We have been receiving lots of messages and questions from junior programmers along the way. Whether it was live, at a dedicated tech event, or via email, we loved all your questions and decided to compile a few of the answers that can speed up the process of boarding into your first role as a programmer. Take a look!
If you are currently enrolled in University studying Computer Science, then you most likely have lots of assignments, laboratories and seminars you need to tend to. Being a full-time techie in school can leave little to no room for a job. Sometimes, the best option out there is an internship. But if you’ve just graduated and are delving into full-time employment options, all you have to do is look through this guide and start applying what best suits you.
If, however, you have decided to study on your own by following online tutorials – about which we feel very positive – the only things you have to do is press play and follow through. Online tutorials are a great place to start, but their effectiveness is only accounted for by finishing the course, taking notes, doing the assignments, recapping as many times as necessary, and working on your milestone projects.
Keep in mind, if you feel like giving up mid-thru, either the tutorial is not suited for your current skills, or you might need a friend’s expertise; or the reason behind starting the course in the first place does not provide sufficient intrinsic motivation. Which brings us to the next point.
If you chose this path, then there is a drive behind it. Most of the senior programmers that have shared their story with us speak about software development with such passion that you almost want to look up the next Computer Science University admission date.
There is consistent research and evidence that supports intrinsic motivation over extrinsic incentives when it comes to building a career and making the right choice. Therefore, think about what makes you want to start a career in software development. Even better: make a list!
Your list should have more of these types of bullets - “creating the next Slack”, “automating everything that can be automated in the medical field”, “making sure DeepFakes don’t take over the world”, “finding out if Black Mirror is on to something with their cool tech gadgets and AIs” – rather than these types of bullets “secure job”, “considerable financial gains”, “working with computers, not people”. Once you’ve made that list and you’re confident about it, then you are good to go. “Go where?” you ask. See below.
Meet-ups, Tech Events, Open-doors.
We’ve met most of you during tech events, open-doors, conferences, where we invited you to exchange ideas on topics we both feel passionate about – technology and career. And we sure are happy we did!
Attending meet-ups on specific technologies that interest you, or workshops held by companies you admire and envision being part of their team, or simply taking an interest in current job openings at Tech Fairs - excellent places to start! Not only will you meet people that share your passion for technology, but you also get excellent advice and exposure to opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise.
It could be the brick that secures your first role, or at least a spot in a coveted clique that can guide you through your career. Not to mention, you also stay up-to-date with the latest in the tech world, you gain great interview experience and important access to the “grapevine” - if there will be a job opening somewhere that is perfect for you, you’ll know it before the description makes the job boards. But how should you prepare?
The Portfolio/Contributing to Open Source
The best way you can show and showcase your commitment, and passion for this field is by creating/developing/building/testing software. Please, do not dismiss this important step! Of course, there are companies that hire for junior positions only through a session of technical testing, but if you really want to stand out and get the role you’ve been eyeing for a while, put a portfolio together and contribute to open source as much as you are able to.
Not only it is excellent exercise but it is also a great opportunity to be seen by companies that want to work with you, that share your vision and appreciate your effort in a certain direction, thus creating room for a perfect match.
Our recommendation? Right after you finish this article, go to Github.com, create an account, and upload all your projects, for starters. You are most definitely working on something right now, so why not share it? If you can.
Update your Linkedin profile/Build a Resume.
There is a great debate on whether or not you should create a Resume or use your Linkedin profile in order to apply for jobs. We love reading excellently written Resumes where you can see from the very beginning how much appreciation one has for their work, but we also love updated and completed Linkedin profiles.
From a recruiter’s side, Linkedin is more readily-available for assessing if a role is suitable for a certain candidate, but sometimes companies prefer a Resume. Perhaps it is more compatible with their organizational culture, or with their HR practices, but there is still a demand for classically written Resumes. Nowadays you can even add your own twist via all the Resume creators and websites you can find on the wide web.
Eventually, by maintaining an updated and detailed Linkedin profile, you combine the best of both worlds. And the exposure is phenomenal.
Now that you have everything you need, begin applying. Remember, the goal is to start your career with a company that can provide you with the knowledge and technology exposure you wish to specialize in - although, it is very advisable to keep your preferences open.
One of the key aspects that weigh in an interview is also the soft skills evaluation. Indeed, there is a whole body of research on why soft skills matter greatly when it comes to hiring success. Some companies may use psychological questionnaires, others may use a very thorough situational interview.
The idea behind all this testing is to establish whether or not you can work in the team they have already created. As a general consensus, hiring managers look for agreeableness, taking initiative, stepping up when someone is stuck on a task, putting in the team effort. But they also look for autonomy, having the ability to work by yourself and be accountable for the result, coming up with solutions to problems that may arise, and always - and I cannot stress this enough - always seek help if you cannot deliver on your part before things get rough and start to crumble. It is worse to lose projects and time for your team than ask for help. Actually, there is nothing bad about asking for help! Do it as many times as you need to, but most importantly, learn with each situation.
We recommend that you go to all the interviews you are invited to, reach out to recruiters, keep close communication with headhunters, and be part of the conversation. You will be kept in the know-how. Some companies provide you with little feedback to go from, for a number of reasons but don’t let that stop you from going to the next interview. It is a valuable experience and it will all add up to you getting the role you wanted in the first place.
As always, we are happy to receive your questions and answer them to the best of our expertise in the field. We take pride in being the people that can guide you through this process and we want to make sure you are always informed about new opportunities as soon as they become available. Reach out and let us know how we can help in your process of finding the best first job!