New Developers: Don’t Make the Same Mistake I Did

I’m starting to see why it takes so long to find a job in this field. It takes a while to learn the job-hunting environment, especially in a city as competitive as Los Angeles. Now that I’m at the point where I’m finally getting onsite interviews, I’m not quite making it to the next round from there. See, graduating from Thinkful qualifies me for jobs, learning a new language after graduating shows my work ethic, and I’ve always had great soft skills. So why am I not making it to the next round?! Because I’ve overlooked one of the most important aspects of job readiness: whiteboarding

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I entered the job market with an understanding that the usefulness of whiteboards was hotly debated. I was under the impression that unless I wanted to work for a giant like Facebook or Google, I wouldn’t have to worry about whiteboards. I was wrong.

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Since graduating, I’ve revised some of my older frontend projects to remove jQuery, built an API in Python with no previous experience in the language, and initiated feature changes in some of my older projects. While this has been enough to pass phone screens, I’ve been unable to pass onsite interviews because of the way that I fumble through the whiteboard process.

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Last month, I talked about how I would rather spend time working on stuff that would be useful in the job. Going on Stack Overflow and helping people with their real-world problems seems like a much wiser investment of my time than working on theoretical problems and practicing hand-writing code, a skill that I’ll likely only need for interviews (I was actually given a hard time in an interview because I wasn’t used to hand-writing code and said I was more comfortable typing code. Seriously?). Perhaps I’m being completely naive by not seeing the correlation between abstract coding challenges and building elegant UIs.

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I’m happy that I’ve been able to interview with some companies that were transparent enough to let me know that whiteboard skills were my weak spot and that I needed to improve. It’s tough realizing that I would have been employed by now if I had spent more time on this, but at least there will be a hiring boom in January. I’m spending every bit of free time I can on CodeWars in the hopes that I’ll be prepared for the next round of interviews. In the meantime, I’ll be doing everything in my power to find a job before the new year! That would be an excellent present.

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Anyway, if you’re a new developer like me, be sure to do everything you can to master the interview. New projects are great as a conversation starter, but they are not enough to get the job.

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