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Ask HN: 27 year old with a MSc degree in CS. No job experience. Am I screwed?
19 points by howscrewedami 102 days ago | hide | past | web | 18 comments | favorite
Title says it all. I'm currently 27 years old. No job experience. Sent over 30 resumes and got 5 interviews. Every interviewer so far touched on the fact that I have 0 work experience. I'm starting to feel like I'm screwed. What do you guys think?

You're young. Someone who took the standard path would have graduated with their masters at the age of 23 or 24. So you're maybe 4 years behind - and I bet that's still within a standard deviation of the norm. If you stay healthy, you can easily work productively and grow for another 50 years. So don't sweat it at all, you have a lot of time left. Yes, you have zero work experience. So what? Don't sell yourself as a senior engineer - you're not - sell yourself as someone who is smart and wants to work hard, get things done and gain experience.

As an anecdote - I have a friend who graduated with their bachelor's degree when they were 30. I have no doubt it was hard for them at first - they were 7-8 years behind everyone else in terms of career, and often more senior members of their team were younger than them. But they dropped their ego, worked hard and put in the time. Seven or so years later, their career has caught up or even surpassed the people who started before them - they lead a large engineering team responsible for a major product within their organization. I think that part of their success is the emotional maturity that comes with age, so while perhaps their technical skills were the same as a 22 year old out of school, they were able to communicate at a more mature level, and their focus meant that they got up to speed on the technical front more quickly. In some ways, I think they were even at an advantage.

You sent 30 resumes and got 5 interviews! That's an AMAZING rate.

I personally sent a couple of hundreds (some personalized, some bulk shotgun). Don't give up, and don't be discouraged by the stories of "rock-stars" you read about here in HN, keep sending and keep interviewing every day, all day.

When applying for positions, I often decide that there's a 5% chance of being hired from a single application, and try to estimate how many resumes I need to send before I have a 95% chance of receiving an offer. The clear deadline helps with time budgeting, and helps me focus on avoiding making anxious spammy applications.

dude you're 27. chill out. 30 resumes/5 interviews really isnt that much.

some suggestions: build a side project and post it to github. volunteer for some folks. try and land a freelance project or 2, even if its under market rate. build a portfolio from this stuff. start a blog and post about what you're learning. get some inspiration at simpleprogrammer.com

this is a marathon not a sprint, and you are just a kid.


- 38 yr old jaded vet. got into the industry when i was 26.

As a hiring manager, I'd say not screwed. You'll have issues getting past that HR wall, but if you can show your talents in the interview you'll be fine. Fill up that Github and try reaching out to the hiring managers directly. Some managers prefer hiring people with less work experience, but they only see the resumes that come across their desk.

Don't worry -- you will be 100% fine. What kind of jobs are you applying for?

If you're looking at true entry-level jobs, then having 0 work experience is not a problem. And those jobs do exist, just look for them specifically.

Beyond that, interviewers often make remarks like this, even if it isn't really a big hang up for them. Don't let them see you sweat, that's the only mistake you can make. Just own it, and say ok -- but I have, x, y, z -- and I can do this.

It's like when you try to sell a car. The buyers like to kick the tires and see if they deflate. They aren't trying to disqualify you, they're __already_negotiating__, and trying to bring the price down.

Maybe I have been lucky, but I was in your same situation 3 months ago: 26, no job experience, soon to have a MSc degree in CS. I had your same fears when I published my resume on a portal that my uni makes available to students for making them in touch with companies, since then I've been contacted three times in the first two weeks and now that I found a job there are still other companies sending me emails offering me to have a job interview. The same thing happened to some of my friends.

Note that I was an average student, certainly not in the top of my course.

If you give up, yes your screwed. Don't give up if you want this career to work.

Some times things can be discouraging in this industry, so look at this as training for in the future when you have to get through a discouraging or trying time.

You have a Master's Degree. That means you have something that you specialized in beyond just general computer science.

Take some of the cutting edge research in the field that you are familiar with, find companies that need that skillset or technology, find companies on Linkedin and email the CEO/CTO.

That way you could potentially skip the entry level stuff and come in as someone with specialized knowledge from day one and probably get compensated as such.

Stop trying to compete with people in the general arena where your Master's Degree doesn't even have any bearing.

> Sent over 30 resumes and got 5 interviews.

Sample size is far too small, 10X that number-- you'll have broader/deeper feedback. Understand that submitting job board applications is a time suck & energy drain.

Suggest shifting strategy, focus efforts on getting in-person meetings with people you can help (i.e. Managers, Directors, VP's of Engineering, CIO's) Get out of your house. Start attending networking events (Conferences, Meet-ups, Hackathons). Reach out to alumni from your program.

Make a demo site, put in your portfolio, get a freelancing gig, do a few, put in your resume, apply for entry positions.

I was your age when I got hired at my current job and I didn't even have the masters. You'll be fine.

If you're in the Seattle area (or wouldn't mind) moving here we are still hiring. Send me a message at my username at gee mail.

No, you're not!

A friend of mine got his MSc in CS with an undergrad education in english and philosophy. He landed a job with little prior experience.

You can do it. You ARE doing it. I think the amount of interviews that you've gotten is a promising start.

get a job doing anything computers at a place that will take you, work there for a bit to gain exp, now you have it.

write some software/design a network/etc.. whatever you want to do as a job, send that with your resume.

go to some places where people are doing what you want to do for fun, like Longmont has the Tinkermill, Boulder has tech meetups, you can meet people there who are starting companies and see if you can help out, that experience can get you a job quickly if you're a fast learner.

experience is easy to gain, quality experience is harder to come by, but once you know what to look for in the companies/people you're working with, you'll get that as well.

The MSc degree will bump your salary and open doors once you have some experience under your belt. Do the grunt work for a year or two and then you'll climb the corporate ladder.

The grass is greener..

Its worth repeating, this is a marathon not a sprint

With no experience you need to apply for entry level positions. You won't, or shouldn't, get positions above that with no experience.

Why don't you specify what you are good at and maybe people offer you a job here?

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