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Career question

by PerlJam (Sexton)
on Apr 12, 2001 at 03:15 UTC ( #71894=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I'm a recent graduate who has been learning Perl over the past year or so. I feel strong in the foundations of the languge and have picked it up rather quickly. Now I'm in the San Diego job market and am trying to decide the direction to go. My primary thoughts as of late have been to focus on entry-level jobs in Software Engineering and Systems Administration. My original train of thought was that I want to get in somewhere and work with Perl and Unix/Linux no matter what I'm doing. Now I'm wondering whether or not I should be more picky as to the job types I choose. If I were to jump at a Software Test Engineer job would this have the potential of pigeon-holing me into the testing and Q/A field and similarly with Systems Administration would I likely become stuck in the Admin field? Or are these the normal steps taken by entry-level individuals. Just curious as I don't know anyone that's gone through the motions yet.
----
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. --Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Career question
by KM (Priest) on Apr 12, 2001 at 04:09 UTC
    As far as doing QA, where I work (and other places I have worked) I usually see people move from QA into development when they have paid their dues. If it means getting your foot in the door to a good company, or doing what you want (working with Perl, Linux, etc...) then go for it!

    I wouldn't be too picky right out of college... but I wouldn't grab anything that comes along. I don't think you would get held into being a QA field for life (same with doing SA).

    The biggest experience you will get is working in this 'biz'. Dealing with clients, PHBs, idiots, egos, and good people you will learn from will likely be more of what you concentrate on at first.

    No matter what.. good luck to you!

    Cheers,
    KM

Re: Career question
by dws (Chancellor) on Apr 12, 2001 at 03:34 UTC
    If I were to jump at a Software Test Engineer job would this have the potential of pigeon-holing me into the testing and Q/A field?

    It might. The QA->development boundary is possible to cross, but I haven't seen it done that often in the past mummble decades. However, test automation is a growing specialty within QA, and can involve Perl. (I've seen a fair amount of custom test automation done with Perl.) There's plenty of testing that people are motivated to automated, and yet which aludes the standard test automation tools.

    Here are some pointers to info on careers in software testing.

Re: Career question
by voyager (Friar) on Apr 12, 2001 at 04:16 UTC
    Places I've been, it's been relatively hard for people to make the jump form QA to development. Fair or not, QA is often viewed as a) so important we want you to keep doing it, but b) done by people not good enough to be programmers.

    I would take a junior developer job. The natural expectation is you will be given more responsibility/harder tasks as soon as you demonstrate an ability to take them on.

    A word of advice: develop your craft. When you hear old hands telling you the "right" way, listen and do. I can highly recommend "The Pragmatic Programmer" as a graduation present to yourself. Good Luck.

Re: Career question
by lemming (Priest) on Apr 12, 2001 at 10:55 UTC
    I'll make this short:

    I've done QA and Dev. If you're talented you can do either.
    Do you want to do QA, do you want to write programs that test programs to the limits, do you want to write programs to specifications? To paraphrase Calvin's quote, you only pigeon hole yourself if you let yourself be.

      Thank you all for your comments. I'll take them all to heart.
      ----
      Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. --Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)
Re: Career question
by geektron (Curate) on Apr 12, 2001 at 03:50 UTC
    with the direction the tech sector is going, you might have to take what you can get.

    more important than the title, though, it the work that's being done. automating test cases ( as dws points out ) will bring you some of the experience you'd need to work in SW Engineering.

    make sure that whatever job you take, you take one that has some room for growth. i actually started my career in the tech industry as a web developer - just HTML and Photoshop. from there, i taught myself what i wanted/ needed to know ( some SysAd skills, perl, now OO programming, some C, and so on ) to move forward, and wasn't afraid to look for a new job to apply the newfound skills ( if the current employer wasn't willing to use them ).

Re: Career question
by Blue (Hermit) on Apr 12, 2001 at 17:34 UTC
    In my experience, it's a lot easier to get stuck in a niche in a small company. In large companies, internal transfer is much easier then getting the same job externally. In one place, we had an applicant for an Administrative Assistant in the IT department who basically wanted to get a foot in the door for when we had programming positions open. That was surreal.

    A small company often needs you for the job you were hired for, meaning that transfering you creates a hard vaccuum. In a larger company, this is less so due to size of teams, more mature organization, etc.

    There are many benifits to working at either a small or large, that's a whole other debate. But if you find you like the large organization culture, you'll most likely have much more flexibility in position once you start. Oh yeah, and usually switching internally doesn't provide the same salary change as getting a new job, so that may be a factor for your later carrier growth, especially with the recent slowdowns in the tech sector.

    =Blue
    ...you might be eaten by a grue...

Re: Career question
by fmogavero (Monk) on Apr 12, 2001 at 18:59 UTC
    IMHO, you need to have a plan. Just like when developing software, you need to define what you want and how to get there. The only difference is that life is not as easily navigable.

    I offer you my experience. There are two things that I love to do. Play with computers and play with music. Obviously computers is a little more lucrative and much easier to do.

    Since 1991 I have been in the "IT" sector. I started assembling computers, then went to tech support. From there I went to systems administration. Then I went to consulting. Now I am in development. Look at my node for some history.

    My ultimate goal is systems architecture.(As opposed to management)I need to be able to create. I want to be involved in every step of the creation process from drawing board to ribbon cutting. I have a goal.

    The current job was one that I would have never considered. When they called me for the interview my initial thought was "what could these people possibly offer me?" During the interview I found out the team I would be on works with VB, C and Perl. When I got through with the interview I was praying that they would call me.

    Create a goal and head down that hallway and as you head down the hallway, doors all along it will open up for you while you are on your way!

Re: Career question
by indigo (Scribe) on Apr 13, 2001 at 03:14 UTC
    Get a job in the field. Any job you can. Doesn't matter what it is, you will be quitting it in a year or so.

    The sad reality is for more technical profressionals, in order to get good experience and compensation, you will have to switch jobs often early in your career. Plan for it. This has the added advantage of exposing you to a lot of positions and technologies, so don't worry about picking one right off the bat.

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