I Just Landed My First Developer Job After Three Months. Here’s How I Did It.

I began my job search on New Year’s Day. It’s been exactly three months since then as of writing this post, and I’m excited to say that I’ve accepted an offer for my first developer role.

It’s a surreal feeling I thought I’d never experience. If I hadn’t gotten my shit together and revamped my search process last month, it would have likely taken at least twice as long — more on this later.

You’ve likely read a dozen of these stories of newbies turned developers, raking in a six-figure salary without having taken a single CS course in college. For that reason, I’m going to differentiate my tale in a few ways.

For starters:

  1. I’m not making six figures.
  2. I attended a coding bootcamp and gave up on my dream of being a developer for an entire year before pursuing it again.**
  3. I can be funny sometimes.
  4. Please keep reading.
Think of me as a brown Jeb with a lot more energy and a little less failure.

** Regarding 2, I wrote a post a few months ago regarding my decision to get back into coding — feel free to check it out here.


Filled with a fierce determination to enter the wonderful world of software development and excited about selecting ‘Yes’ under the prompt on applications that ask if I’m of Hispanic descent, I started my search through the traditional channels — Indeed, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Monster, ZipRecruiter, and AngelList.

I took my resume and threw it at any position that mentioned Javascript, and I do mean any position.

React? PLS LOOK AT ME.

Node? HELLO HI THERE.

Angular? FUCK IT I’LL LEARN.

If you’ve been through this process, you’ve probably noticed that the same listings show up on multiple sites, exponentially increasing the number of applicants. Needless to say, most of my submissions weren’t even glanced over; I applied to 100 jobs in January and had 10 rejection emails to show for it. That’s a 10% response rate without so much as a single phone screen.

Please I just want access to the teat of employment.

My pace slowed down considerably in February. I felt like I’d applied to damn near every relevant position in Austin and there hadn’t been many relevant meetups at the time. On top of that, I was getting easily distracted while working out of my Airbnb.

I decided to start getting more proactive by attending an Ask Me Anything event at Capital Factory, one of many coworking spaces in Austin. At the very least, I’d get to meet a few like-minded people and have pleasant conversations about how fucking cold it was in January.

We were ushered into a conference room where we got a chance to ask the questions that had been burning a hole in our pocket. I wanted to ask whether it was normal for people to a member to network with companies and find a developer job as a result.

The answer I got was something like “Um, I suppose it may have happened before”

With an answer like that, I’m sure they didn’t expect any sane person to fork over $375 a month just to desperately schmooze with strangers in hopes of finding their dream job, right?

👏 TAKE 👏 MY 👏 STACKS 👏 OF 👏 RACKS 👏

I signed up for a coworking membership that night. I’m a shitty schmoozer — my schmoozing skills are subpar at best, but at least I now had a place where I could study and apply for jobs without being tempted to take a nap.

The rest of the month was spent working on a brand new personal project and making the most out of Capital Factory’s soda fountain. Though I’ve yet to finish the project, the progress I’ve made so far has already pushed me to experiment with the MERN stack in ways I hadn’t considered before.

Still, I was no closer to finding a job, and I’d only applied to 10 jobs in the entire month. I had to rethink not only how I presented myself, but how I searched for open positions. I had to show some leg, flirt a little, and find some eligible companies looking for a good, yet professional, time.

The first thing I did was ditch the sources I’d been relying on. After all, what was the point in wasting more of my time? I started looking for the most developer-friendly job listing sites and narrowed it down to the following:

From there, I figured I needed a way to track all of the jobs I’d applied for. A way to jobtrack, if you will. That’s my clumsy segue into mentioning JobTrack, which is hands-down the best platform I’ve found for managing job applications. It lets you keep track of the status of each application, where you found the position, and so much more. Can’t recommend it enough.

Finally, I’d gotten to the least exciting part of my search renovation: changing my resume. I was initially stubborn about this step — after all, I had a public relations degree and years of growth marketing experience! How could my resume possibly be improved?

And then I remembered that I was still unemployed after two months of searching, so I put my ego aside and started looking into best practices for developer resumes. Many hours later, I went from this:

This resume got asked to prom by Chad, the star quarterback, as part of a cruel prank. Fuck you, Chad.

