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After College, What Type of Jobs Should One Seek? 628

Posted by Cliff
from the first-steps-in-a-career dept.
Sushant Bhatia asks: "I'm coming to the end of my Masters degree, and I'm on the prowl for jobs. However, there are so many types out there it's just overwhelming for someone who's never had to go through the job-hunting process before. So, what should I do? Should I go for a full-time, contract, half-time, or something else? Also, what kind of position should a person with a Master's in Computer Science be looking for (other than dish washer)? I've been looking at senior software developer positions, but is that too high up the ladder for someone 'fresh' to cope with? My current manager (research lab) says that 'You should always find a job that is above your skill level so that you can learn and be challenged.' I think he's right, but is that something Slashdot readers agree with? What was your job coming out of university?"
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After College, What Type of Jobs Should One Seek?

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  • by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:20PM (#12852185)
    I hear Wal-Mart is always looking for shelf stockers
    • Whatever you do, you need a cupstacker biz card before you die.

      Also, piloting those forklifts at Home Depot that make that nice beeping sound gets you bonus points.
    • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:27PM (#12852241)
      Also, it may be helpful to memorize this phrase:

      "Do you want fries with that?"

    • Suicide is preferable to talking to Cletus and Jerlene at lunch for a week, much less a career.

      -Charlie
    • by RickPartin (892479) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @04:16PM (#12852516) Homepage
      Actually Wal-Mart has a very advanced inventory management system. Headquarters knows within minutes when you buy a candy bar even. I'm sure they have tech jobs available.

      Just doing my duty to apply logic to Slashdot comments that don't ask for it.
      • by the MaD HuNGaRIaN (311517) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @06:03PM (#12852993)
        "Actually Wal-Mart has a very advanced inventory management system. Headquarters knows within minutes when you buy a candy bar even."

        So I've read....

        But, let me fill you in on the reality.

        Christmas eve a few years back. I needed a Jeep Wrangler Power Wheels last minute. I'd heard of the legendary Wal-Mart inventory management system, so I figure a phone call and all would be well.

        So, I called the closest store, and they said they didn't have any left (big surprise on Christmas eve). But never fear, the next closest store has 3 in stock.

        So, I truck on over there only to find that not only do they have none, but they haven't seen any for a week--or so said the manager of the department. In disbelief, I combed the aisles looking for the three they supposedly in stock. I gave up after 20 minutes of wandering the garden section (Which is where they keep the excess stock of that stuff).

        On my way home, I drove passed the Wal-Mart that I had originally called and figured I'd stop in to look at their power wheels selection to see what they had left in Silverados and what not, as being the newest Super Wal-Mart in my area, they had the biggest selection. When I walked in, there it was sitting in the middle of the aisle, a Jeep Wrangler Power Wheels.

        An employee asked me if I was finding everything ok, so I asked them why I was told that they had none in stock when this was sitting right here in plain view.

        He looked at the box, and looked at me and said, "well, this here was supposed to have been delivered to another store. But I guess the driver forgot to drop it there, so it ended up here, 'cuz he didn't want to return to the dock with it in his truck still. We're the last store on his route so that happens all the time."

        So, there you have it. The system might be designed to work a certain way, but it's only as strong as the people involved.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, 2005 @04:32PM (#12852605)
      ...believe it or not, real-world experience is very different than academic experience.

      I have a great deal of real-world experience now, and a degree as well. When I graduated, I started at entry-level positions and worked my way up. It works.

      Recently, I worked with a guy who had a masters in computer science from a well-known accredited state college. And he wasn't an idiot. However, he also wasn't ready for the real world. His troubleshooting thought process needed a great deal of refinement, and his ability to deliver the kind of requirements necessary in the kinds of time-frames necessary just wasn't up to par (yet). During the year that I worked with him, I saw his skills improve (as one would expect). In another several years, he may be senior-position material. But not until he has the experience under his belt.

      I am not saying college is easy, nor that the education is valueless. I AM saying that graduates, precisely because of their lack of experience, have an unrealistically high opinion of their own abilities, and often make the sorts of costly (and embarrassing) mistakes that more experienced programmers don't make.

