With companies constantly requesting for experience before employment, getting a good paying job as a programmer fresh out of college is quite tricky. Most companies are unwilling to train candidates. Employers need people capable of handling large and complex codes, and that is a different world from projects handled in the school environment.
Unless there is a relative or family member willing to hire you straight off college with a nice paycheck or some other saving grace, you will need experience from the real world, not only to boost your resume but also to gain in-depth knowledge of the job.
So, here are a few ways to gain programming experience if you can’t find gainful employment because no one will give you a chance with no experience.
There are scores of companies with summer internship programmes for college students. The pay might not be so good, but you will be bagging invaluable experience you won’t get from school as well as a stipend.
Some interns get retained, and this means a secure job immediately after college. You could add this as a reference on your resume and also earn college credits.
Consider charities and volunteer jobs to put the word out and at the same time keep you practicing. Though the market for fresh college graduates is almost non-existent, there’s always someone willing to let you work with them – for free, or with low earnings. There are always non-profit organizations short on staff and charity organizations who need volunteers. Look for one near you and offer to do some work for them for free.
Not only will you be giving back to the society or community, but you’ll also get some real-world experience. When those are unavailable, there might be an uncle or aunt who needs help with their website or database whom you could help out.
Hackathons and code camps
Find out where a hackathon is holding near you and make plans to attend. These programmes bring together professionals and would-be employers and will give you the chance to showcase your abilities.
Open source projects
Find open source projects that suit you, contact the project manager to know if they need programmers and be a part of something big.
These projects give you a chance to challenge yourself, and see how good you are on a professional level. It’s also a good entry in your resume.
The best way to remain good at something is never to stop practicing. Pick up unfinished projects, create a website, maybe start an online business, challenge yourself and see how far it goes, but whatever you do, never stop working.
Create time to do some work even if you are currently employed in a non-programming environment. Free time and lunch hours are a good time to start, personal time also.
Work at home
Finally, if over time, you’re unable to find any volunteer work, hackathon, or open source projects that sit well with you, then consider working from home. Rewrite applications to fit your taste, play around with codes, work on projects you can show prospective employers, post your projects for free and expect the fruits of your hard work.
Programming can be challenging but if you apply yourself, you will find out that is not rocket science.