o, it seems you are here because you've signed your life over to a coding boot camp! Congratulations! You've officially surrounded yourself with people who eat, sleep, think, dream, and breathe code. However, you're probably questioning if this transition was worth it. You're probably skimming through any success story you could get your hands on. You have more than likely clicked on a blog post titled "What's the secret to breaking into tech and how to break in at the top?". You may be more realistic and search for titles like "Would junior developers land a tech position after a coding boot camp?" Don't worry! I've been there! I attended Miami's Wyncode Academy and panicked at the possibility that I may not get a job upon graduation.
Preparing for your job hunt starts long before you graduate from the boot camp. It should begin on the first day of class. Some students will secure their dream job before graduation while others take up to 6 months--anything is possible! (I landed my current position at a local tech company within four weeks of graduating after attending a meetup.) To get you started on the best foot, here are five things you should do while you’re attending a coding boot camp (or even after) to make the job search as painless as possible:
The students sitting next to you are your greatest resource. You have context, opportunity, and shared experiences with a room full of talented people. Your peers may end up working for your dream company, be an advocate that pushes for you in a future tech position, or introduce you to connections a new coder on the scene will need! Those students may even become CEOs of future tech companies. Don't underestimate any of your peers and focus on build those meaningful relationships. Stay in touch beyond the classroom: whether you prefer social media, planning cohort nights, whatever your groove is--and remember it is never too late to reach out!
Practice your elevator speech and get out there. You'll never know who you may meet. I found my mentor while attending an event. Meetup.com and Eventbrite are my favorite resources for networking events. Bring you business cards, share your website and expand your social circle.
It doesn't matter if you're a tech newbie or a seasoned vet, your online presence is just as necessary as oxygen -- we all need it! It is meant to be your "side of the story" when you're not in the room. With your new tech skills, you're able to highlight the best parts of yourself through a blog, portfolio, social media postings, etc. The medium you choose doesn't matter! As long as it provides a way for your viewers to get a sneak peek of your life without asking you.
You may ask, "Why is this so important"? Well, your top priority is to strut in your best heels or dress shoes! It is a great thing to have control of which "heels" or "part of yourself" you want people to see! Having an online presence allows people to interact with you, offer you jobs, get to know you, and trust your brand. At the end of the day, we need our viewers to trust us and our knowledge. How could your viewers trust you if they don't know you? Allow them to get to know you! Build your online presence.
I cannot stress the importance of soft skills! A significant portion of your tech career is your technical knowledge; however, soft skills allows you to become a unicorn! The ability to communicate effectively will be the deciding factor between you and a stronger candidate. Soft skills can set you apart from the masses!
After landing my first tech position, I realized I must quickly gain knowledge with communicating my ideas, expressing strong opinions, technical writing/documentation skills, active listening skills, and the list goes on. Sometimes, our coworkers would overlook a valuable idea due to unclear communication. Trust me, soft skills play a significant role in your career as a developer and you must develop those skills now.
"One thing I’ve noticed is that in almost every area, the people who go furthest are not the ones with the best technical skills, but the ones who have the best strategy for figuring out what to do."-qz.com - Stephen Wolfram
Volunteering is an excellent way to get your feet wet and work in a real production environment. This space allows you to take on tasks you know you can complete without the anxiety. The only thing I would recommend is picking an organization that speaks to your mantra or inner calling. You have to appreciate the opportunity and understand the impact of your contribution. Personally, I like organizations where I could expose minority students to educational resources. Providing your talents to those organizations can be very rewarding but informative at the same time. You're able to learn how to work efficiently in a team, all the while, doing something you love. Learning among other volunteers causes much less anxiety than a work environment. I'm not saying "don't take it seriously" but the atmosphere isn't as demanding and it allows room for error. You would have the space to learn and contribute to a cause that you love. Also, it looks awesome on a LinkedIn profile!
Here are a few volunteer organizations you could get involved with:
I'm about to share some advice with you that I wish I'd known! I know you've spent quite a bit of money to learn how to code but don't rely heavily on your TA's (Teacher Assistants) and Instructors. There are many ways to skin a cat, in other words, many ways to learn to code. There is power in asking outside resources questions about coding. Your TA's answer might be correct, but it didn't resonate with you. Asking someone else the same question could set off lights bulbs and fireworks! Sometimes that "someone" sits right next to you as a student. It could also be in the form of StackOverflow answers, Youtube, Udemy courses, blogs, etc. Just don't allow your surrounding to be your only resource. Find other ways to learn the same things no matter how repetitive it may seem. You'll thank me when you're in front of your future employer during a technical interview. I guarantee it!
This isn't a magical formula and there are no guarantees! This career path is up to you! You're taking steps toward your future so you've got the hard part out of the way! You're believing in yourself and you're all in! If not you....who? If not now...when? You have what it takes! Don't give up on a future you've worked so hard for!