The Hustle Is Real: Lessons Learned Post-Boot Camp

Valarie Regas

I recently graduated from the Coding Boot Camp at Georgia Tech, and have since been job hunting. It’s a jungle out there for entry-level applicants! I had no idea what entering technology via a non-traditional path would be like when I enrolled in the program, so I want to share the knowledge I have gained with the world.

  1. The first job is the hardest to get. I was recently at a job fair for recent boot camp grads and met the owner of a local company. He informed me that he would never hire an entry-level employee. I’m not sure why he was attending the event, to be honest, as every candidate there was entry-level. His words stung. I’d just spent a lot of money to learn a skill, and now I was hearing it may have been for naught. Be prepared to be rejected at first. A lot. And then some more.
  2. Your online resume won’t get you a job. I realized this during the third phase of resume revisions with Tech’s Career Services. I was tasked with tweaking my resume such that it would do a better job of selling me to a potential employer when it hit me: no one was ever going to see my resume. Long before it would cross a human’s desk, resume screening software would boot me. I have a degree in Psychology, no previous experience in technology, and a small gap in employment. While we ought to have a solid resume for job fairs, sending them out online is an incredibly weak method of job hunting. Which leads me to the next point…
  3. You have to go where the people are. Join Meetups to put you around the people doing the work you want to do. Love front-end development? Go to Angular and React groups. I want to be in DevOps, so I started going to Docker events. Seek out those who could hire you and get to know them! Look them in the eye, shake their hand, and show them who you are. Ask them questions so you get a feel for who they are. Build relationships. People have given me a chance for an interview based on meeting me, despite the flaws on my resume.
  4. Think about where you want to be in your career in five years. Then list the thing you would have to do before that to earn the goal opportunity. Then the step before that, and before that, and so on. Figure out the steps you have to take — not necessarily the job you want first — to get where you eventually want to be. This is where you transform a dream into a plan. Once you know what you need to do as your first step…
  5. Ask the world for what you want. Every person you meet, every event you attend, tell people what your dream role is. Ask people to help you. This world does not owe us a job. But we are entitled to ask for what we want! And if we’re willing to work hard, it’s reasonable to ask for the chance to prove ourselves.
  6. Lastly, learn from everything. Every rejection will sting. Learn to pick your chin back up and keep going. Success will feel wonderful. Learn to help others still searching, to pay forward the help you were given along the way. Show gratitude for every introduction, for every reference someone gives, and for every interview. And then enjoy your hard work paying off!
I had the most pleasant job interviews of my life, because someone saw my tweet and gave me a chance.

What have you learned after attending a boot camp that might help others?

Valarie Regas

Written by

Youngling developer. Relationship builder. Tech event speaker. Jr. Devops Engineer. Queen of the YAMLs. Total nerd.

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