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Jobs for Students - Where Are They? 161

Posted by Cliff
from the a-question-that's-on-a-lot-of-minds dept.
jtpalinmajere asks: "The past few years students like myself have found themselves in an ominously precarious situation. This is to say that the availability for jobs in the computer industry that are suited well for fresh meat graduates are dwindling at an alarming rate. Personally, I graduate this coming Spring and have been job searching for the past semester with little if any success at finding a prospective future employer. The placement office at my university hasn't been too helpful for many students in the CS department. The only companies that I have come in contact with that might consider fresh graduates are Microsoft and government agencies such as the FBI. If I can actually compete with the 76% foreign immigrant population of Microsoft then I might see that as a fairly good start, though the odds don't seem to roll in my favor. As far as the government is concerned, I'm simply not old enough for any job that gets paid more than minimum wage and has actual job security. Most of my job searching has been conducted through services like Dice and Monster. 99% of the jobs listed in these services require 2 - X many years of previous experience using Y software with a current Z security clearance level. I've even found one company that wants 10 years experience specifically with .NET -- go figure! I'm not looking for the dream job that everyone hopes to one day attain. I'm looking for a job that will simply get me into the industry with a meager salary large enough to sustain life. How many other students find themselves in my position? What are some opinions, particularly from our non-students, for soon to be graduates like myself?"
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Jobs for Students - Where Are They?

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  • by Numeric (22250) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @08:27AM (#4705143) Homepage Journal
    Did you do any internships while in college or coop? One of the most helpful job resources I found are my "ex-coworkers" and "friends of friends". If they like you and know you can perform good, people will keep an extra eye out for leads and/or possible openings.

    Network...
    Don't burn bridges...
    Wear clean underwear...
    ?...
    Profit
    • by afay (301708) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @12:07PM (#4706897)
      I'm always surprised at how many people think they can get a job by just browsing monster.com or whatever. I haven't met anyone who got a job through monster.com, but I've met a lot of people who've tried.

      In my experience, the only and I mean only way to get a job is to already know someone in the company. Quite simply, if you send your resume directly to a company with no references in side, most likely it won't even be read and you certainly won't get an interview. You *have* to know someone. This is also good because especially in the tech. industry the person you know will usually get a bonus for "finding" you.

      Like the poster above said, hopefully you did internships and didn't slack off. Call people you know (even relatives) and see if they have any leads.
      • I'm always surprised at how many people think they can get a job by just browsing monster.com or whatever. I haven't met anyone who got a job through monster.com, but I've met a lot of people who've tried.

        I got my last job through Monster or Dice (I can't remember which). It can work, though I wouldn't suggest relying on it. Since they are free, you might as well spend some of your job-seeking time using them.

      • I just found a job through flipdog.com [flipdog.com]. I found that flipdog consistently had more listings than monster or dice for my areas. Come to think of it, I found my last job a few years ago on monster. So -- it can work.
    • It's only going to get worse, folks.

      I graduated last year. The thing is, when I started my degree only 1 out of every 12 person who applied would be accepted. You had to *WORK*, you had to *COMPETE*, and the degree meant something.

      The year after I graduated/left they increased their size eight times. So now in four/five years there's going to be EIGHT TIMES as many students looking for jobs.

      I suspect my local Uni isn't the only in the entire world. People still think that the Tech industry is booming so they go for a degree. IT'S NOT.

      It's getting to be a broken record of recent graduates asking "Waitaminute, where's my job?"

      My best friend from Uni graduated fairly high, was one of the best low-level people I've ever met. After 8 months of trying to find a job he finally decided to join the army. BECAUSE THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE.

      The tech industry is no longer calmoring to hand you a fat paycheque - get out now if you still can.
  • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @08:27AM (#4705144) Homepage Journal
    That depends. Can you say "Do you want fries with that?"
  • Immigrants (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sql*kitten (1359) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @08:28AM (#4705147)
    The only companies that I have come in contact with that might consider fresh graduates are Microsoft and government agencies such as the FBI. If I can actually compete with the 76% foreign immigrant population of Microsoft then I might see that as a fairly good start, though the odds don't seem to roll in my favor.

    I think you will find that the vast majority of non-US citizens at Microsoft, or any other organization that hire H1Bs for that matter, aren't fresh graduates, but were already experienced software developers before the H1B is granted. It would be very difficult under the terms of H1B to hire fresh graduates, as one of the conditions is that the holder must have skills that are not in ready supply in the US.

    Therefore, these people are entirely irrelevant; you wouldn't be competing with them for an entry level job anyway.
    • Re:Immigrants (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by haplo21112 (184264)
      The H1B visa, don't have any skills that US citizens don't already have(or could aquire through retraining), they are just willing to work for less and get beat on more!
      Kick all their asses out, hire an US IT worker who is currently out of work, but would love a Job(I know many), for a fair wage, and move on...
      H1B visa's are the equivalent of the scabs in a labor strike.
      • The H1B visa, don't have any skills that US citizens don't already have(or could aquire through retraining), they are just willing to work for less and get beat on more!
        Kick all their asses out, hire an US IT worker who is currently out of work, but would love a Job(I know many), for a fair wage, and move on...
        H1B visa's are the equivalent of the scabs in a labor strike.


        Great attitude. That's why the major software houses and systems integrators are moving offshore as fast as they can.

        A fair wage is whatever someone is willing to do that job for. No-one's pointing a gun at their heads and saying "write code or die". Frankly, if someone can do a job as well or better than you for less money, then they deserve it, not you. If you think you have a god-given right to high pay without producing the best work, then you are mistaken. If you do produce the best work, then you have nothing to worry about.
        • Actually I have the best attitude that I or any other American can have...
          I have no issue with people coming to this country, and becoming part of American soceity(after all if my Irish,French,Britsh, great-grandparents had not come here, I wouldn't be here either)...However I have issues with people who are not American citizens potentially taking jobs away from people who are...like many of my friends who are currently out of work. I firmly believe that when their are American Citizens with the skill to do a job out of work, that a non-us citizen should not be taking a job that American citizen could be doing. I feel firmly as well that if they can't find a us citizen with the exact training to do said job, that they should be hiring one with the skills and background to learn that job, not looking at an H1B visa from outside.
          • . I firmly believe that when their are American Citizens with the skill to do a job out of work, that a non-us citizen should not be taking a job that American citizen could be doing. I feel firmly as well that if they can't find a us citizen with the exact training to do said job, that they should be hiring one with the skills and background to learn that job, not looking at an H1B visa from outside.


            But Americans priced themselves out of the market. A couple of years ago there were people demanding, and getting $60k just to write HTML. This was way more than they job was worth, and the market correction put a lot of these people out of work. If they go back to the market now with the same $60k demand, they will find no jobs, but might get a job - the same way the H1Bs do - by asking a more realistic salary.
            • Umm...I don't agree with the that thought...
              The problem is if you have been living the life style of someone who makes $60K...

              An example that comes to mind is someone who was making a good salary doing good work. Based on that they were able to purchase a home, and have a decent car, buy a few nice things...so now the "market correction"(I hate that term) comes along...well the cost of things has not corrected with the market, however the "market correction" has caused people to loose jobs, or not get raises for over a year now...the taxes on the house have however gone up...the cost of heat, power, and hot water have gone up, the cost of gas has gone up...so now our poor person who had a nice life going, but was somewaht dependant on compensation rising in relation to inflation is either stuck at the same salary now struggling to make ends meet, or worse unemployeed trying to keep things together on Unemployement...
              (Don't even go down the road of sell the house, not a fair conclusion, and extremely not the American dream.)
              He might be able to find a new job except no one is hiring, he might be able to find a new job that pays the wage he needs, expect there are others who undercut his salary, for the same work...these are the results of the "market correction"...this guy is screwed!
              This "market Correction" is a load of crap, its an excuse....and does not benefit the American worker...only the H1B visa ripoff's willing to take that guys potential job at a lower rate, or worse yet causing the median salary for his job to be must lower than it should be, thus employeers do not offer that job a resonable rate, or if he has sayed employeed offer less of or now wage increase since hey can get away with it. Employeer's markets are bad all around...it should always be an employee's market otherwise we are headed back to the days of the sweatshop...

