What makes a candidate stand out for a junior programming vacancy?

Young Programmer Coding Up A Project

If you don't have much commercial coding experience, having 1 or more personal coding projects, live on the web or published to GitHub, helps candidates get interviews for Apprentice Programmer and Graduate Trainee roles.

Start Coding, Keep Coding

So if you want to go from hobbyist coder to commercial programmer, web developer, or software engineer, keep coding and publishing your Applications!

Computer Science or Hobbyist Coder?

Doing Computer Science at A-Level or University is great for learning the theory of computing, including coding. However, coding your own personal software or web projects is important even for those doing Computer Science because the best programmers are self-starters who keep pace with constant change. They typically use the latest development languages, frameworks, tools, DevOps and Cloud Platforms, which may not yet be covered in Computer Science, but are used in industry today.

Passion for Coding

As a hobbyist coder, you demonstrate your passion for programming problem-solving code by getting up to speed quickly with the basics, building websites or systems outside of formal education. As well as knowing how to code, you can build systems that are in use, which means that you have already learnt how to overcome some of the issues faced in delivering projects to a good standard.

Resources For Web Developers and Software Engineers

I would advise going through the following alongside your personal coding project

Top 5 For New Developers

1. Codecademy for learning the basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript.
2. Stackoverflow for Q&A on software development + Stackoverflow Developer Survey for what’s going on in the industry
3. GitHub for software source code management and distribution
4. Microsoft Learn - Developer tools, technical documentation and coding examples
5. Microsoft Azure developer account is free and enables you to write and run code in the Microsoft Cloud to showcase your work as well as tutorials (AWS and Google have similar accounts. Take your pick!)

Generating Ideas For Personal Coding Projects

Make real software that helps people. For your own extra-curricular software development ideas, make web apps or websites for:

  • Your hobby
  • Family & friends’ business
  • Lists of development projects out on the internet
  • Age 14 to 18 UK Government Cyber Schools Programme
  • Age 18+ Google Summer Of Code provide real-world development challenges

Conclusion - First Coding Job Interview

Provide URLs or a GitHub account of applications to put you ahead of candidates that have none. 

Practice algorithmic coding challenges and bone up on the tech stack the employer uses.

Good Luck and Keep Coding!