How do I get started in programming?
I recently decided on a career change into programming and am having trouble finding a job.
I graduated with a BS in Mathematics and a minor in Economics. After university I worked as an actuarial analyst for a large consulting company. Last year I quit my job and have just completed a six-month course in web design and programming.
I have been looking for a job, but every position requires one to two years' experience, which I don't have. I have tried applying for graduate positions, but most companies want people straight out of school, not someone who has been out for over four years. Ideally I would like an entry role to help me develop into an experienced programmer.
Emphasise the value of your studies
You will need to take a proactive approach and boost the visibility of your applications by following them up with a phone call to the agency. Ask to meet consultants to discuss your skills in depth. A common mistake made by applicants is the assumption their CV will make an impact on its own.
You will soon learn the difference between good and poor consultants and ones that see the potential in your skills. Hopefully you will find a consultant who will take the time to help you prepare your CV in the right way, for the right role.
Mathematics graduates are often sought after, so you should emphasise this part of your CV and relate it to your IT skills. You clearly have an analytical mind and so can turn your hand to the complexities of programming. Ensure you highlight these strengths by being forthright about the value of your studies in your applications.
Aim to apply for jobs that are between £20k and £25k. Although this may be a drop in salary for you, it will allow you to get into a company where you can gain that much sought-after experience.
Robert Nunn, senior account manager, Plan-Net Services
The panel: Plan-Net Services, Hudson, Reed Technology, Zarak Technology, No Limits Coaching
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