      So there's my opinion.
      • by CuriHP (741480) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @06:29PM (#12853107)
        I very much agree with you. That is also why I like schools that have a co-op program. Their graduates are coming out not only with a degree and academic knowledge, but also with about a year of real world experience, sometimes in one specific area, sometimes spread over a few related ones.
      • The only reason I looked in this discussion was to make sure that someone had made this statement. Now, I'll second it. All college does is to prepare you to learn. In your first few years in the real world, you should prepare yourself to learn several times as fast as you did in college because now you don't have the hindrance of mass education and can learn as an individual.

        I've heard it said that we should count someone with a Masters as having a BS+2 years of experience. That would still not place

      • by Ratbert42 (452340) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @10:24PM (#12854122)
        Ditto. I would view anyone as a novice if they didn't have 2-3 years experience working on one project. I've had enough of hotshot-sounding guys that worked 6 months here, 6 months there, whether it's for a contracting company or project-hopping at a big company. If they don't have experience living with the impact of their decisions, they can be worse than useless.

        Hell, that's half my career right there: figuring out what some hotshot did while making a "simple" change that broke something else. Why am I so good at it? Because I spent the first half of my career making those same mistakes and having to eventually figure out the consequences.

    • "'You should always find a job that is above your skill level so that you can learn and be challenged.'"

      So do the computer thing as a hobby and become a plumber. From a lot of the code I've seen out there, plumbing would be a good step up and challenging.

      As a plumber you'll be the richest guy in your city. And you'll know how to fix your own toilet. Never hire a programmer than can't fix a toilet (ref: US Army study in the 70s).

      Either way you'll be putting up with the same shit from different assholes.
  • Or learn "would you like fries with that?"
    • by dabigpaybackski (772131) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:30PM (#12852259) Homepage
      And don't forget that most people want extra ketchup packets. I hate it when I order fries and they put two dinky ketchup packets in the bag. It makes me wonder just what is going on in our colleges these days.
      • True, but you can make up for the ketchup shortfall by taking four times as many napkins as you really need.
    • Or learn "would you like fries with that?"

      I have been to a wide variety of fast food joints in my day and have never once ever been asked "would you like fries with that". Ever. Where does this myth come from?
    • Or learn "would you like fries with that?"

      Here's the instructional video:

      clickey [americanangst.com]...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:21PM (#12852189)

    Straight goods:

    There's always a need for network people and sysadmins. With the shift from Windows/Proprietary Unix to Linux/*BSD you should concentrate on jobs in those areas, they're booming (I get at least 2 offers a month). If you stick to the Windows side of things you're going to be in a rut of helping users reboot and install patches. If you stick to proprietary Unix you can still do well in some high end research or data center work but cheap clusters are eating the bottom end out of some of that market.

    Don't expect a senior position. Frankly too many hot-shot grads think they're The Goods; NONE are. If you can't translate your book smarts to real world work then you're destined to a life at a help desk.

    That's how it is around here (I'm based in SoCal with work in 8 data centers around the country and 4 internationally) and I've been in the field since 1988.

    • by Hadley (71701) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @04:15PM (#12852510)
      You really don't *want* a senior position. Even if you can negotiate the higher salary, make sure you get a job title without "Senior" in it. That way, if you're any good at your job, you can get an easy promotion and raise soon after you join.

      Also, you need to work a permanent job for a couple of years before you've got enough experience to do contracting.

      If your goal is to do contract work, the ideal job might be with a services company that takes you on as a permanent member of staff, and then contracts you out to their clients.
      • by ksb (517539)
        Excellent advice imo.

        I've been a contractor for the last 7 years and before that I worked for a sub-contracting company and I feel it helped prepare me for the frequent change in environment a contractor typically experiences.

        It may be different elsewhere but in the UK I would be very suprised if any company employed a grad in a 'senior' position and the parent poster is on the ball, go for the money, not the title and give yourself more rungs in the ladder.
    • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @04:32PM (#12852596)
      Don't expect a senior position. Frankly too many hot-shot grads think they're The Goods; NONE are.

