I was fired from my job this morning, after an incident on Monday night for which I was suspended yesterday. I've contacted an appropriate government agency to look into the matter, given the circumstances surrounding my termination.

I'm determined to make the best of this situation, and as I've been looking to move to newer technologies after a three year tour of duty in a world of legacy Cobol programs. I'm in my mid-twenties and the job I was in was not what I was looking for. I've been seriously looking to quit that job anyway, but a lack of other options kept me in the position until now.

I figure I've got enough in my bank account to pay my bills through September, and after that I've accepted that I might have to use my credit line for a little while.

I'm inexperienced with OO languages, like .Net and Java, but am doing what I can to teach myself on my own. I'd like to find a company I can learn with, and am willing to work for a drastically reduced wage, or even as an unpaid intern, for a short period of time if that's what it takes, with the endgame of me becoming a full-time, full-paid developer with that company.

Is this a realistic goal? If so, how does one go about approaching companies for this sort of opportunity? What is my best approach to handling my previous job experience and reasons for leaving?

I was dismissed for 'unacceptable behaviour' due to an outburst in front of one of my superiors, after being provoked by certain comments he made to me. I have a history of showing my temper when I get really stressed. My doctor says my stress is/was caused by the job, which I would then say is directly related to the aforementioned superiors micromanagement and disrespect for those under him. My doctor further categorized my condition as situational depression. I was medicated for this, briefly, and my former employer knows this. These facts have been reported to a government agency, along with certain other factors, and they seem to believe I have a case.

Full Disclosure:
Although Jeff doesn't like the idea of throwaway accounts, that is exactly what this account is. Given information in this question (my termination), I'd rather not have this as a permanent part of an account proudly displayed on my blog, etc. There will be ABSOLUTELY NO VOTING from this account. Any answers I feel are helpful will be voted from my normal user account, with the exception of the accepted answer should the need arise.


I've been in a situation similar to yours.

You have two problems. One is finding work. The other is learning how to get along with people. The second is by far the more important.

What was a big help for me was a Dale Carnegie course. There are certain things that some people know and some people don't. The people who know them cannot understand why not everyone knows them, such as:

  • Don't condemn, criticise, or complain

  • A positive attitude goes a long way

  • Appeal to higher motives

  • Recognize the value of the other person

and so on...

You can't really learn these things without practice, and that's what the course gives you.

To find work, you might find contracting easier, because they won't shine such a laser beam on how you left your last employer, and you can build up a few years of good work record, and a store of people who know you and like your work and may hire you full time in the future.


I think as a programmer you can use your experience and not begin as an intern, but you will have to prove that you are willing to learn. I think most of the companies like that. Also, as a programmer, I can tell you we are here all learning new stuff every day, and you must take into account that the most powerful weapon of a programmer is the ability to solve problems and then translate that logic into code, so that's why some time the target language doesn't really matter that much cause you just need to get used to it.

I think you need to be more confident about your experience and sell that to your future employers.

good luck.


In the current climate, you're likely to find it hard for someone to hire you with little or no experience in the languages you want to work with.

You need to prove that you're learning on your own time, so that prospective employers know that whatever investment they make in training you will be backed up by your own efforts.

Being willing to work for low/no a while is good, but it's coming at things from a negative point of view. You also need something positive: "I'm taking this online course", "I'm involved with this Open Source project", "I'm working through these books", etc.


Your goal is simply realistic, I was in the same shoe around 6 year back. I was working for some company with good salary but there was nothing to learn. I tried to switch the job (tried to learn .NET as well) but I was not able to get any. So I decided to leave the current job and then go into the job market. After 2 months I got a job with a very low salary, but there was lots of learning opportunity (because organization was so small) and then after everything went well.

Again I am trying to do the same thing, this time I want to start my start-up and I think again I have to leave my job ;)

Once you have some option in your hand you can not peruse for your dream, first step: cut your all options and then try to your dream, you will be able to put more effort.

Tips for learning

  1. Join any open source project seriously!!!
  2. Buy some good books and read it end to end.
  3. Use your personal networking and get in touch with some good guys around you and ask for help for few hours each week.

Good luck!!!


You are already doing the right thing by not being discouraged. Having the ambition to learn something new is going to help you tremendously in the job field.

Personally, I would recommend you get started doing something on your own. Have a great idea that you've always wanted to work on? Research it, find a language that you haven't written in before, and get crackin'. I have found, at least for me, that the best way to learn something is to fling myself into it head first and just do it. On your limited budget, I would suggest a language that is well-documented and available online, such as Java or C#.

Once you've worked on this code for a little while, and you feel like you have something great, clean it up, document it, and get it ready. Write it like the whole world will be looking at it. Once you've done this, take a few shining examples of your great coding prowess, print them out, and take them with you to your interview. This shows confidence in your ability, and I will personally guarantee that it will help you get the great job that you deserve.

If I were to make just one recommendation for a book for this purpose, it would be How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (link takes you to Amazon). For me, this book has completely transformed the way I interact with people in the business world.

I honestly hope that everything works out for you. I know how hard it is when you're forced to run this close to the wire, but from your post, I got that you are a great and ambitious person, and I am sure that you'll get a job you will excel at.


I keep hearing that there is a great demand for Cobol-programmers. You might be able to use your Cobol-knowledge to get a job. For example if you get to work in a team that's migrating some application from Cobol to more modern language, your knowledge could come in handy and you'd get to learn more modern stuff.