              What I am trying to say is that since there are unemployeed americans, the govenment should certainly not be granting new visas, and when visa's expire those people need to go home unless they are going to become citizens.
              • "The problem is if you have been living the life style of someone who makes $60K..."

                Maybe you should stop living beyond your means then?

                Sell the house and buy a cheaper one.

                Car payments got you down? Sell it, buy a cheaper one. You can get a good used car for $3000 or less. My '93 Dodge Spirit is worth less than $2000 now. It's old, it's high mileage, BUT IT RUNS and that's all that matters.

                All this post amounts to is, "WAAH-WAAH! THE MARKET CORRECTED ITSELF AND I CAN'T KEEP UP MY OLD LIFESTYLE!"
                • And there is no reason that my friend who is having these issue should have to change....if he was once worth $60K(actually he was worth alot more)...he should still be worth that...
                  • And there is no reason that my friend who is having these issue should have to change....if he was once worth $60K(actually he was worth alot more)...he should still be worth that...

                    Yeah, I bet the stableowners said the same when the motorcar was invented. Times change, and people who don't change with them are lucky to get anything. If he's not worth it now, then the hard cold truth is that he was never worth it, and was living on borrowed time.

                    A job is "worth" whatever someone is willing to pay for it. Hot skills of 3 years ago like HTML are now commonplace. There are no barriers to learning new skills, if someone is willing to study and not sit around waiting for someone to send them on "training".

                    It might be bad for some employees, but it's good for as many more.
                  • And there is no reason that my friend who is having these issue should have to change....if he was once worth $60K(actually he was worth alot more)...he should still be worth that...

                    On the contrary, in this business things do change, and fast. Cutting edge skills that made you highly valuable three or four years ago are now out of date. If your friend hasn't changed to match, he simply isn't worth $60K any more. You can dislike this fact as much as you like, but it's still a fact.

                    Also, it must be noted that the industry was doing much better than average at that stage, and it paid accordingly. That was never going to continue indefinitely, and expecting salaries to continue as far ahead of the working average as they were was always silly. If your friend failed to plan for that, I'm afraid that again, he has no-one to blame but himself.

                  • if he was once worth $60K(actually he was worth alot more)...he should still be worth that...

                    Did you buy a computer 5-10 years ago? How much did you pay for it? Would you pay that much for the exact same computer today?

                    If not, why should anyone pay the same amount for your friend's services that they did 5 years ago?
                  • I have seen a lot of clueless statements posted on Slashdot, but I do believe this one tops them all. Congratulations on either a well-done troll or on achieving the pinnacle of cluelessness.
          • Re:Immigrants (Score:3, Insightful)

            However I have issues with people who are not American citizens potentially taking jobs away from people who are

            What is it about being American that makes you a better choice for a job? What if I required you to buy an American car because you are an American citizen and the car was made by American citizens? What about an American TV? And what if those American cars and TVs were all twice as expensive because the manufacturers knew that people would be forced to buy them? Even if you wanted an American car or TV, do you think it would be fair?

            If someone with the same skills as you is willing to work for less money than you are, why shouldn't they be hired? Maybe you should ask for less money.

            • I am defending my fellow workers...I have my job still, because my employeer recognizes my worth...however I have friends who lost thier jobs because of thier companies tanking, or being in redundant positions because the company was growing, and then turned around and started shrinking....some of them are better at what I do than I am, however they are the street and struggling because the "market correction"(still hate that phrase)...and I still maintain my position that as an American Citizen they have more right to a job than a non-citizen when the economy is in the state its in....

              Hell I though people around here would see the logic in all this, but guess there are to many bleeding heart liberals around here.....
              • Re:Immigrants (Score:3, Insightful)

                by sql*kitten (1359)
                Hell I though people around here would see the logic in all this, but guess there are to many bleeding heart liberals around here.....

                You are mistaken - arguing that jobs should be protected no matter what is happening in the economy, and regardless of whether the worker has kept their skills current is a socialist position, not a capitalist one. All the people criticizing you are real capitalists, and you are the "bleeding heart".

                Protecting jobs at home in the US is good for a few employees, but it's bad for the people who buy those employees services. It's like the steel tarriffs: good for American steelworkers, bad for American autoworkers who have to buy expensive domestic steel instead of cheap foreign steel, and bad for American drivers, who have to pay for it all.
              • Hell I though people around here would see the logic in all this, but guess there are to many bleeding heart liberals around here

                Where is the logic in supporting one class of people over another class of people?

                Sorry pal, you are the commie, we are the capitalists. you are one being guided by emotions, we are the ones being guided by logic. You are the moron here.
          • Re:Immigrants (Score:3, Informative)

            by kiwimate (458274)
            when their are American Citizens with the skill to do a job out of work, that a non-us citizen should not be taking a job that American citizen could be doing

            Well, actually, this is the case. In order to be able to bring someone over on the H1B visa, a company must prove that they have expended due effort to find a qualified U.S. resident for the job first. This means they must show they've placed advertisements -- and in appropriate places, too, not in the back section of the classifieds -- and been searching for what is considered a sufficiently lengthy period before they can go through the H1B process.

            Yes, I'm sure there are abuses of the system. However, I came over (not through the H1B system, by the way -- my wife is an American citizen) and walked straight into a job where the company had been desperately searching for a year for someone with my skills. They simply couldn't find anyone in the area (or who was willing to relocate to the area) with the necessary niche skills.
            • I see a lot of ads for jobs that employers don't seem to be able to fill. Usually, they have several specific requirements like "1 year experience with Swing 1.29", or "Java - must have 2 years experience with IBM VisualAge". Any decent C++ programmer could teach himself Java/Swing in a couple weeks, and learning a new IDE wouldn't be much of a challenge either.

              I'd worked for a year in Java, and asked a recruiter if I should download J2EE and teach myself to use it. She said not to bother, because companies want to see professional experience.
  • Gettin a job (Score:5, Insightful)

    by droyad (412569) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @08:29AM (#4705148)
    50% of jobs out there arn't advertised.
    Go to the employers directly, send in your resume. It shows initiative if you call a company and ask to speek to HR or the hirer, depending on the size of the company.
    I work for a small company (im not out of uni yet) and have heard that small companies are good for jobs, but don't advertise much. I hear this stuff through the "channel". Network some Wetware and hunt down a job.
    • The parent is right on the money, except that I think the stat is much greater than 50% in my area (East Anglia, UK).

      There are basically four ways to go about getting a job:

      1. Use an on-line jobs board.
      2. Send a resume and covering letter to likely companies.
      3. Reply to job ads, or use an agent who serves much the same purpose.
      4. Get a contact through networking and word-of-mouth.

      In my experience, these are listed in increasing order of likelihood of success, and the first two options are way behind the other two.

      My other advice would be to consider aiming for a small company first, particularly if you're good. You're much more likely to have someone technical read your resume and any covering letter you send, rather than to be filtered out by some buzzword-craving DB. If you write a good resume -- most people really don't, and I've posted advice on this subject around here before -- then so much the better.

      You probably won't get a top notch salary at a small company, but you'll get a decent average for someone with your experience over the first year or two at most of them, and you'll get a much more personal experience from those you work for and with, which is good for developing your early career. Again, this is particularly useful if you really are good, either technically or in your attitude, as this is far more likely to be noticed in a smaller, more personal environment.

      After a couple of years in the business, you'll have had chance to establish a solid track record with a company, and to see which skills are really useful and not just hype. If you choose to move on from there, you'll be much better placed than you are right now.

      Final tip: do consider staying on and getting more qualified while the market is tough. NB: I'm mostly talking about serious qualifications, not random certificates from marketing departments, though the latter rarely hurt. I got a long way based not only on a good maths degree, but also on the one year postgrad diploma in CS I took to go with it. Aside from being a darned useful course, it distinguished me from other random graduates in my early career. If you can get some sort of funding or sponsorship to do such a course, so much the better, obviously. It gives you a way to ride out the current wave of poor IT recruitment, and good experience to boot.

      If you're looking to do software development as a serious career, supporting skills in things like maths or management do no harm at all. If you're after sysadmin type work, you could do worse than having some electrical or communications engineering skills as well (and those random marketroid-driven certificates are probably worth something, at least in some cases). Either way, the extra edge does no harm.

