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Possible programming career as a beginner?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
There's a programming position that focuses on C# and SQL where some basic experience is recommended but doesn't require a degree. I remember in the past that the position provided programming training so I thought that this may be something that I can try to pursue without having a college degree.

Long story short...I'm trying to find something to do in my life that I'll enjoy as I'm having trouble thinking about what to do...causing me to lose motivation in education (college doesn't seem to be my cup of tea). I've had some experience with 'C' in high school and 'C++' during my first couple years in college both of which I have really enjoyed.

Is it possible to get into a career in programming while only knowing the bare minimum or basics?

I'm already in the process on learning C# through this thread as well as this website. Can anyone point me out to additional sources to learn C# and SQL? Back in August...I've actually went through a phone interview with HR, a phone interview with the head of the programming department, and an in-person interview with the head of the programming department as well. In the end...I had a call back from the interviewer from HR saying that they found more suitable candidates and said they'll keep my information on file.

Over the last few weeks the position opened back up where I went ahead and resubmitted the application/résumé again. Got in contact with the same HR person who told me that she remembers me and said they she'll talk to the head of the department again to go over my information. I'm going to be notified probably next week on what will happen...basically if I might get another interview, wait for the progress of additional applicants, or just straight out rejected.

Anyway...if I don't get the position again then I'll probably try to register in classes that focus on C# and SQL in a community college to heighten my experience. Then I'll try again (third times a charm...I hope) to see if they'll be interested. I'm sure there may be a slight interest...but it may be my imagination

Alright I'm done venting/ranting

I still have some of my basic C++ stuff

Code:
#include <iostream>
using namespace std;

void input_side(int &length);
void display_square(int length);
int area(int length);
int perimeter(int length);

int main()
{

cout << "Assignment #13\
"
 << "\by PVP309RCP\
"
 << "\date: April 4, 2006\
"
 << "**********************************************\
\
";

int side;
char decision;

do
{

cout << "Enter a size between 0 and 20: ";
cin >> side;
cout << endl;

input_side(side);

display_square(side);

cout << "Its area is " << area(side)
 << " and its perimeter is " 
 << perimeter(side) << endl;

cout << "\
Would you like to input a different size? (y/n)";
cin >> decision;
cout << endl;

}
while (toupper (decision) == 'Y');

cout << "End of Program!\
";
 
return 0;

}

void input_side(int &length)
{
while (length < 0 || length > 20)
{
cout << "Sorry, the number must be between 0 and 20.\
";
cout << "Please enter a different value: ";
cin >> length;
cout << endl;
}
}

void display_square(int length)
{
for (int rows = 1; rows <= length; rows++)
{
for (int columns = 1; columns <= length; columns++)
cout << "* ";
cout << endl;
}
cout << endl;
}

int area(int length)
{
int total_area;
total_area = length * length;

return total_area;
}

int perimeter(int length)
{
int total_perimeter;
total_perimeter = length * 4;

return total_perimeter;
}
Probably have to add [#include "stdafx.h"] for it to work though. Might be the easiest thing to do for programming experts but I sure felt accomplished when I did it myself.

EDIT: Sadly I didn't get the job...well the big indication was that I was pretty much forgotten until I finally decided to call back. Only good thing was that the HR person recommended that I try for the Operation Support Coordinator position instead which I decided to give a shot at. She's helping me out with transferring my resume for that position. I'll see where that takes me since it seems to be a better place for me to start out for the company.
Edited by pvp309rcp - 6/6/11 at 1:59am
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post #2 of 22
The first thing to say is that you should try and get a grasp of object orientatied programming, it's something people expect of all programmers, and it's a good model.

As to everything else, experience. Just work hard to try and learn, nothing teaches as well as actually doing. Find actual problems and try to solve them. Nothing is better for this than open source software, find projects and contribute. This will get you used to real workflows, and the realities of programming - design is more important than code, commenting is as important as code and how to work with others.

Other stuff that's worth remembering, try to keep a style and keep to it - preferably keep to the language's style. I love Python's style of code, but when I move to other languages I conform to the standard practices of those languages - there is generally a reason for them, and it makes other people's lives far easier. Keeping consistant with style is always good. Keep code readable and commented.

