I love answering questions and helping out when I can. Although this isn't technical, this question comes in from a reader of my Blog; I'll call him Q.
I've been studying Flex for 3 years now, but it is not my day job, and I wanted to ask you for your advice if possible. I have a great day job at a great company, but I don't work in Flex, and I am itching to get a job in Flex full-time.
The problem is I've never been a full-time programmer or designer. I don't have a computer science degree, but I have a BA and an MBA, and in my 11 years in the software industry I have become proficient in Flex, ActionScript, Perl, Python, basic Java, and SQL.
My fear is that I apply for a Flex development position, get the job, and then after a while they decide I don't have the strong backend or hardcore programming experience a person such as yourself might have, and then I will be out of a job (and my wife will be very unhappy).
Is the Flex market such that someone who has honed some pretty good Flex skills can stay employed and not have a lot of the other skills, like ColdFusion, PHP, Java, etc? Thanks very much Jeffry. I absolutely love Flex, and am dying to get into it full-time, but am afraid to dive in.
I believe the Nike saying is "Just Do It" right? So, get over whatever fears you have and jump in.
Honestly, I have no idea if I'm really the best guy to be answering that question. I haven't looked for a full time job in about 10 years. I run DotComIt, an Adobe Solutions Partner and have traditionally done custom software development for small businesses. These days I'm trying to launch a component business for Flex Developers. The path I take to get clients would be different than what you'd need to take to get a full time job.
I personally see a huge demand for Flex Developers, and bet you'd have no problem finding a job if you started looking. I percieve that the demand has lessened in the past 9 months, but I do believe the demand is there. I think it is unlikely you'll get laid off immediately after accepting a new job assuming you do not lie about qualifications during the job interview and/or on resume. Your new boss should have a good idea of what they are getting into by hiring you and vice versa.
Most professional programmers I know do not have a CS degree. I'm a bit unique in that regards, because I have schooling. I'm thankful every day I have it and would definitely recommend it to others. But, it isn't the only way to learn about programming. I believe most companies would hire someone w/ 11 years of experience way ahead of someone w/ just a degree.
Can you have people vouch for your experience? Can you get letters of reference for a boss or colleague? Sometimes LinkedIn recommendations are easier to get than letters of recommendation because they feel slightly less formal.
Do you have any code to prove your skill? If not, consider contributing to some open source projects. There are plenty out there, both in the Flex world and in other places. You'll probably learn a lot if you do that, no matter what your skill level on the topic.
Have I mentioned you should network, network, network? Last time I heard statistics most jobs are found via networking, not job sites. Who do you know? Who do you want to know? Look at local user groups. Speak at local user groups. Adobe has a bunch of groups all over, but they are not the only groups in the area.
What do you want to do with Flex Development? You might want to ask yourself that question and then try to find a way to get paid doing it. If you have a clear path, it will be easier to spot companies that jive with your own goals.
I bet knowing a middleware tool will help you. Or you could position yourself as an interface design expert and that would help you. Or you could become the third Flex Developer with graphic skills. I think EUI hired the first two.
Readers, what advice would you give to Q to find a job?
If anyone out there is looking for a position, drop me a line and let me know. Recruiters call me on a routine basis, and it is rare I'm a fit, but it'd be nice if I could make a referral. Tell me your name, location, and what you want to do. Based on some ideas I stole from from Jesse Warden, I decided to keep my own list of developers.