How to break into Birmingham’s tech industry

Questions for the panel:

  1. What programming languages and skill sets are employers in the Birmingham metro area requesting?
  2. How often do candidates that you put forward completely match an employer’s requested profile? How often are job descriptions wish lists versus real needs?
  3. What is considered a junior developer? Senior developer? How many years experience? What skill sets?
  4. For mid-life career changers, what are some good strategies for getting hired? For recent graduates, what are good strategies for getting hired?
  5. What should current computer science and information systems students be doing to develop project portfolios? What project types are of interest to regional employers?
  6. What is usually covered in a technical interview? What types of technical interviews should candidates prepare for?
  7. What should career changing and new graduate candidates expect during the interview process?
  8. If you have no technical experience, what is the best way to display skills? How should I format my resume?

What programming languages and skill sets are Birmingham metro area employers requesting?

How often do candidates that you put forward completely match an employer’s requested profile?

How often are job descriptions wish lists versus real needs?

What is considered a junior developer? Senior developer? How many years experience? What skill sets?

  • Junior developer — new graduate through to about three years experience.
  • Senior developer — three to six years experience.

For mid-life career changers or recent graduates, what are some good strategies for getting hired?

  • Develop a portfolio of projects that you’ve built or helped build.
  • Participate in open source development projects.
  • Form an LLC and take on small programming projects. Set up and configure websites for people. Solve problems.
  • Do an internship or a community volunteer project. (Shirley’s note: If the internship that you want to do doesn’t exist, consider working with the organization that you’d like to do the work and your department of study to develop one.)
  • Have some sample slide decks online and show your communication and presentation skills.
  • For mid-career changers — be prepared to take a pay cut to get that first job in the new field. You have a demonstrated ability to work with others, but you are going to need to demonstrate your programming ability.

What should current computer science and information systems students be doing to develop project portfolios? What project types are of interest to regional employers?

What is usually covered in a technical interview? What types of technical interviews should candidates prepare for?

What should career changing and new graduate candidates expect during the interview process?

  • The interview process will take a few rounds
  • Be prepared to show your work (that portfolio of projects that we mentioned already!)
  • Some companies are now asking candidates to come in to do some sample programming work or solve a sample problem.
  • Unless specifically requested (and usually for a larger company) technical certifications matter less than practical experience. So take those internships, look for those community problems that need solving.

If you have no technical experience, what is the best way to display skills? How should I format my resume?

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