No experience? No problem!

No experience? No problem!

I get a lot of emails from students and readers of my books lamenting the fact that so many employers are reluctant to hire a prospective programmer without any real world experience. All they're really asking for is a chance to prove their worth.

One of my articles has been how to get your foot in the door -- we've talked about the importance of taking and passing the Visual Basic Desktop Examination to get the attention of job recruiters. In another previous article, I discussed volunteering your programming services to gain some experience that you can quite rightfully place on your resume.

During the last year, several people have brought to my attention a company which seems to bridge the experience gap, and I think the company merits mention here.

SetFocus, with headquarters in Parsippany, New Jersey, about 45 miles outside of Manhattan, advertises that they will provide you with a 13 week intensive Visual Basic training program -- in exchange, you agree to work for them for the next 9 months as a paid consultant. That's right -- a PAID consultant. Sounds like a great deal, doesn't it?

If you check out their website http://www.setfocus.com, you'll see that although SetFocus prefers candidates with prior programming experience, this experience can be in the form of self-study. In other words, if the totality of your Visual Basic experience is from books, SetFocus will seriously consider you for acceptance into their program.

SetFocus claims that only one out of every fifty applicants is accepted into the program -- and if accepted, you will need to relocate to Parsippany (or thereabouts) for your training period and consulting assignment. But if you are looking to break into the highly lucrative field of Visual Basic programming, this could the opportunity for you.
And now a word of caution.

I don't know anyone who has gone through the SetFocus training program, and I personally have not spoken with anyone from the company.

Not surprisingly, the SetFocus web site is full of glowing recommendations and press reviews. However, as with any other major life decision, do your research, ask for references -- both current and past students of SetFocus, and employers who have used their consulting services -- before packing your bags.

Written by John Smiley, MCP, MCSD and MCT, author, and adjunct professor of Computer Science at Penn State University in Abington, Philadelphia University, and Holy Family College. John has been teaching computer programming for nearly 20 years.

John Smiley is president of Smiley and Associates, http://www.johnsmiley.com/smass/smass.htm a computer consulting firm located in New Jersey.

This was first published in August 2000

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