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I've been looking to break into the industry since 2018, what am I doing wrong?

angelyoung24 profile image Angel Young ・2 min read

I have been frustrated by the constant rejection emails I have been getting. I don't wear them as a badge of honor as much as a reminder of how discouraging the tech industry can be. I often have thoughts of maybe if I wasn't female or maybe I was white, I would have gotten a job faster. I feel like I am doing something wrong and I don't know what it is. I have been doing the following:

-Networking
-Attending Meetups
-Asking for what I could do better in interviews
-Updating my resume (I have 3 versions of the same resume.)
-Building projects
-I have my own website
-Taking on independent projects for free to build my resume (I, however, would not work for a startup with no funding/for free, I tried that before and I didn't feel motivated with the project.)

I have come to the conclusion that the city I live in is not junior friendly however, it is unrealistic for me to consider a move since I am a junior and nobody would pay for me to relocate since I have no experience (I was told this on a Slack channel.)

I feel like I am hitting a brick wall and think I have wasted a year and a half looking for work. I have so many negative thoughts that I wonder if it's even worth it to keep going.

I really want somebody to tell me what I am doing wrong. I feel like people are laughing at me behind my back for wasting time going into the tech industry. If I am not good enough just say so. I am more than happy being miserable in retail.

Sorry for the negativity of my post.

Discussion

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gmartigny profile image
Guillaume Martigny

Hi Angel,

It took me about a year to find my first position and it was in a nearby city (I'd had to take a 1h train). So yeah, don't get discouraged if you have hard time getting that first role. Now, I get recrutement emails all the time.

Here's a few completely personal advices:

  • Your personal site is really good. Simple, clear, that's what you should be aiming for. "Powered by Squarespace" is not showing any skills, but at least you know the plateform.
  • Your Github is a little empty, but at least it's here. Try to double down on informations (add a "readme.md" on your favorite projects and maybe a live version to try it out)
  • You're easily findable online (first few results on Google and LinkedIn) keep that presence.
  • Never work for free or really cheap payoff. You are better off working for yourself.
  • Send your resumé absolutely everywhere. Don't look at negative answers (I know it's depressing) just try to find that positive one, it's somewhere out there.

The whole industry if not junior friendly. Once you catch the train it's all good, but it's far from easy.
If you have any questions, hit me up here or over Twitter.

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alhasenzahl profile image
Amanda Hasenzahl

Hey Angel!! It took me about a year, maybe a little bit more to get hired as a developer for my very first role. I changed careers from recreation and customer service to tech and taught myself online. It was extremely frustrating and disheartening the amount of times I got told no or never even heard back from jobs that I applied to. You have to remember that you started this journey for a reason and if you quit now, everything that you have done will have been for nothing! YOU CAN DO THIS! YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH TO DO THIS! I really hope that you keep going and continue to keep your head up and work hard because if you do, eventually someone will give you a chance and you never know when that could be!!! I wish you the best of luck!! 🙏

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lukedaviesweb profile image
Luke Davies

Hi Angel,

I was in your position a couple of years ago and I found the most powerful form of advertisement was my own website.

Your site is built with Squarespace which to me is a massive red flag. (depending on what kind of role you're looking for)

Try rebuild with just HTML CSS js and host it yourself, I like to look at awwwards.com for inspiration.

I would also suggest posting regularly to LinkedIn and commenting on other developers posts, start following the companies you would like to work for and even ask the lead dev if they would like to get coffee with you sometime.

You will get there!

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machr profile image
Mark Powell

First of all you're doing a lot of things right. You have a good sense of design and some cool project ideas. And you seem passionate about development. No one is laughing at you. Everyone is on their own path.

Some things I would look to change, as a junior dev who's had a few dev roles and freelance projects.

I never had a portfolio site to showcase my work, but if I did, as a front-end developer I would not use Squarespace. You are selling your development skills to potential employers but use a website builder for your own online identity.

