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Hi all,
My name is Jeremy. I am a 31yr old, part time student hoping to get into an IT job while earning my CS degree. I got a late start in life due to a rough upbringing, and I need some advice on how to break into the field that I would like to have as a long term career. I am currently a business analyst at a fleet leasing company, and I have realized that I have a strong aptitude towards critical thinking, data analysis, and logic. I am a wiz in SQL, Excel, Access as well as other business application. I am completely self taught. I have been learning to program in school, and now I am very comfortable with basic to intermediate programming in C++, C#, Java, VB, and VB script. I would love to get into software development, but DB managment would be interesting to me as well.

How can I get a job in the field before I have my full degree. As I stated before, I work full time and I am taking 2-3 classes per semester. I am still about 6 years away from a bachelors degree at the rate that I am going. Will my business experience help me? I am carrying a 4.0 in school. Will potential employers look at that at all? Are there any specific entry level certifications that I should get? Any advice would be very welcome. Thanks all!!!

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Last Post by rbross
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    Trying to get into your current company's IT department might be a good move. Maybe they'd be willing to have you spend say 2 days there, 3 days at your current position. That would enable you to gain skills while still being productive. Read More

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    [QUOTE=jwenting;1147562]I'll be brutally honest with you: you don't stand a chance. Most companies won't hire anyone without experience when they're over say 25 years old. Too expensive. And by the time you get your degree, you'll be 35+, at that age it's hard to get any job in IT at … Read More

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I'll be brutally honest with you: you don't stand a chance.
Most companies won't hire anyone without experience when they're over say 25 years old. Too expensive.
And by the time you get your degree, you'll be 35+, at that age it's hard to get any job in IT at all.

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that's bullshit.
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I'll be brutally honest with you: you don't stand a chance.
Most companies won't hire anyone without experience when they're over say 25 years old. Too expensive.
And by the time you get your degree, you'll be 35+, at that age it's hard to get any job in IT at all.

Thank you, I appreciate your honestly, but I am certainly not willing to accept that as an answer. If there is something that I truely want, I will have it at some point in my life. My question was not as much if it is possible -- because it is. My question was what is the best course for me to get in before I finish my degee. Again, I truly appreciate your honesty, but defeatism is not my strong suit. I have already gotten much further than I "should" have without a college degree at all, so I have reason to be believe in myself.

Edited by jcmartin: n/a

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Just so you know the risks and won't be disappointed. Don't give up your current job yet ;)

The best thing you can probably do is learn the skills in your spare time while holding on to your current job.
When you feel comfortable, consider joining some open source project with a solid background (most are bad. and it can be very hard to figure out which is which) to gain practical experience.
That's the time to start looking for a job as well.

Were the economy and job market different (like it was in the late '90s for example) you could have gotten a junior job now and get on the job training.
In the current market that's no longer the case. There are droves of unemployed people with the right education and work experience who are a lot cheaper and less risky for companies to hire than you are, however talented you may be.

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Just so you know the risks and won't be disappointed. Don't give up your current job yet ;)

The best thing you can probably do is learn the skills in your spare time while holding on to your current job.
When you feel comfortable, consider joining some open source project with a solid background (most are bad. and it can be very hard to figure out which is which) to gain practical experience.
That's the time to start looking for a job as well.

Were the economy and job market different (like it was in the late '90s for example) you could have gotten a junior job now and get on the job training.
In the current market that's no longer the case. There are droves of unemployed people with the right education and work experience who are a lot cheaper and less risky for companies to hire than you are, however talented you may be.

Alright, that sounds good. The open source project is a great idea. Thanks very much! I have a really good reputation at my current company, so I might try to get into the IT department there once I have some experience. I really appreciate your response and honesty. I will certainly be willing to accept a junior level position, if available, in order to gain the experience to make me marketable in the IT field. Thanks for the advice jwenting!!!

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Trying to get into your current company's IT department might be a good move.
Maybe they'd be willing to have you spend say 2 days there, 3 days at your current position. That would enable you to gain skills while still being productive.

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Also give the Google summer of code program a look. It will give you some real experience with programming and you are paid for your time. Might want to act quick though as the deadline for applications is April 9th i think...

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potential, but is really geared for students on a "traditional" degree track.
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I'll be brutally honest with you: you don't stand a chance.
Most companies won't hire anyone without experience when they're over say 25 years old. Too expensive.
And by the time you get your degree, you'll be 35+, at that age it's hard to get any job in IT at all.

