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Hi, I am just about to finish college and I am starting to get scared about finding a job. I live in Winnipeg and the job market here is not great. But at least if i can get a job (even one that pays badly) the experience will be 100% worth it!!
 
I am going to a local college (Red River 3 years) to get a diploma in computer science. I know this is not as fancy as a degree, but its all I can afford.
 
Every single position available even at the Jr. level requires at least 2 years of experience..and I have maybe 7-8 months at a Non profit Organization building them a website, and a few website gigs I did.
 
So I figured to help my non existence chance, I would build a program in C# preferably to try to show them my level and programming (I would include a EXE and all source code). Even though I do have experience in Web Dev, I went to school for application Dev. I believe as far as a jr programmer goes, my C# skills are top notch, with marks to prove it.
 
So here is the question that I hope some of you can help me with.
I don't want this program to take a year to build, but a few months to 6 months would be fine.
 
What are some ideas of a program that might WOW my future boss. I want them to look at this program and just think, this is his experience right here.
 
Now I am a programmer with good imagination but I am having a hard time thinking of something as a whole that would do this.
 
So if any of you have any ideas on a program (functionality or directive) please post them. With any luck I can take a few ideas in my head, mix it with some of your ideas, and get a winning application!
 
Also if any of you have suggestions that you would like to say, please feel free. I will take any bit of help I can get. I am hoping to hit the ground running as they say.
 
Thanks to anyone who helps!
This site never fails, so I believe some one out there will me.
Posted 29-Apr-11 9:30am
Edited 29-Apr-11 15:21pm
v2
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Solution 1

One program isn't going to bolster your resume. What got me my first programming job was that I not only attended school full time (I also have a certificate, and not a degree), but that I also held down a full-time job. Yeah, your first programming gig is gonna suck as far as compensation goes, and you should be prepared to put in more than 40 hours per week (which is also going to suck).
 
If you have a laptop, load it up with your code examples, and take it with you on your interviews. Offer to showcase your code for the interviewer. Make sure you have it fully commented and re-familiarize yourself with WHY you did what you did and why you picked one technique over another to overcome a design issue in your code.
 
Make sure your resume reads easily and that all of the words are spelled correctly. Nothing sticks out more than a misspelled word on aresume. Also, use proper English.
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Comments
thexcodec at 29-Apr-11 15:08pm
   
Thanks for the suggestion. And i know i will need more than just a program. I had my resume checked by 5 different people in very high positions (sadly none of them needing programmers), and i re-did my resume from scratch about 7 times to get things perfect.
 
But because i have no experience i need more than just a resume to get me the interview. When i applied for my schools co-op jobs, I last minute got a job and it was my only interview too. Everyone else got tons of interviews because they had experience even thought my grades are a lot higher and resume was equal. Most had summer jobs doing some sort of IT job because their parents know someone. I have no "connections".
 
Which is why i want to create a program; A single program, to help me get to the interview. for if i can get to the interview my chances go way up, for i have great people skills and don’t get nervous in those type of situations (i took live arts for a few years).
 
I am not trying to say life is unfair, or anything because I don’t have experience, I simply just want that extra bit to help me get the interview.
Simon_Whale at 29-Apr-11 17:18pm
   
I did what John is suggesting and boy did it work for me when I was made redundant a few years ago. When I started taking code samples / applications that I could show it got me into later stages of interviews rather than exiting on the first round.
 
If its websites that you have created give them links that also helps.
thexcodec at 29-Apr-11 17:24pm
   
ya so far i love both solutions. Keep em coming!
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Solution 4

Do you have any special skills in areas other than programming? I had a friend in high school who was good at both programming and math (bastard beat me on the AP Computer Science exam, and tied me on the AP Calculus exam). He used both to create a calculus application that solved derivatives and integrals symbolically (that is not a simple task). It was probably the only programming thing I had seen in high school that seriously impressed me. If you have a similar specialty, perhaps you can use two of your strengths to create something that others will appreciate.
 
Like cars? Create a web application that allows users to browse cars and get information on them.
 