I highly reccomend trying to keep your learning at two levels. Remember that you want to learn the concepts behind programming, not the fine points of a language. Anyone can pick up a single language and hack some code together in it, a real programmer can design an entire system without having to think about what language it'll be implemented in, then implement it in anything they have documentation for. The reality is you'll be using libraries you've never used before all the time, and have to work off the documentation. This is normal, and it's something you have to get used to. Keep the language reference for whatever you are working in open and look stuff up. Eventually it becomes second nature.

I love programming - it's fun, and I'm loving my current degree in it - trust me, I'm breezing through my first year due to experience, mainly because I spent years working on my own pet projects and open source projects. It teaches you the concepts well, sometimes better than a degree course. It's a great career and I wish you well in it.
Edited by lattyware - 4/16/11 at 4:16am
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post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the information...I'm grasping so much from your words of wisdom. I shall research on 'object oriented programming' that you have mentioned since you explained that it's something of an expectation. I remember learning about comments as I actually have them written with my original program...however I removed it from the coding quote as I thought it'd be a hindrance. Thanks for describing its importance when it comes to readability and organization.

Basically I need to challenge myself as I learn.
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post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by lattyware View Post
The first thing to say is that you should try and get a grasp of object orientatied programming, it's something people expect of all programmers, and it's a good model.
I disagree in saying that all programmers are expected to be OOP programmers. It's not a bad idea to learn OOP, but the development world does not revolve around OOP.

As for the initial question, companies are always going to be looking for entry level programmers simply because they are much cheaper than experienced programmers. However, I haven't heard of many companies hiring people off the street based on personality alone in the hopes of making them into a programmer. If you've got no experience, you're going to need some sort of documented education or training.

So the community college idea is a good one. At the minimum, go for some sort of programming certificate at the community college. Even though college may not be your cup of tea, you might be able to go for something like an AAS degree which is only two years and stresses technical courses more than general ed courses. That may be more up your alley.

So to sum it up, to get a job in programming, I think you're either going to need some type of formal training, or wind up in a completely different job somewhere that allows you to somehow get into programming.

An example of the latter would be someone who learns scripting and programming to help them at a completely different job. For example, there are lots of people working in offices who have learned how to write SQL and create reports, or write small applications to help their department. A lot of them have become quite good at it, and after enough time, can call themselves a programmer.

It's far easier just to get the training to give the company an incentive to hire a beginner.
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post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
I have a feeling that I'll end up with office work and slowly move up to help with actual programming work. It is an 'Entry Level Programmer' position that I'm applying for so no doubt I'm sure it won't be headed straight to high-end problem solving. I'm hoping that it'll be a good start for basic experience. My real concern is wanting to at least be within the office of the company. I was planning on taking more education if I do get the job but unlike some who can handle, I'm less likely to be able to do night classes with a job that's Mon-Fri 8am-5pm.

Some facts of the matter is that they only hire those who are already within the company. Basically I work for the company but I'm wanting to transfer into their corporate office (specifically entry level programmer in the MIS department). Been working within the company for almost four years and I'm looking into an actual career with what the corporate office has to offer. With a position that doesn't require a degree but offers additional training...I have something that I can pursue and motivate me. Let's just say that I'm willing to work for this position in the next 30 years of my life

Paid internship maybe
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post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by pvp309rcp View Post
I have a feeling that I'll end up with office work and slowly move up to help with actual programming work. It is an 'Entry Level Programmer' position that I'm applying for so no doubt I'm sure it won't be headed straight to high-end problem solving. I'm hoping that it'll be a good start for basic experience. My real concern is wanting to at least be within the office of the company. I was planning on taking more education if I do get the job but unlike some who can handle, I'm less likely to be able to do night classes with a job that's Mon-Fri 8am-5pm.

Some facts of the matter is that they only hire those who are already within the company. Basically I work for the company but I'm wanting to transfer into their corporate office (specifically entry level programmer in the MIS department). Been working within the company for almost four years and I'm looking into an actual career with what the corporate office has to offer. With a position that doesn't require a degree but offers additional training...I have something that I can pursue and motivate me. Let's just say that I'm willing to work for this position in the next 30 years of my life

Paid internship maybe
Depends on what they mean by entry-level programmer. They do mention they don't need a degree, but some programmers have years of self taught experience still, and would probably still be considered entry-level.