      That's not entirely fair (though it mostly is). I've met people who've had enough experience by the time they graduated to understand the real world, and whose talent/enthusiasm/hard work would make them the equals of an average programmer several years into their career (though probably still not an average person getting a senior developer position). This is particularly true of those who've taken placements lasting a few months during their academic careers, or a year out before university, and thus worked in a professional environment for a worthwhile period.

      However, your actual ability doesn't really matter much, because image is everything when applying for a job, and you'll be very lucky to find a company that's employing new grads and willing to take a chance that someone who looks that good really is, because as you say, most won't be. It's far more likely that they'd make a relatively good offer for a starting post, and then say nice things and promote rapidly (in salary, if not in job title) over the first couple of years as the greater ability shows through.

      Applying for a senior developer position, which usually requires around 5 years of experience, without any prior experience at all will be a direct route to the bin in almost any company I can think of. Larger companies could easily filter you in the HR database before a human even saw your resume. Even at the smaller ones who review CVs by human eye, you'll need an exceptional application to attract enough attention that they'll consider you as a new starter instead, and the ego demonstrated by being a grad applying for a senior position right off would be a major black mark for anyone reviewing CVs I've ever met.

    • by grammar fascist (239789) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @05:06PM (#12852755) Homepage
      There's always a need for network people and sysadmins.

      Why would someone with a Masters of Computer Science want a network or sysadmin position? Someone like that almost certainly has little hardware experience - but experience in creating and coding algorithms. With a Masters degree, he's also got experience doing deep research into a narrow subject.
  • by RajivSLK (398494) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:22PM (#12852195)
    I think CEO is a nice place to start. If you can't get that then maybe settle for COO or Vice President. You've spent too long in school to settle for anything less. Remember always get a job that is above your skill level, it makes life more fun!
    • Re:Start with CEO (Score:2, Insightful)

      by grub (11606)
      Heh, no kidding. Does anybody believe in starting at the bottom and working their way up anymore? Self-importance is a career killer.
      • I need a girl who's name doesn't end with ".jpg"

        English is not my first language, but shouldn't that be "whose" instead of "who's"?

        Anyway, nice quote :D
  • Shoot high (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MPHellwig (847067) * <mhellwig@xs4all.nl> on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:22PM (#12852196) Homepage
    Don't worry if your competent or not, your boss will be the judge of that.

    However if you would like to be not in an uncertain position you better find out your interest and competents.
    Perhaps getting in contact with a good headhunter is not that bad of an idea, but hey who am I telling if get a Msc. CS you could figure that out by yourself.
  • Sorry, but the only thing that can "challenge" you now is a PHD.

    If you are looking for a job (and were not handed one before graduation due to being brilliant) then prepare for a world of boring sub-par social hierarchies where your Master's degree is just a poster on your wall and who you know is all that matters.

  • by moofdaddy (570503) * on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:23PM (#12852201) Homepage
    I hear a P.h.D is nice this time of year. Put off entering the "real world" as long as possible.
    • by gangien (151940) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:56PM (#12852422) Homepage
      why? i graduated in march with a BS in CS (math minor too). with a 2.5 gpa, no references really or any industry experience and only applied for jobs online. Now in june i'm an official software engineer making good money. The irony is how much i listened to slashdot's gloomy idea of the real world was considering doing something else outside the computer industry because there was no jobs for me (as you would believe by reading slashdot). Not that it was easy for me to get this job, but it wasn't the only response i got to my resume. Course I also think I got pretty lucky.

      So my personal advice is to try and do what you like and not get disappointed over being rejected. And I think people in masses tend to be pessimists.. so take what they (slashdot) say witha grain of salt.
  • Self-employment (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Go self-employed! It's the best. :) All you need is a great idea and motivation.