  • Work + Uni (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tedDancin (579948) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @08:29AM (#4705150)
    Being a (nearly-finished) student, I can vouch for the troubles that can be had trying to find a job in the industry at the moment. I was lucky enough to study a course (Multimedia) that has a year of work placement between 2nd and 3rd year. Our uni boasted a "100% placement rate" for these before my year (2001). Obviously things went downhill from there. I was lucky enough to secure a place (it wasn't my first choice) and hang on through the tough times. I kept working through final year and now have a full time job to go. I've also had 2 years experience at the same time (:

    All I can suggest is that you seek out any opportunity to work while you study - the workload is heavier, but your chances of being employed at the end are far greater.
  • Apply anyway (Score:4, Informative)

    by bsmoor01 (150458) <seth@bBALDWINeere.org minus author> on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @08:37AM (#4705178)
    Even if an employer wants 2 years of experience, go for it if you feel qualified. I only had about 1 year of experience, all coop. I applied for a job that wanted 3-5 years experience, and I got it. Granted, I am getting paid a little less than the advertised rate, but it's a job.

    I remember seeing 5+ years in Java Enterprise Edition and 2+ years with .NET when looking around last spring. That's nonsense, and most people know it. Why companies do this, I don't know. Don't let it discourage you. If you really feel you are qualified, sell yourself anyway. Talk about why you are good for the job despite not having the desired experience. You have nothing to lose.
    • Most places the job postings are made by HR people, not by actual hiring managers. Hiring managers (if they're competant) just want you to be able to do the job, and the HR people are thrilled if they can fill the position for cheap (since you're "inexperienced" they will pay you less, sorry).

      Another thing to look at is smaller companies. They usually don't have HR staff so you can deal directly with the hiring manager who is more likely to understand that people aren't just buzzwords.
    • Also, in many of these cases, even if the experience they ask for IS possible, they won't get any responses with that kind of experience. So just try applying anyway.
  • good point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Uma Thurman (623807) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @08:46AM (#4705213) Homepage Journal
    As far as the government is concerned, I'm simply not old enough for any job that gets paid more than minimum wage and has actual job security.

    That's about right. My grandpa needed to be 18 and just graduated from high school to get a good job that could support a family. My father needed to have a 4 year degree for the same thing. I needed a degree and a few years of experience before I found a decent job.

    At this rate our grandchildren are going to have to be retired before they can get a decent job.

    • Re:good point (Score:3, Insightful)

      by coyote-san (38515)
      It's more fun to ask WHY this has happened.

      Grandpa probably paid no income taxes until he was well established, and even your father paid far less taxes than you will. It's not just a matter of earning more, there's a far higher tax burden today than in the past, even before you toss in FICA taking money out of the first dollar you earn.

      Grandpa probably started out in a room at the Y with a hot plate, maybe, and a common bathroom down the hall. Your father probably started out in a small efficiency. But today it's hard to find cheap but safe housing - almost everyone would rather pay hundreds per month for every luxury today, than save and invest the money so that they might be able to afford their own property with the same amenities in a decade or two.

      Grandpa probably walked to work, or rode a tram. People lived in cities close to work, not in suburbs. Your father could have ridden the bus, or gotten a used car with minimal features. But today you need a car (unless you're in some core cities), and that car has a laundry list of federally mandated safety features and a second laundry list driven by market forces.

      Ditto laundry, clothing, travel and recreation, etc.

      Don't get me wrong - life today is far more comfortable and safer than in your father's or grandfather's day. But it is also much harder to get established, and even people who are willing to make short-term compromises for long-term benefit find it difficult because of the lack of availability.
      • Sooooooooo... is it harder to get established in real terms, or has the definition of "established" merely changed?

        As a carpenter I marvel how this old-growth wood and plaster houses in my neighborhood were built affordably. The labor involved was staggering -- very few power tools, tremendous amount of hand labor, and so on. I can only assume the craftsman were paid next to nothing. Houses now are much lower quality and far less labor, but probably cost more only because of the value of the underlying dirt.

        Alll is all, I'm pretty sure I'd rather live today than in any time yesteryear, on a health care perspective alone.
  • by Big Sean O (317186) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @08:47AM (#4705219)
    Get a temp job that starts to pay the bills. Let the firm know that you would prefer tech-area jobs. Temp work is the great back door through which the inept Human Resource director is circumvented.

    If you like the place, and they like you, you will eventually get an offer for a 'real' job. Meanwhile, you will get to see all the different types of jobs there are: specifically, which places you really don't want to work.

    While you're slumming in the mail room, you should contribute to some open source projects at home. Temp jobs almost never make you sign oppressive IP contracts. It will keep your skills up, and you will earn a reputation with your peers. Non-paid work is _always_ impressive on your resume. If a shop says "Hey, why are you doing OSS stuff?" you can say it was to keep your skills sharp while you found a 'real' job.

    But don't write off the 'real' world. There's a far bigger, and hidden, market for people who know how to program. I started in environmental consulting, and one of our best consultants was a database guru. I recently automated table generation in a large report. Saved us a week of formatting time. Programmer is not in my job description. These types of jobs generally have a specific problem domain, which gives you a leg up when you want to move to a 'real' tech shop.
    • You might be able to try (as a recent college grad) for an internship. While internships sound like they should only be for students returning to school, it's becoming increasingly common to work as an intern even after graduation. If you do a good job, then you'll get hired full-time.

      This is my situation. I was not totally sure when I applied for my current job whether or not I wanted to go to grad school immediately full-time or to get a job and start doing part-time grad school. The company I applied to was thinking about hiring me permanently, but in the end decided to hire me for the summer, with the possibility of continuing on.

      It's November and I'm still here. I'm still officially on "Intern" status, but I no longer have an end date and my boss and his boss (up to the VP of Research) want to get my status upgraded ASAP. (Unfortunately, hiring is semi-frozen at the company). But having a semi-permanent internship with low pay is better than no job at all, and I have my foot in the door and a head start on my dream job once the economy picks up a bit and hiring becomes easier.

      Note: I'm making far more than minimum wage, but still far less than the going salary for an EE.

      And as the original poster said, even in jobs where "programming" might not be in the job description anywhere, even a bit of programming experience can be a BIG benefit. (I find myself whipping up a small Perl script every week or two.)
  • http://thebigchoice.com [thebigchoice.com]

    Advice on getting a job and graduate recruiters actively seeking fresh graduates.

    • I appreciate the link, but I think their example CV is horrible. (Speaking as someone whose mother is a professional careers advisor at a UK university, and so has had good CV writing drilled into him since forever...)

  • by cam_macleod (59140) <c.a.m@unRABBITb.ca minus herbivore> on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @08:50AM (#4705232) Journal
    I was in the exact same situation -- job hunting for months before graduation, with no results. Admittedly, I was a B- student, so I can see why I wasn't the top of every list, but to not appear on *any* list?

    Anyway, my success was in contracting. Talk to IT recruiters about filling small roles and assisting other contractors, that sort of thing. Just to get your name out there, and to get some actual after-school-experience. I was jobless for 3 months after graduation, then I did contract teaching (computer repair, network design, etc) for 4 months, then was hired full-time at the company where I'd been contracting most often.

    YMMV of course. Good luck!
  • Make sure every one you know, from your aunt who works in health care to your drugie high school friend knows you are looking for a job, and has a copy of your resume.

    Contact all your old employers, make sure they know also, see if they have any openings, or know of any, in the industry, send them an updated copy, and get letters of recomendations from all of them, even if it was a McJob.

    Have samples of work to show prospective employers.

    apply to a minimmum of 5 jobs a day!

    Never use the auto submit for a job posted on a job board unless no other contact info is given.

    Include a Cover letter with Every Submition.
    use words in your cover letter that are used in the job description.

    and last show up to the interview DRUNK!

  • by eclectric (528520) <bounce@junk.abels.us> on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @08:57AM (#4705255)
    I know most CS students see it as "below" them, but most universities have a thriving IT department. Even getting a job at the help desk can be a *huge* boost in your career... a couple years of that, and you've suddenly got 2+ years of experience in the field. You don't have to stay, but it's a good place to start.

