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Ask HN: Civil Engineering Grad Wants to Land a Job in Tech
2 points by civileng on Nov 12, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 1 comment
Hey all. Long-time lurker, first-time caller.

I've been interested in tech all my life, from sticking nickels and pennies in my parent's Apple ][e disk drive to installing Mandrake Linux on my dad's old desktop which I bought for $300. I've learned HTML/CSS and worked as a university lab manager for a research program where I learned Fortran, C++, and Perl.

Despite this interest in tech--or, rather, because of it--I decided to go in a different direction in college and learn something else. I majored in civil engineering when jobs were plenty and when I thought I might want to become a university professor. After several research projects and two undergraduate publications, I decided against academia, and now that I've finished my degree, the civil engineering job market sucks.

So, I have some skills in engineering project and process management, know a lot about general tech stuff, have some experience in Linux server administration, and some experience with programming languages. I think one of my unique skills is an ability to mediate between business/non-technical people and engineers to communicate both business and technical requirements, but I really have no idea how to communicate that on a resume, nevermind my lack of direct experience in the field.

So how do I land a job in tech? I think I have a lot to offer, and I'm definitely willing to learn more for an entry-level position, but I don't know how to present myself. I have no idea what positions I should be applying to, or what companies would be willing to take a chance on me. (I just don't know the job market.) I generally do well in interviews when I get them, but with how competitive every job opportunity is these days, I need all the help I can get, especially getting past the first "resume read" cut.

As far as I know a good company who would like to hire a Hacker (a good or very good programmer) will consider you (Take look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_ethic). However, you may have to prove to them that you know the stuff that you have written in your resume.

Best way forward would be to work on your skills. Although its a long shot but follow some of the advice for novice programmer. You can look for Steve Yegge's post on interviews and Joel on Software. These will guide you through this landscape.

If you want to learn programming from ground up. Here is my list:

1. http://mitpress.mit.edu/sicp/

2. http://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Algorithms-Second-Thomas-...

3. A Data structure book

4. Some basic book on the programming language of your choice.

The list may go on but you need to go through them in full steam.

Best of luck.

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