a college student should have an easier time starting a programming job. Just ensure proper knowledge, dedication, and hard work. Gain experience, develop a smart work ethic, keep trying, and don’t forget to seize the opportunities.