    The real problem is waiting until you get out of college. IT departments in colleges are much more willing to hire students, because they can count more on the person actually sticking around if he's got two or three years of school left.
  • Lie.

    When you submit a resume to HR, talk about your 25 years of experience with .NET and 50 years of Java.

    Just remember to bring a real resume to the interview.
    • by sql*kitten (1359) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @10:00AM (#4705689)
      When you submit a resume to HR, talk about your 25 years of experience with .NET and 50 years of Java.

      Care to back that up? Lying on an H1B application results in a 10-year ban from travelling to the US, so it's not something that anyone would do lightly. And it's not just a HR department checking up on you, it's the INS. And if a company decides to stretch the truth a little in a pitch about the experience of its employees, that's not necessarily the employee's fault.

      Or was that just another whiny "the dang foreigners are takin' all our jobs and women" remark? Remember, the only difference between you and a green card holder is that your parents caught an earlier flight or boat.
      • Remember, the only difference between you and a green card holder is that your parents caught an earlier flight or boat.

        Unless you are Blackfoot, Cherokee, etc. but that is an entirely different can of worms. I just sigh, shrug my shoulders and mutter "white people" a lot.

        I think we Americans take far too much for granted; and few of us appreciate what we have or are willing to work hard for it. Those of us that do are likely to ride out dips like this and hopefully be better off personally and professionally in the long run.
      • There is a big difference between my grandparents and H1B visa holders.

        H1B's are temporary imported labor brought in to address a "labor shortage". They are usually not eligible to become permament residents, and have their visas revoked 30 days after separating from employment.

        My grandparents entered this country on a long-term visa and eventually became naturalized citizens of the US.

        I'm all for immigration -- I say that we should allow lots of Mexicans and Asians in -- as permament immigrants. Imported temporary labor contributes little to our society, besides providing cheap, abusable labor to companies.
  • ... is nothing more than a figure of speech.

    When they ask for "years of experience", they just want to avoid the wannabes who just popped out of 6 months community college, and know only what was taught on the blackboard.

    if you take this "requirement" for what it *really* is, it shouldn't bug you!

    ... unless you just got out of a community college 2-month speed-learning program? ;-)

    • I understand the point you are making about the speed-learning courses, but you snidely broadly denegrate community college and that's not appropriate. I recently took a semester of Java at the local cc and I can't imagine a better foundation (and for like $200!). The prof. brought real-world experience from a major corporation, along with a very thorough knowledge and great enthusiasm. CC can be a very affordable way to really learn something. w/out having to sit for a 4 yr CS degree.
  • I always remember people saying "Oh you'll have no problem getting a job." "Oh you'll be rich" since I was an electrical engineering major. People never said that to Biologists and Mechanical engineers. Maybe now we in the tech industry just have to go through the process of finding a job, rather than a job finding us. Sure would have been nice if I had graduated 3 years ago, instead of 1, though. :)
    It all comes down to finding people you like, and that like you. I should take my own advice though.. .I'm still working an internship from back-in-the-day and making pennies.
    • by cybermace5 (446439) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @10:49AM (#4706071) Homepage Journal
      It's a hard life, being a 2001 electrical engineer grad at this time.

      What I really want to know is what makes these companies so completely STUPID that they won't hire fresh graduates? Many kids are kicking out of engineering already, and starting engineering majors are at an all-time low.

      Ok, an HR guy may see someone with FIVE or TEN years of experience to be a better choice. But what happens in five years, when I have been working a job barely related to engineering? I won't remember a thing I learned in school. I've been keeping up with my projects, trying to learn additional skills, but it's not easy when trying to hold down a (poorly paying) full time job and pay off student loans. The companies are setting themselves up to have NO competent engineers available in the next three to four years.

      By setting insane required experience levels, they are limiting their candidates to two types: those who will demand higher pay and retire ten years earlier, and those who are ethically twisted enough to blatantly lie on their resumes.

      The idiocy evident in many of these corporations, as well as their failure to analyze the talent pool on a long-term basis, is seriously convincing me that contracting may be the only way to keep a safe distance. The only problem with that, is developing a good contracting business is even harder than finding a job. People just don't understand that an engineer doesn't need to have the EXACT experience in what you want them to do. Most engineers have the skill of learning everything necessary to complete a project, and making decisions based on the research of others. It's primarily an application field; you wouldn't question a carpenter's ability to make a desk out of black walnut even if he's only made maple and cherry desks before.

      Someday I will find people who have a clue. Or take a few of my money-making inventions and actually do something with them.
      • I know exactly where you're coming from -- I graduated around four years ago, and I've seen much the same in software development. OTOH, I've learned that new graduates frequently over-rate themselves.

        The companies you mention aren't hiring new grads because they're a liability. They are unknowns, whereas taking on someone with a couple years experience means you get a known quantity. Yes, you pay more for them, but in all probability, they will also be much more effective, and justify the higher salary. It simply makes good commercial sense to do this when times are hard.

        I'm afraid your argument about running out of engineers doesn't really hold water, either. If demand is down at present, the fact that fewer people are going into training is not a problem. If the demand starts to rise again in a few years, there will still be all the engineers who've been working in the field, plus all the graduates arriving at that point (in increasing numbers, for the same reason they're decreasing now).

        If today's new engineers choose to walk away, rather than keeping their hand in, then they will be the ones who lose out in five years, not the established guys or the newbies. If they keep their skills up-to-date, though, even if that means taking a lower paid or less than ideal job for now, then they'll be prime hiring material when the market picks up again further down the line.

        • You really should look into the enrollment data in engineering schools right now.

          In three to four years, people who need engineers are going to be screwed. And people who are already engineers are going to be raking in the cash.

          Also, a recent graduate does not necessarily have zero experience. I've been working in an engineering enviroment, I've been able to come up with some pretty good ideas even though I'm not a mechanical engineer. I've also been keeping up on my own projects, trying to increase my knowledge of C++, and have real experience taking a product from concept to completion. I had to learn Visual C++, assembly, Java, TCP programming, USB interfacing, and PCB design within a six month period, while attending classes with their own projects and demands. I know people who scored an engineering job last year, and nothing they do ever comes close to that level of insanity (with the exception of some startups).

          The older engineers I know, for the most part, aren't willing to devote more time than necessary to a project. They have less energy, a family to spend time with, and think more about moving into management. They are invaluable for their guidance and know-how, but it's the engineers in their mid-20's who will order some pizzas and hack on a problem until 11:00 PM, just because they want to succeed and are genuinely interested in their work.
          • I realise that this isn't what you want to hear, but I think you're being a little overdramatic here.

            As I argued previously, even with low figures for engineering school intakes, the industry as a whole will not suffer greatly in the long run. There are a lot more engineers out there with a few years of experience than there are new grads, and most of them will still be there in five years as well. The market won't suddenly get crowded again, it'll ramp up slowly, and during that period, it will attract back those who've left the field, and a new generation of grads. Failing all else, they'll just recruit skilled labour from overseas. It certainly won't suddenly all stop because a few new graduates got above themselves and stormed off to sulk elsewhere.

            Also, a recent graduate does not necessarily have zero experience.

            No, but they will have fairly minimal experience. The best you could hope for would normally be something like a year out doing a relevant full time job before or during university (unlikely in this field) or good vacation experience (which helps, but usually isn't anything like the real thing).

            I've also been keeping up on my own projects, trying to increase my knowledge of C++, and have real experience taking a product from concept to completion. I had to learn Visual C++, assembly, Java, TCP programming, USB interfacing, and PCB design within a six month period, while attending classes with their own projects and demands.

            Here we see exactly the problem. If you came to me, and claimed you'd learned VC++, Java, an assembly language and a few other skills to a professional standard, all in six months, I would file you under "deluded" and move on. It probably takes six months of full time work with good guidance and training to get up to speed with one of those skills to a professional standard, and even then you'll only be at the bottom of the scale. In the real world, you don't get bonus points for writing lots of buzzwords on a resume, you get bonus points for actually knowing your stuff. Your efforts are to your credit and very commendedable, but it won't help to overstate what you've learned.

            The older engineers I know, for the most part, aren't willing to devote more time than necessary to a project. ... They are invaluable for their guidance and know-how, but it's the engineers in their mid-20's who will order some pizzas and hack on a problem until 11:00 PM, just because they want to succeed and are genuinely interested in their work.

