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Hey

I recently finished Sixth Form and am want to purse a carear in computing, I am not exactly sure what area I want to be in but I love pretty much everything to do with computing so its not that big of a deal. I have been searching the web for a few weeks looking for apprenticeships and stuff like that but they literally all seem to be graduate positions and I do not want to go Uni as I believe I could learn more in 3 weeks at my computer than I could in 3 years taking Computer Science.

I post here to ask people if they have been in a similar situation and how they go through the first 3-5 years of their carear until they were ready to start appyling to the experienced jobs, or any veterens of the industry have anything to say about it. I am intrested in any websites that offer starter jobs in the industry, although I have probably been on most of them. I would like to know of any courses that I could take, stuff that looks good on a CV and will come in useful at work for example a microsoft course or something, or anything that I could be doing to increase the chance of getting a job in the industry.

I know a lot about programming and know around 5 languages, and have a vast knowledge of tons of different areas but it seems this doesn't really matter until you are a graduate, have lots of experience or have something flashy to show off. Even if it is just your story I would love to hear it, and any help is even better - thanks!

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Last Post by Mike Askew
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  • Guys although i appreciate the posts, I asked for anything I could do to increase the chance of getting a job outside going to Uni - not a number of posts telling me why I should go to Uni. Read More

  • I can add my personal experiences here. I did not go to University either after finishing Sixth Form. I applied for a Higher Apprenticeship with Capgemini UK while in college along with the usual university applications. The HA programme does not require any prior knowledge of programming at all (however … Read More

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    Dani 1,665   4 Years Ago

    I'll give you my experience as well. I studied a B.S. in Computer Science with a minor in Business Information Systems at a local University. I started DaniWeb as a sophomore, and it really started to take off. I switched to taking a light courseload (only 2 or 3 courses … Read More

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I believe I could learn more in 3 weeks at my computer than I could in 3 years taking Computer Science.

That may or may not be true, but why deny yourself an education when you have the choice of either putting yourself on the same level as your competition, or setting yourself up for a do-nothing and go-nowhere career. Competition in IT is very stiff, there are lots of people who gladly graduate from college so that they get their foot in the door for a profitable and rewarding career. Without that, your career will go nowhere. Why should any company hire someone who has no formal education when there are lots of other people looking for the same job who have bachelor degrees? Your reasoning for not wanting to go to collete is just plain stupid.

I know a lot about programming and know around 5 languages, and have a vast knowledge of tons of different areas

That means almost nothing when it comes to entry-level jobs. Just because I know how to use a hamnmer and saw doesn't mean I will be any good at building a house. Get an education.

Once you have enrolled in college you can probably take bypass tests to skip and get credit for knowledge you already have.

Edited by Ancient Dragon

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I have been searching the web for a few weeks looking for apprenticeships and stuff like that but they literally all seem to be graduate positions and I do not want to go Uni as I believe I could learn more in 3 weeks at my computer than I could in 3 years taking Computer Science.

doubtful. do understand, that nowadays, recruiters (even for apprenticeships, or internships) will look at the resume of the candidate. highschool degree or university level for the same pay (free) ? yup. university it is.
also, realize that just what's in the books is not all you 'pick up' at the university: you learn the need for versioning (which you'll hardly ever need if you work solo on projects), you learn to work with a team, respect deadlines, methodologies in a (half) decent way, you'll learn about new and better tools to work with, ...

that shouldn't be ignored, either, I know (future) employers won't.

I am intrested in any websites that offer starter jobs in the industry,

a 'starter job' these days is for someone who has a degree, and preferrably a few years of experience. having no trivial experience: the degree will help. even from starters, companies dare to ask quite a lot, simply because they can. they can afford to be picky: there are enough starters with a college/university degree to choose from.
having a college/university degree won't guarantee you a job, I'll admit that, but having no degree won't either. I don't know about the situation in your country, but over here, people started up in a small administration position looking over the network, some simple programming, ... and in such way building up the required experience to look for better jobs, but even that's no longer an option.
don't have a degree? better hope your dad has a company which has a vacancy..

