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Ask Slashdot: Computer Science Freshman, Too Soon To Job Hunt? 309

First time accepted submitter stef2dotoh (3646393) writes "I've got about a year of computer science classes under my belt along with countless hours of independent online and tech book learning. I can put together a secure login-driven Web site using PHP and MySQL. (I have a personal project on GitHub and a personal Web site.) I really enjoyed my Web development class, so I've spent a lot of time honing those skills and trying to learn new technologies. I still have a ways to go, though. I've been designing Web sites for more than 10 years, writing basic PHP forms for about 5 or 6 years and only gotten seriously into PHP/MySQL the last 1 or 2 years on and off. I'm fluent with HTML and CSS, but I really like back-end development. I was hoping I might be able to get a job as a junior Web developer, but even those require 2+ years of experience and a list of technologies as long as my arm. Internships usually require students to be in their junior or senior year, so that doesn't seem to be an option for me. Recruiters are responding to my resume on various sites, but it's always for someone more experienced. Should I forget about trying to find a junior Web developer position after only one year of computer science classes?"
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Ask Slashdot: Computer Science Freshman, Too Soon To Job Hunt?

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  • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @06:09PM (#46975117)

    You are making a huge financial investment in both real dollars and opportunity cost.

    Don't worry about developing web sites. Spend that time advancing your core knowledge. Learn as deep and as abstractly as you can. The technologies will change, the knowledge will not.

    Any job you take now will likely not impact your career. Find out if there's a professor you can work with in another faculty instead - by going up and down halls knocking on doors if possible. Chances are they have some IT problems that need solving this summer or know someone who does.

  • I wouldn't worry about some list of technologies. I wouldn't worry about n years of experience in some field.

    Technologies come and go rapidly.

    It would be better to focus on what problems you have solved, and how you used technologies you knew and came up to speed rapidly on technologies you did not know to solve those problems. Come into an interview with working software you can demo and code you have written -- and expect to talk about what you are showing.

    Also, bypass recruiters as much as possible. Work connections through friends, family, and school to get an interview. Expect to get turned down more than you get accepted, but eventually something will turn up.

  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @07:14PM (#46975453) Journal

    You sound like the kind of person we may be looking to hire soon. I've hired a few people with your level of experience.

    > I can put together a secure login-driven Web site using PHP and MySQL.

    Error. One of the companies I own is based on a single product, a SECURE login system. I've been studying security for over 20 years and I've been programming longer than that. We came out with our login security system fifteen years ago and we've been doing real R&D on it ever since. We've found a couple of serious errors we made several years ago. That means that with 10 years of professional programming experience, fifteen years of security experience, and five years of security R&D, we didn't have a secure system. I guarantee you're not far, far smarter than us. If you think you've made a secure authentication and authorization system suitable for the demands of the public web, that's only because of how little you must know about the threats you face.

    Have you read the 2001 Pennywize whitepaper, or one of my writings about the Pennywize vulnerability? If not, it's a pretty safe bet that you've coded the exact same vulnerability. That issue makes brute force orders of magnitude easier, such that it becomes pretty trivial to overcome any attempt counting that you think you're doing.

    You mentioned you had some publicly available code. If you link to it, I'll be glad to point out two or three significant security issues in your code (if it's for use on the public internet, where it will be attacked daily.).

    Assuming you're willing to learn about security, to be humbled, you.can send your resume and a link to ray@bettercgi.com .

    The other suggestion I have for you is if you do work these next few years, think mainly about what you can learn from working. Don't consider the salary when deciding whether or not to take a position, but rather accept one (or not) based on what you can learn and who you can meet. Working on autonomous cars at Google for FREE would be wiser than working on yet another message board system for yet another local web design shop for $35,000. The "just another job" option gets you $35 K. Working on the autonomous cars gets you the opportunity to learn from the best and brightest in the world.

  • Yes, too soon. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tpstigers ( 1075021 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @07:27PM (#46975521)
    75% of students change their major at least once. You may be one of them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2014 @07:27PM (#46975525)

    This is terrible advice. Aggressively pursue employment or internships. I routinely sit on hiring panels for entry level and experienced positions. The major on your resume will guarantee your resume will make it to the stack I have to look at for an entry level position. In descending order of importance, the following affect where you rank in the list of people we extend job offers to or even interview.
    Relevant Work Experience
    Relevant Internships
    Relevant Hobbies or Relevant Extra-Curricular Experience (ACM, etc)
    Name of School

    What I want to see on your resume is:
    Skills that I believe will be applicable to my positions
    Experience that substantiates the skills you claim to have proficiency in

    There are a LOT of CS majors where the rest of the parts of the resume are blank, or sparse. If that is what your resume looks when you decide to enter the workforce it will be undifferentiated. I don't believe you when you tell me you know some language or system and there is no work experience to back up that assertion. Classes don't count in the eyes of the hiring board. Hiring the wrong person has huge real and opportunity costs, so in most cases we prefer to leave a position unfilled than to hire someone we don't think can cut it. Show me as many instances as possible outside the classroom where you faced a problem relevant to the position for which you are being hired and you solved it.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.