22 votes

I'm trying to get a programming job without a degree. Got any tips?

Hey ~, I'm just out of high school and I want to get a programming job. I don't have a degree (I may go to college, but if I do it'll be in a few months), and little work experience. Do you have any tips that could help me have a successful job search?

Here's my resume (somewhat anonymized, but most info is on my Github anyways). I tried to focus on experience I've gained from creating open-source projects to show the skills that I have. I've made sure that all the projects listed have demos, screenshots, usage instructions, etc. Any advice on how I could improve it would be appreciated.

Thanks!

18 comments

  1. [4]
    somewaffles
    Link
    You seem like you have a good amount of experience, I'd just start applying for junior positions. Your resume looks great and you clearly have a good knowledge base. When people get hired for...

    You seem like you have a good amount of experience, I'd just start applying for junior positions. Your resume looks great and you clearly have a good knowledge base. When people get hired for junior positions, it's assumed they know next to little about developing actual software, even with the degree. In my experience, most coding jobs don't require one if you can program and aren't a weirdo. Really, all a CS degree would provide you is a larger network and a lot of theory, most of which I have not utilized in the few years I've been working.

    14 votes
    1. [3]
      45930
      Link Parent
      To build on this, idk if you're 18 or not, but if you're very young, you will have to prove that you can thrive in a team environment. Junior positions will not require experience, or a degree for...

      To build on this, idk if you're 18 or not, but if you're very young, you will have to prove that you can thrive in a team environment. Junior positions will not require experience, or a degree for that matter. Just being bright and performing decently on tech interviews should be good enough. But in your case, you're also trying to overcome a 4 year gap in social learning. That would be the biggest thing for me if I was evaluating you as a candidate.

      12 votes
      1. [2]
        umbrae
        Link Parent
        This is what I was going to say also. I’ve hired quite a lot and given the resume, tech skills would not be my concern; soft skills would be. Finding ways to express how you’ve worked in a team or...

        This is what I was going to say also. I’ve hired quite a lot and given the resume, tech skills would not be my concern; soft skills would be. Finding ways to express how you’ve worked in a team or with social maturity might be good. Overall the resume seems great considering your work experience.

        Edited to add: @what based on your background I think I remember that Wave, the accounting company, is in Toronto and specializes in Django. Might be worth checking them out.

        3 votes
        1. what
          Link Parent
          Thanks, this gives me a more confidence that my skills are good enough to do the job. I'll keep in mind the soft skills and proving that I can work in the environment the job asks for. Also thanks...

          Thanks, this gives me a more confidence that my skills are good enough to do the job. I'll keep in mind the soft skills and proving that I can work in the environment the job asks for.

          Also thanks for the tip @umbrae, I applied for a position at Wave, it seems like a nice company to work for.

          (mentioning @somewaffles and @45930 so they see this)

          3 votes
  2. [2]
    Staross
    Link
    Just had a quick look at your github and it looks pretty good, the only issue is the lack of tests & code coverage. It would look more professional if you had those travis green icons in your READMEs.

    Just had a quick look at your github and it looks pretty good, the only issue is the lack of tests & code coverage. It would look more professional if you had those travis green icons in your READMEs.

    7 votes
    1. what
      Link Parent
      Thanks, that's good advice! I just added tests, CI, and a Travis badge to the Django app. The rest are desktop and mobile apps, so it would be a bit more involved, but I'll try to add tests for...

      Thanks, that's good advice! I just added tests, CI, and a Travis badge to the Django app. The rest are desktop and mobile apps, so it would be a bit more involved, but I'll try to add tests for them at some point.

      3 votes
  3. [2]
    Emerald_Knight
    Link
    Shit, you'll do fine in a junior position. I had an intern with only nine months of coding experience. I spent maybe a few months mentoring him. He was incredibly bright, but had very little...

    Shit, you'll do fine in a junior position.

    I had an intern with only nine months of coding experience. I spent maybe a few months mentoring him. He was incredibly bright, but had very little experience to exhibit in a resume. He got a job in a QA position at another company we directed him to directly after the internship ended, with nothing more than a letter of recommendation to aid him. He's currently a junior developer with them now and apparently kicking ass.

    You have quite a bit more experience to work with, having actually had a prior QA analyst position and clearly showing enough passion in your work to pursue side projects and learn different technologies. Furthermore, it's generally well-accepted that a junior dev's code simply isn't going to be that great--variable names will be shit, comments will be lacking or unhelpful, etc.--and that frequent code reviews are going to be a part of the process for getting you up to speed with best practices before setting you loose onto more critical pieces of the software you'll be working on. Seeing as your code doesn't appear to be littered with single-letter variable names or other such abominations, you should be able to get up to the company's quality standards fairly quickly.

    But really, as long as you're competent, can keep your ego in check, know your own limitations, and won't have any issues fitting into the company culture (typically this is code for "you're not a massive dickhead"), you should be fine. Just be a decent person, have some humility, and be an eager and willing learner. You seem pretty capable on all of those fronts :)

    5 votes
    1. what
      Link Parent
      Thanks, that's very reassuring - even with some experience, I've had a lot of doubt about whether I could actually apply my skills to an actual job position, but knowing that I'll be able to have...

