How to Get a Software Job without Experience

Short Form


Getting your first job is a Catch-22: to get a job, you need experience; to get experience, you need a job. Or do you?


In this talk I discuss how to use participation in open-source projects as a substitute for experience. Many open-source projects are run better than a lot of software development in private companies or the public sector that I’ve seen over the last 30 years. Experience on an open-source project provides a public record of a developer’s skills, including crucial non-coding skills. This is valuable to programmers and hiring managers at potential employers, assuming they have half a brain, and even if they’re a closed-source shop.


open-source, software, job

Speaking experience

I've given versions of this talk to students at Western Oregon University and Willammette University. I've presented a number of other technical talks at the Salem JUG and Hack Salem! users groups. Most of my talks can be found on SlideShare -


  • Biography

    I am a systems/back-end/infrastructure developer with 30 years experience in operating systems, networking, databases, software engineering, and testing. My experience ranges from embedded systems to Unix kernel internals to client-server desktop applications to web applications and most recently, Hadoop applications. My primary development languages at the moment are Ruby and Groovy, but I have experience with over a dozen other languages and many platforms and frameworks.