Steps To Getting Your First Interview as a Programmer
How do I know if I am Ready?
How do I know if I’m ready to start applying for developer jobs? This question has plagued me and countless others. The answer is simple. You don’t. Alright, thanks for reading don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe. In all seriousness there are ways to judge yourself by comparing yourself to others, making a checklist of languages and frameworks to learn, or testing yourself with complex LeetCode problems. While all of these are certainly helpful they don’t give you a solid finish line where you can cross and magically you are qualified to apply for jobs. It’s a leap of faith. Recently, I started applying for jobs and experienced my first developer interview ever. I’m here to share that experience and give you my take on this process, leading up to the interview, as someone just like many of you.
Fear is Good
This might sound like the complete nonsense but let me elaborate. Fear is good. Why? Most likely you are afraid that you don’t know enough. This is the case for many of my peers and myself. There is an extraordinarily insurmountable amount of things to learn in the programming world and the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know. This can be daunting for us newbies. This fear drives us to learn more and consume knowledge to overcome this fear. This fear is tightly coupled with a fear of failure. For me, it wasn’t just failing that was holding me back but being afraid to accept failure on something I am so passionate about. Fear is meant to keep you safe, at home on your computer, away from failure. Being afraid means you’re venturing into new unfamiliar territory and this is good. Be afraid and push yourself.
Making the Decision
We all come from different backgrounds. College, self-studying, or boot camps it does not really matter. Absolutely, some paths will be more difficult but the only person stopping you from applying is you. Chances are if you have put in the work and have some projects under your belt it’s time to start applying. What do you have to lose? I really didn’t think I was ready and fear was holding me back. One day I decided to take that leap of faith and started to apply for jobs and honestly, I wasn’t expecting much at all. I just wanted to break that cycle of questioning myself and instead put myself out there, whether I was qualified or not was no longer in my hands.
I immediately felt relieved and even accomplished. I moved on from doubting myself to putting myself out into the world. In my mind, I just took the next step into getting the career I’ve always wanted, no matter how small that step. The great thing I realized was, every single job I applied to after the first I was going to offer a more knowledgeable and experienced version of myself. This excited me and lit a new fire in me to keep pushing myself to be better. In the midst of my newfound excitement, I checked my email. In my inbox was an email from one of the companies I applied for asking if I was available for an interview. I never would have reached this point if I hadn’t made the decision to stop doubting myself and take that leap of faith.
Preparing Yourself to Start Applying
Before you start applying you need to get some things in order first. Remember, you are trying to present yourself as a qualified professional. The best place to start is with your resume. There are many different styles to a programmer’s resume but I personally recommend a simple one-page layout.
Above is an example resume very similar to the one I sent in that landed me my first interview. As you can see I didn’t graduate from a university with a computer science degree. I believe I am taking a more difficult path to achieve my goals but life and circumstance are different for everyone. Many of you might see yourself in a similar situation. There are some key things I want you to take away from this example.
- This one-page layout needs to be neatly formatted and easy to read through at a glance. Relevant information needs to be clearly presented. At the top is everything they need to contact you.
- Get your GitHub account in order and present it close to the top. This not only allows them to see your projects but also shows them how often you are actually sitting down and writing code. If you don’t already have an account, make one asap! I’ve written an article on how to get you started with GitHub.
- You can not expect whoever is reading your resume to sit there and read everything line by line. They possibly have many resumes to look through and at a glance need to be able to pick up on the important details. The most important information you want to present needs to be ordered from top to bottom.
- Use past tenses verbs to describe your projects and experience. I worked on this, or I created that.
- This resume is you trying to sell yourself as a qualified professional. Find what makes you worth hiring and slap it on there. Your resume won’t be set in stone and as you gain more experience you will remove certain parts for more flattering details.
Honestly, getting my resume was a huge reality check for me. You might have a good sense of what you’re capable of but when you put it all down on paper in front of you it becomes quite clear where you are lacking. Don’t let this hinder you. Use this as an opportunity to find your weak points and strengthen them. FreeCodeCamp has an article on resumes if you want to read up on that some more.