Dear FCC Campers,
I would like to share some of my experiences that successfully led to my first job as a software developer. I hope that what I write can help you to find your dream job in the near future. Please feel free to contact me anytime for follow-up tips.
Yesterday, I had an interview with the CEO of my current company. I think one of the reasons why I got hired was my involvement in the Open Source project DevBlend, which I started with a bunch of FCC campers including @alayek @mtancoigne and many more for whom I am very grateful to be able to work with.
If you look at the code base: Zenias, you would notice that the main script is written in Bash. Well coincidentally, the company I was applying for is developing commercial software only on Linux with Python and Django. Furthermore, they would like to introduce the automation of DevOps by intelligent codes. This was exactly the aim of zenias at DevBlend.
So it would seem that the following is true:
Join an Open Source project in the field you are most interested in. Then become good at this particular field and apply for a company that needs those skills.
I don’t know if it is because of Karma or just simple common sense, but I find Open Source to be extremely powerful. The amount of time and effort contributors spend is fascinating considering that they are doing it voluntarily. However, what you give is not for nothing. For some reason, it returns to you with multiplier effects. For starters, you can say that you worked on this project for so many weeks and months, and you learned X and will be able to implement X in the company you apply for. After a few interviews, you would most likely be hired by a company doing X. These words are taken from my personal interview with the CEO of Mimo (getmimo.com), Johannes Berger, who basically said to focus on one single particular thing (Backend, Frontend, or Mobile), stick with it for a while, do lots of projects and then apply.
Mimo made it to TechStars just this month, was Number 1 on Product Hunt recently, and they are hiring for developers as content writers for their interactive tutorials on their brand new platform.
So please do apply and please do ask me any questions about it by replying to this article. I am happy to help you. (By the way, Johannes Berger is a really nice guy and you should check out his apps on the App and Google Play store. Javvy and Swifty are amazing freemium apps to learn how to code in Java and Swift, respectively).
So my second tip is the following:
Focus, focus and focus! Don’t do everything at once. Stick to one single stack that you like.
The reason why you might wish to stick to the stack you like are two-fold: First, you are much more motivated actually to learn it. Secondly, the tech industry is growing so fast, that you don’t have to worry that your stack is out of date. There is always someone who needs your skills, be it Angular or Python. (Please just don’t do Pascal, would you? - No offence to those Pascal lovers out there, I also did Pascal in high school; quite memorable.)
However, I think the most crucial point for which my company hired me is not only my technical abilities but more so how I presented myself to them (and as an inference, to their customers). As a developer, it is really important to socialise with people. Try out networking events. Really focus on quality instead of quantity. Instead of talking to 100s of people who will never remember you (since they also talk to 100s of other people), try to make a couple of lasting relationships. (Because if you talk a lot to one person, they cannot talk to more people at the same time, hehe, I call it Network Engineering).
While I was in London, UK, I went to a startup event in Shoreditch (The Tech City or Silicon Roundabout) and during the event, I got an interview invitation to become a Data Scientist right off from college. I think I was still at the beginning of my last year. I went to the second interview, and they were about to hire me, but I rejected because of my startup careerharbour.co.uk (You know, thought I would make a millionaire in a year, that sort of thing… somewhat missed it by about 95%…) As a retrospect, I don’t really regret it. First off, I gained so much experience as manager of a small team. I got to deal with more people than my whole life put together. I have seen all sorts of people and know how to deal with most in a comfortable way.
So here comes my third tip:
If you have a startup idea and you “Cannot not do it”, as Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz put it, then go for it!
There is the only time that you might have to sacrifice. But the gain is absolutely irreplaceable. And you can show it to your future employers, and yes, it is a great thing to show on your CV.
Also, if you are wondering how I presented myself. Well, I made a semi-real-time CV in InDesign and put it online: John’s CV
As a matter of fact, this CV design was my startup’s commercial CH Designed CV. As you can see, I am using the produce of my own startup company to apply for a job. Something that you can think about doing as well, e.g. you can show off your products during the interview with your future employer.
But here comes the best part:
As of today, and as my gratitude for FCC and our community, I am making the source InDesign file for the CH Designed CV freely accessible and distributable via the MIT licence. If you wish to receive your free copy now, please reply to this post and I will give you the InDesign template so you can start making your most beautiful CV in no time.
Another thing I wish to point out: it might be a great idea to supplement your studies at FCC with other site’s resources. My tips that I gathered from several industrial experts on hackhands and CEOs of tech companies in the UK are:
a) Udacity Nanodegree
b) Treehouse Tech Degree (or just their pro version would be enough)
c) Codecademy Pro
I have to say as a personal review of codecademy that for $19 a month, you can ask developers about hands-on coding problems in real-time and with a convenient chat system by Intercom or per email. Say you get stuck with an FCC challenge and you tried every single possible way, but you just cannot get it to work. You can post your code on GitHub Gist and share the link together with FCC challenge’s link to the developer at Codecademy. In a few minutes, someone gets assigned to you and they will help you solve the problem. This is unlimited within your plan. (But please try it as a last resort, you really should push yourself to your limits with those coding challenges).
You can get a massive discount for Udacity Nanodegree if you apply for the GitHub Education Pack. In addition to that, you get lots of useful credits, such as AWS, DigitalOcean, or hackhands. (hackhands is amazing!)
GitHub Education pack is free for all people who have a valid university email account. (At least for those deemed eligible by GitHub.)
Please do feel free to contact me if you have any further questions. I am mostly available on FCC Gitter main chat under the name of byteknacker.
Edit: Changed the link to a hosted one, so it should work again. I have removed my own personal details for privacy reasons.