            It's also those same engineers who will, at 11pm, be adding those nasty little bugs that are going to get fixed by the older and wiser the following week. Working absurd hours isn't impressive, it's stupid and error-prone. It might impress a crappy manager, but it certainly won't impress a skilled and experienced engineer. The reason the older and wiser don't do this -- families and such or not -- is because they have learned that it does more harm than good. As you said yourself, they don't devote more time than is necessary to a project. Doing so is... well... unnecessary.

            • If you came to me, and claimed you'd learned VC++, Java, an assembly language and a few other skills to a professional standard, all in six months, I would file you under "deluded" and move on. It probably takes six months....

              Of course I didn't learn them to a professional standard. But for someone whose programming experience was primarily Applesoft BASIC before college, and took no programming classes, it's pretty damn impressive. Let's put a task in front of you: "Hi. You will be building a USB-controlled camera pan/tilt head, from scratch. The device will also contain an integrated USB hub, from scratch. You will be required to learn HC08 assembly and develop the necessary firmware to create an instance of a USB device. You will also be required to learn Visual C++ and develop all user interfaces, TCP/IP communications, and interfacing with a USB device. You will also have to learn Java to create a remote control for the camera, that operates over the Internet. You will be required to design and construct all required hardware. In addition, you will have a dozen other classes during the project, each with design projects and copious amounts of homework. Go. BTW, yes, that is just your part of the project, your group members will be working on other things."

              I did it, and I think that shows something.
  • by BoomerSooner (308737) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @09:35AM (#4705487) Homepage Journal
    Try like hell to get on somewhere to get "real world" experience. It makes all the difference when looking for a job.

    It also helps to move to an area where jobs are plentiful. For example when I graduated I too couldn't find a job worth anything in Oklahoma. So I moved to Dallas. After working there and getting experience the jobs I wasn't qualified for in my home town area were now begging for experienced developers.

    I also did lots of free work (software development related) in my spare time. You can always find non-profit organizations that need help and will give you a real project without the time constraints usually associated with a real job. This is experience and you'd be doing something good for your community (I still volunteer). Just make sure not to flake out b/c non-profit's get a lot of people who want to help but don't want to put forth the effort needed.

  • For more than 20 years, as a hobby, I've been helping friends re-write their resumes. I've noticed that one factor that affects the hiring of excellent students is that their resumes usually don't communicate clearly.

    People are told that resumes should be only one page. That's not true. When you write any advertisement, you should write as much as you have to say. When you finish telling the entire story, stop writing. This advice is from the famous ad man David Ogilvy, who wrote Confessions of an Advertising Man [isbn.nu], an excellent book that is, as you would guess, easy to read. Any library should have it.

    Here are PDF examples of the before and after: Original student resume, with beginning corrections [hevanet.com]. Draft of improved resume, with formatting quirkiness caused by Microsoft Word [hevanet.com]. (My friend the student did the re-writing, using my suggestions as a guide. The improved version is current as of yesterday.)

    It took maybe 10 hours to develop the information. I spent the time because I am a friend. It is easy to understand that a prospective employer would not spend 10 hours getting to know every person who sends a resume.

    Notice that the original resume looks like the resume of thousands of recent journalism graduates. The improved resume is an advertisement that gives a complete picture of the person being advertised. The original expects the reader to do the work. The improved version gives as much as possible and asks as little as possible from the reader.

    Like the friend in the example, many students have a lot of relevant experiences.

    The book Executive Jobs Unlimited [isbn.nu] is old, but includes a lot of information that is relevant to anyone's effort to write a job-getting advertisement. Most libraries have this book.

    A lot of the problems in getting a job are caused by the inexperience and ignorance of the employers. Employers are often no better than applicants at communicating. They often ask for qualities expressed by buzzwords. Often what an employer really wants is very different from what is communicated. Imagine the confusion when both the applicant and the prospective employer communicate poorly.

    The most difficult kind of writing is writing an advertisement. The most difficult kind of advertisement to write is an advertisement for a person. The most difficult person about whom to write is yourself. Get help if you can. Write biographies of yourself, so that you will have information to use in the job-getting advertisement. Most people have difficulty believing they are as good as they really are, I've found.

    If you are interested, it is okay to mirror the resumes, but the mirror must include a link to this original Slashdot comment.
    • Most people have difficulty believing they are as good as they really are, I've found.

      Amen to that. The last 'tech screener' that talked to me asked me why I downplayed my experience and was "so humble" about it. I had too many people mistake my willingness to help and strong work ethic for ego; and now it is difficult to decide when enough is enough - especially when you have to play more cards than your tech experience with 25 other applicants waiting for their turn to interview.
    • Here are PDF examples of the before and after

      I am not a particularly good writer, so I hesitate to critique the improved version (but this is /. so what the hell).

      I don't like the reformatted version because a two-column format is very difficult to read on-screen. When I was involved with hiring as part of a previous job, I would read all the resumes on the computer, and then print out the good ones so I'd have them in my hand during the phone interview .

    • Also, companies don't want to bother with relocating people these days (or so I've heard from a recruiter friend). So make sure you have an address and phone number in the same area as the jobs you're looking at.

      I know someone who was having a hard time finding a job because he lived in a different part of the state than the one in which he was applying. Then he got a cell phone in the area and used a friend's mailing address and jot offers out the wazoo (comparitively speaking, anyway).

    • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @08:19PM (#4711551)

      I don't like to criticise, but I'd hesitate to recommend your rewritten resume as an example. Since CV writing is quite a personal thing, I'll just list my reservations below with the most serious first, and let anyone else look at both and decide for themselves whether they agree.

      • It's much too long. The reason that many people advocate a single page CV for new graduates is that most people can only usefully fill a single page at that stage in their career. To me, most resumes at any stage in a career should probably be two pages long. No-one needs all those little details of previous experience on a CV. It's only there to get you the interview, where you can discuss the details if they're relevant.
      • It doesn't scan easily. Most humans screening a CV will scan for 15-20 seconds looking for vital information (level of education, rough idea of previous experience, most relevant skills). They will then ditch anything that hasn't caught them by that time. After that, you've got about two more minutes as they check some details before they make a final decision. I cannot, in 15-20 seconds, confidently establish any of the three big things mentioned above from this resume.
      • The unusual layout doesn't help. Stick with standard formats unless you've got a good reason to be creative (perhaps applying for a job as a graphic designer). Either go for skills-centric, or chronological, or a sensible combination of both, depending on what strengths you want to highlight.
  • ...Honestly those of us who are already out here, and already have jobs(or have lost jobs due the current market)...don't need any fresh young talent to arrive and threaten out job security or ability to get/change jobs...I hear Biotech needs help...maybe there is time to redirect your major....

  • Co-op (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Apreche (239272) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @10:15AM (#4705785) Homepage Journal
    I go to a university that requires me to have 4 co-ops before I graduate. A Co-op is a paid internship in which I work for 10 weeks, 40 hours a week in my field of study. Since I am a CS major I must get a job writing code, developing software, etc. or it wont count towards graduation. It is incredibly difficult to find such a job. I plan to spend the break I have right know contacting as many companies as possible so that I will be sure to get a co-op in the spring. I really need the money.

    If you would like to hire a computer science major to work for you check my resume [rit.edu].
    • PAID internship? Good luck. When I was laid off in February, I decided to ask my previous employer to allow me back on the helpdesk if an opening arose (there are 12-14 people and the turnover rate when I left was 1 or 2 every six months or so - after all it was helpdesk). Even though I had not left on bad terms *at all* (at least as far as I knew), I was very smartly informed that I would be in a part time, on-call situation at whatever they felt like paying and would be laid off before any of their four unpaid interns would be left without any work to do - the free college kids were more important apparently. I was still doing some 'on call' sort of work for the folks that laid me off and travelling, so I couldn't go back anyway; but you can imagine in a situation like that I shouldn't have.

