Been at my current job for about a year and a half, got bored of it a long time ago. I work at an enterprise software (SaaS) company as a professional services engineer (implementations, custom development, face time with clients, data migrations, etc.), have been promoted once since I got hired.
I'd like to start applying for a new job with the intention of becoming a software developer. I know I have the skills and would do well in a job like this, but considering that my background isn't purely that of a traditional software developer but more that of a technical consultant, I was thinking about making a web application that could actually be used by businesses to show that I have what it takes to build something good from a technical standpoint, and that I have the business understanding necessary rather than just being a code monkey.
My question to you is, how would you approach such a web application? I have no intention of selling it, only using it as a portfolio piece, but I was thinking of making it a fully usable, free application that looks like a legitimate software company is behind it. I'm just not sure if something like this will look goofy, if they basically ask "so... you built this for no reason other than to get a job?" I guess I'm not sure how this would pan out in practicality while applying/interviewing for jobs. Anyone have experience/advice with something like this?
I have some experience with this but it was not positive.
First off, I've only ever had two interviews where I had to do actual coding (most places will accept lies at face value).
One was stupid and basically judged on speed alone. It basically a how-fast-can-you-drag-shit-around-in-the-WebForms-designer test. Place really gave off a chop shop vibe (scattered laptops in a renovated apartment building full of hipsters) and they failed me because I knew how to do cross-browser compatible layout without the designer.
Other one I showed off a Windows application that I put together for my side business. Basically it combined inventory with financials and was written because I couldn't find anything out there that could do both. They just weren't impressed. Nagged about my table structure, nagged about my icons, nagged about using ADO, ignored custom controls, ignored plug-in architecture, etc.
I really wish it was different but I really haven't seen any evidence that development teams are looking for anybody with even a marginal level of skill. They've usually got a clusterfuck of a system that nobody is allowed to question any aspect of its design or do anything to really improve. Complete paralysis on the best days, a deluge of coping with the same bugs over and over on the worst. Truth be told, I left half the jobs I landed and the other half I was fired while interviewing elsewhere.
Thanks for your response. I was kind of afraid of this. Mainly I'm just trying to make myself more marketable as a pure dev guy coming from a half dev half client-facing half app maintenance/etc situation without getting any more education/credentials because in my opinion it just pales in comparison to the experience you can get on the job (or building your own thing), it's tough.
Absolutely. Some classes are worthwhile but necessity is the mother of invention. Shame that it's actively discouraged in many places.
I'm not saying not to do a demo project. I'm saying don't do it solely for job hunting's sake. Reaction to it might help screen out lousy jobs and it'll provide something interesting for to do if you find yourself in one anyway.