Life After Coding School

I finally had my life back with weekends, but more importantly a sense of accomplishment due to my newly acquired programming skills. Now it was time to find a job in which I could start building a career. Let me tell you, as a bootcamp grad it wasn’t easy landing my first job. Yes, bootcamps have connections, but it definitely wasn’t as easy as I thought it would have been to get my first job in the booming tech scene of Denver. I’ll just be upfront and honest here, it’s all about the CONNECTIONS with getting jobs, especially as a bootcamp grad who has no working experience in the tech industry. Also don’t be too assertive, but be persistent and follow-up at places that you’ve applied to.

Initially my job hunt might have been different than others because I wanted to work internationally. After teaching English in South Korea for two years I was craving to be back abroad somewhere. I didn’t want to work remotely, but I fantasized about working at a company in a different country. Turing School of Software and Design had a connection with a Thailand company, so I was able to get my foot in the door and get an interview pretty quickly. I completed my technical challenge that was conducted through Interview Zen, which times and records your completion of the code challenges in order to gauge your thought processes and problem solving skills. I passed the technical challenge and had two following interviews. One was with the lead developer and the other was with the CTO. After this third interview I waited three weeks and I finally heard a response back. I was totally ready and prepared to pick up and move to Thailand, but the response was a total let down. I was informed that I had positive results, but the position was on hold. I was extremely let down after this because not only would I not get to eat pad thai everyday, but I felt like I wasted two months.

While I was in the middle of this Thailand interview I was applying to a handful of other jobs. I had decided that if I couldn’t move abroad then I could at least be remote and work from anywhere. I had applied to multiple remote companies and had even customized website applications for them. One company seemed like they were interested in hiring me for a contract gig, but after about three weeks they decided not to try working with me due to lack of experience and the other companies didn’t even respond back to me. Back to the drawing boards and a change of strategy.

At this point, I was thinking to myself that I was reaching too far and I just needed to gain experience before I could relocate. Even though my dreams are to be living abroad again I needed to be more realistic with my skill-set and actual jobs that I’m qualified for. Working remotely and abroad seemed pretty impossible to land without any experience. I narrowed my job hunt to Denver and Austin. I applied to several companies in these cities. All of these companies were cold outreaches and I didn’t have any connections with. However, while I was in the middle of the Thailand interview process I had actually received another technical challenge from a Colorado company. I knew one of the founder’s at this start-up company. After being denied left and right I finally reached back out to this company after a month had passed with no communication. I had just assumed the worst since I hadn’t heard back. But in fact, the email notifying me that they were interested in me was never sent and was accidentally saved as a draft. Even though this was a contract to hire position I was thrilled!

I accepted this offer at this small start-up company despite the uncertainty of being brought on full-time. With the small development team of six people I knew that this would be a great opportunity to learn. Even though it’s a small shop they’re using the latest technologies and familiar frameworks that I learned in school, so I felt prepared to dive into their codebase.

If I hadn’t known the founder I’m sure my job hunt would have veered in a different direction. But it’s all because of connections that will land you the job, whether it’s personal connections or referrals. Within the last couple of years, estimates of 80% of jobs are through connections, especially due to “hidden” jobs that are never listed publicly, but filled internally or via networking.

This job hunt taught me that networking is vital to landing jobs, it forced me to be persistent with following-up and showed me that you can’t be too picky about your first job breaking into the tech scene. For junior developers I would definitely recommend going to meet-ups and even if you’re introverted try to engage with others at the event. You never know what one conversation could lead to! Also I would recommend being organized and keep track of every stage in the job hunt. I made a Trello board that helped keep track of my progress with interviews as well as meet-up attendance. This tracking process really helped track my application status, which immensely helped with scheduling follow-up emails. Lastly, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and when engaging with others talk passionately about the programming that really ignites your love for coding!

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