I know a lot about programming and know around 5 languages,

This might be so. then again, it might also be not.
I've seen self-proclaimed experts on programming, since they 've written quite some applications themselves. then comes the day their application 'breaks', nullpointer exceptions start to show up, and they have no idea what-so-ever what that meant.

you may know a lot, but when you have a degree, a recruiter 'll know that that knowledge has been tested, and that you have been tought some more in-depth material than a lot "I'll study it myself" people know.

look at it this way: if you own a cab company, will you hire the driver that can drive really good, or will you hire that other driver, the one that can drive at least as good, but can also change the tire, or pop the hood and fix the engine himself if necessity calls for it?

I agree with Ancient Dragon: a degree will no doubt be a very valuable addition to your resume, not in the least because you will be able to proof the knowledge you think/claim/actually have, or improve where you were wrong, and maybe learn that bit more to put you in the eyesight of recruiters.

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There's millions of unemployed IT people with degrees and experience willing to take on jobs well below their education/experience in order to have an income.
And you think that just because you've read a few books and made a facebook page for yourself you can outcompete all of them on the labour market?

That attitude alone is a good reason you are not going to get hired, you're delusional.

While indeed you don't need a degree to get a job in some industries, you do effectively need one to get a job in this industry.
It's no different from applying to a job as a medical doctor and claiming that you can do the job because you know how to apply a bandaid when you've cut a finger in the kitchen.

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Guys although i appreciate the posts, I asked for anything I could do to increase the chance of getting a job outside going to Uni - not a number of posts telling me why I should go to Uni.

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I do not want to go Uni as I believe I could learn more in 3 weeks at my computer than I could in 3 years taking Computer Science.

Even if that was true (and I doubt it is), going to Uni has many other benefits:
1) Meeting other people with complementary skills & interests -> I know many people who started their own business while at Uni because they were able to meet people with the skills or know how to help them do it.
2) Opportunities to get experience -> Universities often have various schemes to encourage the hiring of students part-time for small projects. This lets you get experience working on projects for real applications.
3) References! -> doing small projects or volunteering with professors is a great way to get excellent reference letters. And employers will consider a reference letter from a professor of software engineering much more respectable that one from a highschool teacher.

I agree with the other respondents as well, taking the attitude that your "too good for school" smacks of arrogance which often doesn't go down well with empoyers when you have such little proof of your abilities.

I asked for anything I could do to increase the chance of getting a job outside going to Uni

Start your own business and create your own job. Your best bet is probably to design your own Apps for smartphones or tablets and/or make your own games. The only other thing you might be-able to survive as is work free-lance designing websites. Although all of these require substantial creative/artistic talent (and a good deal of luck) not just coding ability. You could also check out various crowd-sourcing competitions (eg. Innocentive) as occasionally there might be a chance to get a more permanent job from a successful submission.

I would like to know of any courses that I could take, stuff that looks good on a CV and will come in useful at work for example a microsoft course or something, or anything that I could be doing to increase the chance of getting a job in the industry.

Am I missing something? you're willing to do highly specialized mostly useless practical courses but not go to Uni to get a comprehensive education??

Edited by Agilemind

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Guys although i appreciate the posts, I asked for anything I could do to increase the chance of getting a job outside going to Uni - not a number of posts telling me why I should go to Uni.

google for "freelance programming", there are several sites where you can bid on jobs. Or try some temp agencies where you get paid only if they assign you to a job (which probably will require an interview with the prospective client).

Other than that you are pretty much at a dead-end without a university degree. There was a time 30 years ago when the job market in IT was wide open and people could easily get jobs without a degree. But that was 30 years ago and times have changed.

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If you look outside of programming/Computer Science, you'll probably have an easier time getting into the IT field. I know a lot of people that are in the field without a degree. This doesn't mean that I am discounting the value of a degree or the University experience.

In the areas of computer networking, you'll find many field people have little college experience. Most likely because there are not a whole lot of networking related degrees. These are people who generally are hands-on and like to tinker, build, and repair.

