Hey folks, I hope everything is going well and you keep pushing and learning to change your life! I know it's been a while since my last blog post but I have my excuses!
I mentioned in this blog post that I already had my goals when I started my journey. One of my goals was to break into tech in 6 months. I knew it wasn't an easy task to achieve but I wasn't in a good position to have a different choice.
So why all these? Because I've finally broken into tech! I landed my first tech job 3 weeks ago. (It's crazy that it's already been 3 weeks...) Still can't believe that really happened.
I'm not writing this post to brag or get the congrats messages (tho I'm always glad to hear your wonderful support) rather I'm writing to share:
- my experience with job hunting,
- the interview process,
- what helped me during my interview,
- how I landed my first job,
- my gratitude to people/community
Disclaimer: Please, keep in mind that everyone is unique. And just like this, our journey is also unique. We have different circumstances, conditions, and situations in our life. So, don't compare your progress with others. But be aware that if you keep working and pushing, you will get where you want to be sooner or later. This is the only thing that matters.
Since I started learning programming in January, I never felt burned out. Despite the fact that I was putting all my free time into learning. (10-12h a day). However, the most frustrating moment of my journey was the moment when I began applying for jobs.
I was applying non-stop for the jobs that I thought I could do. But as you might have noticed, most companies are usually looking for experienced developers to hire. Even for entry-level jobs or internships.
I know applying is not the best option. Networking our way through the company we want to work with is usually the recommended way. But sending the applications was my only option to get noticed by those companies.
So, all I was getting from the companies that I applied to was automated rejection emails. I've applied for more than 150+ jobs in a month. And I got only a few calls back to only hear that they decided to go with a more seasoned developer.
You can imagine the frustration and disappointment. I even stopped coding for a few days because I thought I could never get into tech. It seemed impossible. I lived the real trough of sorrow during this process. However, later I decided to change my strategy.
These are the things I did and therefore, my advice:
Get yourself mentally ready to see all these rejections. It's not the end of the journey nor the end of the world. It only takes one "yes" to forget all about these. Focus.
Try to get as many interviews as possible. The more you do, the more you get comfortable during the process. Also, you can learn what works and what doesn't from these interviews.
I learned from my mistakes. Failures and mistakes are great things if you can learn from them.
Don't blindly apply for jobs. Check their tech stack. Do you also use some of these technologies or programming languages? What problem do they solve? What field do they work in? Would you be happy if you were accepted to work with this company? Would working with them give you the opportunity to improve yourself in your focused area? Only apply after answering those questions.
Even if you see they are looking for 2+ years of experienced devs, do not get intimated by that. Just apply if you think you can provide most of the requirements. Worst case scenario? They say "no". And you move on.
The company I am working in is exactly the place I would want to be. Their tech stack is mostly identical to my main focus. So I can learn more without changing my path while contributing to the company. Moreover, I am interested in the problem they solve and the field they work in. During the interview, I made it clear that I didn't apply by accident but applied because I wanted to work with them.
I told you I had a few calls but I had never a video call. I was really nervous and excited at the same time. I didn't know what to expect. But I knew what I should do:
Do your homework
- Make some research about the company. I checked every related thing. Read their blog posts. Watched their videos. I knew a lot of things before the interview. This helped me relax and be confident.
Study your projects
- At some point in the interview, you're gonna eventually talk about the things you've done. Your projects, your tech skills, your journey. You should be clear and you should know what you're talking about.
Don't ever lie about anything either in your portfolio or your resume. The interviewer understands this easily and at that point, you lose. Not worth it. Being completely honest is my way of doing things.
Have a solid goal
- Know what you want to do and where you want to go. This shows how serious you are. Be open to different paths but have a solid destination on your mind.
- Prepare some questions to ask. But don't ask these questions just to ask. While doing your homework, take some notes and get some questions ready. This is important to show your interest.
Send an email
- After your interview is finished, send an email to the recruiter to thank them for sparing their time. Explain some of the key points you liked during the interview. This will show them that you were paying attention and you actually cared.
Bonus tip: Do coffee chats!
Do you know what I do while having coffee chats with other devs? I introduce myself and talk about my tech stack, my projects, and my interests. I ask them the same questions.
Bet you say, it sounds like an interview?! That's damn right!
Just like an interview. Having those coffee chats is essential to prepare yourself for the interviews. Also, it helps you develop nice soft skills.
As a developer (pun intended), most of us are shy or introverted. But your soft skills and communication skills are what make you also stand out.
I am proud of my soft skills. Being a former teacher helped me improve those skills. And it really helped me stand out during the interview process. Companies don't hire people just based on their technical abilities, they want people with whom they can stand to work together.
Portfolio & GitHub
It's well known that these are the most important tools to show your skills and experience. So, you should carefully prepare them and be picky about what you showcase. I have many solo projects that I built with various techs but I only showcase the relevant and not-so-simple ones.
E.g.: I mainly focus on the MERN stack. My repositories on my GitHub make this clear.
I think it's not essential to have 2-3 big projects to start applying. One can be enough as long as it's a big project where you used various technologies and you can talk about it for 20-25 mins.
Since my journey started, I was a part of a community called 100Devs. (Still and will be a part of it!) I've met so many great people and learned from them a lot. I've never seen such a supportive community. It has a big part in my success and of course, I am thankful to the beautiful person Leon, the founder of this wonderful community.
It's a Wrap
Remember that every journey is unique and you will eventually reach your goal. Do not forget to enjoy the ride though. You'll be doing this for a long time if you've decided on becoming a developer. It should be a joy, not a pain.
And remember that life is not fair. Sometimes it takes more than just technical abilities or soft skills to get your dream job. Luck has a big part in this success, too. Be kind to yourself and remind yourself how far you've come.
Thank you for staying this long! If you have any suggestions, feedback, or just want to say "hi" feel free to connect with me on Twitter.