Good at gardening? Create a garden simulator that calculates success based on things like sunshine, humidity, soil density, and so on.
 
Fan of anime? Create a game based around popular anime characters (Goku vs Superman?).
 
Puzzle master? Construct a crossword maker that outputs the clues and puzzle board to a PNG file.
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Solution 5

I think John Simmons' frank answer is pretty close to the mark.
 
I would offer two things to consider:
 
1. Your idea of writing a "demo" app is an excellent one. These days, C# is hot, so use that if you can. Also, try to make it business-oriented. By that I mean use some kind of database (maybe SQLite?), and do a UI that offers different views of it - tabular, graphical, etc. Again, the app should be business-oriented; for example, a defect-tracking system for a manufacturing company that has plants in several locations. The "views" should show defects by part type, location, shift, etc.
 
2. When you get something put together, send out letters directly to the companies in your area. In the letter, tell them you are looking for a permanent position, but ask them if they would consider hiring you as an intern. This might pay less, but you would get the experience you need.
 
Whatever you do, do not build a demo app to catalog your music collection, etc.
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v2
Comments
AspDotNetDev at 29-Apr-11 19:15pm
   
What about a demo app to catalog my... I mean, *a* pr0n collection?
Hans Dietrich at 29-Apr-11 19:21pm
   
Well, the problem with that, is that the OP would need *two* collections, to match the gender preference of the interviewer. Maybe a Ctrl-key combo switches between them for demo purposes.
AspDotNetDev at 29-Apr-11 19:57pm
   
Probably best to base each collection on both sex and sexual orientation. Assuming the OP is male... Straight male interviewer: guy/girl collection. Gay male interviewer: all guy collection. Gay female interviewer: all girl collection. Straight female interviewer: self-shot collection.
thexcodec at 29-Apr-11 22:19pm
   
not even gonna comment haha.
I want to create 3 different apps all in C# showing my programing in three different ways.
yesotaso at 30-Apr-11 13:58pm
   
Expressing your programming skillz is all good, but do it in a way that programs also reflect your understanding of business oriented problems in spite of how dull those problems might be(they usually are dull). It might seem "Sir! Yes sir!" approach at first but you need something to sell.
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Solution 2

My first suggestion would be to write articles and post it on code project and link them in your resumes. If you write good articles, you would get good rating and hopefully win one of the monthly prizes.
 
For the sample program, try to showcase the technologies you know. You need not do a fancy big ERP package to show your skill, a simple calculator could also prove your object oriented skills. Concentrate on showing how you came up with design and how you solved complex problems. Show any design patterns you used if any and explain the reason to use it. Add unit test showing code coverage if you have that skill. Make the code readable, the interviewer is going to have little time to look at the complete code, try to use SOLID[^] and that would help in easy readability and would impress the person reading it.
 
The first project I did was a simple application to check if the computers in the network are on/off. It was a simple program but impressed my boss. I started adding a lot of features and in no time, I had become a software programmer from the network/system admin work I was doing.
 
Best of luck in finding your right/dream job.
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Comments
thexcodec at 29-Apr-11 17:22pm
   
This is very very helpful! I never thought about the whole showing my knowledge of programming by the code it self instead of the program. BTW I love your idea of computers in a network are on/off. Something like that is unique, shows how you program (via code), and is not a huge under taking.
 
thank you!
Tarakeshwar Reddy at 29-Apr-11 17:35pm
   
You're welcome!
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Solution 3

Well, do you have an area of software development that interests you? Is there a sector of the industry where you are concentrating your search? It can be a good thing to focus, because depending on what kind of development you want to do, you may be able to find API's or protocols that you can use to develop with or for and demonstrate that you took the initiative to learn on your own in that specific industry. It might just put you a little above the rest...
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Comments
thexcodec at 29-Apr-11 17:37pm
   
that is a good point..never thought of that.
That is why i posted my question here, because everyone has a good suggestion and with all of them together i can't go wrong.
wizardzz at 29-Apr-11 17:38pm
   
CP is such a great place to get a wide range of ideas, nicely done!

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