Network Your Way into a Programming Job

A lot of outsiders don’t realize just how deeply social the tech industry is, and to them, a dimly computer monitor-lit room with several programmers surrounded by coiled wires usually comes to mind. Some newbies even come into it with this mindset as well. They figure that as long as they learn to code, things will sorta just magically work out and poof. A job will appear waiting for them. It’s probably not too far-fetched to say that the path to becoming a developer is the most socially diverse process out there. As a web developer by nature, you’re building tools for the most expansive network of people in the world: the Internet. That said, here are some great ways to get noticed and make some valuable connections in the process:

1. Hackathons

A hackathon is a chance for you to not just show off your programming chops, but demonstrate just how well you work in a team. It’s a no-brainer that this will be appealing to hiring managers at a web development agency, but it’s also a great way to meet other like-minded people with similar goals. They can last anywhere between a day and a weekend. Sometimes even a week. And the best part is, there’s probably one taking place very soon at a location near you. Here are some sites to get you started on your search for the next event:

Major League Hacking — A list of collegiate hackathons.

AngelHack — The San Francisco-based AngelHack lists hackathons from all over North America

hackathon.io — Events from New York to Beijing and all around the world.

2. Github

Github is pretty much the industry standard for version control and it’s come to the point where most companies/hiring managers won’t take you seriously if you don’t have one. Developers use GitHub to build personal projects, support their businesses, or work with others on open source technologies. In addition to being a great way to demonstrate your ability to apply practical knowledge, it’s also an excellent collaborative tool. Here are a few notable platforms:

https://github.com/rails/rails — Ruby on Rails

https://github.com/android — Android (by Google)

https://github.com/facebook/react — React (by Facebook)

https://github.com/twbs/bootstrap — Bootstrap (by Twitter)

3. Open Source Projects

Aside from functioning as sort of a makeshift resumé, GitHub is excellent for finding open source projects and a variety of them can be found by navigating to Explore GitHub: everything from Ruby on Rails to MySQL. It’s easy to jump right in and report any bugs, beta test, or work on improving documentation. People from all over the world have created or are contributing to various open source projects. You can always check out /r/coolgithubprojects in order to find inspiration or even share a project of your own.

4. Tech Meetups

You never know how far an online collaborative project will take you, but if you’re looking for something with the potential to be more immediately practical, meeting people in real life at tech meetups will give you a chance to get in touch with industry locals. Mingle around and make yourself familiar to as many people as possible. If you’re lucky enough, you may even get a chance to hit it off with a person who can potentially put in the good word for you at the company you would like to apply to. Many tech meetups are organized via Meetup.com. While not the most active sub, you can always give /r/progether a try.

5. Stack Overflow

Think of it as a Quora made specifically for computer programming-related topics. Stack Overflow users are able to ask questions and submit answers through a free membership. In order to submit questions, one must first have garnered enough “reputation points” by receiving upvotes for questions answered. This not only encourages active participation, but it also trims the fat and helps ensure that you won’t see the type of inane posts you do on Yahoo Answers. It is the biggest site on the Stack Exchange network and our top pick for best forum to find answers.

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