Finally, after four years, I’m at the half-way mark for my college degree. I go half-time so it’s taking me twice as long as a traditional student. I also need to get some work experience in my new field and so far, I haven’t had much luck with that. Although I bring something most college students don’t have, 20 years of business experience, my resume screams “salesman!” so no one in a hiring position for any IT job will even look at me. On the advice of a school career counselor, I changed it from a chronological to a functional resume, highlighting my IT skills and knowledge and downplaying my work experience. I’m also starting to apply for internship-type jobs (I have bills to pay so I can’t work for free) and I’m looking into meeting people at computer user groups so that I can network. We’ll see how all that works out.
In the mean time, I’ve decided it might help my resume if I did some volunteer work on open source projects. I don’t have much time to devote to coding (my passion) but I have found a way to squeeze in some QA testing work. Every morning, I download the daily build for the next Xubuntu Linux release. I install it on my laptop and test the hell out of it. I have figured out a way to do this using USB thumb drives by actually installing the OS onto one thumb drive from an ISO image on another thumb drive. This keeps me from touching the actual hard drive in the laptop so it stays unadulterated. I got tired of monkeying with daily changes to Grub as this laptop has a regular, full-time installation of Xubuntu Linux (development release) and Windows 7.
Throughout the day, I put the OS through several tests as requested by the developers. I communicate with some of them through IRC chat in case I have questions. Once the tests are complete, I mark the image as either passed or failed. If I fail it, I either submit a bug report on Launchpad or confirm an already existing report made by another tester.
QA testing is easy, fun, gives me a way to contribute to the open-source community, and an opportunity to learn more about this great operating system. It helps the developers and users of Xubuntu and in it gives me real-world IT experience I can put on a resume. It’s kind of like giving myself a job; I don’t get paid for it, but I do benefit from it. As I learn more about software development in school, I hope to put what I’ve learned about Java into practice where I can actually contribute to the code base of open-source projects. Eventually, I might even get someone to pay me for it in the form of an actual job. That is the goal and some how, some day, I will reach it.