Personally, I'm not a programmer by trade although I thoroughly enjoy web development. I have a masters in Information Systems. I can say that the degree has paid for itself and has opened countless opportunities for me. Not only because of the paper but the people I've met and worked with over the years.

A degree guarantees nothing except broadening your horizon.

Good luck...

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Before I retired from Manitoba Hydro, all of the programmers that were hired after around 1980 had either a Computer Science or (CS) Computer Engineering (CE) degree. Before 1980 there were a few community college graduates hired. Almost all of the network people came up through the ranks of electrical technician so they had a solid hardware background.

When I compared the CS code with CE code I generally found that CE code was almost never written with consideration for the maintenance people. CE code was more geared toward maintainability but that was because the Engineers were never expected to maintain their own code.

In any case, if anyone ever tells you that a programmer's job is to write code, they are lying. A programmer's job is to provide solutions, preferably with as few lines of clear code as possible.

Edited by Reverend Jim

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Guys although i appreciate the posts, I asked for anything I could do to increase the chance of getting a job outside going to Uni - not a number of posts telling me why I should go to Uni.

imho... very little.
be able to bankroll your own company, or bluff your way into a company as freelancer/consultant.

well ... if you are also looking for IT jobs other than programming, assembling hardware might be an option, or startin up as xth line support. go for small companies, who allow for certain functions to have lesser qualifications, or maybe a starting up company.

but in the end ... these are almost hail Mary passes, I'm afraid.

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If you are "just" a good programmer and need to have other people to give you the specs for what needs to be done (and want a steady paycheck), then you need to get a job working for someone else and that will be an uphill battle without any sort of formal qualifications. Having a college / university degree/diploma provides a potential employer with some assurance that you've learned at least some basics. It also demonstrates that you finish what you start, have a certain amount (or maybe a lot) of intelligence, can meet deadlines for assignments, can communicate adequately and so forth. If you can't provide this third party stamp of approval, then you are asking the employer to evaluate all of these things based on an interview and maybe some limited evidence that you can show him/her. In many / most cases, the employer can't be bothered trying to figure out if you can really do the job without that third party validation. The fact that you believe you can do it doesn't count for too much.

For the limited number of employers who might be prepared to give you a chance, you will need to be able to demonstrate the range of skills that they are looking for. It isn't just about coding and learning languages. You might even end up taking a job where there is no coding (e.g. doing system testing). They will want to have a good feeling for your business skills and people skills as well as your technical skills. Can you write a report? Can you effectively deal with a customer? Can you effectively investigate and resolve problems? Can you work in a team? If you want to demonstrate these things, then you have to actually do them first and then have the evidence. That's why employers prefer people with applicable experience (and good references). University and College provides a bit of a shortcut where you get some exposure to these things. Without experience and/or University or College, you will be in the least desireable category for many employers.

So what can you do? One option might be to join a team working on an open-source system / project. This can potentially give you experience working with a "virtual" team and all of the various aspects of working on a sophisticated system. This is probably not going to be much of a shortcut (if that is what you are looking for by skipping University / College). It will probably take time to establish your credibility with them so you may start off doing fairly mundane stuff. There is still the risk that this will only lead to other such open-source (unpaid) work not to paid employment. As mentioned previously, you may find it easier to find something in a non-programming job (e.g. testing or help desk or even pulling cables) just to get your foot in the door somewhere.

If you aren't "just" a programmer and have creative and entrepreneurial skills, then you can go out and try to create the next great app. If you're willing to have it all depend on you and take the chance of failure (and no paycheck) then this is certainly an option as well. Many people try this approach but not too many succeed.

Best of luck

Edited by chrishea

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Create a portfolio of small mini-projects that can serve a dual role of showing off your skills and also gain some publicity for your "virtual resume". Have each project be something that would attract a widespread audience while at the same time showcasing a different major skill.

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google for "freelance programming", there are several sites where you can bid on jobs. Or try some temp agencies where you get paid only if they assign you to a job (which probably will require an interview with the prospective client).

of course without the necessary credentials, he's never going to get hired that way or any other...

