I’ve spoken before about the huge benefit of working on demos in your spare time. I’m going to say the same thing again in a different way in an attempt to spur a few more people into action.
I interview quite a few people who’ve been to university and done the courses, and quite likely were good at coding their assigned projects. However once university finishes they stop coding, and start looking for work. What happens is that if you don’t land a job quickly, your skills start to rust over. You can’t remember where the asterisks go, how big the data types are, the standard library functions etc. Sure, if you had google with you, you could work it out pretty quick, but that’s a weak defence in an interview. The longer you go without coding, the harder it becomes to make it past the phone interview.
Here’s a different picture. You have a phone interview or programming test at 2pm, and you just spent the last three weeks working on a 3D game demo. Now you’ll likely remember lots of stuff, you’ll be in a coding frame of mind, and you might even get a demo to show them.
Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people fall into this trap.