If you want to go straight to work in some oo-language you'll probably have to do a lot of self-studying. You should probably build something in the technology you want to work with. Even if you don't actually show it to possible employers, it gives you something you can discuss in the interview.

I wouldn't say that you are willing to work for free at first. It doesn't give good impression of your skills and talent.

I wish you good luck!


Just look at every job hunting communication you can find. Don't spam your CV around, but apply broadly, and not just for dev jobs.

Not to worry you, but as an inexperienced and untrained (but clever) developer, I couldn't find any work anywhere (though I am in New Zealand).

I ended up working on the helpdesk at a company that had developers, and it only took me a couple of months to prove myself before I was moved to the dev team.


I don't know about the situation in other countries, but I know from experience in company I work at: We've got an "newb" just like that, except he had absolutely zero coding experience. As long as you bow your head and decide it's ok to feel miserable for a while, your goal should definitely be achievable. Especially if you already have over three years of experience in the "dark" languages :-)


There's more to finding a job than listing technologies that'll make you happy.

In my personal experience I've come to realise that the fun of the job is all about the people. I've worked with really sexy technologies, and failed to find pleasure in that when the team-mates are like soggy cabbages! So its finding a nice bunch of people to work with.

These nice bunches of people who you might apply to - how do you look to them? Its crucial to not expose why you left your previous company. From your perspective you felt that you were driven to do something - from an potential employers perspective, they'll only understand that you have issues or are difficult to live with.

You need strong reliable referees from the previous company who will 'keep your secret', or a mechanism to avoid giving any references.

So why not keep in Cobol and migration-away-from-Cobol?

Fun technologies fit better as hobbies. Because once you get into them, they stop being fun.


Is this a realistic goal?

Of course it is.

How does one go about approaching companies for this sort of opportunity?

Show the company your track record and your proficiency.

What is my best approach to handling my previous job experience and reasons for leaving?

As you haven't mentioned about the situation that made the company terminate you, it won't be easy to answer this one.


By looking at the details that you have provided, I think it will be difficult for you to join another company soon. Because most of the companies look for employees with good team spirit and those who value the hierarchy of the company structure.

If you wish to work in the technologies that you are not familiar with then try to learn things quickly and do some demo projects that you can show to the new company when applying for a job.

Good luck.


As for a job where you can learn, I suspect those are fewer today when more experienced people are on the market. Consider going to the next lower rung on the latter. Once you are in a company, you can often move up and they may even be incented to train you. Look for jobs in QA or Support. Those often feed into programming jobs.

In the world of programming, your interview is going to be the primary source of information about you. If you want a programming job, you're really going to have to do well in the interview. This means knowing your stuff. The way to get that is experience. Not necessarily business experience, but coding experience. If you've programmed one language and are smart, you can pick up another in not too long. Pick a technology stack (.Net, Java, etc.) and a project and start working. This will give you a better chance when you get an interview.


To use a tired expression, invest in your future: It's probably not too late in the year to apply for a Masters. In the uk you can do a one year computer science conversion if your first degree was in another subject (I'm guessing that's the case if you have a degree?), and from what I've seen it's a huge help when looking for jobs, will help you learn all the modern concepts and give you a decent understanding of theory.


You might want to consider shifting a little for companies that use .Net or Java, e.g. being a Business Analyst or Quality Analyst rather than a developer. My thought here is that by getting in with those other skills you probably have, you can build the other skills by getting to know the developers and ask them the occasional question about learning what they do. There may well be a lot of the Cobol stuff that translates to .Net or Java once you know the syntax and how OO works slightly differently from procedural programming.


I would take a look at any paid internship in a field you're interested in.

Sure, you may have to go to school in this case but you can look at it as furthering your education, which will always look good to an employer later.

Since you're out of a job now you may qualify for a lot of financial aid. Plus, you really won't have to pay much right off the bat and by the time you graduate and start paying your loans, you should hopefully be back on track.

Just a suggestion to think about. :-)


I, too, "have a history of showing my temper when I get really stressed," and like you, it used to get me in hot water.

The problem is, if you have "buttons" that can be pushed - and most of us do - then many places you can work will have people who will push them. And it's really bad if the folks running the show are the ones doing the pushing.

My last job was like that - I got stuck on a bug that had no clear fix, and three different managers asked me on a daily basis why I wasn't done with it. I would point them back to the fact that I had repeatedly fixed the bug as stated in the bug report, but either QA would redefine the bug and resubmit it with the same bug number, or another developer in another office would re-break the code. Then they'd all go away and come back again the next day demanding to know when the bug would be fixed.

Then I got laid off. I was doubtless marked for layoff because I hadn't "fixed" that "bug". And I could have gotten very angry - a lot of other layoff victims did. Instead, I was able to handle it with such professionalism that my boss and my boss's boss both voluntarily offered to be job references and invited me for lunch.

The secret? Check out this workbook on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. It's a crash course in "emotional intelligence," which is a learnable skill. If you go through that workbook and apply the skills it teaches in your daily life, you may be amazed at the effects.


Two Things:

  1. Update Resume.
  2. Apply for Jobs, Forward Resume to Recruiter, Friends.

Get your selves up and start doing what is necessary and not waste time thinking non sense things.