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I was fed up with college in the summer of 1998. I was tired of a computer science degree program which required classes in COBOL and IBM 370 assembler. So, I went home to get an associate's degree and start earning some of that hot dot-com dough. By the Spring of 1999, I was looking for my first programming job with another year to go on my two-year degree.

That job search took months. Without a degree or professional experience, I didn't hear back from anyone. Which really stunk, because back then you had to fax your resume and my local Kinko's charged something like a buck a page. I was stocking the sci-fi section at Borders and reading computer books at night.

There was nothing like today's open source community, no sites like Github. It you couldn't point to a commercial product you built, you had no business claiming you could program. Recruiters wouldn't even talk to me.

I got a job at a company that hired pretty much anyone and sent them to a two-week BASIC course and made them web programmers. Literally, the guy who sat next to me drove limos and had zero exposure to programming before taking the job. But they could bill for his time by the hour, so...great! You can read a bit about my story and the technologies I worked with there in my three-part blog series "Pick is a living fossil of computer history" https://davidmichaelross.com/blog/a-living-fossil-of-compute...

Once I took that job doing Pick, I heard from recruiters at least once a week...for Pick jobs. Again, unless you had a job with a certain technology, you couldn't get a job with that technology, because there were 20 other people with more experience willing to work for the same crappy entry-level wages.

The early 2000s were much the same until I dropped $1000 of my own money on a Java certification and suddenly I was getting calls about Java positions all day long.

My advice? I hate telling people to build up a Github profile because not everyone has the luxury of coding in their spare time. But that's one of the most visible things you can do to prove your knowledge of different technologies. Be glad you have it, and use the heck out of it.

Save up money so you can go for months without a programmer's salary. You might need to.

Accept that you might have to take a job that's not very interesting of glamorous. But never take a job in a technology as old as your parents.

My colleagues across the hall at my old job who did all the Delphi maintenance used to tell Pick war stories from _their_ first job. They chuckled when I showed them Couchbase....

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