    I've never worked for anyone in my life. Got a flexible schedule and can do whatever I want.
    • by GQuon (643387)
      It takes discipline to do that. Also, it helps to have some experience working for somebody else, especially if you need to get capital to start something (bank loan, investments).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:23PM (#12852212)
    You just got a Master's degree, and you come to slashdot for career advice?

    Most people here are kids working at McDonald's or aging, overweight geeks living in their parents basement.

    My advice, listen to all the +5 comments, and do the exact opposite.

    • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:26PM (#12852232) Homepage Journal

      My advice, listen to all the +5 comments, and do the exact opposite.

      I really hope your comment gets to +5. The connundrum of doing the opposite of the opposite will make his head explode.
    • by abb3w (696381) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:28PM (#12852250) Journal
      My advice, listen to all the +5 comments, and do the exact opposite.

      Of course, Slashdot moderation being what it is, the parent will probably end up with a +5 moderation, and then what do you do?

    • I'd mod you up, but then he/she wouldn't listen to you.

      But now that I've commented, I can't mod you down.

      Crap.

    • by hype7 (239530)
      very amusing, but not very helpful.

      in terms of IT people giving you advice, Steve Jobs gave a commencement speech at Stanford this past week. I had a very high opinion of Jobs before this, but after reading the text here I think he's in exalted territory. Maybe something he says might be able to help you.

      http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15 / jobs-061505.html [stanford.edu]:
      'You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says
      This is the text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of
      • I guess I just want to emphasise this paragraph.

        When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
        • Good advice for some people, but if I lived every day like it was my last, I'd be in jail many, many times over. Some of us should just live our lives like we probably have some more coming. Make sure you're not one of us before you go rearranging things.
          • by LetterJ (3524)
            I tend to approach it with 2 questions rather than 1.

            If today is the last day of my life, would my plans change?

            AND

            If I live another 65 years, will I regret anything included in my plans today?

            Between the 2, you get a balance that keeps you from wasting the few years you actually do have, but without the reckless disregard for your future, should you have one (and statistically you will).

            The first question keeps you from reaching old age, saying "I wish I had . . .". The second keeps you from asking, "
      • by mspohr (589790) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @04:46PM (#12852664)
        "There's a fourth story about me that I decided to omit from this talk. It has to do with the many people in my life whom I've cheated, abused and otherwise screwed on my rise to fame and riches. You may be wondering, How can a guy who comes across as so thoughtful and caring in a speech like this be such a jerk in person? ... Well, there's a very simple reason: I've always put money and power ahead of people."

        "So when a worshipping blogger posts a product rumor I don't like, I sue him. When a book gets written I don't appreciate, I have it banned from stores. And why do I do this? Because a fawning media and corrupt power structure let me get away with it. Because when I stand up here and spout revisionist treacle about fonts and calligraphy and my role in being first with the Macintosh, people like you believe it. And it gets reported and reprinted without challenge."

        "So when I look in the mirror each morning and think about whether it's my last day on earth, I also say to myself, "Just in case it isn't, I better make sure I take care of No. 1." And I guess the lesson to you as you make your way through life is, Don't cross me, or I'll crush you. And nobody will be around to stick up for you while I do it. They'll all be too busy applauding my bogus life lessons while thinking, "What a guy!""

        -- Seattle Times Columnist Paul Andrews re-writes Steve Jobs' Stanford commencement speech

    • My advice, listen to all the +5 comments, and do the exact opposite.

      +5s? Including this one?
    • by Ratbert42 (452340) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @10:27PM (#12854126)
      As an aging overwieght geek living in my own basement, let me tell the kids working at McDonald's something:


      The time to figure out what job to get is not the week before you graduate with a master's degree.

  • Apparently one... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lucid Interval (861321) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:24PM (#12852213)
    Apparently one which does not require much decision making.
  • by Pete (big-pete) (253496) * <peter_endean@hotmail.com> on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:25PM (#12852222)

    I think you should be very careful - I can't imagine many companies wanting to hire a fresh graduate into a Senior position, there are a lot of experienced professionals out there looking for work, and all the graduates are generally looking to step into a junior software developer positions.

