When I changed my college major from mechanical engineering to computer science in 1998, I had few reservations about making the switch. After all, the salaries of the two professions were comparable, and IT seemed to be thriving.

Unfortunately, my graduation in December 2000 roughly coincided with the crash of the dot-coms and a dip in the economy, which made job searching much more difficult.

No fear, I thought, I have an academic record that will impress employers and help me stand out among job candidates. I had graduated magna cum laude, made the dean’s list multiple times, won awards for academic excellence – and no one seemed to care. The liability of my inexperience seemed to outweigh any advantage that a solid academic background provided.

The slowing of the economy has left many experienced IT professionals looking for jobs, and companies have their choice of workers with proven track records. This means decreased opportunities for entry-level programmers with r

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