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How to get hired when lacking experience.

Hi all, I am 32 years old, and want to change career to a software developer, actually I'm reading books about VB.Net, C#, Oracle database, and Oracle PL/SQL. I don't have any programming experience, so how can I get experience in order to have good chance of being accepted in a company? And can I be successful developer over the age of 32?



Join an opensource project which is close to your interests. Check out SourceForge, CodePlex, Google Code, etc. - there's definitely one you'd like to contribute to.

If there's nothing you find particularly interesting, start your own project which will scratch your own itch.

And read lots of code and lots of books. Reading code will improve your programming skills and somewhat enrich your techniques, whereas reading books (both on practical matters and on fundamentals) will generally make you a better programmer.


Start off with writing hundreds of small programs for everything you feel like. Try your strength at one of "programmers for hire" sites. Stuff written there counts. Write stuff that you can show - some Firefox extension, contributions to some open source project, maybe a device driver?


My experience is that without a real company experience, people are unlikely to take you very seriously, sad, but true.

You can opt to join any open source thing, but the codebase is very often daunting to outsiders, even those with a lot of coding experience (unless you are Ayende Rahien), so i don't think contributing open source is a good idea.

The best route you can try, is to take a pay cut and work as a junior position, and climb up the ladder from there.


I'd skip the VB.NET and focus on the C#. If you really want to learn a second language then pick a scripting one like Ruby or Python.

If you're educated to degree level then it may be possible to apply for a graduate position at a large company. You don't have to be straight out of University to do this, any many places often realise that you don't have in-depth programming skills and will take the time to train you, often by assigning a mentor to you.


Start writing an application for your own - something that interests you. Could be a content management system if websites take your interest, or a winforms (thick client) address book with an Oracle backend. The world's your oyster. Show your friends, and if they like it, put it on the web for download or publish the website, so it becomes visible and publicly accessible.

That may be enough to get you in the door somewhere as a junior dev.

And of course - read other people's code. Lots of it. That's one of the best ways to learn.

If you have the motivation and you like coding, there's nothing to hold you back.

And if you have tricky questions, your fellow SO'ers are here.


I totally agree on lots of advices here on how should you get started. Some advices from me which are not covered:

  1. First, I really appreciate your courage to take this bold decision. This decision becomes much more tough if you are not from the relevant education background. So, think really deep, doubly make sure that you want to do it and once committed stick with your decision for a sufficient period of time.

  2. Learn to persevere and have faith in you. You need to cover a lot of ground sooner what others have started at much younger age.

  3. Learn is to be a learner. Stick around with buddies who would encourage you to learn and help you in solving the problem.

  4. Make sure that your finances are taken care of for a sufficient time till you master something. Money problem is a major hindrance to learning. If you need to work, Hang on to some job that provides you sufficient learning opportunities.

  5. Focus much more on getting the concepts right in a selective set of learning than trying to achieve too much too soon. You would get overwhelmed soon.


I didn't see it said, so I will put it out there...

Yes! you can be a successful programmer after the age of 32!

It actually might help you. Some people who have been programming for quite a while tend to have a harder time breaking the mold of this is how we did it in the past (even though a better method might be out there). Working with a clean slate will allow you to pick up newest techniques.

I would start with c# as well. It seems to be where people are heading in terms of new development.

When I am leaning a new language I tend to roam the internet for a couple solid resources. I won't necessarily look for someones blog, but rather an active forum setting. (for example this site tend to cover just about anything!). Once I have the resource, I look at other example project (if available) and use the documentation + example + forum to guide me through hurtles I come across.

One more point. It could also depend on where you live. If you are in a big city, you could learn a bunch of different things and be marketable. If your job market is smaller, it might be good to ask around to see what people are using and gear your learning to that specific market.

Just my 2cents. Hope it helped!

Good luck!


Start your own company, build up an online portfolio with free, commercial applications.


Volunteer your services at a charitable organization you or your parents/friends/family are involved with. Sometimes a little bit of help can really go a long way.


I see Python tag so I suggest reading Python tutorial and starting in The Python Challenge. Python on-line docs are good start point to learn programming. There are such books as Python for Software Design/ How to Think Like a Computer Scientist and this way you will learn about various algorithms, data structures etc. I think Python is very good choice for somebody who wants to learn programming.


