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A Note to Devs Looking for Their First Job

It’s hard out there, new devs. I’m sorry. So many of you have been fed the fairy tale of an industry with jobs a plenty, bountiful pay, with a steep and rigorous climb that would be worth it when you hit the peak—finally ready to transition from learning to working. I’m sorry so many of you have been let down, have seen the reality of the plentiful jobs for those with 3+ years of experience, the rat race for the available entry-level jobs, and the toxic environments preying on new developers.

I’m sorry you’ve felt that pain.

I know that for many it’s hard to land your first job. It can feel soul-crushing. The interview processes are worse than the standardized tests they made us take in high school. We’re back to impracticality, unnaturally pressurized situations, and a poor indication of how we’ll communicate with our teammates, how we’ll learn as we go, of our abilities to offer new and diverse opinions.

And for those of you who land your first jobs in tech and find yourself unsupported, neglected, and feeling like you provide no value in your job, I am sorry. You deserve to have guidance, support, and mentorship. You deserve to be provided with the tools that will allow you to grow. You deserve to be acknowledged for your work, to be encouraged to grow.

A team should work to cultivate talent, to create a safe space where you are willing to put yourself out there, to get out of your comfort zone. If you are afraid to share or to ask questions, then you have been let down.

There are good people and teams and communities in tech that are invested in holding the door open for you, in making space for hard and honest conversations that will help you to grow, in creating pathways for you so you aren’t dropped into a new world with no map, no tools, no direction.

There are good companies and teams that realize they don’t have the capacity or structure to support early career developers and admit that.

You deserve to know that you will be supported. Ask that question in the interview. Please ask how they’ll support you as an early career developer. Please ask them how they communicate as a team. Please ask them what their approach is to honest, but hard, conversations.

Please open yourself up to honest, but hard-to-hear feedback. Please remember that you are not at the top of the mountain yet, you are just starting the climb and it’s going to feel hard no matter what. But there’s a difference between growing pains and the pain of neglect. You are the hero in your journey, but every hero needs a mentor. It might not be a Yoda, it might be a community, it might be the wisdom you catch in a podcast, it might be a blogpost you read. Most of us are not out there to slay dragons by ourselves. We’re there to combine our skills, our strengths, to level each other up, to be the team that does it together.

Top comments (3)

annietaylorchen profile image
Annie Taylor Chen

Yes this is all true. However, once you pass it, I promise you will feel completely different, even with one year of working experience you will start to get offers or invitation from recruiters or startups alike. It's just the FIRST one is very very very hard to get by because there is no official history of working as the role you're applying.

It might help if you have at least half a year internship of similar role you're applying at a reputable company, this might not be easy either, but definitely easier than first job, especially if you're not paid (such as, included in your school year like last semester).

About feedback: in my experience, most companies avoid that because they don't want to say something wrong and get sued by you. You can ask, but do not expect to get reply. And it's better to just move on. Many times they just simply have other candidates with working experience, and they'd prefer that, even you have amazing portfolio, code, and open source project.... it's simple as that. Others have worked, so they're officially tested and approved, and you are not. I know it's hard to do... but do not take it personally otherwise it's gonna eat you.

vinxt profile image
vinxt EXACTLY what happened to me. The team gave zero feed back and got combative when questioning code. Working remotely made it impossible to get a take on the environment to establish a code a conduct. I've been part of open source teams and had the complete opposite expirience. This is a greate wake-up call.. would you consider following up with advice?

mollyyy46 profile image
Molly Grant

I came across a lot while looking for a job for a developer. Right now my top job searchers are iBench, LinkedIn and Twitter.