      It's like that Linux-based software cliche' - "What do you mean it's not free?"
      • I guess I should've added that the manager of said team is very proud that they are moving from a tech support to a call center/forwarding environment despite the programmers they are forwarding to not being too happy about doing tech support; and that NO ONE has left his team since I left over a year ago (until the contract company promoted someone into a job at their home office). It doesn't take a lot of thinking to realize no one has left because there is nowhere to go. I'm still fractionally remorseful that I didn't come back aboard and work my way back up there, but maybe it was for the best. [AhI'minachattymoodtodaymuststopcaffeineintake]
      • PAID internship? Good luck

        I've had excellent luck so far. I've had 8 12-week internships with two different companies during my (almost over) college career. All paid. There are pleanty of paid co-op/internship positions out there if you look.

        Hints:
        1. Don't limit yourself to any region or industry. Why narrow the field unnecessarily.
        2. Don't limit youself to a particular discipline. Your a student: learn! I'm E.E, but have had terms which were primarily ME, IE, manufacturing, coding, etc. in addition to a few terms of pure E.E. work.
        3. Look everywhere, large companies often have well structured programs and probably the best chance of post-graduation employment, but small companies will often take someone for a term or two for a specific task.
  • by krinsh (94283) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @10:30AM (#4705907)
    I hate to tell you this; but it is my observation that you may be looking at temping - A LOT - and holding down an additional part time job just to get situated as a recent graduate. I feel this goes for all fields. Unless you can hold yourself to the minimums (used ride, efficiency apartment, outlet store clothes) until you establish yourself; you may be out of luck.

    I think one thing going against you is a lot of adults, regardless of their field, are going back to get their first or even second degree and very likely their Masters' because they are either currently unemployed or very worried about the security of their current job. I know that despite my experience I am ready to start night classes and finish my degree; and I'm far closer to 30 than you are.

    That's even with a $28 an hour job - specifically because it is a consultant gig and I won't be making $60 thousand this year or next unless I can roll out of this position and right into the next one... and I'm scared that that won't happen. Yeah, scared. You get a bunch of hard working people afraid they aren't going to make it and they start exercising a lot of options to make themselves viable in a tough market.

    On the other hand; there have to be a considerable number of IT jobs that aren't just support or "network engineering/administration" and the like. I know a kid that just finished college with his Comp. Sci. major but he focused on chip design and already has a cushy; if not extremely high paying right off the bat job in a clean room. At least his foot is in the door.

    Don't count yourself out yet. Check with your [city/county government] employment service and don't forget your college likely has resources and internship provisions for you. My current contract is in a place I didn't think would be likely to have IT employment opportunities.

    Last, forget the "TS SCI/Poly required" jobs, unless you go somewhere that indicates on the announcement they will hire you then clear you or clear you before you are officially hired like the State Department - they still need about 100 IT Management Specialists I think, and thanks to my stupidity a few years ago I won't be one of them right now (nothing criminal; just shouldn't have held a grudge after I left [non-classified] civilian government service). The 'you must have current active clearance' jobs are often most suited for military folks that will very likely never get out of a classified work environment - not that they would want to with some of the salaries they will get paid. Then again, maybe four or eight years in the service (with a college degree I don't think Officer School would be that difficult for you to get into) would do you some good and at least guarantee you a roof and meals; and maybe even help pay off your college bills. There's private consulting, government contracting, then defense contracting - and with this Homeland Security business they want everyone to have some clearance or other - odd that the more people cleared to access information the more likely it is that information will not remain secret, but that is another topic for another day.

    Take what you want from this comment and leave the rest; but I wish you the best of luck. Keep your chin up and don't take it too hard that there are probably 4 or 5 thousand former Worldcom, Global Crossing and other IT/telecom employees vying for that same job. Sometimes youth works for you not against you.
  • I guess I'm lucky to be living somewhere where you don't need much money, but I could *easily* live off of a full-time minimum wage job.

    As it stands, I'm working several very part-time jobs, and covering living expenses pretty easily - had to take out a loan for tuition, but that's different.

    I'm currently working about 10 hours a week at the help desk for my school's computer centre, getting paid to sing in a church choir, tuning a harpsichord for another university, and taking various freelance performing gigs where I can.

    Of course, living where I am, I don't need (or want) a car, my living expenses total about $500 Canadian) and I'm generally pretty low-maintenance.

    I have several friends with rather severe money problems - huge debts, damaged credit, etc... - most of whom make about 10 times what I do in a year. There's a point where you just have to look at how little you can live off of - do you really *need* that Xbox? Can you put off upgrading for another year? etc...

    I pity those people forced to live in more expensive places. Almost any city in the States - and even more places like London - just paying rent on a small apartment can easily cost several times my total living expenses... Makes you wonder if it's really worth the trouble of living there.
    • I guess I'm lucky to be living somewhere where you don't need much money, but I could *easily* live off of a full-time minimum wage job.

      As it stands, I'm working several very part-time jobs, and covering living expenses pretty easily - had to take out a loan for tuition, but that's different.


      I know what you are saying, but like the point you make at the end, it's really hard to live in a big city. Why live in a big city? I dunno. I am in Boston for school, and the rent is crazy. I see studios go for 1000-3000/month, and 1BR's go for 1000-4000/month. I am from North Carolina, and you can have ANYTHING there for 1200/month. Personally I pay about 100 in bills a month, 175 in groceries, and 700 (my share of rent). I guess that's around (quick, but inaccurate, math skills..) $1000+/month in living expenses. I have no car, I don't have a TV, and I don't have a Bus pass- just a subway pass, and I don't eat much. So I am trying to save money...
      But with school taking up a majority of my week (bad schedule makes in almost impossible to work a job). Even if I had a job working 20 hours a week or so, I couldn't do it at min wage. I would pull about 80/week (after uncle sam's share), or 320/month. That doesn't even make a dent.

      My advice, move somewhere cheap, and get a job. I have been offered jobs in NC, that would probably pay 40-60K/year after I got into them, but nope, I wanted to go to school....

  • by LWolenczak (10527) <julia@evilcow.org> on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @10:37AM (#4705973) Homepage Journal
    Move back in with your parents... hope they still have a job so they can pay your bills... if you have any. The economy sucks right now... I've been having the same trouble you have... except I blew off college... I took two semesters and was like "this is worthless bullshit", so I ended up working.

    I recently lost my job because I would not let my employer screw me (not literly, financially)... So now.. I atleast have the chance to have a love life... I only have car payments, cell phone bills, and other expenses that my parents are kind enough to pay for me.

    Tip: Don't worry about it... You will find a job, In the mean time, focus on your love life.

    • Moving into the parents' house is a bit of an inconvenience love-life-wise. (Read: No privacy)

      On the other hand, it's much more socially acceptable in the current economy to be living with your parents than it usually is. I'd say 50% or more of my graduating class are living with their parents - I'm considered lucky that I have a job.
  • 1. Start working on business apps now. Your network battleship independent project may not impress anyone, but a substantial contribution to an open source workflow system might. Re-engineer some club website in J2EE or .NET just to see how it works. Try to get an understanding for the kinds of problems real applications solve.

    2. Lots of companies will take a fresh college grad if it's the right kind of person -- they just don't necessarily advertise that on Monster (since they'd be neck-deep in unqualified resumes). Instead, they go to career fairs at selective universities. Try going to one of those or at least getting a list of attending companies. Then submit your resume directly with a cover letter that explains how you're ready to be relevant right away. (see #1)
  • I hate to say it, but you should have dropped out and started working while the market was overly hot and they would pay good money for a programmer with demonstrable skill -- degree or no.

    That's what I did, and four years later I have enough experience to give me some small kind of security. But then, I also have no degree, so I get filtered by HR that way. Fortunately, I've made enough contacts with people who are willing to vouch for me.

    Of course, I'm kicking myself now, as I'm trying to go back to school. But, at least the university is always more than willing to take my tuition check, esp. in the slow market.
  • I've even found one company that wants 10 years experience specifically with .NET -- go figure!

    It's listings like this that should show you much you need to ignore the job requirements and just apply for everything you think you could do well and would enjoy doing. A lot of times the company will take you on if you can ramp up quickly and they'll save money by getting somebody less experienced.
  • Try doing something else for a while. Can you write or edit? Do you have decent communication skills? Nonprofits, particularly smaller ones, are always looking for smart, well-rounded people because you wind up doing much more than your job description dictates.

