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how hard is it to find a job without a degree?

by Anonymous Monk
on Aug 24, 2015 at 06:59 UTC ( #1139636=perlquestion: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Anonymous Monk has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

how hard is it to find a job without a degree?
  • Comment on how hard is it to find a job without a degree?

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Re: how hard is it to find a job without a degree? (qualification/experience)
by LanX (Archbishop) on Aug 24, 2015 at 11:36 UTC
    The real question is "How hard is it to find a job without qualification?".

    BUK's reply is on point, since a core qualification is communication.

    If you are not able to show your skills and formulate an efficient question (programming is about language!), you should rather look for the supermarket-monks.

    Degrees are not necessary in this business, if you are qualified and/or experienced.

    update

    Short answer: very easy compared to most other professions.

    Cheers Rolf
    (addicted to the Perl Programming Language and ☆☆☆☆ :)
    Je suis Charlie!

Re: how hard is it to find a job without a degree?
by Your Mother (Bishop) on Aug 24, 2015 at 13:12 UTC

    Some 17 year-old sold a million dollar Perl app a few years ago. Open source means you can have experience (write real code to solve real problems or even just clever toys and prototypes) and prove it easily if you want (public source, contributions to open source projects). My degree is soft/arts (BA), not hard/science (BS). So, I essentially don't have a degree as far as as programming jobs go. The last three times I was hired I was told that there was no competition.

    It took me 7 years and nearly daily work/practice to get to that point; and part of it was how few Perl-centric devs there are now. How hard it was is a matter of interpretation. I think I spent 70+ hours once doing nothing but trying to install mod_perl. It was the most miserable and frustrating programming task I ever finished. I also wrote hundreds of small scripts and one-liners that were a joy. If I didn't love Perl it would have mostly been miserable, but since I do, it was mostly fun.

    Update: I think LanX has boiled down the answer well.

      ...It took me 7 years and nearly daily work/practice to get to that point; and part of it was how few Perl-centric devs there are now

      Thank you again. Did you have a programming job in the meantime? Apprenticeship? ...?

        This is a good question because I glossed a lot.

        I wrote a loooong reply. Too long. So, as the kids say, TL;DR: I'm self-taught at the sacrifice of tons of personal/free time, and then working in jobs where I could apply Perl here and there even though I was not paid to program. I had a background and aptitude for CS and math from childhood so it's not a miracle, :P just a lot of effort.

        The monastery helped me get out of many bad habits and break out of the Dunning–Kruger stage of my hacking skills. :P

      Thank you Your Mother

      The last three times I was hired I was told that there was no competition.

      What do you mean, you were the only applicant? Or ...?

        None of the other applicants, though I don't think there were many, could compete with me. :P

      A reply falls below the community's threshold of quality. You may see it by logging in.
Re: how hard is it to find a job without a degree?
by Corion (Pope) on Aug 24, 2015 at 13:55 UTC
Re: how hard is it to find a job without a degree?
by shmem (Chancellor) on Aug 24, 2015 at 10:41 UTC
    how hard is it to find a job without a degree?

    Almost as hard as finding a perl shop in need of a programmer with skills that match yours, walking in and getting an opportunity to prove them. Very often experience beats degrees; if you have none, get some.

    In short: go find out, then please come back and tell us. ;-)

    perl -le'print map{pack c,($-++?1:13)+ord}split//,ESEL'

      Almost as hard as finding a perl shop in need of a programmer with skills that match yours, walking in and getting an opportunity to prove them. Very often experience beats degrees; if you have none, get some. In short: go find out, then please come back and tell us. ;-)

      Thank you shmem, I'll go kill myself now

Re: how hard is it to find a job without a degree?
by Anonymous Monk on Aug 24, 2015 at 07:24 UTC

    Um, although this isn't a technical question, let's try the same standard debugging questions: What's the input (what are your skills)? What's the expected output (what kind of a job do you want)? What have you tried and where did you have problems? Longer questions get longer answers...

      Um, although this isn't a technical question, let's try the same standard debugging questions: What's the input (what are your skills)? What's the expected output (what kind of a job do you want)? What have you tried and where did you have problems? Longer questions get longer answers...

      Its easy to turn the focus back on the OP(me), but that would change the question. :/

      Do you have experience finding perl programming job without a degree? How hard was it? What was your experience, what were your skills, what did you do, what happened, where, why, advice...?