Thank you for this post. I have ten years of experience in help desk, hardware, software, and networking. I also have a B.A. in Computer Science. However, I could only get two interviews with recruiters this year after I dropped two degrees from my resume and presented the last ten years of my work experience. I might add that I started IT work at age 40. Right now, I'm substitute teaching and doing volunteer IT work. Before I read this post, I considered taking a few VB.NET courses this fall and searching for an internship. Thanks again for the reality check. : )

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I'll be brutally honest with you: you don't stand a chance.
Most companies won't hire anyone without experience when they're over say 25 years old. Too expensive.
And by the time you get your degree, you'll be 35+, at that age it's hard to get any job in IT at all.

i can't say how strongly i disagree with this, but let me take a stab at it:

that is pure bullshit.

getting a job is all about aptitude and -- most especially -- enthusiasm for the company and perseverance in applying.

yeh, maybe there are some companies who will look negatively on a 30-something new grad, but f--k them anyhow, you dont want to work for a place like that. for every place that would reject you based on being 10 years older than the average new grad, there are plenty of places who will hire you without even considering this non-issue, and give you the opp'ty to build your skills.

now, i realize the economy is still down, and hiring is suppressed generally speaking, but this is across the board in all industries.

i dont know where hte duckman works, but if he thinks that 30-35 year old entry level IT candidates are going to be broadly snubbed because they are in their 30's then he's got a tenuous grasp on the reality of industry hiring procedure.

look, just be aggressive in your job search and treat your job search as if it is itself a full-time job. go after the jobs you want, and don't be discouraged. on my graduation as a BSEE I put out probably 40 - 50 resumes/apps/letters before i landed the right one. you just got to work at it.

Edited by jephthah: n/a

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Maybe where you live a 30+ year old switching careers to IT stands a chance, here he doesn't.
And that's been the case for years now.

In fact anyone much over 30 without at least 5-10 years of experience in the field can forget about getting any job at all in IT here.
Heck, if you're over 40 you'd best not get laid off or you will be out of a job until retirement (or until the unemployment office forces you into a minimum wage job pruning bushes in a public park or something along those lines).

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'round here, it's also illegal to even ask how old a person is or to base a hiring decision on that info however obtained.

Edited by jephthah: n/a

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right, so they don't ask your age but your birthday :)
And then don't tell you you're too old but "we don't think you'd fit in our young and dynamic team".

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So, since the OP is in the US, I think it's safe to say he would be interested in hiring practices in the US. I can say that it is not uncommon for people over 30 to get entry level IT jobs here. Stay focused, work hard, you'll get what you want.

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okay, i see that duckman lives in the nether-regions.

i don't know what the employment system is like there,, but over here in the good ol US of A, anyone can get a job if they want it.

employers arent even allowed to ask your age until after you're hired.

age discrimination is hard to prove, but a company will get hammered with serious discrimination lawsuits if such practices were to be discovered.

the OP can rest assured that if he's moderately competent, he can get a job just about anywhere in IT. seriously, the jobs are a dime-a-dozen.

now he won't get the most prestigious ones right away, but even then if he works hard and plays the political/business games right, he can move up to almost anywhere.

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I agree with jephthah. Getting a job is attitude. I don't take anything for granted I believe that providence helped me be in the right place at the right time. That being said, my background is similiar but I came from an accounting back ground where I was moving up the ladder into middle management. I was always very computer literate that I was always some type of BA or Super User. I developed some in grown software applications for our Credit Department to use and realized that I had development experience to add to my resume. Currently, I am an I.T. Consultant working with other developers and I.T. professionals and have been doing this for the past three years. I changed my career track from accounting to informatin technology. I still am currently seeking my CS degree and probably have 2 to 3 years left attending part-time. I currently have a six figure income and have increased each year even in this economy. I know this isn't the norm but it is counting your blessings, having the right attitude, and not listening to guys who say it is impossible.

Keep it up. I think you have the right attitude!

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Some good advice has been given here. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it. There are plenty of opportunities for crack coders regardless of education, but it will be tough. All you need is that first job to learn the ropes and you'll be on your way if you truly have talent.

The reality is that these days, software development is much more structured, even in small companies. Even people coming out of college with a CS these days may have decent coding skills, but frequently (not always) lack knowledge or experience about a software development process, working as part of a team with critical path responsibility, and everything that goes into releasing a quality product. That's the part of the job that will be tough to learn before you join a company.

But the people that suggested that you join an open source project are giving you good advice. Do something that allows you to be prepared to show what you have done. Whatever you do, don't BS. Take an entry level job if one is offered at any price and get your foot in the door. Or take a job as a QA tester, then ask if you can write test automation code. Someone getting paid as a tester and writing automation code is really valuable to a team. Also, every company is different with a different culture. Some are a nightmare, and some are great, but they all think that their way is the only way, so don't get too enamored with the first way that you are told to do things at your first few gigs.

Meanwhile, at home, install a source control system or two, like Git, Subversion, etc so you are not completely green. Save your code, label releases, study testing procedures, learn how to write test plans, learn some scripting languages.

FWIW, I am self-taught (albeit a long time ago) and I have been a VP of R&D at a number of companies, from small startups to very large >$1B software companies, and I repeat; the hardest thing is getting your foot in the door. I would rather hire an hungry, eager, go-getter with brains than an arrogant know-everything any day. But you have to convince the hiring manager that you have those qualities.

After that it's all up to you. I sincerely wish you good luck!

Rick Bross

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