Beginning a new career in software design
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25-05-2016, 07:20 PM
Beginning a new career in software design
OK all: bad news: I got laid off from my job today. Also I've decided that aerospace engineering is just not the avenue of work I want to do. It's become uninteresting, fugitive in nature and I can never seem to stay in one place long enough to establish roots and have a sense of stability in my life.

But over the past year or so, I was taking classes at a local university in computer science and would like to give software development a try as a means to make a living. Now bear in mind I am green - and I mean green - on this subject. Aside from academic projects, which I did very well (straight As in all of my CS classes including data structures), I have not produced any commercial software to date. Everybody needs a portfolio of work so a client can see what they're capable of. What I would like to know is:

1) is anyone who frequents this board working in the software industry and would have good leads to a realistic entry level job in that field for someone like myself or

2) Are there people out there working on open source projects which I could get involved in to build up a base of projects? I understand that this would be unpaid and I would simply be working for experience.

I'm aware that this does entail quite a pay cut and some other major shake ups in my life, but I believe it would be worth it if it delivers me a solid career doing something that I enjoy.

"IN THRUST WE TRUST"

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- Joel Chastnoff, The 188th Crybaby Brigade
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25-05-2016, 07:23 PM
RE: Beginning a new career in software design
You might check out the "What do you do" thread, a bunch of people shared what they did and I'm thinking Chas and someone else has that experience. Sorry about the lay-off but Good luck!

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25-05-2016, 07:35 PM
RE: Beginning a new career in software design
Can you tie together your new software expertise with your job/career experience?

For instance, if you are a mechanical engineer then companies that develop devices with embedded microprocessors would be a good bet.

In my experience, your academic performance will be important and your ability to relate it to the real world will be compelling. Your academics are normally only important for that first job.

What is your background?

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25-05-2016, 07:46 PM
RE: Beginning a new career in software design
(25-05-2016 07:35 PM)Chas Wrote:  Can you tie together your new software expertise with your job/career experience?

For instance, if you are a mechanical engineer then companies that develop devices with embedded microprocessors would be a good bet.

In my experience, your academic performance will be important and your ability to relate it to the real world will be compelling. Your academics are normally only important for that first job.

What is your background?

My background is in aerospace engineering. My bachelors degree is in mechanical engineering. It's an interesting take on the problem, Chas

"IN THRUST WE TRUST"

"We were conservative Jews and that meant we obeyed God's Commandments until His rules became a royal pain in the ass."

- Joel Chastnoff, The 188th Crybaby Brigade
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25-05-2016, 08:09 PM
RE: Beginning a new career in software design
It might help to know where you are located. Generic geographic is all I ask. Aerospace is always a fairly cyclical employer. I've worked for several, over the years. Do you have the ability to relocate?
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25-05-2016, 09:09 PM
RE: Beginning a new career in software design
(25-05-2016 08:09 PM)Fireball Wrote:  It might help to know where you are located. Generic geographic is all I ask. Aerospace is always a fairly cyclical employer. I've worked for several, over the years. Do you have the ability to relocate?

Yes I do. And I'm looking to get out of the southeastern US and head to the northeast. Preferable Philly or DC.

"IN THRUST WE TRUST"

"We were conservative Jews and that meant we obeyed God's Commandments until His rules became a royal pain in the ass."

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25-05-2016, 09:48 PM
RE: Beginning a new career in software design
(25-05-2016 09:09 PM)Carlo_The_Bugsmasher_Driver Wrote:  
(25-05-2016 08:09 PM)Fireball Wrote:  It might help to know where you are located. Generic geographic is all I ask. Aerospace is always a fairly cyclical employer. I've worked for several, over the years. Do you have the ability to relocate?

Yes I do. And I'm looking to get out of the southeastern US and head to the northeast. Preferable Philly or DC.

There are many medical device companies in eastern Mass./southern NH. Just sayin'.
These companies dream about mechanical engineers who do software. Yes

This is a great company to work for: Nova Biomedical

Another: Harvard Bioscience
and their subsidiary: Harvard Apparatus (non-medical lab pumps)

I've consulted at both of these. There are many, many more.

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26-05-2016, 07:16 AM
RE: Beginning a new career in software design
(25-05-2016 07:46 PM)Carlo_The_Bugsmasher_Driver Wrote:  
(25-05-2016 07:35 PM)Chas Wrote:  Can you tie together your new software expertise with your job/career experience?

For instance, if you are a mechanical engineer then companies that develop devices with embedded microprocessors would be a good bet.

In my experience, your academic performance will be important and your ability to relate it to the real world will be compelling. Your academics are normally only important for that first job.

What is your background?

