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Where would you look for your first job?

by dwalin (Monk)
on Jan 23, 2012 at 23:14 UTC ( #949543=perlquestion: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??
dwalin has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

Hi fellow monks,

Imagine that you're looking for a first job in software development after a career change, how would you approach it? Where would you go first? What are the mistakes you would rather not repeat?

I am trying to find a Perl related job, but somehow it seems that job board posts assume "Perl" to be equal to "Senior Developer", which definitely I am not. Where would you look for part-time or contract jobs? I would appreciate any advice. :)


Regards,
Alex.

Comment on Where would you look for your first job?
Re: Where would you look for your first job?
by jdrago999 (Pilgrim) on Jan 24, 2012 at 01:58 UTC
Re: Where would you look for your first job?
by sundialsvc4 (Monsignor) on Jan 24, 2012 at 05:38 UTC

    Get ... inside.   Anywhere at all.

    My first job consisted of tearing paper off a line-printer and shoving it through the appropriate slot.   I didn’t care, because it put me inside that computer center.   (This was about half a dozen years before the first PC was invented.)   I knew that this would put me into contact with people who were actually doing the work that so intensely interested me (and that still does ...), and that I could earn their trust and learn from them.   (Which, I am very pleased now to say, I did.)   I always asked first, and I never saw one single password over anyone’s shoulder.   ;-)   (Be that as it may, I truly never used them.)   Go now and do the same.   Find any job that puts you within shouting distance of the place where you think that you might one day wish to be.   If that job merely consists of preparing coffee for the developers, “just the way they like it,” then make it your business to do just that ... and be a sponge in your spare time.   Go into work every day knowing that you are being watched, even by people you do not know are doing it, and remember that staff selection and promotion usually happens from the inside.   Therefore, be “inside.”

    “Those who can be trusted with little, can be trusted with much.”

    “By their fruits shall ye know them.”

      Ahem. It seems that I forgot to mention that it's going to be my first job as a software developer, not first job at all. I'm too old and bald for internship; I would rather skip all this romantic stuff and cut directly to the point. If you have more, um, practical advice I would really appreciate it.

      Regards,
      Alex.

        I am not trying either to be romantic, nor insulting.   (And if I did either, then I cordially and publicly apologize.)   If this is your first job as a software developer, then, it is “your first job.”   If you are, as you say, “old and bald,” then maybe it would be better to look for a slot in the industry that better leverages what you already know and have already done.

        Software development is, first of all, a very labor-intensive job that more and more is done in far-away places.   If you go head-to-head with that, you aren’t applying the benefit of your many years of practical work experience, and you could easily wind up making considerably less money than you can command right now elsewhere.   Perhaps you can find a role that is more tangental to the actual development process itself; one that does not demand that you be a nerd to be successful.   Managing it, or helping companies select and use the technology, troubleshooting (administration), strategy, and so forth.   These apply more of your life-experience (which is priceless because it takes a lifetime to obtain) and less esoterica.   In short, I would choose a different target.

        The technology of computing is changing, once again, right under our feet.   “Cloud computing” is coming fast, and people who right now are managing “corporate data centers” (even those who are very good at it...) just might find their jobs in jeopardy and/or radically changed, very soon.   Now more than ever, you have to guess where the rabbit will go next.

Re: Where would you look for your first job?
by McDarren (Abbot) on Jan 24, 2012 at 06:23 UTC
    One thing you may consider is a Systems Admin job.

    As a systems admin, you'll almost certainly encounter an endless stream of opportunities for automation and improving existing systems and processes. And this is one area where Perl really shines - so it would be a very good environment for improving and honing your Perl skills.

    Another place to look might be a Network Operations Centre (NOC). This is one place where somebody with Perl skills is almost always welcome.

    Hope this helps,
    Darren

Re: Where would you look for your first job?
by moritz (Cardinal) on Jan 24, 2012 at 07:45 UTC

    As for finding Perl jobs, I'd contact the nearest perl mongers group and attend conferences and workshops (not only perl, but also other programming stuff) in the broader region, and talk to the people there.

    There is lots of advice on the internet on how to decide whether or not work at a particular company. When it comes to Perl and programming specific question, I asked my potential employers some of those, in no particular order:

    • Some from the Joel Test (in particular about version control, bug database, daily builds)
    • What Perl version are you using? (and if it's older than 5.12, why they you using an unsupported Perl version, and what are your upgrade plans?)
    • What kinds of testing do you use? (automated unit and integration tests, usability tests, staging for test users, ...)
    • What's the policy for using CPAN modules?
    • What big CPAN modules do you use? (if there are none, then likely the product is full of badly reinvented template systems, DB layers and so on)
    • What's the policy for contributing back to CPAN? (for example bug fixes)
    • What development methodology do you use? (waterfall, whirlpool, "agile", test-driven, ...)
    • How hard would it be to use a different programming language of a well-defined, isolated task?

    If you combine the answers to these questions, you get a pretty good impression about whether that company considers development a necessary evil that must be tightly controlled by management, or if they really strive to build a good piece of software and do what's necessary to get there.

Re: Where would you look for your first job?
by Jenda (Abbot) on Jan 24, 2012 at 11:43 UTC

    Career change from where? Career change doesn't mean you've instantly forgotten all you knew before. Your knowledge and experience may be valuable to a software project being made for the field you used to work in. You might even know some people or at least companies that produced something you used to work with. A long time user of a complex application is often a valuable addition to the development team even if his programming skills are sub par. Less things to explain, lots of experience with the quirks and problems of the current version, ...

    Besides ... with the amount of thought and work you seem to have put into your project and your modules I think you don't have to be afraid to apply to a Senior Developer positions.

    Jenda
    Enoch was right!
    Enjoy the last years of Rome.

Re: Where would you look for your first job?
by chrestomanci (Priest) on Jan 24, 2012 at 21:30 UTC
    ...but somehow it seems that job board posts assume "Perl" to be equal to "Senior Developer", which definitely I am not.

    I think you under estimate your skills. Those of us who have been on the recruiting side of the table know that there are an incredible number of candidates out there who claim to know perl, but in fact hardly know anything. Most turn out to have hacked CGI scripts though random cut and paste until they got the results they wanted with only a dim knowledge of how the code works.

    You on the other hand look much better qualified. You are here asking sensible questions, and you have a number of modules to your name on CPAN. That puts you in the top half at least of all perl programmers.

    The other thing you have going for you is domain specific knowledge of telecoms. For the the right role in that industry, you will be an ideal candidate.

    Where would you look for part-time or contract jobs?

    Unless you have specific personal reasons to look for a short term contract, I would advise you against becoming a contractor, and suggest you take a long term position, at least for your first job.

    A contractor is expected to have all the skills and knowledge they need for their job and hit the ground running, as they are usually hired to fill a short term need. An employer will not want to invest any time training a contractor as they could be gone at any time.

    For a permanent employee a recruiter is much more able to look at the whole person, and ask not just what they can do now, but what else they could be doing in a years time given some training. From what you have written about yourself on your home node, I see a lot of potential. You want the recruiter to see and consider that, and they can only do so if you tell them that you plan to stay with the company for a few years.

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