Rebuilding your portfolio site without Squarespace in HTML,CSS and JS (React or Gatsby or whatever you fancy) would be my first step. You could even create a blog or notes section where you describe issues you've found and overcome along the way or tell about compromises you've had to make for performance/UX. Hiring manager love passionate junior developers that can show that they are constantly learning and improving.

My second suggestion is pushing your volunteer experience. It's awesome that you are getting involved with Philly Tech Sistas. I would highlight your volunteer work on your landing page, about page and in your resume. I think you volunteering will make you stand up as a candidate in a lot of job interview process.

If you are getting call backs from your applications, then what you are doing must to be working and maybe it's something that needs to change in the in-person interviews. I personally try to show passion and talk about what i've learned in each project. What worked, what failed and how I can take that experience into my next project.

One last suggestion is to connect with tons of recruiters. They might not have roles that fit you all the time, but they can maybe give feedback on your resume.

And lastly, it's a game of numbers. Keep sending off those resumes and keep trying. You will get there!

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Peter Witham

Hi Angel,

Don't get discouraged, it's a tough industry with so many developers out there now willing to take just about anything, making it hard for everyone to find a place.

From your list, it feels like you are doing all the right things. One thought I have that I didn't see on the list is maybe contributing to open source? Plus, do you have anything on GitHub, it seems more and more companies check GitHub for examples of peoples work.

I know how frustrating it must be but hang in there, there's a place for everyone. Just think how great it will be when you find the right place that was waiting for you all this time.

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angelyoung24 profile image
Angel Young Author

My github is linked on my profile. I post on there regularly mostly small projects. I know how to do issues but not pull requests.

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erikwhiting88 profile image
Erik W

Keep going Angel, don't give up yet. My honest advice for you: I don't think the "powered by squarespace" is the red-flag people are saying. Your design skills are awesome. Your projects could use a TLC though. "Shana" is a pretty cool design, and the Degrassi game is (I think) your best project but could still use a little touching up as far as the user interface.

Your movie project is a little broken as well, but if you fixed it up, I think it would be the best project to feature. Also, I think you should just hide the other ones after you get the three I mentioned really perfect. You can't spend all day working on projects when you're still job hunting, right?

You have a great eye for color and shape, I think you should highlight this as your strength.

Have you tried reaching out to recruiters on LinkedIn? My last two jobs were from unsolicited messages from recruiters on LinkedIn. Also, what kind of jobs are searching for? Don't forget, there's more to the industry than "software engineer" and "full stack developer." Some people start off as testers or business analysts.

I hope this helps and I really want to emphasize that you have a lot of front-end potential. You can learn code all day but the artistic side of it needs a little bit of natural talent which it seems like you have. Don't lose hope, and good luck!

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angelyoung24 profile image
Angel Young Author

I do put my projects up there as proof that I am doing stuff and not doing nothing. I don't think it's a good idea to take them down. Also on the page it does say that they aren't complete. If employers expect complete projects that is unrealistic to me. No project is ever complete.

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sagarb3 profile image
Sagar Bhattacharya

Start By Replicating a small application like google keep . Approach your plan to get a job as a game

Stage1 is to decide what skills you need to demonstrate. If you are seeking a web dev role give one week time to Freecodecamp(freecodecamp.org/) and solve the project challenge in them to your best. After that try to create small GitHub projects replicating one good project , you may feel you are copying but you will be understanding what the person did , this is how we understand the project problems.

Stage2 will be when you participate in algorithm challenges , you can begin with hackerrank(hackerrank.com/) and move to project Euler (projecteuler.net/)

Once you have built a good understanding of the coding practices then try to create boilerplate as stage3.

Stage4 will be participating in mock interviews.

Interview Tip :

  1. Pen and paper : Note Down the problem statement , think about drawing a flow diagram ( with start and end state as the desired input and desired output). Design use cases and write the code , don't refactor code in your mind , create the base logic , once on paper try to refactor the code.

  2. If you are participating in a timed coding interview : Then try to write code in the editor and write the optimal logic , check if use cases are getting satisfied then if you have 15 min+ time then refactor the code to reduce useless variables , and use shorthand operators.