To this:

This resume got asked to prom by Chad for real. Not gonna fuck you, Chad.

You’ll notice that I technically did land a developer job in February, but it’s important to note that it’s an unpaid part-time position. In other words, I don’t really count it as my first official role.

One of the biggest and most beneficial changes I made to my search was broadening my horizons in regards to where I was willing to work. Although I’d fallen in love with Austin, I couldn’t limit myself to the city for the beginning of my new career; I hadn’t earned that level of selectivity yet.

This also brings me to my filter when it came to selecting companies to apply to — whether they relied on asking whiteboarding questions during the on-site interview. I’m not referring to useful situations like drawing out the architecture of an app or a RESTful API, but rather being asked to implement a linked list or quicksort without having access to a computer.

There are probably roles where asking these questions would make sense, but having moderate opinions on the internet is no fun. With that being said:


Before I knew it, I’d accumulated well over 200 job listings. And guess what?

I applied to every single one.

I lost count of how many hours it took, but I made damn sure every row on my tracker had ‘Applied’ next to it. Some applications were a matter of filling out a basic Greenhouse form, while others asked me to send an email with a brief summary about myself. I definitely preferred the latter given my experience with writing emails: here’s the format I used, feel free to use it if you’d like!

Hey {their name}! Hope this email finds you well.
I’m contacting you regarding {company}’s listing for the {title} position on {job site}. I’m a {type of developer you are} working with {technologies you work with}. I’ve attached my resume to this email. Let me know if you need any additional information.
Looking forward to hearing back from you!
Best,
{your name}

I also decided to do some reverse recruiting on LinkedIn, which is basically looking up recruiters at companies I’d be interested in working at and sending a connection request with a note about how I’d love to talk more about a specific opening. It’s a well-known practice that yields much higher response rates than blind applications.

Except for me. I didn’t get a single response.

Whatever, Dollar Shave Club, I didn’t want to build the product page for your Shit, Shower, and Shave kit anyway!

I’m hiding anger tears behind the vicious underbite.

By March 21st, I’d applied to all of the jobs on my tracker. At this point, there wasn’t much to do but wait for the responses to come in. And boy, did they ever come in. Most of them were rejections, but fuck it, people cared enough to acknowledge me as an actual applicant!

The first positive response actually came from a job posting that had been made on Capital Factory’s Slack channel. Someone from the team reached out to me to set up a meeting in person as opposed to a phone call since we were working out of the same building either way. Boom, progress!

I met with a few members of the team and we discussed my experience and more specifics of the role. Overall, I thought I’d done well, but I also knew I couldn’t get my hopes up right away. Although the CTO decided to give me a take-home project, he also mentioned that they were ideally looking for someone with a few years of experience. Experience that I didn’t have.


The second week of March was a real low point for me. I’d finished the aforementioned take-home project and tried going above and beyond in every aspect, refactoring code wherever I could and adding extra features. After that, though, I was bombarded with dozens of rejections. I had a single phone screen that I thought I’d crushed, only to get a rejection email the next morning. On top of that, my savings were rapidly dwindling. I wouldn’t be able to keep this up for much longer.

That Thursday was probably the worst day I’ve had in a long time. I struggled to get out of bed, struggled to make my way to Capital Factory, and struggled to do much more than blankly stare at my screen. There was a heavy cloud of sadness and exhaustion hanging over me, and I had neither the means nor the desire to search for an umbrella to shield me from its storm.

Now, I tend to go through the five stages of grief in an unusual order. Whereas most people experience anger before depression, it’s the exact opposite for me. I spent most of my Friday absolutely livid. I was really going to sit there and let some automated emails have this much of an impact on me?

Fuck no. Absolutely not. I’d already given up on this dream once before, I refused to let it happen again. I was better than that.

Besides, I literally couldn’t afford to give up, but let’s stick to the angry passionate angle. It sounds cooler.

Lo and behold, my fortune changed for the better the next week. I found myself scheduling more phone screens than I knew what to do with. Before I knew it, the next two weeks of my calendar were booked solid. Holy shit.