    This is not a bad thing: more than one person has backed into the computer industry by taking on tech responsibilities at a small non-IT company. After a year or two you have some decent experience, you'll be able to show that you can solve problems creatively (read: cheaply) and you might have a greater appreciation for the user's point of view than if you'd gone directly into application development from college.
  • jobs for students (Score:3, Interesting)

    by VAXaholic (627555) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @11:49AM (#4706713)
    Dont be daunted by the often illogical 'experience' requirements. Most of the time, these are taken from boilerplate templates and guidelines that HR departments get or cook up themselves. A job posteing seldom has what the original author intended after it gets through HR people! Having been on the other side of this fence before, trying to hire people (and wasting my time interviewing way too many people who were completely unsuitable before I found some folks who were), I have to say that the job description folks post is every bit as sensitive in triggering interest on the part of applicants as their resumes are in triggering interest in employers. On the same subject, most management have, probably from their super-leet business schools, some strange guidelines in their heads of 'rules of thumb' that a guy of some degree of seniority should have foo years aof experience with such and such buzzwords. Your mention of one that asked for 10 yrs experience with m$'s .net stuff is a prime example. My advice: spend a few minutes to figure out what the employer _really_ wants, and send
    him a resume anyway. Make sure you point out to him what you can do and make mention of projects youve worked on (if any) that give a hint that you are good at working on projects. Dont just shy away because you dont have a certain number of years experience. Often the actual interviewing or
    even screening of resumes is done by people who _do_ know what they're talking about, in any well run organization at least. Good managers know to use their specialists to do their job.

    • "Make sure you point out to him what you can do and make mention of projects youve worked on (if any) that give a hint that you are good at working on projects. Dont just shy away because you dont have a certain number of years experience."

      This is a very important point.

      I'm a student now and have done 2 internships so far, 1 paid, 1 not. I'm on my way to third one (paid for certain) this January -- I have an interview tomorrow (technically today.)

      The point about listing past projects and achievements is really important because the HR people really seem to key into it. If you actually built [...] software product or designed [...] device, this shows real knowledge and experience. It means you are not raw out of the gate and don't know how to run. It means they don't have to hold your hand. If your resume simply says for each job "Duties included: x, y and z" it doesn't mean you actually did anything ... maybe that's why you're looking for a job now!

      In every interview I have been to (except stiff government ones where they are forced to ask everyone identical questions) they always want to know about your work with the things you designed/programmed/built. Your technical responses to these questions show you are a 'do-er' and show you can handle yourself with real work.

      List and emphasise those project accomplishments!

  • don't be too picky (Score:3, Informative)

    by jasonditz (597385) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @12:29PM (#4707095) Homepage
    Don't be afraid to take a job that you feel is "beneath you" at graduation if nothing better comes along. Believe me, it looks a lot better on your resume to see that you worked for $8/hr in some minor IT job than to see that you spent a year and a half sitting on your ass because there were no decent jobs out there.

  • I can think of two advantages that you have over the rest of the world.

    1) You are young, can work hard and risk a great deal without worrying about the wife and kids.

    2) You know how to live on the cheap.

    Those two things make this an ideal time to start a business. And I'm not even thinking an IT business necessarily. The reason you got trained up in IT is because businesses need IT skills. Heck, no business can run without them and they are *the* reason why US productivity has done so well compared to the rest of the world the last two years. You can use those skills to run your own business too. I work in IT now, but when I started out I opened a photo lab. These were the days before a one hour lab in every supermarket, and people still went to stores that specialized in processing film. I wrote all the systems for the lab and that gave us an edge over the competition. Now, that said, we failed anyway because of the switch from large scale processing to automated processing in the mini-labs, but I don't regret it for a moment.

    So, use those creative skills you have been showing in code to invent your own career. Prepare for long hours and an adventure to match.
  • I'm a second year CS major and I see questions like this all the time and it makes me wonder if I should change my major. What do those of you who recently graduated with a CS degree reccommend?
    • I'm a second year CS major and I see questions like this all the time and it makes me wonder if I should change my major. What do those of you who recently graduated with a CS degree reccommend?

      If you're a CS major because you think it will make you good money, then change your major to something you like or go to a techincal school, because a university education is intentionally not designed to train you for a job.

      Choose the major you think most interests you. If it's CS, then stay with CS.

  • My experiences (Score:2, Interesting)

    Well today is my second day at my new job and I'll tell you my experiences. All throughout school I worked at a local networking company gaining experience and certification. I attended a community college then transfered to a state university. My grades are ok, nothing to write home about. I graduated this spring and my previous employeer didn't have a full time spot for me, tough luck. I spent the months of June through late October in searching for work. I used the local paper, monster, net temps (found some part time work for beer mone) there), various websites from NY State dept. of labor, friends, former co-workers, and local career fairs. I don't know what the poster is talking about government jobs. THe only ones I found at the FBI wanted experience or big certifications like the CCIE from cisco. Not only that but you have to pass physical requirements as well. I applied there as well and the local office had gone through my app, but I wasn't going to hold my breath for 6 month process. New York state itself is so big and slow that application process takes a long time too. My current job I landed after I visited their booth at a government technology fair in albany. I gave them my resume and talked for a little bit. I got a call a month later about a different position and they wanted an interview. What's funny is that I went for 3 months without an interview and then I got 3 interviews in one week!

    So, I had 4 years of part time experience (technical and the more important non technical skills) with a college degree and it still took 5 months to land a job. This one is pretty sweet. I work with a few other laid back people and a laid back boss. Plus I have a nice 17" flat screen with a P4 :)

    I hope that helps. I felt compelled to write something since I had gone through the exact same thing the poster will go through. It wasn't that bad having the whole summer to mysefl though. Good luck!

    Ben

    (oh, don't beat yourself up over a "dream job." They don't exist! A dream job is getting paid for vacation. There might be the most ideal job, but you can't be that selective right out of college.)

    imho...
  • by splattertrousers (35245) on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @02:47PM (#4708652) Homepage
    Personally, I graduate this coming Spring and have been job searching for the past semester with little if any success at finding a prospective future employer.

    After you graduate, I'd suggest working at least 8 hours a day looking for a job. It's hard work, but so is a job. There are a lot of books and websites with job-hunting tips. The newspaper and job sites are the very beginning. You need to meet people and to let them know you need a job without sounding desparate.

    Some ways to meet people: mentor, teach, volunteer, temp, go to local user groups. Remember, you just got a degree in a field that most people are afraid of and have little experience with. If you had an English degree, it would be hard to teach or help people, since everyone took English in school.

    And don't focus on just tech companies. Let's say you are interested in science and computers. Maybe you know someone who knows someone who works for a biotech company. Tell them you want some practical experience writing a database program (in Access or something) and ask them if they could use such a program for free. Work there for a few weeks (don't work at home). Now all of a sudden you know a bunch of scientists who think you are a computer genius (because they have no idea that Access is easy). Maybe they'll hire you, or mention you to their colleagues who actually are looking to hire someone.

    And finally, think of it this way: if half of the graduates this year can't find a job, it means that you only have to be better than 50% of the people in your school. You're better than 50% of the people there, right?

    The placement office at my university hasn't been too helpful for many students in the CS department.

    Don't expect them to do much work for you. Actually, don't expect anyone to do work for you. Do it yourself.

    As far as the government is concerned, I'm simply not old enough for any job that gets paid more than minimum wage and has actual job security.

    That's false. My first job was with the government, and while I wasn't making a killing, I made good enough money to have an [ugly] apartment and a [cheap] new car. And it wasn't with a defense-related department, so there were no security clearances I needed to have or anything.

    Most of my job searching has been conducted through services like Dice and Monster.

    I think those sites are a good starting point, but you should spend only a small fraction of your time on them. The rest of the time should out of the house, walking the beat as it were.

  • Its just a few sheets of paper. Costs a few cents to make a copy on a printer. Less then $10 to print 100 pages. So print off a ton of resumes, make a few custom cover sheets, and hand them out everywhere. Its only your time. You might not have a good chance of getting a job at Bobs Ubercoding Palace, but you have no chance if they don't have your resume.

    Deliver your resume to the places you want to work first. Then deliver your resume to the places you don't mind working at. Then at everywhere else.

    If you have do get an interview, and don't get a job, ask what skills you are lacking. Then try to fix that. Also, donate some time to a good opensource project. Its resume padding. Dunno if it helps, but it can't hurt.

