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    Want to change careers, any advice?

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for reading my post. I have been learning PHP development as a hobby on and off in my spare time for the past 6 months. I am having a great time and have become adamant about changing careers.

    Going back to school isn't an option for me now financially (who knows maybe one day), so I was wondering if anyone can point in the right direction.

    I am looking for an open-source resource that can act as a substitute curriculum to follow....Or at least outline of all the things that someone should study in order to prepare them for the real world.

    Again, because I am serious about wanting to change careers, I just want to make sure I am thorough in what I learn. I purchased a book and have been doing online tutorials; so I am learning...But lets face it, learning on your own with absolutely no guidance can lead to bad practices. Also, it's very easy to miss out on learning important information (i.e. stuff about security).

    Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

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    It sounds like your end game is to get a programming job. I'll tailor my suggestions to that and you can pick and choose what makes sense.

    To do this you'll have to do two things,

    1.) Meet someone who can give you a job.
    2.) Show them you know what you're doing or can learn.

    I'll start with #2 first because this advice is probably easier.

    First, I would find an open source project to work on, or build something of your own start to finish. It doesn't really matter what, but show have something that you know inside and out. Be familiar with the design decisions that were made, and be familiar with some of the alternative designs, and have intelligent ideas on why you (or the project) didn't take that path. While going through this process blog everything. Describe the problem you faced, the alternatives considered, and why you chose the one you did.

    This step will be important because people will be interested in what you have done, and why. Having a project you can speak passionately and in depth enough will give you a leg up. Additionally if blog about this it will give you a chance to get used to (hopefully) constructive feedback that will push you in a good direction.

    If school isn't an option I might consider getting a certification. They cost a couple hundred bucks, and prove you have at least a working knowledge of a language. Just don't think the certification is all you'll need. Realize that all a certification does is shows you know how to learn this stuff, and that you'll need to keep learning it once you have a job.

    Find and attend technical groups in your area. Microsoft, the ACM, java groups are hopefully in your community if you can find them. Go, listen to people speak, and learn what you can. Additionally by going to these events you will meet people who are in the field and who might be hiring, which brings us back to #1:

    Meeting someone who can give you a job.

    There are a lot better people than I at summarizing what needs to happen One of my favorites. But the main thing I can suggest is talk to everyone, who is in the field or in a related field. Find out what they can do, find out the problems they're facing on a day to day basis, or find out what problem they're facing today. Suggest things, talk to them, find out what they do, and find out what their business does. Even if you don't think someone can get you a job, you never know if they have a friend who might.

    Good luck, it's hard work entering a field, and in the end it seems to come to mostly persistence and getting a lucky break by finding someone with the means to give you a job and willing to give you a chance. I hope it works out for you.


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