Some of the calls went well, some of them were just okay, and some of them proved to be a mismatch in terms of skill set and experience. Still, I was doing it! Hot damn, I was a spicy little nugget and everyone wanted a piece of me.

Please come back let me tell you more about my passion for the spread operator.

That Wednesday was a real game-changer. I had an hour-long Skype call with a company in Dallas and it went better than I could have possibly imagine. I spoke with the CTO and another developer about the challenges they were facing and the new technologies they were excited to work with. Best of all, they’d looked over my Github profile and liked what they saw.

Shortly after the call ended, I got a phone call from the CEO of the company. I was shooketh. We spoke about where I was in the application process with other companies and when I was planning on making a decision.

That last point sent shivers down my spine. Was I really on the verge of getting my first offer? I didn’t even have time to properly process my emotions, as the CTO emailed me the next day asking if I would accept an offer if they were to make one. If I was a crier, I would have cried. Instead, I just said ‘what the fuck’. You know, the usual.

Things didn’t slow down from there. I got an email from the first company inviting me to an onsite interview with the engineering team. In the span of a week, I’d gone from a barrage of failure to what seemed to be a very real offer and the possibility of another. I scheduled the interview for Monday and spent that weekend willing time to go by faster.

Before I knew it, Monday had arrived and I found myself in a conference room with the CTO, COO, and one of the engineers on the team. I spent half an hour discussing the code I’d written for the take-home project, along with what parts I found most difficult and where I considered myself the strongest.

Unlike whiteboarding questions, there’s no real way to study for an interview like this, and that’s exactly how I like it. Having spent plenty of time in my last job discussing my projects and defending the decisions I made, I felt that this interview was a great way to assess my strengths and skill level.

That being said, you should know the code you’ve written inside out and be able to discuss it at length. If you can’t, you’ve got some work to do.

Prior to the interview, I thought my mind was made up and had already spent some time looking at apartments and gyms in the Dallas area. By the time I’d left the conference room, though, things had become a lot more uncertain. The questions I was asked tested my understanding of my own code and made it clear that this company valued excellence and learning in its engineering team, which is one of my top priorities when deciding where to apply.

Still, the main question now was whether I was waiting for an email that would make my final decision much easier or more difficult. And yes, you can bet your ass I was checking for that email every five minutes.


Turns out I didn’t have to wait long. The very next day, I was asked whether I was available on Wednesday for a cultural interview with the cofounders.

Why yes, yes I was. My hands were trembling as I replied, and the only way I was able to fall asleep that night was through the sheer exhaustion my anxiety had brought about.

Wednesday morning. Another conference room. I was confident in my ability to tackle any question being asked and express my passion for the company. An hour later, I found myself at the end of their application process. There was nothing to do now but wait. And boy-fucking-howdy, was it agonizing.

A week ago I was on the verge of packing my bags, and now I was terrified at the possibility of having to decide between two offers. I also started doubting my performance in the last interview. What if I had come across as arrogant? What if my sparkling personality couldn’t make up for my lack of experience?

Friday came and went without a reply, which left me with an entire weekend to think about what path I’d be taking. On one hand, the company in Dallas was offering an incredibly competitive base salary, and I really liked the CTO’s efforts to stay in constant communication with me throughout the process.

On the other hand, the company in Austin…was in Austin, which meant I wouldn’t have to deal with the hassle of moving. On top of that, it was a startup, which is my favorite kind of company to work for. I love the consistent fire in every team member’s eyes to leverage technology to replace outdated and inefficient processes. I’d be part of a smaller engineering team, which would force me to learn as much as possible and quickly as possible.

I made my decision on Sunday night. All I had to do now was find a way to kill time and exert all of my nervous energy on Monday. I came to the conclusion any sane person would — I’d start my week with heavy deadlifts.

HAND ME THAT JUICE BOX BRO I’M GETTIN’ FUCKED UP TONIGHT.

I’d hoped that my morning would play out like a movie, with that long-awaited email coming in right before my heaviest deadlift set and fueling me with either rage or excitement to rip the damn barbell off the ground.

