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Getting Experience Without Experience (Part 1)

Getting Experience Without Experience (Part 1)

R. Marc Phillips

June 11, 2010

Tips on learning new technologies and getting your IT career off the ground when you’re just starting out…

How are you supposed to get a job when every job posting you see requires at least some experience? That’s the chicken and egg problem one faces when training for a new career or when learning a new technology to take the next step in your current career. Here are a few effective tricks I’ve used to overcome this common problem.

1. Get the Scoop on IRC

Joining various Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels in your area of technical interest can be a treasure trove of both new information and insight into the topic. You can also often quickly see the type of problems, issues and misunderstandings of the various aspects of your subject.

If you’re new to IRC or have never used it, you should really lurk and follow the various conversations going on before attempting to get your feet wet. While IRC can be enormously beneficial, it can also be a vicious and unruly place.

When you do jump in, first read all the rules and regulations for the particular channel. There are many technical channels from which to choose, some much more heavily trafficked than others. Keep in mind that some of the smaller channels might actually have more going on, so shop around.

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If I’m learning a new technology or trying to solve a particular problem with one I’m already quite familiar, I find that IRC channels can aid me quite quickly in the problem at hand. I can, in turn, contribute back to others who are facing problems I might have already solved, which helps me retain those nuggets of information for future use.

2. Online Forums/Mailing Lists

Like IRC channels, online forums can also help you bone up on a subject. The nice thing about online forums is that you can usually easily search through the material to address a particular issue you are trying to understand or solve. They also have the benefit of being somewhat removed from the political and social issues that can and do arise on IRC channels.

I will usually try these first, before IRC. It’s much easier to walk away from an online forum once you’ve found what you were looking for while IRC can easily draw you into things you may or may not have time for.

(Watch for more tips on getting experience without experience in part two of this story next week…)

- R. Marc Phillips

The opinions and statements made in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the opinions or representations of the University of Phoenix.

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