Junior employment possibilities with an MCSD

merge

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Mar 15, 2013
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Hey guys, I need some advice if you're keen.

I want to do a career change at the ripe old age of 33 from animation and vfx to development; C#, SQL, .NET, anything that would result in an optimal chance of employment and, of course, income growth potential.

Questions:
  1. What would my chances be of getting a decent junior development job if I got an MCSD, seeing as I haven't got a BSc, I'm older, and I don't have any development experience?
  2. I realise I'll need to start at the bottom with a juniors salary, but any suggestions on what that amount might be, how often one can expect increases, and to what degree?
  3. How can(or can I?) I frame my previous employment experience to my benefit?
  4. From my observations of the local job market it appears that demand for C#, .NET, SQL and other such older technologies outstrip demand for the sexier new(er) beasts like Ruby, Rails? Is this true?
  5. Would aiming for front-end be a better option? If so how should I go about getting myself employable? What certifications should I get?

To make things a little bit clearer, here's some background info on me:
Reason for jumping in the fire :
After more than a decade in television animation I'm left burnt out, broke(pay was really mediocre), and with no room for growth.

Current experience & qualifications:
  • 10+ years as an animator and vfx operator
  • NDip in Graphic Design
  • Halfway through a BCom

Motivation for development:
I've always been fascinated with coding and have been toying around with websites for years. I've been a HackerNews subscriber for years as well, as an indication of interest. I'm also very keen on mobile development, the possibilities fascinate me.
 
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ozziej

Senior Member
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Jul 22, 2009
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570
My suggestion would be to rather get up to date on front end technologies first. You have a background in animation so hopefully have an understanding of things like layout colour etc. Try and look at some self help courses on CSS and HTML, then get into Javascript.
They are easier to learn that the backend development and you will get up to speed a lot quicker, thus making yourself employable faster.
There is quite a demand for front end developers. While you are doing this, start getting up to speed with the backend stuff. I would also suggest starting with Java and MySQL. Check a recent press release about the most popular languages on GitHub, number 1 was javascript, number 2 was Java. Doing a full-time course for MCSD will mean spending some significant money, from what I've seen most companies will look at you and get you to an interview if you have experience with HTML / Javascript / CSS and Java / MySQL on the backend. Even with no "real" certification. However, you can always do an online course if you want a piece of paper.
 

cguy

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Jan 2, 2013
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Did you do any MEL or Max Script scripting? If so, I am sure many would consider it relevant.
 

shauntir

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Sep 11, 2013
Messages
457
Hey guys, I need some advice if you're keen.

Questions:
  1. What would my chances be of getting a decent junior development job if I got an MCSD, seeing as I haven't got a BSc, I'm older, and I don't have any development experience? There's definitely a good chance if you do get a certification, have some open source code to show and the fact that you already have been working in tech.
  2. I realise I'll need to start at the bottom with a juniors salary, but any suggestions on what that amount might be, how often one can expect increases, and to what degree? Depends, a very broad estimate could range from 8k all the way to 25k. Depends on the company and how you market yourself.
  3. How can(or can I?) I frame my previous employment experience to my benefit? Show them you understand how technology works and perhaps, if you have done any scripting in your animation work that could show you have basic coding skills.
  4. From my observations of the local job market it appears that demand for C#, .NET, SQL and other such older technologies outstrip demand for the sexier new(er) beasts like Ruby, Rails? Is this true? C# and .Net is not "old". Ruby is older than C#, and so is Rails. You should look into which platforms pay more and where you would have better opportunities. From my perspective, C# and .Net is much bigger here in SA. Overseas, they both seems pretty much equal.
  5. Would aiming for front-end be a better option? If so how should I go about getting myself employable? What certifications should I get? If you like graphic design then perhaps front-end is an option. I would recommend https://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-za/mcsd-web-apps-certification.aspx as that has the a good foundation for front-end dev and then backend and cloud.
My 2 cents though is that you probably better off learning something like Unity3D and specialising. You already have animation skills and probably enjoy it? With Unity, you could use some of your existing skills and then learn C# as you go along. I am pretty sure the pay would be higher and you wouldn't necessarily need to start as a junior. However, I have no idea what the market is like for that here in SA...
 

Ancalagon

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Feb 23, 2010
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I would go front end and see if you can do some courses in things like prototyping, usability, human/computer interaction, that sort of thing.

From what I can tell, South Africa has a lot of HTML/CSS guys but not many UI experts. I'm referring to guys who know how to design a good interface in terms of how usable it is, how much information is presented, how easy it is to learn, etc etc.

It should be easier to leverage your experience with front end work.

Concentrate on HTML, CSS and Javascript for now. I suggest avoiding SPA (single page application) frameworks such as Angular for now - just focus on learning the fundamentals before you dive into that.
 

merge

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
Messages
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Thanks for the reply ozzie!
My suggestion would be to rather get up to date on front end technologies first. You have a background in animation so hopefully have an understanding of things like layout colour etc. Try and look at some self help courses on CSS and HTML, then get into Javascript.
HTML and CSS are no problem, I'm pretty up to date with that. Just have a cheat sheet handy and I'm set.

I'm busy brushing up on JavaScript atm too.

They are easier to learn that the backend development and you will get up to speed a lot quicker, thus making yourself employable faster.
How do you suggest I determine if my level of competence would be classified as "employable"?

There is quite a demand for front end developers. While you are doing this, start getting up to speed with the backend stuff. I would also suggest starting with Java and MySQL. Check a recent press release about the most popular languages on GitHub, number 1 was javascript, number 2 was Java.
That's interesting, I've heard from some developers I know that I should maybe focus on C# over java, as the local market prefers it.(the guy said the only demand for java was from banks.)