Turns out I ended up getting the email literally one minute after my set. Still drained from the physical exertion, I quickly scanned through the copy and caught the word ‘Congratulations’.

The company had extended me an offer.

After three months of stress and occasional doubt, I had gotten two job offers.

The rest of my workout felt like a dream. I didn’t feel any soreness or exhaustion because I was too busy walking on clouds. A few hours later, I officially accepted my first job as a full-stack developer.

Top it all off, I got to stay in Austin, the city I was determined to succeed in after making the 21-hour drive from Miami.

This man called me after I accepted the offer and promised to send me one of those sweet hats.

I’ve learned a lot over the past few months, and it’s taken me most of this week to process everything I’ve been through and think of how to put my experiences into words for this post. Here are my five pieces of advice.

1. Pursue every opportunity

When I say EVERY opportunity, I mean it. You never know where your first offer will come from. Mine came from one of the dozens of application emails I’d sent out, and the one I ultimately took ended up coming from my membership at Capital Factory! Remember when I said that nobody would realistically pay for a coworking membership in hopes of finding a job?

That turned out to be the best money I’ve ever spent. Now, don’t interpret that as me telling you to run out and fork over hundreds of dollars a month. Take it as me telling you to follow your instinct and chase down the possibilities that others might brush off as an impossibility.

2. Be stubborn as fuck

If you’re in the middle of or are about to embark on the process of finding your first developer job, just know that you’ll be tested like never before. You will be ignored time and time again. You will schedule phone screens just to find out you never had a chance at that job in the first place. You will have days where you just want to give up and pack up your dreams.

Don’t stop. I know it’s an agonizing process, and I know that everyone’s search is different. It took me three months to find a job. For some people, it will only take a month. For others, it’ll take an entire year. Just remember that there are hundreds of companies out there looking for people just like you and that you only need one of them to say yes.

3. Get out of your comfort zone

This is especially relevant to first-time developers. You can interpret this to mean a number of things. For me, it meant broadening my search radius to other cities and even other countries. For others, it might mean being willing to learn new technologies if asked to by a company.

The moment you bury your head in the sand and refuse to budge unless your dream job at your dream company presents itself to you, you’ve likely extended your search by months. You’re only in this uncomfortable position once in your life. After you’ve gotten some experience under your belt, you’ll basically have the freedom to choose where you want to work and who you want to work for. Unless you suck at your job, that is.

4. Know yourself

From the day I started my search to the day I accepted an offer, most of my time was spent talking about myself. You heard that right. It wasn’t spent solving coding challenges or studying Javascript trivia questions. It was spent talking about myself to another person, whether that person was a recruiter, an engineer, or a CEO.

Am I saying the technical aspects aren’t important? Absolutely not, I’m just assuming you’ve already got those handled. In order to get a job, you have to convince a company that you’d work well with the rest of the team. You‘ll never be a lone wolf, which means that you have to clearly convey what you value, how you communicate and collaborate with others, and why you’re the shit at what you do.

5. Money isn’t everything

I never thought I’d write those words. After all, one of the reasons I decided to pursue software development is because of the financial stability it offered. Wasn’t I just going to go with the company that offered the biggest paycheck? As it turns out, no, not even close. One of the biggest things you have to keep in mind is that this is a lifelong career, not a five-year commitment.

If you’re just getting started like me, there’s no better way to lose interest in coding than to join a company that fills your bank account but drains your passion by assigning you repetitive, uninteresting tasks and offering very few opportunities to learn and grow. Let’s not get it twisted either — you’d never convince me to take an unpaid full-time job just because it offers interesting challenges and a microscopic chance at fabulous wealth years down the road.

You’ll ultimately have to decide what you want from a job. Is it work-life balance? Unlimited PTO? The chance to work with an extremely gifted CTO? I bring this point up because you can’t have it all, and I doubt there’s a single person who would sacrifice every other aspect for money and last very long.


If you’ve made it this far, I’d like to sincerely thank you for taking the time to read about my journey. If you’re on a journey of your own, I’d love to hear about it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to catch up on my sleep.