    If you aim for unrealistic goals, then you must be prepared to fail, if you do want to go for the senior positions on the off-chance you hit lucky, make sure you also apply for the junior positions elsewhere.

    To be honest, just working in a corporate environment should be a challenging learning experience for most graduates, it's completely different to how you will have worked in college. Once you have mastered the basic work-place skills and proven your worth then you will be in a position to move on to more challenging roles.

    I would agree that it is best to find a job that you will learn in and be challenged, but the way to do this is to have a lot of applications out there, a number of offers in the bag after interviews, then you choose the most interesting/challenging one. Don't be afraid of accepting positions as they come in, and then "resigning" them before starting if you get a better offer from another company. the companies are pretty strict on making sure they have the right candidate out of many, and if you get the opportunity then you should make sure you pick the best company out of many.

    Get your first foot on the ladder, then set your own pace for progression - be on the lookout for stagnation though, if you find yourself getting bogged down in a position, bored and unchallenged, go shopping for a new job.

    Hope that helps!

    -- Pete.

    • by sitkill (893183) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @04:18PM (#12852528)
      From a person who just went through a hiring phase for two programming positions (one senior, one junior), and wading through the over 200+ resume we did recieve, the only advice i can give you: 1. Don't assume you are qualified for a senior position if you don't have the experience to justify it. Most companies will look for relevant experience versus schooling (not always the case but...) 2. A full time position is always better (and will reflect better on your resume) than any amount of contract work or part time work you did (assuming what type of contract work of course). Companies like to see long term employment. 3. From a lower end position, a master's degree won't help you versus a normal bachlors degree. What you should look out for is the chance to really have an opportunity to make that masters degree work for you. That usually wont happen right away. 4. A position in a researching environment has really good potential of rising up that fabled "ladder" with a masters degree. Of course, a reseraching position will never pay as much as one in the "industry". I'd honestly, like pete said, get your foot in the ladder, and start climbing. Just find a ladder you actually want to climb is the most important thing :)

  • From someone who is in the industry, stay away from games. You are only signing yourself up for long hours for lackluster compensation.

    --P
  • Find a job you think sounds interesting. If they don't want you there, tell them you can work for free for a while. That way you can show you can handle it and if they like your skills you might aswell get a job with a real salary. It also shows you really want the job, and that's a motivator for them to hire you.
    • Re:Be agressive. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jeko (179919) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @04:35PM (#12852613)
      Let me apologize up front for how vehemently I'm going to disagree with you.

      No. I mean no. For the love of God, No! Have you lost your bloody mind?! NO!

      Don't. Ever. Work. For. Free. You might as well wear a sandwich board that reads "My time is worthless and I'm so naive that I believe an idea put forth by suits looking to recruit cheap, easily-abused labor. I'm beyond desperate, so please, pay me some lowball chump change."

      Take a lesson from the marketers. People honestly believe that a thing is worth what you paid for it. If you ever work for someone for free, you'll never convince them to pay top dollar for your services.

      You wouldn't believe how much my life has improved since I learned to look them right in the ye without blinking and say "You're right. I compete on quality, not price. To be honest, these are my prices if I design and implement. If I have to go through the headache of fixing someone else's mistakes, I charge a 20% premium."

      You'd be amazed at how that one little statement/attitude improves your world. You never have to deal with those neurotic not-worth-the-trouble PITA clients, and the rest come to the job with a "he's expensive, he must know what he's doing" mentality.

      So long as you can deliver the goods, it's a far more satisfying way to run your business.

  • Make sure you don't undersell yourself. I came out of University with a couple of degrees and three years research, but thought that everyone in the real world was much more experienced than me. I took a job with a small company for around £20K pa, but soon realised that I was carrying the company as I had more experience and better practice. I left there, and two years and three jobs later I was in a senior post with more than twice the salary.
  • by 26199 (577806) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:26PM (#12852233) Homepage

    That's the key, and a degree doesn't help you much. A degree gives an employer a fair indication that you have a decent level of knowledge and can work reasonably hard. But it doesn't tell them that you'll be able to plan a software project or write code that's easy to maintain.

