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What Advice Would You Give to a Software Development Graduate?

05.20.2010
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As students graduate from their software development and computer science courses, what advice some of you in the community would give to them? While it might not be that easy to get a job, the variety of technologies and languages has never been better. Any companies that are hiring graduates will have high expectations, so for a start, graduates need to know more than just their course.

Here's what I would say to anyone who wants to make it in the industry: 

While waiting to land your dream job, try to make time for software development. At the very least, keep up with the latest news and releases in your particular technology area. If you really want to show committment, and keep your skill sharp, start contributing to an open source project. Don't feel intimidated by these projects: everyone works on these projects for a common goal. It's great experience for you, and gives you something else to talk about at your interview.  

If open source projects aren't your thing, I really would encourage to program at home. Any way that you can utilize the skills that you picked up during your course is worthwhile. Even if you have a job, programming in your spare time can be a great hobby, especially if you use a completely different language for this extra-ciricullar development. You might be creating web applications at work, but writing iPhone apps at home could be fun (and rewarding if you get a good app on the appstore). 

Something must have made you choose software as your career. Make sure to keep that in mind, to keep yourself motivated in the early years of your career. When you get a job, try to pick up as much as your can from your mentors.

I'm really interested to see what advice you would pass on to fresh graduates.

Comments

Endre Varga replied on Thu, 2010/05/20 - 3:58am

Do not repsect authority, money, age, alleged "talent", hyped persons.

Respect *demonstrated* knowledge. Respect talent experienced *first-hand*. Respect stuff that *works*. Respect *reality*. Respect people that are humble. Respect time.

Dapeng Liu replied on Thu, 2010/05/20 - 4:14am

write codes, write codes, and write more codes.
practice is the short cut to learn anything

Zqudlyba Navis replied on Thu, 2010/05/20 - 4:31am

Code for a few years, then gradually move to become less technical like a tester, then a business analyst, then a project manager, then a first line manager.

You will then realise how useless you've become, and how much fun it was to craft software with your bare hands on a keyboard.

Martijn Verburg replied on Thu, 2010/05/20 - 5:20am

Hi all, http://openhatch.org/ is an excellent place for recent graduates to start in their Open Source journey. The only other thing I'd add is to join your local development communities! London for example has a specific community for recently graduated software developers. Cheers, Martijn

Fabrizio Giudici replied on Thu, 2010/05/20 - 5:55am

Being just graduate and supposedly young, perhaps he's got still chances to change his job... ;-)

 

Seriously, I second the above and especially Martjin's advice about joining an open source project.

Steve Gee replied on Thu, 2010/05/20 - 6:52am

The cookie cutter advice: Find one of the older hacks and just have a coffee. Get a feel for the flow. No two companies are going to be the same. Double check your work, scour the web for "best practices" and use those to defend your direction and actions - NEVER use your opinion! Make yourself available - don't talk, listen. When asked, if you honestly don't have a supportable response - say you don't know or you lack the any subject matter in that area. People will respect your openness more than saying something that is "wrong". and my personal advice: Do not let yourself get caught up in "what you are doing" learn "why you are doing it" - this is a good foot path to getting yourself into the architectural understandings which will help you in the long run. To understand why companies make decisions is as important as understanding how their solutions are engineered. Good luck and welcome to the field.

Chad Hahn replied on Thu, 2010/05/20 - 7:19am

Not exactly development related, but get out of debt as quickly as possible or don't go into debt if you have none.  That way, you don't have to be tied to a paycheck and can pursue things that may be more interesting but perhaps don't pay as well or in some cases, at all.

 

Alessandro Santini replied on Thu, 2010/05/20 - 7:33am

Take another degree or vocational course. NOW.

Bakery, kitchen, poetry, law, psychology. Anything but CS.

Alessandro Santini replied on Thu, 2010/05/20 - 7:34am in response to: Chad Hahn

Chad - thankfully attending a college is a nearly a right outside the US...

Daniel Ribeiro replied on Thu, 2010/05/20 - 10:06am

The advice I'd give is the one I wish I received: You Weren't Meant to Have a Boss

Endre Varga replied on Thu, 2010/05/20 - 11:19am

Some technical advice

Do not repeat processes or code. Refactor instead of Copy-Paste and automate instead of manual repetition. I NEVER ever had a case when the time spent on automatization was a waste of time.

Know libraries. Lot of them. In the Java world you can do astonishingly cool stuff without writing too much code. Beware of licencing, though.

Jonathan Court replied on Fri, 2010/05/21 - 12:31am

read 'Making it Big in Software' by Sam Lightstone.

it says it all - for the current market anyway; and there are some excellent interviews with the movers and shakers in the industry.

Setya Djajadinata replied on Sun, 2010/05/23 - 7:36am

Always keep in mind that the code you write today will be maintained by someone else who knows where you live.

Alex(JAlexoid) ... replied on Sun, 2010/05/23 - 6:40pm

At the very least, keep up with the latest news and releases in your particular technology area.

 That is at the most absolute bare minimum. IT is b***h, that requires up-to 16ours of additional time in a week on catching up with technologies and news.

Taking a vacation for a month will cost you so much knowledge that the next year will be spent trying to catch up with that tech. IT is just too fast paced.

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