Here's the short of a longer story.

About a year and a half ago I was at the point where I had been out of work for over a year. I had a Bachelor's in Business and several years of management experience, but mainly had a bunch of "Soft" skill ... nothing "Hard."

So I decided to go back to school and learn software development, since it was something that I had always had interest in and could see myself doing full-time as a career. I enrolled at a local Technical college which had a program that transfers into the 4-year University near it. A year later I am one class away from having the Associate's from the tech school, I am finishing up an internship (in development, but not at a software company), and have begun to look at finding an entry-level job. I've had coursework in most of the major languages (C#, Java, C++, ASP.NET. SQL), but our curriculum has been mostly hands on, and not much theory.

I thought that I may be somewhat "ready" to start looking for low-level development jobs, since I have been productive in my internship. But I had two interviews this week for entry-level programming jobs, and let's just say that I still have some major learning to do. I've always intended to go for a bachelor's or master's after I was done with the Associate's ... but I have a wife and child and need to start bringing in some sort of income, so that I can continue on with school.

What do I do?

I want to be a developer (preferably in the C#, .NET area), but like I said, I still have a lot to learn.

Would it be a bad move on my end to get my foot in the door somewhere as a tester? From what I have heard it is not as difficult to find entry-level positions in that area.

If anyone could provide some guidance, it would be greatly appreciated!

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It probably would be easier to find a position in testing / Quality Control. The training that you have had so far could work in your favor but it might not. If you have already had some training / experience in preparing test plans,matrices and cases; and, you can demonstrate that, then that will help. If most of your experience to-date is development with the testing being relatively informal and undocumented then it may not help as much. If the interviewer is looking for a long-term person for the testing function and your main interest is getting some more knowledge and then getting out of testing and into development, he/she may get a sense of that and that may reduce your chances.

It depends to a significant degree on your testing experience and the Company's culture. If you have some applicable experience and if they are looking for a good person for the longer term for the Company not just for a specific function: then your academic credentials and management experience could be seen as a significant asset. If you don't have a lot of exposure to formalized testing methodologies (assuming that the Company uses one or would find that knowledge beneficial), then I suggest that you do some research and learn as much as you can before you go out for any interviews. You also need to be prepared to make a commitment to a testing role for 2 - 4 years. You should also leave the door open to becoming a team leader or project person within the Testing function and not assume that the only career path would be into a development role. If you have good Management / Project Management skills, then those are needed everywhere and that could become your career path rather than being a developer.

Best of Luck. Let us know how it goes.

Thanks for the insight, Chris.

That's part of where my being lost lies. When I got into the Software Development program my sights set straight for the Developer role (of course). But I'm actually interested in the SDLC as a whole. It could very well turn out that I like Testing and QA as much or more than Developing.

I'm not necessarily trying to backdoor my way to a developer job, but I'm in a situation where I'm not confident enough with my developing skill set (at least based on my couple of interviews), and I need to find work pretty soon for financial reasons.

I'm looking at Testing / QA as a way to get my foot in the Software Development door, so that I can begin to get some exposure to the SDLC. And I wouldn't have a problem with committing to Testing for 2-4+ years ... and like I mentioned earlier, I may end up liking it enough to make that my career.

I just don't want to get in a situation where I am down the Testing / QA road a ways, and the ability to move over to a developer role be dried up.

I'd love to find an internship / entry-level developer position that I can grow within (the one I have now is with a Bank, and there is not much teaching or even interaction going on), but all the positions like this seem to want someone with experience and are not willing to train at all.

Thanks again for the response.

One way to get some experience would be to join up with an Open-Source project team (as a developer or a tester or both). It isn't a short-term fix but it might be a way to get some additional development skills and to have something else that's relevant on your resume. You could inquire at the outset who would be able to give you a reference and find out what credentials they have.

Open-Source projects are a good way to add to your resume, but if it's income that your looking towards at the moment, doing some consultation work, and some contract work could help you out too. Right out of college, and while attending for that matter, I was doing little side projects and some contract work to help pay for things. It's not dependable income, it's not steady, but it is something to help get by and to help support a family.

You may also want to look at more of an analyst role. I've known some very good analysts who have a modicum of programming experience but way more business process experience. That might be the way to go.

