After graduating with a degree in electrical engineering, I faced the daunting, inevitable chore of all new grads: finding employment. It wouldn’t have been so bad, except I wanted a job on the other side of the country. So I packed up, took my skills, knowledge, and a carload of clothing and assorted necessities, and transplanted to the Bay Area.
I didn’t expect to have much trouble finding a job. There were tons of jobs available in the tech industry. But then I found something I didn’t expect, that many of our nation’s15 million unemployed must also have realized: my skill set didn’t match that of the job positions available.
So what do you do? Luckily for me, SF and Silicon Valley abound with networking and learning opportunities, so I jumped in and started meeting people and began updating my knowledge, learning what was in and what was out in the tech sphere. I started learning Ruby on Rails, going through the tutorials and planning to embark on a larger project, when I got snatched up by Gizmodo and switched gears.
If you’re also in the Bay Area, or another metropolitan area with a decent tech presence, and you’re having difficulty finding a job, here’s my advice: learn Ruby, Python, or Java/C++. Take one month to learn the basics, build up to more complicated programs, and then think up and try out a larger project. For Ruby in particular, there are tons of entry level developer positions available, and a wide, helpful support network (check out the SF Ruby Meetup Group). The big, final project will be your talking point for interviews, and solid proof of your knowledge and ability. But don’t be a recluse about it–get out, meet other developers, go to lectures, and get your foot in the door, so when you put your resume out, there’s a face to go with your name.
This isn’t a new revelation, but I know a number of people who have done this and successfully transitioned into a new position. So if you’re unemployed, looking for a switch, or are finding that your skills aren’t matching up with available jobs, that’s my recommendation for you. Happy job hunting.