Can’t get a job without experience; can’t get experience without a job.
Imagine for a moment, you’re fresh meat, straight out of university. You have your shiny degree and you’re ready to go out and conquer the programming world with all the skills you have aquired through study. After searching high and low for a job you eventually come upon the realisation that employers want you to have real work experience. Unless you ended up in one of the limited positions available in graduate programs you now need to somehow aquire experience to obtain employment.
Chances are if you apply for a job fresh out of university the discussion with your potential employer is going to go something like this:
Me: Hire me please
Them: Maybe. Do you have experience?
Them: Then no. You need experience to get a job
Me: But I need a job to get experience
Them: Eh, what can you do.
You can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t get experience without a job. So what do you do?
To give some perspective I had initially completed an IT degree focussing on systems administration and computer security. After working in the field for some time I wanted to make a move into software development which lead me to return to study.
After completing additional study I was ready to find employment, but needed to aquire some experience more specific to software development so that I could prove to a potential employer that I could apply the skills I learnt through study as well as work in a real workplace environment.
After spending some time searching for an internship I found myself at Ninja Software. My time spent as an intern was invaluble to my personal development. Initially it felt a bit like I had been thrown in the deep end, with a barrage of new information being thrown at me. I had to pick up a couple new programming languages and a bunch of new concepts, but only after a few weeks I felt as though I had learnt more than I would have in an entire semester studying.
Don’t get me wrong, my time studying provided me with the fundamental concepts and understanding I needed to get through all this new content, but the internship allowed me to get though alot of volume as well as experience a real working environment. Here I had access to other skilled programmers who were able to mentor me and provide me with direction in developing my skills to be job ready.
I was able to get guidance on projects that I could tackle which would challenge me and allow me to learn more, aquiring new knowledge at a rapid pace. This process made the gap between a graduate and a junior programmer very apparent, and it was obvious that the time I was spending in the office as an intern was allowing me bridge this gap.
Understandably, as a graduate it can be difficult to get someone to take a chance on you if you have no experience, again this is where an internship can prove valuable. It gives you the oportunity to demonstrate your ability which can give you a credible reference for your resume, or as in my case, lead to employment from the very place you were doing the internship.
My internship experience was a very valuble one; showcasing myself as an employable developer as well as my skills to a potential employer.