Categories: Software Developer
2 January, 2019
by Nicole Nelson
Content Marketing Manager
One frequently asked question by perspective software developers is landing a job in software development requires a traditional degree. The answer is not anymore.

Make landing your dream software developer job a reality

A college degree used to be the ticket to landing just about any job. But the world has changed. Many successful software developers never earned a degree and plenty of college dropouts (Bill Gates and Steve Jobs) made it big in Silicon Valley, Seattle, and other technology hot spots. The student loan debt crisis is adding fuel to the degree debate. Articles appear daily questioning the value of the conventional 4-year college degree. Some doubt that the skyrocketing cost of student loan debt is justified and/or can realistically be repaid. Nick Larsen, a data engineer at Stack Overflow and a frequent speaker on the topic of getting hired as a developer, says

 “It’s way easier to get hired if you show your potential employer what you have done. A portfolio of projects you have mastered is worth more than years of experience or schooling.”

In fact, a college degree may be beside the point

In most cases, a demonstrated competence in software development is more important than that degree. The tech industry moves fast and an employer’s top priority is having a capable and skilled team that can successfully accomplish tasks and projects. This need is why organizations are increasingly acquiring software developers from institutions that provides students with comprehensive technical training and hands-on coding.

  • Some of the large, multinational companies who dropped a bachelors degrees as a requirement for technical positions include Google, Nordstrom, Bank of America, Ernst & Young, IBM and Apple.
  • IBM says it’s now looking at candidates with experience in non-traditional education, such as coding boot camps or industry-related vocational classes.
  • The Stack Overflow 2016 Developer Survey found that 56% of developers do not have a college degree in computer science or related fields. 

The reality is that you can probably master coding languages (JS, Java, C#, Python, Ruby), Front-end/dBase/Back-end in less time from non-traditional college venues.

Although there is a high demand and multiple educational routes to a career in software development, there are many extra steps candidates should take to ensure they gain a competitive edge over the competition and impress employers. Woz U National Director of Career Services, Brent Watson, has some tips on how to prepare for interviews and land a software developer job. The key is to look at the process from a manager’s perspective. Here are a few things to consider if you want to improve your chances of ending up on payroll.

  1. Develop a Life Long Learning Mentality: Software developers stand out if they can add problem-solving, critical thinking and meta-cognitive skills to their technical expertise. You need lifelong learning skills to stay relevant in the ever-changing nature of the software field.  At Woz U, we encourage lifelong learning by inviting our alumni to come back and learn new programming languages for free, for life through our Woz. For. Life. program. This is a key competitive edge we encourage graduates to speak about during the interview process.
  2. Build a Portfolio of Relevant Work: A portfolio is not a resume. It is a showcase of completed work. For a developer, an online portfolio is an ideal way to showcase your technical skills. If a resume is where you talk the talk, a portfolio is where you prove you can walk the walk.
  3. Push Your Code to GitHub: GitHub is a hosting service for Git repositories.  It is basically a third-party site where you can store your source code and make it accessible to anyone in the world. Pushing code on GitHub shows employers you are an active developer and can be used on your portfolio.
  4. Contribute to an Open Source Project(s) on GitHub: Contributing to projects in an “open source” environment allows you to improve your tech skills and network with other like-minded techies. You can find mentors, grow your technical reputation, develop better communication skills, and get a sense of empowerment by contributing to other projects.
  5. Participate in a Hackathon: This is another outlet to grow, learn and creatively contribute fresh and innovative ideas.
  6. Network:  Connect with other techies online or at a Meet-up ( Get out of your comfort zone and into a social setting with like-minded individuals. Statistics show that 70%-80% of positions aren’t posted, so networking can help you to tap into the “hidden job market.”
  7. Resume:  Create a clean, concise and corresponding snapshot of what you bring to the table as a potential software developer hire.
  8. Tech Interview: In addition to HR & Behavioral Question(s) interviews, you will also face a tech interview.  Be prepared to talk about:
    • Problem Solving:  Break down a problem into small pieces that can be worked through and clearly articulated in a step-by-step process
    • Data Structures: Display knowledge of arrays, linked lists, binary trees, hash tables, graphs, stacks, queues, heaps, and other fundamental data structures.
    • Discuss Algorithms Explanations & Interview Questions


Looking for more ways to prep for upcoming software developer interviews? Check out these additional resources:


In addition, in the Woz U career center we are always interacting and building relationships with potential employers. As a result, we have positive and longstanding relationships with companies actively hiring, which is paramount to our success as a resource to our students and graduates in their career planning stage.

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Nicole Nelson

Nicole is Woz U’s social media and content manager who loves to build communities and break though barriers to find common ground. After graduating college, Nicole joined Woz U as an intern and quickly rose up in the ranks to become the voice of the brand on social. When she’s not documenting Woz U’s Demo Day, you can find her cheering on her local soccer team or getting her ‘zen' on practicing yoga.

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