Re: how hard is it to find a job without a degree?
by BrowserUk (Pope) on Aug 24, 2015 at 07:11 UTC

    My local supermarket is hiring shelf stackers. I doubt they are asking for a degree.

      My local supermarket is hiring shelf stackers. I doubt they are asking for a degree.

      Thank you BrowserUk. I am talking about perl programming job.

Re: how hard is it to find a job without a degree?
by dsheroh (Prior) on Aug 25, 2015 at 09:48 UTC
    Getting the first one can be tricky. After dropping out of college, I spent a couple years kicking around in clerical temp jobs before I was able to find a small company to give me my first "real" programming job. Of course, by that point, I'd been programming for a dozen or so years as a hobbyist (I was introduced to programming when I was 8 and immediately loved it), which is almost certainly the main reason they were willing to give me a chance.

    After getting a year and a half professional experience at that first company, it's not been that difficult. And now, 20 years later, I'm working as a Perl programmer/sysadmin at a university. I still don't have a degree.

      Thank you dsheroh

      That is very inspiring

Re: how hard is it to find a job without a degree?
by 1nickt (Abbot) on Aug 25, 2015 at 15:16 UTC

    Every Perl shop I have talked to in the last few years has been on the lookout for good Perl programmers and will hire one when they see him/her, whether or not a job opening formally exists. There is a great shortage of decent Perl programmers. There is a great surplus of script kiddies and University graduates who apply for programming jobs and can't do the simplest of things (the majority of applicants couldn't open a file for reading, according to the last technical manager I spoke to).

    On the other hand, I steer clear of job announcements that demand a CS degree, because to me that just indicates that the hiring people don't know what's important and therefore I would probably not want to work there (likewise with ads that begin "Are you passionate about building the next generation of eWidget?" or "Experienced in Agile methodologies including SCRUM, XP, etc."). So my perspective is self-skewed: I don't talk with hiring managers at companies I wouldn't want to work with.

    There are plenty of employers who realize that $degree != @skills and (@skills + $degree) > @skills > $degree. Such employers want to know what you can do in Perl, not in college. If you can't prove that through prior work experience, then get busy with a GitHub account and start contributing patches to Perl modules you use (even just docs), upload neat scripts you wrote, or by whatever means get your code out there (again, preferably as contributor to an Open Source project). The type of company you want to work for has technical managers who will judge you by your code more than your education certificates. And conversely, if the company has hiring managers who judge you by your education certificates more than by your work, move on.

    I learned Perl at the University of RTFM (there wasn't even PerlMonks!). I am not a Perl expert, much less a guru, but I have enjoyed 25 years of more or less gainful, more or less enjoyable work since I began. The important thing is to write code - and write it well. Look around you: there's sure to be someone in your circle who could benefit from a small Perl script within your capabilities: a non-profit website is usually a good place to start; they don't have any money so they sure aren't going to demand a degree!

    The bottom line is: Build your portfolio, with code that is accessible to the public. If you are diligent you can gain marketability an order of magnitude more quickly than by sitting in college classes.

    Good luck!


    The way forward always starts with a minimal test.

      Every Perl shop I have talked to in the last few years has been on the lookout for good Perl programmers and will hire one when they see him/her, whether or not a job opening formally exists...

      Thank you 1nickt, also very inspiring

      How did you locate these "perl shops" if they weren't advertising for jobs? Where geographically was this :)

        I would have to say that my original comment was overly narrow and the truth is that everyone I know in technology management says the same thing, irrespective of language.

        If you have any Perl skills, you should regularly monitor jobs.perl.com and other job boards for your location, until you know which are the companies that hire Perl programmers. Then send them your resume and a link to your code. Don't wait for a job announcement. (This assumes that you are qualified; see my earlier post suggesting ways to gain experience if you are a beginner.)


        The way forward always starts with a minimal test.
Re: how hard is it to find a job without a degree?
by (anonymized user) (Curate) on Aug 25, 2015 at 12:37 UTC
    Experience should be more important. Unfortunately some employers, who see themselves at the top of the food chain, can't possibly hire someone who isn't at least one or two levels overqualified on paper! (e.g. PhD minimum for a certain company's research department) Fortunately, the majority are more pragmatic.

    One world, one people

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