He wants to get a job requiring a university level education with a high school level education, and without the practical experience to compensate for that lack.
That can only end in tears. Tears for whomever he tricks into hiring him by supplying false credentials or bluffing his way past a hiring manager with no clue about what she's vetting candidates on, and tears for himself as well.

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I can add my personal experiences here.

I did not go to University either after finishing Sixth Form.

I applied for a Higher Apprenticeship with Capgemini UK while in college along with the usual university applications. The HA programme does not require any prior knowledge of programming at all (however I also studied programming at sixth form) and offered a 10 week intensive course in the language they wished us to know (C# in my case) before dropping us straight into live projects with extensive support mechanisms in place.

I had an offer from my university of choice, Essex, to study computer science. I also however got the opportunity to work for Capgemini after being successful with my application to the programme and have been working for them for two years now. I will still be getting a degree through them over the five year programme at no expense to myself along with earning an alright salary (scaling up with progression through the company) and getting highly valuable industry experience in a Tier 1 consultancy firm.

Best move I have made in my life so far was declining university and doing what I do now, whereas people will be coming out of university with degrees approximately two years before myself I will have 3 years experience over them and nowadays companies look for that also with equal if not more value.

I can only speak from a UK point of view but I am certainly aware of a few companies that offer such opportunities, requiring simply A levels, Capgemini, Cisco etc.

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I think as long as you have proven experience then it will be easy for you to get a good position.

However I have to say that university will help you prepare for any job. There are so many skills that you can develop such as planning, group work, presentation and many others.

During my years at university I have learn that there is actually more to programming such as user requirements, model processes, software reliability and performance and things that you cannot necesseraly teach yourself.

I hope this helps :)

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I can add my personal experiences here.

I did not go to University either after finishing Sixth Form.

I applied for a Higher Apprenticeship with Capgemini UK while in college along with the usual university applications. The HA programme does not require any prior knowledge of programming at all (however I also studied programming at sixth form) and offered a 10 week intensive course in the language they wished us to know (C# in my case) before dropping us straight into live projects with extensive support mechanisms in place.

I had an offer from my university of choice, Essex, to study computer science. I also however got the opportunity to work for Capgemini after being successful with my application to the programme and have been working for them for two years now. I will still be getting a degree through them over the five year programme at no expense to myself along with earning an alright salary (scaling up with progression through the company) and getting highly valuable industry experience in a Tier 1 consultancy firm.

Best move I have made in my life so far was declining university and doing what I do now, whereas people will be coming out of university with degrees approximately two years before myself I will have 3 years experience over them and nowadays companies look for that also with equal if not more value.

I can only speak from a UK point of view but I am certainly aware of a few companies that offer such opportunities, requiring simply A levels, Capgemini, Cisco etc.

This is the sort of answer I needed, thanks, I am glad someone agrees with me that putting hard work into a career instead of going to University can be a great thing - if you had time any of those sites that only need A Levels would be greatly appreciated by me! Thanks again

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I'll give you my experience as well.

I studied a B.S. in Computer Science with a minor in Business Information Systems at a local University. I started DaniWeb as a sophomore, and it really started to take off. I switched to taking a light courseload (only 2 or 3 courses per semester) which gave me time to devote to DaniWeb.

I graduated from a four-year program after five and a half years with a B.S. degree and an established company. By the time I graduated, DaniWeb was making enough money that I was able to go into it fulltime, and I've never had another job since. My timeline is that I started my degree in September 2000. I started DaniWeb in February 2002. I graduated in December 2005.

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Apprenticeships seem to be fairly common in the UK but not in North America, at least not any more. I went through a company programming school many years ago not long after I got started in the IT business. I don't think there are many companies (at least in North America) that do that sort of thing anymore.

I think that many of the comments that you saw in this thread (including mine) are quite true if you are in the US or Canada. Since you are in the UK, it appears that you have some apprenticeship options. Looking up "IT apprenticeship program UK" provides links to quite a few companies with such programs.

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