It never hurts to try though, I'm assuming they'll give you at least a phone interview, and if you make it through that a programming test of some sort. At least you'll get to see what they expect.

Stuff like this (although I can't say what level of questions they'll give, or what these sites think the level of their questions are):
http://maxnoy.com/interviews.html
http://www.bestcode.com/html/interview_questions.html
http://kundansingh.com/interview/
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post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Were the links you provided what most interviewers test you on? Cause then I'd probably just dump the whole idea

It was weird though as I did have to take a test after going through the in-person interview back in August. However, it wasn't really programming questions, more of logic questions...

-Number Patterns
-Simple Algorithm
-Algebra
-Fractions/Decimals

...they were really easy which any person who has learned math should know.
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post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by pvp309rcp View Post
Were the links you provided what most interviewers test you on? Cause then I'd probably just dump the whole idea

It was weird though as I did have to take a test after going through the in-person interview back in August. However, it wasn't really programming questions, more of logic questions...

-Number Patterns
-Simple Algorithm
-Algebra
-Fractions/Decimals

...they were really easy which any person who has learned math should know.
Logic questions are more common for a true entry-level position because they should know your programming skills are junior level. Additionally, programming isn't all about just knowing the language in and out, programming is truly about problem solving, so knowing how a person handles problem solving is very important during an interview. Try to think out loud so they know that you're thinking things through.

I had some questions similar to those, however I have a degree in computer programming, so my initial interview was more difficult than what I'd expect them to give for a position without a college degree requirement. My questions were also more focused on my field, which is video game programming, so I had fun questions like matrix multiplication, A* algorithms, normal/bump mapping questions, but I did have some generic questions like Object Oriented Programming fundamentals, and stuff like array sorting/iteration. Some of the questions they'll ask are just to get a feel for what level you are. In interviews that I attend we generally start out with some of the basic questions just to see where we should go from there, although we've also already done a phone interview to see if it's even worth bringing them in for a full-on interview.
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post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
I've noticed that it's mostly about problem solving which can be stressful but fun at the same time. The in-person interview itself was pretty much like any normal interview asking about my experience, education, and what my duties are in my current position. It was actually very enjoyable...as if I was having a regular conversation with the head of the programming department with a few laughs here and there. The test I've taken was a written test (multiple choice) where I would try to solve as many as I could in a span of 20 or 30 minutes (I don't remember). Interview told me that even Albert Einstein wouldn't be able to solve all the questions in time . I think it was about 100 questions...I answered about 60 or 70 knowing that I should have at least 50 of them correct.

Just like to point out that the first thing I noticed in his office during the interview was a Tri-Monitor setup
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post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by pvp309rcp View Post
I've noticed that it's mostly about problem solving which can be stressful but fun at the same time. The in-person interview itself was pretty much like any normal interview asking about my experience, education, and what my duties are in my current position. It was actually very enjoyable...as if I was having a regular conversation with the head of the programming department with a few laughs here and there. The test I've taken was a written test (multiple choice) where I would try to solve as many as I could in a span of 20 or 30 minutes (I don't remember). Interview told me that even Albert Einstein wouldn't be able to solve all the questions in time . I think it was about 100 questions...I answered about 60 or 70 knowing that I should have at least 50 of them correct.

Just like to point out that the first thing I noticed in his office during the interview was a Tri-Monitor setup
Yea I have a tri-monitor setup, 3 24" 1920x1200s connected to two computers, but I use Input Director so I can use one mouse and keyboard to move between the two computers seamlessly like they're one computer.

One of my co-workers has four monitors, and another has two monitors and a 42" TV as a third.

I generally have a lot of programs running (I use most of my 6GB of RAM), so having a lot of desktop space is nice. I can also run the program on one screen and debug it on another. Tri-monitors are a necessity.
Edited by lordikon - 4/17/11 at 7:15am
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