Friday, September 9, 2011

Advice for someone wanting to get (back) into software development

I was talking to a friend today who was doing software development several years ago but has been unemployed for a while. He asked if I had any ideas about what he might to to get back into software.

(An an aside,  Patrick Welsh already wrote a great piece about why people should consider a career in software)

Here are some of the thoughts I gave my friend on how to get (re)started in the industry:

- If you don't have work experience to show on your resume, create relevant non-work experiences and structure your resume to show them.

- If you're not already on Twitter, set up an account and use the search function to find experts in the areas you are interested in. Follow them.

- Attend groups/events where people who do what you want to do gather. Ask people questions about what they do. Ask what blogs they read and who they follow on Twitter.

- Start learning web programming, throw up a website, publish the code on someplace like github, and keep updating it. One place to start might be:

- Expose yourself to new languages and technologies: ruby, scala, functional languages, automated testing, continuous iteration ...

- If you're not currently working, ask about an internship someplace you'd like to work at, even if it has to be unpaid.

- Be helpful - volunteer for anything related to your targeted field. People remember/like you better if you've helped them. Less cynically, it gives people a chance to see who you are and what your attitude and skills are.

- Don't get hung up on getting/finishing a degree if you don't already have one, especially if it would take away from getting real life experience.

- Read this book about managing your software career:
"The Passionate Programmer: Creating a Remarkable Career in Software Development" by Chad Fowler

- Consider reading this book about agile software development:
"The Art of Agile Development" by James Shore

Finally: Don't follow my advice without deciding for yourself if it makes sense for you. Ask other people about it as well.

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