Check with your local college for some non-credit intro to programming classes. You'll probably get some exposure to C++, java, maybe even C# or python. Non-credit classes are cheap and often on the evening or weekends.

I would venture that if you have never programmed before, you need a little practice solving problems with code before deciding to switch your career. Lots of people are miserable sitting in front of a computer all day (all night) staring at lines of text.


It is not you who speaks, its your work.

Get down to real business. Pick an open source project or devise your own but do it yourself and from scratch. You will learn more by doing than reading. If you will end up with something cool and you will, it will speak for you as your experience.

I feel developmet profession is having a major shift, reshaping and evolving faster than any other profession, specially in the last two years.

There is awareness among developers and employers about the traditional methods for recruitment which fail to identify / hire good developers. I have feeling that in near future, developers will replace their CV's in doc / pdf formats with their "Tech Blogs", "stackoverflow profiles" etc. CV's might be good for non-developmental professions but not for us.

32 years or more is not an issue, If you know what are doing.

Hope it helps


Certifications are not always consistent indicators of real talent and ability, but having a couple of acronyms (particularly the MS* and Sun* variety) can make your resume look more serious to potential employers. It will also show that you have some dedication and the ability to complete a process.

Again, I'm not huge on certifications, they are hit and miss, but for someone like yourself who needs to jump-start a late-life vocation change they can make an otherwise blank resume pop a lot more than it would without them. MANY times the first person to vet your resume will be an HR person who might be impressed with certifications and push your resume to the next level.


Search for a company that has a graduate intake programme with training. I worked at a company that trained people from scratch in C++, 10 weeks training, and produced some excellent developers. It's not common but possible. It would mean having to enter alongside graduates but your maturity may well give you an edge over the others.


If you are looking to gain real valuable experience that an employer would look for, and intending on doing your own projects my advice would be:

Project Wise

  • Plan them out properly.
  • Have realistic deadlines/milestones/timescale.
  • Document everything.
  • Set yourself daily goals.
  • Don't be afraid to set goals that will challenge you.

Programming Wise

  • Try to incorporate design patterns in your code e.g. MVC/MVP
  • Use some form of source control e.g. SVN.
  • Explore different technologies, try to incorporate if possible.
  • Program with maintainability in mind. (even if it is overkill it will do you wonders in future projects)

This demonstrates to an employer you have a passion for what you do, have good project management skills, can manage your time well, have a good engineering skills and have a willingness to learn. I have been in both shoes (working on my own project, and working with a company) and these are the types of skills a company would be realistically looking for.


The best developers that I've seen often have a quality assurance (QA) background. You are trying a lot of different languages, but real QA is where the tire meets the road. You can see what went wrong with the project and avoid these mistakes in your own code. This knowledge can really impress developers AND managers at the interview.

I've seen many developers (including me) get caught up on how things can be done. But, hindsight is always 20/20 and where many interesting things are learned. Of course, you have to dig deeper than just filing new defects. Actually try to fix them. There are plenty of OpenSource projects that would love a round of QA. Just be very tactful when you find defects..yet another skill you'll learn in this process.


as somebody else said above you can be anything you want and age does not matter. It seems to me that you already put your mind into it so I am sure it will happen. I believe that you will find this free eBook/narated book useful.

My experience is that if I make some utils/small programs/macros for my own use or fun I will quite often use later on at work. Do you want to store your shopping list online and share it within your family? Write an application for it. Create web site, write java .Net C++ stand alone application for pc, mac, mobiles.

Whan I was looking for a job there was a company that was willing to traing .Net or was it C++ programers.

You never know where it comes from but it will come to you if you stay open and aware. And you do something for it as well.

Good luck ...


My suggestion is to try doing some components from Topcoder.com They are usually components from a real projects. The advantage of working on Topcoder is you don't have to worry about dummy and naughty clients.


Make your own programs that show off your skill, knowledge, and general interest in programming.Participating in an open source project is a plus, but you would have more control over your own project.Some more other tips that would really hep you are listed in this link http://www.tictacdo.com/ttd/Become-a-Programmer