    (Btw, by 'everywhere else', I have handed out over 60 resumes so far, and will probably be to 100 resumes in my job hunt when I'm done.)

    • IME this is bad advice: carpet bombing resumes isn't the answer. If you don't customize your resume to the folks you're giving them to, you might as well spam them. On the few occassions I was asked to sort through resumes my first filter for resumes was, "Is there any evidence they're responding to our ad?" If not, adios. If you're even not going to take the time to look for a job thoroughly, why would I want to hire you and trust you with some part of my business?

      However, contributing to an open source project is a great idea. When people ask about your code, just send them to the ViewCVS repository and some choice links to the mailing list archive. It helps to give them a 30,000 foot view of the codebase plus some pointers to code you think would be relevant to the job you'd be doing there.
  • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday November 19, 2002 @10:27PM (#4712313) Homepage Journal

    As far as the government is concerned, I'm simply not old enough for any job that gets paid more than minimum wage and has actual job security.

    So what? Take whatever job you can get that has you working in your chosen field. Don't worry about pay. Don't worry about job security. Take it, work hard, learn a lot and figure that the education and resume fodder are your real goal and any money you happen to make is just gravy.

    That's exactly how the IT world worked when I started my career (89-92 or so, ramping up from co-op to full-time positions). Everyone knew that fresh graduates had to go out and get screwed for a couple of years, making peanuts and doing crap jobs until they'd proven themselves. Why? At least for programmers it's a simple fact of life that there are relatively few who are really good at it, and there's virtually no way to separate the wheat from the chaff. So, real-world job experience on the resume was invaluable.

    Then came the Internet bubble and everyone "learned" that newly-minted CS graduates from Podunk U with zero experience were worth $80K per year. That was an aberration, and not one that is likely to happen again, because it makes no logical sense.

    The job market for IT people isn't that terribly bad right now; it's just slightly slower than normal. To get a job you have to want it, you have to work for it, and you have to suffer a little to build the credentials you need to get it.

    So, stop whining, suck it up and take that low-paying, insecure job and prove that you're worth hiring.

  • by trims (10010) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @03:00AM (#4713678) Homepage

    First off, these are my experiences based on looking for a job in 1993 in Boston (which was right before the tech boom, and at the tail end of the early 90s recession). This should be generally good advice, but I can't speak to its effectiveness outside a major metro area.

    • Forget on-line jobs boards. They're useless, and companies aren't using them anymore.
    • Talk to your Advisor and any Sr. Professors you know. These people often have good contacts inside local industry; they may know of some openings, or, more likely, can refer you to people who might know. Such professors often have several critical contacts which can be of immense use to you: (a) they know previous students who have jobs in the area (b) they know companies that they work with for research/sponsorship (c) they tend to have a social circle which includes senior and executive types who know about the local market and openings.
    • As a correllary to the above, Network. Tap on sponsors of any work-study project or lab you might have been affiliated with. Ask your friends about their family's professions and any contacts which might be possible through them. If you've friends who already have graduated (and have jobs), ask them about what's going on in their company. It might even be good to interview with those companies (even if they're really not hiring) to learn the interview process and make some additional contacts if possible.
    • Feet on the street. Do some research about the industry in your area, and start visiting companies which look like they're doing OK. Physically visit them and ask to talk to an HR or tech manager. Don't expect to get to see them then, but try to get an appointment to return. This kind of pro-active searching really gets people's attention, and will often open up doors to jobs which were "internal-only" or otherwise unadvertised. Of course, when you're doing this, dress professionally and have a well-done resume and introductory letter available to leave with the company.
    • Find a good recruiter, as they can find openings which are unpublished or just starting to open. Finding a recuiter is hard, as evaluating one at your stage of the game is difficult. In general, look for a couple of things: (a) if you're turned down for a job after an interview, ask your interviewer about recruiters they deal with which they consider good (b) don't go with one which advertises much; good recruiters build their business by word-of-mouth (c) a good recruiter should spend at least an hour with you Face-to-Face talking about your strengths, weaknesses, and goals, and should talk with you immediately after every interview they send you on.
    • Understand that the economy is down, and you're looking for entry-level work to gain experience. At this point in your career, I'd be making it clear to potential employers that pay is secondary to a job which can help you grow. An employer with some interesting (to you) work may be wavering about opening a position at $40k, but consider it a no-brainer at $25k. This works particularly well at smaller companies, which realistically desperately need help (and thus have lots of stuff for you to learn about), but don't think they can afford it.

    I lived and worked in Boston for 7 years professionally, never making more than $40k. In fact, I started out at $27k, and usually worked 70+ hours/week for the first 3 or so years. I lived in my own apartment, and paid all my bills without going into debt. It's not really that hard, you just have to be careful and put off anything not completely necessary (like buying a new car, going on major vacations, good furniture, et al), and consider your first couple of years as an apprenticeship. Learn how businesses are run, and suck up all the experience you can. That will give you much better leverage to move upwards around 2006 or so, to a job with less hours and probably twice the pay you started with in 2003. And employers will be willing to pay it then, as you've proven yourself. 10 years after graduation, I now make well north of $100k, and consider it the payoff for being overworked/underpaid for much of my 20s.

    Best of luck.

    -Erik

  • How to land a job. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mrycar (578010)
    Sounds like you are in the condition many students find themselves in. A degree in hand, no (or minimal) experience, and all doors closed to you.

    How do you get experience, to get that job?

    Well the answer to that question is around every community. Charities! Donate you skills and time to local non-profit ventures. Yes, it doesn't pay (much), but experience comes with its own set of perks and benefits.

    There are many charities out there. From helping with a politcal campaign, to church based, to drug rehab. Each requires skills that employers are seeking and usually the charities are willing to accept all help offered. Charity work will gain you your experience, help the community, and provide valuable networking.

    I have recommended students try this approach for over 15 years and have had a 100% placement rate in well paying positions many of which resulted directly from the networkign gained in the charity work.

    Jobs are out there, you just need to be creative to capture them.
  • tech support (Score:2, Informative)

    by ralphie98 (588409)
    Myself, as well as a few friends have all gone through this. A couple have been looking for at least 6 months (maybe not as hard as they could) for a tech job but can't land one. The best way to get some experience under your belt is to try to find some tech support work, be it at an ISP, or a small hardware company, whatever. It may seem like a kick in the pants to hafta do those jobs when you have a degree, but as others have mentioned, it's nearly impossible to get a job w/o real world experience.

    As an example, a buddy who is still finishing up his AAS is CS just managed to get a job doing help desk at a hardware maker and he's starting at $14/hr. It'll be enough to pay bills and rent for him. Oh, and don't forget to check the local papers... it may seem outdated but there are still a few jobs to be had there (employer may get 1,000 reusmes but it's worth a shot, it's how I got my present job).

    good luck
  • Off line search (Score:2, Informative)

    by Cire (96846)
    I'n posting this too late to get seen... but anyway:

    Have you tried searching off line? There was a time when people were able to find jobs without using the internet. People even found programming jobs BEFORE the internet existed. *gasp*

    You need to be agressive. Call up companies that you'd like to work for, find the person in charge of the tech department, get them on the phone and sell yourself.

    Physically walk into companies, and start talking to people who work there.

    Go to networking events in your area. All over there are user groups, places where geeks, and people in charge of geeks converge. Find those places and bring your resume along.

    If you're in college start going to alumni association meetings in your area and networking with people.

    Call up head hunters.

    There's more to finding a job than search on Hotjobs, Dice and Monster.

    Cire
  • Three years ago people were DROPPING OUT of school to join companies that promised them 65k a year plus a new car as a signing bonus. Jobs would come to students who didn't even try. This was not good, because it lead us to where we are today.
    Now we have the other extreme.

    HR departments are now looking for a lot of people with specific experience that is hard to come by, or impossible to come by. They are trying to find people who can do the jobs of two or three people or someone they don't have to train at all.

    I saw one job listing that wanted a person who had 5+ years of experience with .net and Windows XP. To get it you have to lie on your resume.

    I saw another that wanted someone who knew HTML, JavaScript, Perl, etc... but also wanted the person to have experience using mainframe systems left over from the 70s and 80s.

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