  3. If you are giving a face to face interview , listen to the problem , explain the steps you approach to solve the problem to the person interviewing you and then give them more than one solution and explain him/her your choice of one solution over other

  4. Don't stack too many skills when you are trying to crack your first interview. Have one strong skill and sell it only , more skills does not increase your chances , show your passion for problem solving and be genuine about the thing.

All the Best!

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angelyoung24 profile image
Angel Young Author

So if I do all these steps, I can get a job. Do you have proof that this has worked for you/anybody else?

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sagarb3 profile image
Sagar Bhattacharya

Yes , because I have followed these steps and got success in getting job

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sebastiangperez profile image
Sebastiangperez

Angel, don't get mad about that you couldn't get a job on tech, programming, maybe you can start doing stuff on little places like a grocery store o family companies so you can get experience.
I'm from and i live in Argentina, i know is hard this days in USA about the rant against Spanish people there, and also i'm aware what happened with the black community there since the early days and now, but if someone tell you that because you are black ( i'm still don't understand that racial shit agains humans), they are ignorants and idiots.
Try to start small and then get big.
Buena Suerte!! (means Good Luck)

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Sean Hoar

Hi Angel. I was signed for my first developer job at 35 in March 2018. It took me 3 years from when I first realized I wanted to be a developer, working on freecodecamp, codeschool, codecademy, several udemy courses, and even a part-time Full-stack Javascript development course at General Assembly in mid-late 2016. I also have an AWS developer associate certification from Nov. 2017 which is about to expire in a few months if I dont re-up. You have to be vigilant. Recognize that you're always in the right place at the right time. If you haven't scored your first gig yet, then chances are you might not be ready for an employer to take a risk on you yet. But this means that you're not on the hook for developing things in agile sprints. So, use this time to actually build on what you're learning by experimenting off-script. If you work in retail, what kind of website or application could you start building that would make things easier for yourself, your team, or your employers? When I was a business analyst, we had this crappy mobile database of our customer's offices, it was literally HTML tables only -- no styling, nothing... I had been complaining that there were so many things that we need information access to, and just didn't have any good resources. When I mentioned this around the team, I got grunts, hrumphs, and yups of recognition. SOO... I started building a newer version of the database that also had button links to other resources that we needed on a regular basis. After I couldn't deal with the mundane in my position anymore, I showed what I was working on to my boss. He was blown away, and then of course asked if I could add more features to the application. I said sure, but never got to building those new features because I had also been putting my resume out and telling recruiters and interviewers about the application that I had build in my spare time for my current job. Ultimately, it was my passion to become a developer that sold my hiring manager on me. Two years in, and each sprint I still wonder how I'm going to be able to finish my stories/features in the amount of time I have. But my skill levels have immensely grown since I started my first job, I was and still am thankful for that first job I got. But now its all on me to make any new change in my own journey happen... So I continue when I can building things and learning things. And I've still got a long way to go. Most days are pretty tough and challenging. But I know the more I practice, the more I continue testing my limits, the more opportunity and chance I am causing for myself. Hope my testimony means something to you. Good luck, and I'm rooting for you!

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Nathan Tamez
  • Be more flexible with the job title, look at the job description more. If you feel your capable of the job, apply regardless of the job title.
  • Be willing to apply for jobs not quite in your your skill set, As many hiring managers will just use buzzwords out of habit or lack of understanding.
  • Email local companies which do software development work and see if there’s an opportunity for you to join their team. You know companies not actually looking for anyone.
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shushugah profile image
shushugah

I am going to sleep now but will write something later today. Would you prefer feedback here, or privately?

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angelyoung24 profile image
Angel Young Author

Hello! I prefer privately.

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shushugah profile image
shushugah

Done, sent email! Rooting for you! <3 and this community is a great place

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kalium profile image
kalium.xyz

It takes years and the industry is more politics by the day, do social moves and plot a career for best result.

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echoboomer83 profile image
Amber Lammers

Look for remote work, Gitlab is hiring a lot about.gitlab.com/jobs/apply/ and the website weworkremotely.com is great.