    If you apply for a job and they have a choice between you and someone with more real world experience, odds are pretty good they won't choose you. So, fresh out of college, your choices are limited. Basically, check the job listings and apply for anything which isn't asking for more experience than you've got. There are other things to consider, of course, but that's the major one. They pretty much have to be looking for a fresh graduate.

    • A degree gives an employer a fair indication that you have a decent level of knowledge and can work reasonably hard.

      And these days, a lot of degrees don't carry the weight they used to because so many places are practically giving them away (and I don't mean those e-mails you keep getting), and most degrees in computer science don't demonstrate much knowledge of computer science (because so many are just sub-standard training in the tools of the day with a university logo on the certificate). As a new

  • by ky11x (668132) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:27PM (#12852235)

    It's "Master's," not "Masters." See wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org].

    It doesn't look particularly impressive on a resume if you can't even write your educational credentials correctly. Yes, these are small things, but we are nerds, and for nerds small things like this matter. If we weren't obsessive about details, our programs wouldn't compile, and we wouldn't be who we are.

  • Our soon-to-be ex-student friend here is very naive. I should know, I was the same when I left university, proud and all, with my degree and a nice letter from the school stating that I had the best grades in the region.

    But there's a big difference between him and me: I started working during the bubble, and I had the luxury of actually shopping for a job. That is over now, as he'll soon realize.

    Good luck buddy, you'll need it. Trust me...
    • He's in the real estate bubble... if nothing else, he could sell condos to people with more credit than sense in southern Cally ;)
  • It never ceases to amaze me that people try and figure out what job they should look for AFTER they've done their years of schooling.

    Personally, I always looked at school as a means to an end... I want this kind of a job, so I'll take this in school.

    • Personally, I always looked at school as a means to an end... I want this kind of a job, so I'll take this in school.

      And some of us study what we're actually interested in. It's foolish to assume that at 18, you know what all jobs are like and what you want to do.

  • If it were me I'd make sure, no matter how "high up" the position was, that it was something I found interesting and fufilling. Even if the job is less than challenging, but is part of a field you find interesting and enjoy, I think you will have a better chance of sticking with it. You will, most likely, have the ability to work up to something better (aka more challenging) in that field once you're already there.

    What I'm saying is, don't go for a harder job just because its harder. Choose something t
  • If you're coming straight from university, you can do much worse than a few years of full time employment. Pay off those depts, gain some valuable experience so that people will take you seriously, it'll help you with what ever you may want to do later in life.

    As for what sort of employment, I'm biased because I work in it, but I think the Mobile Phone software industry is very up and coming right now, its where all the excitment is going to be in the next few years.
  • by ubiquitin (28396) * on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:32PM (#12852278) Homepage Journal

    That's one way to prove yourself and learn all the parts of a business directly. Or rotate through divisions of a larger company that involve marketing, product design, business development, channel relations, advertising, tech support, etc. If you take this approach, one thing is for sure: you won't wind up a tax-and-spend Democrat. (!)

  • One you think you can manage/are skilled for..
    One where the people are friendly( managment and co-workers)
    One with good benefits .
    One with prospects.
    All else failing , take what's going and find your head as you go .
  • by pointyhairedmba (698579) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:33PM (#12852282)

    You're asking the wrong question. You should first sit down and ask yourself what interests you and what you would enjoy doing for a living. Maybe you dig airplanes so you want to get a job working on the computer systems on new planes from Boeing. Or maybe you like security software so go find a job at Symantec. You get the point.

    After you've figured out what interests you, go talk to alumni from your school who work in the industry you're heading into. Ask them how they like their job, what salary expectatios you should have with your experience etc.

    Whatever you end up doing, make sure you enjoy it. Good luck job hunting! I hope you land somewhere interesting and enjoyable.

  • I got a good Bsc Comp Sci from a good university, and couldnt get a IT job for a year, bare in mind this was just before 9/11 when I graduated I guess which might alter things..