I'm also doing cs50(Harvards online into to comp sci, brilliant!), which is mostly c, would that be a good intro into getting into Java eventually?

Doing a full-time course for MCSD will mean spending some significant money, from what I've seen most companies will look at you and get you to an interview if you have experience with HTML / Javascript / CSS and Java / MySQL on the backend. Even with no "real" certification. However, you can always do an online course if you want a piece of paper.
The motivation behind getting a certification is to be able to show competence. How would one show competence to the point of being employable with no experience or papers?

Should I maybe create some dummy sites and slap it on a hosting account?
 

merge

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Mar 15, 2013
Messages
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Did you do any MEL or Max Script scripting? If so, I am sure many would consider it relevant.
Nope, didn't use Maya. The software I used was mostly JS and/or python. However, scripting was rarely necessary, so there wouldn't be much to show.

My 2 cents though is that you probably better off learning something like Unity3D and specialising. You already have animation skills and probably enjoy it? With Unity, you could use some of your existing skills and then learn C# as you go along. I am pretty sure the pay would be higher and you wouldn't necessarily need to start as a junior. However, I have no idea what the market is like for that here in SA...
I'd love to work with Unity(especially VR-related projects, with the Rift and Vive coming soon), but I couldn't find any jobs in the local market. I've played with it a bit and build a small game or two. I'd love to start a gaming company, that's the dream, but I need to be able eat first.

I would go front end and see if you can do some courses in things like prototyping, usability, human/computer interaction, that sort of thing.
I wanted to get into UX actually. I applied for positions but was told I'd need a couple of years experience. So I applied for internships at a couple of places but was mostly ignored. One replied and said I was too old. Hence my motivation for going into dev, I figured demand was high enough that my age wouldn't be such a big factor.

I suggest avoiding SPA (single page application) frameworks such as Angular for now - just focus on learning the fundamentals before you dive into that.
Any suggestions on when I would know I'm ready for Angular and such?
 
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ozziej

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2009
Messages
570
Thanks for the reply ozzie!

HTML and CSS are no problem, I'm pretty up to date with that. Just have a cheat sheet handy and I'm set.

I'm busy brushing up on JavaScript atm too.


How do you suggest I determine if my level of competence would be classified as "employable"?


That's interesting, I've heard from some developers I know that I should maybe focus on C# over java, as the local market prefers it.(the guy said the only demand for java was from banks.)

I'm also doing cs50(Harvards online into to comp sci, brilliant!), which is mostly c, would that be a good intro into getting into Java eventually?


The motivation behind getting a certification is to be able to show competence. How would one show competence to the point of being employable with no experience or papers?

Should I maybe create some dummy sites and slap it on a hosting account?
Cool, if you can do HTML and CSS, you are already a step ahead of most junior guys.
How do you know if you are employable? Tricky, the easiest thing to do is to apply for positions... Generally companies will give you a technical test, for example ask you to do something either at their offices or offline for them to see.
This also answers your last point about competence. I would suggest that you create a few dummy sites, and put them on a free hosting account. (as you suggested) This way you can have a "portfolio" of work that anyone can access.
If you can prove that these are not just Wordpress templates, even better ;)

Doing a Harvard online course is a good idea, it will give you the basic principles.

My honest opinion of C# is that its not bad, however, again, look at this link:

http://venturebeat.com/2015/08/19/here-are-the-top-10-programming-languages-used-on-github/

So, Javascript and Java are at the top.
Yes, a lot of big corporates use Java, but almost every company that I have worked with, Java skills were far more highly prized than the C# ones.
Also, getting into mobile development is a good place too. Android and iOS specifically.
 

Ancalagon

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I'd love to work with Unity(especially VR-related projects, with the Rift and Vive coming soon), but I couldn't find any jobs in the local market. I've played with it a bit and build a small game or two. I'd love to start a gaming company, that's the dream, but I need to be able eat first.
Sent you a PM.

I wanted to get into UX actually. I applied for positions but was told I'd need a couple of years experience. So I applied for internships at a couple of places but was mostly ignored. One replied and said I was too old. Hence my motivation for going into dev, I figured demand was high enough that my age wouldn't be such a big factor.
Sadly it is like this whenever you change jobs. It will be easier to get into UX if you have some development experience - as long as that experience is in UI, if that makes any sense. Websites, that sort of thing.

Any suggestions on when I would know I'm ready for Angular and such?
I think you'll know. When you start getting to grips with Javascript and the ecosystem as a whole, you'll start to see where things fit in. The place for SPAs will become clearer.

This is what I would do.

Start with Microsoft MVC using C#. Very easy to learn. Just do static webpages.

Start styling those webpages using HTML/CSHTML and CSS.

Then, enhance their interactivity using Javascript.

Then, start doing Ajax using the built in MVC Ajax stuff.

When you have done all of that, you'll better be able to understand what SPAs are and where they fit in.
 

merge

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
Messages
24
Sent you a PM.
Thanks!

I think you'll know. When you start getting to grips with Javascript and the ecosystem as a whole, you'll start to see where things fit in. The place for SPAs will become clearer.

This is what I would do.

Start with Microsoft MVC using C#. Very easy to learn. Just do static webpages.

Start styling those webpages using HTML/CSHTML and CSS.

Then, enhance their interactivity using Javascript.

Then, start doing Ajax using the built in MVC Ajax stuff.

When you have done all of that, you'll better be able to understand what SPAs are and where they fit in.
Cool, I'll do it!.

I think I'll look into Java and MySQL as well, after I'm satisfied with my JS ability.
 
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