How I Found My Job

- 5 mins

I graduated from The Iron Yard, a code school in Durham, NC, right before Thanksgiving of 2015. I started at my first development job about 2.5 months later, and at the time I’m writing this, I’ve been there about three months.

I thought it might be interesting to other code school grads or people trying to break into development to share what I did to find my job, and what I’d recommend based on my experience.

1) KEEP CODING after you graduate.

There was no question to make this my number one piece of advice. If you do nothing else, do this. If you went to code school, you probably have a Github page. Keep it active! What you make or work on is up to you. Some people do a lot of Exercism or Project Euler, I made random projects that I thought of, and was coding almost every day after graduation. Hopefully you enjoy programming for the sake of programming and you don’t find this piece of advice too hard to follow after graduation.

Coding every day does two big things for you:

One, you want to keep your skills sharp and keep learning new things. I think this makes sense on its own. Developers are always learning new technologies, and you should be no different.

Two, you want to provide a good image to any employer who happens upon your Github. Ideally, they’d like someone who enjoys coding and will keep learning, and a busy Github is an easy way to signal this to potential employers.

2) Go to meetups!

You need to hustle and meet people to find great opportunities. Try to not fall into the trap of talking to the same group of people at every meetup. The whole point of a meetup is to MEET NEW PEOPLE. These people may like you and tell you about jobs. You never know what will happen, and its absolutely worth the couple of hours to go to one.

3) Consider learning or playing with a new programming language.

While you still have a lot left to learn with your chosen code school language, there’s a lot to be learned by playing with a different language. It also has the added benefit of making you marketable to a wider range of jobs. My current job is based primarily in Perl, but my code school course was in Python. What happened? I was talking to a recruiter and she mentioned she had a lot of Perl jobs open for junior developers, so I started learning Perl! I ended up getting a job through a different source, but it was because I had that second language on my resume. I would recommend first just picking something that either you’ve been wanting to learn anyway, or something you see a lot of job postings for. Then start with recreating existing projects in that new language. Pretty soon you’ll have a basic grasp of the language and you can decide what to do from there.

4) Don’t be scared of recruiters.

A lot of developers really don’t like recruiters. I see their point, but a lot of large companies hire exclusively through staffing agencies. If you don’t talk to some recruiters, you will literally never get a job at some companies. The recruiters you talk to may never end up finding you anything, but they might! I was placed at my current job through a staffing agency, and have nothing but good feeling towards the recruiter who helped me get my foot in door to a great new career.

5) Keep up with social media and (ideally) your blog.

As you may have noticed, I blogged throughout code school. I also tried really hard to keep up with my Twitter (FYI, jobs are broadcast via Twitter ALL THE TIME). After code school, thats just as important. I actually got my current job after a fellow code school grad saw a tweet of mine about learning Perl, and recommended me to a recruiter he knew who was staffing junior Perl jobs. I started work a few weeks later! You never know what will happen, so keep it up to date.

6) Practice interviewing.

Interviewing is a skill, practice it! If you went to code school, I’m pretty positive that someone there would be happy to mock interview you. If not, or in addition to them, consider reaching out to all those developer friends you’ve made at meetups! Depending on who you’ve met and what kind of relationship you’ve developed, they may well be willing to get coffee one day and give you interview tips based on the interviews they’ve been in. In my own personal experience, a lot of people are more willing to help than you might guess. Don’t overwork the people you meet or bug them constantly, but use your resources.

7) Don’t get discouraged.

Sometimes jobs just don’t work out. It’s okay. I interviewed at one company a total of 4 times. I did a code sample that I passed and then did two phone interviews and two in person interviews. I spent about a month in the interview process and then they redid their budget and decided not to hire anyone. They liked me and even offered to give me a recommendation, but ultimately there was no spot at their company for me. I was pretty bummed out about this, and it got me down for a bit. I had liked the company and was pretty excited to get to work, but ultimately, sometimes things just don’t work out and it’s not your fault. I found another job about a month later, and it’s probably for the best that that first job didn’t pan out.

I hope some of this was helpful. Happy job hunting!

Andrew Pierce

Andrew Pierce

Software Engineer based in Durham, NC

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