    I then went back and got an MSc in Internet Systems Development but when I was 'learning' I landed a part time development roll where I was hideously over worked and under paid, now 12 months after graduating I've packed in that job and as well as a BSc and an MSc (that noone cares about) I have 3 years of industry experience that c
  • I got out of school just after the dot com bust and 9/11... it took me the better part of 3 years to find a job (my area is extremely depressed -- coudln't afford to move anywhere).

    You take any job you can get and look what for you want later :)

  • zerg (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord Omlette (124579) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:35PM (#12852301) Homepage
    Don't you kids have guidance counselors or advisors or anything? Find a job you think would be fun! Or find a job that will allow you to save up to switching to something fun.
  • by twofidyKidd (615722) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:35PM (#12852302)
    Senior level positions are reserved for individuals who have commensurate experience and education, only one of which you have (and, even though you say you have a masters degree, I don't know if its a masters in culinary arts from the Wassamatta U, or a Comp Sci degree from MIT.)
    If you shoot for a Senior level anything position, you better know, and I mean KNOW your shit, because by that point, they are looking for people to get things done, rather than learning things. You might do well to start at a I or II level position, and work (and I do mean WORK) your way up. I started at a I and in less than a year, got promoted (with a consider raise) to a II level by proving myself beyond just doing what was necessary.
  • Networking is key. The tried and true book Winning Friends and Influencing others completely changed the way I talked to people and I saw an immediate improvement. It basically boils down to just asking people questions and being genuinely interested. Try it sometime.

    By the way does anyone have recommendations for books that are similar over even better?
  • I've been looking at senior software developer positions, but is that too high up the ladder for someone 'fresh' to cope with?

    People starting at my company (defense contractor) with a MSCS start at software engineer level 2. One step above those without the masters. Basically the 2 year masters is the same as 2 years of work. Forget trying to be a senior level.
  • I just got my Master of Science in Computer Science; and am thinking it might not be a bad idea to walk right back into that Ivory Tower.
  • You should have been preparing to get a job during your college years, rather than after, because then you'd graduate with some experience, which would put you ahead of a lot of people. At least from what I've been able to infer, interviewers tend to have the attitude that graudates don't know anything because they haven't been in "the real world" long enough, and some experience will help dispel that. They also seem to pay an inordinate amount of attention to your GPA when you're fresh out of school, so if
  • by vinn (4370) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:53PM (#12852401) Homepage Journal
    The first question you may need to answer is whether learning is your favorite hobby. If so, then go get a challenging job and join the corporate rat race. Keep in mind that the larger your company and division, the more backstabbing and politics you'll deal with.

    If learning isn't your favorite hobby, then put together a list of all the stuff you like to do. Do you like to travel? Mountain bike? Scuba dive? If that's what you enjoy, then go work in that field. Believe it or not, you can find good-paying tech jobs (or just about anything else) in each of those areas. If you like to travel, look on Lonely Planet's web site for jobs. If you like to ride bikes, then check out the website of a bike manufacturer to see if they're hiring.

    I worked for a small company for about 3 years and had a lot of fun doing sys admin work. It was a great learning experience and at that point in my life I enjoyed learning just about more than anything.

    Then I decided I'd go skiing. Now I get paid to work for a ski resort doing IT work. In the winter I get anywhere between 40 - 100 days of skiing in. I'm actually sort of getting bored of skiing now, so I'm thinking sitting on a beach in Thailand is what I'll do. I just need to get paid for it.

    You'll also need to weigh whether the greed of $$$ will override where you want to live. Ideally you'll live and work exactly where you want to. However, you might be tempted to move across the country to a place you hate just to make money.
  • by The boojum (70419) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @03:54PM (#12852409)
    I've been looking at senior software developer positions, but is that too high up the ladder for someone 'fresh' to cope with?

    Depends on where you work. I worked for several years after college and then went back to school full time for an advanced degree. At least in my experience, there's a world of difference between what the senior software engineers did and the kind of development that I do in grad school.

