Developing a developer

Still some way to completing my degree part-time (at the end of this academic year I’m half way). I’m not soliciting my services – just looking for advice from the community and if anyone has a few minutes it’d be very much appreciated.

I enjoy mathematics and programming, my degree modules have revolved around the two, covering Java and VB.Net (its a very Windows centric place the Open University but it’s getting better). I’m in the UK and would like to go back to Edinburgh for family reasons when I leave the services in a couple of years time. Looking at the job boards, there’s a lot of Java contracts in the area.

Has anyone got a job with only open source experience? Does anyone know of any open source projects that are Java based and would be a good starting point to build on the fundamentals? Are there other qualifications or courses that you recommend? What are employers looking for? Does anyone work in a specific field that utilises both maths and programming? Is there a language that is in particular demand or do you find that good experience is more value? What’s a realistic starting salary?

7 Replies to “Developing a developer”

  1. I got my first break into the software world with only open source experience. But that was as a web developer and writing PHP. Since then, I switched to systems engineering, again, largely with the influence of my open source credentials. So, it is possible, I don’t know if it extends to your region, however (I’m in India).

    Since you have Java experience, have you tried tinkering with Android? That is hot enough to find jobs in a lot of places.

  2. Hello Dougie,

    I’m a professional Android developer and Stack Exchange user. I run the Android chat room on Stack Overflow.

    If you have any questions or need some guidance to start make sure to drop in and we can have a chat.

    Octavian ‘mainerror’ Damiean

  3. Dougie,

    I got my first job ages ago with only my Bachelor’s degree and a some lab experience. There should be plenty of entry-level Java opportunities available to you. If not, you can always do some work for a non-profit or civic organization. Many of them need some programming expertise but may not have a budget.

    If you’re willing to do that, make sure it’s a small project (learn how to set boundaries on what you will/will not do) and have an agreement that the leaders of the organisation will a) give you a glowing testimonial and b) personally introduce you to their colleagues who could hire you.

    Job boards are fine, but if you can establish a personal relationship with your future employer, it is much better.

    Good luck,


    1. Thanks Laurent, I should maybe flesh out my background – I’m not a twenty-something graduate, I’ve been in the armed forces as an Avionics technician on rotary wing for over 12 years. I lost my hearing (just in one ear, thankfully) and am no trying to retrain for a new career.

      Thanks for the comments, I’ll try to see what I can develop – if I was still able to work around aircraft, I would know exactly who to speak to to find a new career so I see your point about a personal relationship.

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