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Discussion on: Do I Need A Computer Science Degree To Get A Job In Tech?

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misnina profile image
Nina

Here's a question, how exactly do you get real world, practical experience when you haven't done a job yet, but it's what companies are looking for? I know I will with enough time volunteering my services to places, but in terms of looking for a job now I'm a little lost if I'll ever find a position to consider me.

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matthew_collison profile image
Matthew Collison Author

Hi Nina, thanks so much for the question!

This is a very real struggle that a lot of developers have, and it's due to the false belief that companies only view time at a real job as real world, practical experience.

This couldn't be further from the truth - all you need to do is have 2 or 3 projects on your GitHub profile that aren't tutorials youve followed, but actual applications which are built from your own ideas.

This can be anything - and it's even better if it's something you enjoy. For example, if you love dogs, make a small-scale social network for dogs. It sounds funny but it demonstrates practical experience. If you are passionate about peanut butter, make a peanut butter comparison site.

I kid you not, I have hired multiple people based on their portfolios who have never had a job or even freelance contract, but have built really obscure websites for friends or family that forced them out of the "tutorial box" and into the "self-made" box.

I really hope this helps - and I'm happy to hop on a free call if you want a more in-depth chat based on the exact things you're trying to achieve. We have nothing to sell, we would just love to help you on the right path if you still feel lost ✌️ and these are the sorts of conversations that inspire our content. Thanks!

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misnina profile image
Nina

That's great to hear! I have lots of silly pokemon projects I've been working on and while I feel like I'm doubtful people care it still been fun to do. I stopped working on so many of those because I felt like I need to focus on applying to jobs or come up with a bigger project but maybe I should still give a few more ideas a shot.

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richardhendricks profile image
Richard Hendricks

It's super easy and low cost to get started with embedded computer engineering. Adafruit et al has a ton of platforms that could be used for projects. $10 gets you a full microcontroller system!

adafruit.com/product/3501

Start with something there, extend it, innovate a little, run into some problems, get around them, have some fun!

Another option is modding for various games. Minecraft is probably the easiest to start with. Tons of tutorials, lots of old mods that could use fresh eyes and hands to work on.

The real problem is even getting the resume in the hands of the hiring manager. You'll either have to find a company that has changed their policies or get a backchannel to the manager via LinkedIn or other social media.

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matthew_collison profile image
Matthew Collison Author

Nina: The thing is, applying for jobs should be the easier part. Yeah - you can optimize your applications for each company, etc, but a strong resume should really speak for itself.

It's actually the time you spend building something that you enjoyed building, that is your own idea, that you can write 2 to 3 paragraphs against a screenshot and a link to that project in your resume, that is where you need to really put the work in. Because those 2 to 3 paragraphs, if they perfectly describe what practical things you did that relate to the job on that project, can be the difference between landing a job, and not.

Richard: I am completely on board with this. Messing around with different languages to get a taste of things and get into the swing of learning things for the sake of learning. It's better to focus on job-ready skills for the types of jobs you want to apply for, but there's no harm in trying a few different things at first, as it actually helps you become a better learner.

In terms of getting your resume in the hands of the hiring manager, it depends where you are - if you're in NYC, chances are you can send your CV out to literally hundreds of employers - so you've got advantage of scale. If you're in a small city where there's a handful of jobs you'd want to apply for, the "hand-to-hand combat" route of going on LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. and finding the people in those companies is probably going to be a much more effective route.

In fact, I'd even say doing both (applying for every job AND trying to find the people in the business on social and talk to them directly) can only maximize your chances, whatever the situation.

Great insights either way, thanks for your input!