The first thing I do when I get a resume sent to me for a prospective candidate is that I go to Google and search for their name. If I can't find a single program related name from anything they've ever done online that is a pretty big blotch on their record from my perspective.
My thinking for this is that to be good at software development and like solving problems even if you are straight out of school you will have done one of the following.
- Asked a question you couldn't figure out, or even better provided an answer to a question for somebody else, on a site like Stack Overflow or CodeProject.
- Create or participated in an open source project hosted on GitHub or SourceForge.
- Created some weird obscure website somewhere (Doesn't really matter what it is or how much traffic it has).
- Create a blog about something. It doesn't have to be old or very active, but at least you've tried.
- Have some sort of presence I can find on social media, preferably with some comments I can find in relation to software development. Doesn't matter if it is Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or whatever.
The more of these you can check off the better, but if I can't find you at all that is a huge red flag in my book and you would hopefully be surprised at how common this is for would be software developers.
The problem is if you haven't gotten around to anything of the above to me that signifies that you aren't that into software development and it is just something you do, and generally good coders really like to code and they do it because they like it. If I couldn't make a living for coding I would do it anyway, and most of my public presence online is based on the work I've done when I haven't been collecting a paycheck for it (Since most of the work you do when you do get paid you can't just publish online).
So my advice to anybody who wants to get started working with software development is to sign up for a free account on GitHub and just find a small itch and write an open source application to scratch it. And make sure the repository is associated with your real name so that when I or any other person involved in any hiring search for you we will find it. I can almost guarantee that it will be worth your time.