My background is in aerospace engineering. My bachelors degree is in mechanical engineering. It's an interesting take on the problem, Chas

This is what I'm planning on doing myself. I'm trying to get out of software engineering. I never actually wanted to do it, but that's where all the work is. I wanted a job as a computer scientist researching Artificial Intelligence but I find it very difficult finding suitable work in academia.

I'm currently working as a software engineer in Bioinformatics and I'm staggered by how Biology has a decent gender balance compared to software engineering. So I feel that I will have a far greater chance at a more fulfilling career if I can track.

I've also worked in an aeronautical company, and with astrophysicists as well as with many other fields. Many of these people have been doing the same work as me even though they are not software engineers. I'm the one that has to sort out their mess normally because they haven't been trained to adhere to software engineering principles.

One astrophysicist I worked with was interviewed along with 26 other people whereas I was offered practically the same job as a software engineer on the basis that I could move to Germany in 10 days time.

What I would do is try to get experience writing code in your field, but read up a book about software engineering to appreciate the difference between good quality code and hacking. A clued up interviewer will be looking to see whether you write good code or not. It's not an issue of whether you can write code to do something, but whether the code you write can be maintained, is reliable and legible. There's no point hiring someone who can't write code that other people cannot maintain. This will give you the portfolio and experience that you need to move into software engineering.

I actually refer to software engineering as a black hole of careers because once you get past the event horizon of becoming one, you can't get out of the career. It just seems to suck in people from all kinds of fields who then keep doing it because that's where their experience now lays and that's where the work is.
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26-05-2016, 12:59 PM
RE: Beginning a new career in software design
(25-05-2016 09:48 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(25-05-2016 09:09 PM)Carlo_The_Bugsmasher_Driver Wrote:  Yes I do. And I'm looking to get out of the southeastern US and head to the northeast. Preferable Philly or DC.

There are many medical device companies in eastern Mass./southern NH. Just sayin'.
These companies dream about mechanical engineers who do software. Yes

This is a great company to work for: Nova Biomedical

Another: Harvard Bioscience
and their subsidiary: Harvard Apparatus (non-medical lab pumps)

I've consulted at both of these. There are many, many more.

Yes I'll examine their websites and see what openings they have for this.

One worry is that they may require and existing CS degree with extensive knowledge of FDA regulations, but I'm not sure.

"IN THRUST WE TRUST"

"We were conservative Jews and that meant we obeyed God's Commandments until His rules became a royal pain in the ass."

- Joel Chastnoff, The 188th Crybaby Brigade
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26-05-2016, 01:01 PM
RE: Beginning a new career in software design
(26-05-2016 07:16 AM)Mathilda Wrote:  
(25-05-2016 07:46 PM)Carlo_The_Bugsmasher_Driver Wrote:  My background is in aerospace engineering. My bachelors degree is in mechanical engineering. It's an interesting take on the problem, Chas

This is what I'm planning on doing myself. I'm trying to get out of software engineering. I never actually wanted to do it, but that's where all the work is. I wanted a job as a computer scientist researching Artificial Intelligence but I find it very difficult finding suitable work in academia.

I'm currently working as a software engineer in Bioinformatics and I'm staggered by how Biology has a decent gender balance compared to software engineering. So I feel that I will have a far greater chance at a more fulfilling career if I can track.

I've also worked in an aeronautical company, and with astrophysicists as well as with many other fields. Many of these people have been doing the same work as me even though they are not software engineers. I'm the one that has to sort out their mess normally because they haven't been trained to adhere to software engineering principles.

One astrophysicist I worked with was interviewed along with 26 other people whereas I was offered practically the same job as a software engineer on the basis that I could move to Germany in 10 days time.

What I would do is try to get experience writing code in your field, but read up a book about software engineering to appreciate the difference between good quality code and hacking. A clued up interviewer will be looking to see whether you write good code or not. It's not an issue of whether you can write code to do something, but whether the code you write can be maintained, is reliable and legible. There's no point hiring someone who can't write code that other people cannot maintain. This will give you the portfolio and experience that you need to move into software engineering.

I actually refer to software engineering as a black hole of careers because once you get past the event horizon of becoming one, you can't get out of the career. It just seems to suck in people from all kinds of fields who then keep doing it because that's where their experience now lays and that's where the work is.

I agree with this sentiment. I want to make sure that I can have a good portfolio of examples ready to go to show a recruiter in lieu of work experience. And make sure I can talk the talk with them.

I do write clean, legible, and well documented code.

"IN THRUST WE TRUST"

"We were conservative Jews and that meant we obeyed God's Commandments until His rules became a royal pain in the ass."

- Joel Chastnoff, The 188th Crybaby Brigade
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