    Most academic types don't have to worry about making their code bulletproof, "productizing" it, requirements documents, tech specs, working with UI folks, working with QA folks and bug DBs, or coding to a schedule as part of team. Then there's talking to customers, putting out fires and doing damage control when something breaks. And depending on how senior you are, there may be managing a budget and managing devs under you. (Then you may get to deal with HR for hiring, firing and performance evaluations.) It's much more rigorous and often very different from the sort of speculative, independant exploratory development that takes place at grad school.

    I'm not trying to put down grad school (I wouldn't be back if I didn't think it had value), but someone who's never worked in the commercial sector will lack a lot of the real-life experience that senior engineers there need. And an advanced degree is not a substitute.
  • Big company first (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chiph (523845) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @04:15PM (#12852508)
    Go to work at a big company first. That way you will be exposed to plenty of negative examples.

    For instance: The coder who wouldn't check-in for five weeks at a time, and then say their hard drive crashed. When the source control admin would go to reconstruct their work, they found there had only been 10 lines of code completed during that period. After this happened three times running, the company wised up and fired his ass.

    Then there's the guy we called "PhD" -- which stood for "personal hygiene deficit". A good example of why some people shouldn't eat at their desks.

    At a large bank in Charlotte, there was the eternal project -- every time a new Senior Vice President got hired, the project got reincarnated as his personal vision of how the code should work. I expect they still haven't delivered anything, 12 years later.

    Chip H.
  • Very simple. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jlseagull (106472) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @06:06PM (#12853005) Homepage
    Don't search for jobs at all. Incorporate yourself and find a business mentor, by asking around at your school's small business office - most good schools should have one. Call your alum affice and ask if any alum has offered to be a mentor in their field.

    Make yourself up some business cards, and have at it! Starting a business is pretty easy, and if you work hard at it one can be a lot more successful than simply working for someone else.

    Get an HSA (health savings account) with a small business association, and start a Roth IRA immediately.

    In an interview in Inc. 500 a few years back, many hiring managers said that prior ownership of a tech business (even if it failed miserably) immediately put someone at the top of the list for a lead technical position or management.

    Good luck!
  • by Demerara (256642) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @08:26PM (#12853613) Homepage
    This is serious advice. Don't put your dreams on hold until your career has been well established. If you do, you'll wake up one morning years or decades down the road and it will be too late.

    After I finished in college, I became a musician - something I always wanted to do. This evolved into running a recording studio. I also worked in the theatre - because I always wanted to act too! The skills I learned in these professions have stood me well to this day. About 5 years out of college, I got my first "conventional" job.

    Now, in my early forties, my career is where I want it to be. I'm still trying new things but staying within the ball park of my qualifications and experience.

    Some of my peer group who left school and immersed themselves immediately and deeply into their career paths are now hitting their mid-life crises with varying consequences.

    So, find a comfortable place along the spectrum which has career/salary/prospects at one end and reckless abandon at the other.

    Good luck to you and remember - don't rely on the advice of strangers...
  • by Derkec (463377) on Saturday June 18, 2005 @09:36PM (#12853913)
    Even with a masters degree, sonsider yourself a student for at least a year or two after you get out of school. Even if you have every ability to be a senior programmer (I doubt it) you don't want to be one. The absolute most important thing you want from a job is to have people around you who are willing and able to teach.

    I consider much of my first year out of school to have been a waste. Sure, I was given my own (important) projects and learned three languages I hadn't used before. That's great. But as some of my projects progressed it started to become apparent to me that while I could make this stuff happen and my boss was happy, I just didn't know my shit enough and needed mentoring. I wasn't getting that at that job and so I bailed out and found work elsewhere.

    Where I ended up was perfect. My first month or two was kinda miserable as I learned that not only did I need mentoring, I was way behind where I thought I was. But I learned a lot and had every line of code I wrote reviewed and critiqued. On my first solo project there, I ended up rewriting the thing about three times. You learn a lot from that.

    Your goal is to find a teacher who will appreciate the talents you've picked up in your masters program. I've been doing a lot of consulting and been in a number of companies. My heartfelt recommendation is that you get into a small company where the people are passionate.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."

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