Thanks for the inputs!

Could you guys point me in the direction of a good place to find open source projects that are looking for help ... even if it's just lower-level help? It's not 100% about the money at this point, since the internship that I am working at now is paid ... just VERY modestly.

I'm more concerned about working on some real projects, where I can put the things that I learned/am learning in school together. I understand and know how to do a lot of things, I just don't have much practice doing it all together.

And @ BitBlt ... I have considered analyst roles, and they definitely could be an option since it would allow me to combine my original schooling and experience with what I am learning now. I believe that I would need to become stronger on the programming/developing side first, though. And eventually work my way into that sort of role, if I wanted to.

... also, I have some questions about consulting firms.

Do they typically take on relatively raw programmers? And are they generally willing to at least somewhat train people? I know all places are different, I am just wondering what any of your experiences are.

I'd love to go that route, since you would get the opportunity to work on different projects constantly.

Just like you said, all places are different. But if am asked to speak, i would say you can go in for consulting job if you can get your hands on one. I found out that most consultants are people who have the knowledge, but smaller knowledge than the core developers and come to think of it, they are better paid than even the developer.Since you have some knowledge on how things work and with your internship you have gathered some experience, you can give consulting a try and then use the opportunity to keep developing your programming skills until you have the confidence in yourself to solely deal with it.

Greetings to your wife and kid.

Best regards

Since you guys are being so generous with the responses, let me ask another question. This one is still on the same general topic, but down another lane.

The first language we were taught in our program was C#. We learned Java, C++, and ASP.NET afterwards ... but naturally I find C# as being my most proficient. I would love to one day become an expert web applications developer, and I'd love for my key strength to be ASP.NET.

My question is (for anyone in the C#/ .NET world), would it be smart for me to become an intermediate to advanced level C# programmer and then move into ASP.NET? Or (having a decent understanding of C# and .NET already) should I just jump head-first into ASP.NET right now? I would assume that a by-product of heavily working in ASP.NET, that you would pick up some intermediate to advanced level C#/.NET things anyway, correct?

You can find sites dedicated to Open Source and C# with an Internet search. You are most interested in "project teams" so that should probably be in your search terms. The link below is one I found with only a few minutes effort.

You can find sites dedicated to Open Source and C# with an Internet search. You are most interested in "project teams" so that should probably be in your search terms. The link below is one I found with only a few minutes effort.

Thanks, Chris.

In regards to you C#/ASP.NET question, it depends on what style of ASP.NET you want to go with. If you want to go the developers route, then C# first will definitely help you out. However, ASP.NET has the ability to let you get away with minimal code and more front end tools. Me personally, I learned the front end ASP first (after learning VB.NET, but not connecting the two), then got some c# experience and started experimenting by converting a lot of my projects and labs from college to web applications.

Everything that can be done in a desktop app can be done in a web app, the only considerations are time and effort.

I would rather advice you become a professional in C# first. With this, you can create good console, windows and web applications(all in one) using the same language. It would also give you some experience with other languages you may want to interface your applications with.

I would rather advice you become a professional in C# first. With this, you can create good console, windows and web applications(all in one) using the same language. It would also give you some experience with other languages you may want to interface your applications with.

This right here is about what my train of thought has been. Seems as if that would make programming in ASP.NET that much easier ... while also having the ability to create desktop apps also.

very killing two birds with one stone

I've done some soul searching ... of sorts ... over the last couple of weeks. Spent a good amount of time researching the various paths I could take from here, and trying to figure out the best way to leverage my current credentials and abilities.

I've come to the point where I feel the best thing for me at the moment would be to veer off of the developer path, onto the testing / QA road. I feel like with the foundational knowledge I've gained about programming and development through my Associate's program and on-the-side learning, that I could be good in that role.

For anyone in the testing / QA field ...

If I have an associate's in Software Development (after this Fall) and a solid understanding on how apps work, have a Bachelor's in Business w/ several years of management experience, picked up a testing / QA certification like the ASTQB Foundation Level (if for nothing else but to learn more about testing / QA), and have a general "want" to be in the industry ... would I appeal to testing managers / leads as a candidate for a long-term position?

I could see myself enjoying a Testing / QA lead type of role.

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