      Thanks, that's very reassuring - even with some experience, I've had a lot of doubt about whether I could actually apply my skills to an actual job position, but knowing that I'll be able to have support and ask questions makes me feel more confident.

      This is good advice - I'll make sure to aim to be a decent person to work with and fit in with company culture, and always be open to learning. Thanks again :)

      (I love your programming tip posts btw <3)

      2 votes
  4. [2]
    no_exit
    Link
    a few grammar errors that should be past instead of present tense otherwise looks solid to me

    a few grammar errors that should be past instead of present tense

    Use Markdown
    Use Setuptools
    Manage an

    otherwise looks solid to me

    3 votes
    1. what
      Link Parent
      I think I kept it that way cause the projects are still ongoing, but it does look off, I'll use past tense for all of them. Thanks!

      I think I kept it that way cause the projects are still ongoing, but it does look off, I'll use past tense for all of them.

      Thanks!

      1 vote
  5. [3]
    unknown user
    Link
    It is about whether you can show them you can do it. Degrees or whatnot are just shortcuts. But whether or not you have them, the application letter and the interview does almost all of the trick,...

    It is about whether you can show them you can do it. Degrees or whatnot are just shortcuts. But whether or not you have them, the application letter and the interview does almost all of the trick, especially if you are going for a smaller company.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      what
      Link Parent
      I tried to emphasize my experience from projects on my resume, hopefully that's a good start to showing them what I can do. I'll make sure to work on a strong application letter and interview...

      I tried to emphasize my experience from projects on my resume, hopefully that's a good start to showing them what I can do. I'll make sure to work on a strong application letter and interview skills.

      Do you have any advice for looking for positions at smaller companies? Do you think I should keep searching on job boards, or should I try reaching out to some smaller shops directly?

      Thanks!

      1. unknown user
        Link Parent
        I'm mildly experienced with interviews at this point and IMHO what it takes is confidence. But w.r.t. programming jobs I only had one, at a startup, and it was through the job board of my city's...

        I'm mildly experienced with interviews at this point and IMHO what it takes is confidence.

        But w.r.t. programming jobs I only had one, at a startup, and it was through the job board of my city's local Python community. I'd try reaching directly only if they are expecting it: if they are, you'll find a link, often in the footer, that says "work with us" or "jobs" or "careers" or similar. Otherwise, I'd not side-step the process they are expecting, plus you can put your resume on these boards and make it public, have people match you in their searches. So, I'd say both. You can make many applications at once, and you too can decide an offer in return is not good enough. It is a negotiation and you're not a subordinate (a mistake I did a couple times). Learn about your rights and demand the job you merit. Learn the usual wage a dev like you would get and make sure you get something near that. They can try to trick you to contract on the cheap.

        2 votes
  6. [5]
    skybrian
    Link
    I wonder if Triplebyte would work well in this case? Has anyone used them?

    I wonder if Triplebyte would work well in this case? Has anyone used them?

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      krg
      Link Parent
      As someone who's thinking of a career change, I just looked into that website and completed the first quiz. Gave me words of encouragement ("You did exceptionally well compared to! ..."), though...

      As someone who's thinking of a career change, I just looked into that website and completed the first quiz. Gave me words of encouragement ("You did exceptionally well compared to! ..."), though that could be a ruse to yank my chain so I go further along into the process for their gain*. Or, I'm not as dumb as I think. Either way, I just may continue the process ...

      *though, at apparently no cost to the applicant, I'm not sure where it comes from. Some kind of finder's fee?

      4 votes
      1. Eva
        Link Parent
        As someone who's helped a few people I know find jobs through Triplebyte; it's at no cost to you, yeah. For every successful hire, the companies pay $X.

        As someone who's helped a few people I know find jobs through Triplebyte; it's at no cost to you, yeah. For every successful hire, the companies pay $X.

        5 votes
    2. what
      Link Parent
      I tried to sign up for Triplebyte in the past, but I live in Canada, and I believe you have to be in the US (or willing to relocate) to continue with their process. I've heard of people being...

      I tried to sign up for Triplebyte in the past, but I live in Canada, and I believe you have to be in the US (or willing to relocate) to continue with their process. I've heard of people being fairly successful with it, but from what I know they do those trivia-style interviews that require knowledge in things that aren't really used in practice.

      1 vote
    3. eddielomax
      Link Parent
      I saw a post about them on reddit the other day and it looked like a lot of folks have had bad times with them, unless they are in the top echelon of coders. Never used them myself so I can't say...

      I saw a post about them on reddit the other day and it looked like a lot of folks have had bad times with them, unless they are in the top echelon of coders. Never used them myself so I can't say if they are good or bad, but there are some interesting takes on the coding / interviewing experience:

      https://reddit.com/r/webdev/comments/cyd9q8/meta_i_will_never_use_triplebyte_based_solely/