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The First Month of My Web Dev Job Search

amlane profile image Amanda Lane ・5 min read

A few weeks ago I shared some of the steps I'm taking to prepare for finding my first web dev job after completing the curriculum at Lambda School. In this post I'd like to share some of the lessons I've learned during the first month of my web dev job search.

Have an elevator pitch ready

Your first interview with a company will most likely not be technical. My second week of my job search I had two phone interviews, one with a recruiter and another with a hiring manager. They both asked me basic questions about my technical background, who I am, and why I'm interested in the position with their company.

When creating an elevator pitch I have a few suggestions:

  1. Don't be too long-winded. Find a way to describe your background without making your audience glaze over. Stick to the important parts. Bonus points if you can find a central theme that helps to tie your story to your values. For example, I love to connect my coding journey to my fitness journey and how you're never done improving. You're always improving and growing.

  2. Don't lie. I guess you can embellish the truth if needed, but I quickly learned when I worked in sales that if you stray too far from the truth when selling something (because an elevator pitch is just a sales pitch for yourself) you will get caught in the lie. If a person interviewing you even gets the hint that you're being dishonest, you can probably kiss that job goodbye.

  3. Don't be afraid to be honest. I think people appreciate when you're not afraid to be honest right away in an interview. That says a lot about your character and what it'd be like to work with you. Just make sure you're always coming from a place of professionalism and a good attitude.

  4. Practice saying your pitch out loud. Record yourself and listen to how you sound and make notes of how you could improve. I think sounding confident and comfortable over the phone is a skill that takes practice.

Make it a habit to solve at least 1 code challenge per day

The best way to keep your skills in shape is by using them every day. One thing I've learned from going to a coding bootcamp is that your brain is a muscle and you need to treat it that way. If you stop working out you will lose your strength over time. Same goes for your coding skills.

This should also work as a "keystone habit" where you'll be more likely to start adopting other habits, such as working on a project or applying to jobs after your code challenge. If you've never heard of a keystone habit, check this video out.

I also participate in a weekly study group where we continue to study Computer Science concepts. Lately we've been focused on algorithms and finding better solutions. I also found this article which I think is a great compilation of a lot of the fundamentals I learned during my time at Lambda School.

You need a plan no matter how much free time you have

I haven't been immune to the lack of focus and stress-eating caused by the recent events that's affecting almost everyone on the planet. It has been hard for me to watch the news and my social media feeds. Every day started to seem more bleak than the one before - especially when I started seeing posts from developers looking for a new position because they had just lost theirs.

I was losing my optimism and positive outlook. When my school offered a one week spring break I took it.

Osage River at Painted Rock State Forest

A photo taken on my hike at Painted Rock State Forest trail

I slept in and ate sweets. I went for long hikes on trails I'd never been to. I cleaned out my storage room. I took my bike out for a spin. I still even managed to knock out some code challenges and worked on a couple personal projects during the evening.

At the beginning of my break, I had made a goal to apply to at least 2 jobs every day. I didn't really make a plan of when or how I'd do it. I figured that a single person with a simple lifestyle would easily just find the time to achieve all their goals. Right?

Michael Scott making yikes face

Friday rolled around I realized I hadn't accomplished my goal at all. Not even close. 🙈 I randomly noticed our Friday staff meeting at my school was still going on so I decided to join - it turned out to be a presentation on careers endorsement. I got to listen to how another student managed their time and I realized I had a lot of room for improvement in that area of my life.

If I was going to accomplish all of my goals I was going to need a plan. I started researching other people's morning routines and time management systems. One YouTuber challenges herself by trying CEO & celebrity morning routines. My favorite morning routine so far has been The Rock's (Dwayne Johnson).

Although I'm not hardcore enough to wake up at 4am and run for an hour, I decided this morning to wake up at 5:30am and go for a 1 hour hike. I noticed that, as much as I love that I can sleep in every day, there's a really great feeling you get from accomplishing goals before most people are even awake. I have the rest of my day planned out (including this time I scheduled to work on this blog post 😊).

I am challenging myself to try this new morning routine for a week to see what affects it will have on my productivity. I will report back on my findings next week!

Use breaks as a time to refresh and rejuvenate your motivation

Not to repeat myself, but the brain seems to respond to learning similar to how muscles respond to training. Unless you're a genetically blessed, you won't perform your best if your training consists of running farther every day. Especially if you're used to laying on the couch watching TV. The same goes if you try to learn new things at a fast pace every day without a break. You eventually hit a wall and stop progressing.

Here are some last thoughts I have about balancing self-care with our goals:

  • You will be more productive and efficient at learning when you have a healthy body & mind that is nourished & hydrated.

  • You're never going to learn everything no matter how much self-care & happiness you sacrifice.

  • Create a routine for yourself that allows you to achieve your goals. You are the maker of your own destiny! Make today beautiful. 🌼

What have you learned during your job search so far? Do you have a morning routine or a habit that helps you stay productive and accomplish your goals? Let me know about it below - I'd love to hear your hacks!

Discussion

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Cory Keane

Thanks for sharing :) best of luck.

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Michael

Great read. You should podcast.