How did you land your first job as a junior?

Carlos Roso on May 12, 2020

What was it that helped you land your first job as a junior dev?

Maybe it was open source, or a portfolio of side projects, or pinging someone on LinkedIn?

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After doing a coding bootcamp I hadn't landed a job. So I went to a Meteor meetup (the framework we learned), and at the end of the meetup they asked us if we wanted to present some of the fun things we were doing with Meteor.

I presented an app to determine if you were in the Ballmer's Peak! At the end of the meetup, the host asked if I had a job, I said "no." They asked if I wanted a job, I said "yes." Then I was told I started next Monday.

I was very fortunate for that opportunity, I know it's rare. But I firmly believe putting yourself out there at events and meetups (where there may be companies looking to hire) is a really good way of getting your foot in the door.


Awesome insight, Michael! I'm inspired by this.

So many opportunities lying out there can be opened just by saying "hi, I built this, let me show". Getting rid of the fear to speak in public is brutally important.

Keep it up!


That's awesome. I'm much too shy and scared of meetups. Something I should probably work on lol.


I am too scared of them too! haha I should definitely put that away and try my best at networking


It was 8 month ago. I was working at the town hall as trainee and as I was always trying to automate my tasks with small software, people seeing that I did the tasks faster than usual, they asked me how I showed them. Then when my contract was expiring, the mayor's office man talked to my that his daughter was working at a software company and he got a interview for my, i felt very happy. The interview was quick, made some question about what technologies I knew. And so now I working there until today.

I trying to improve my English, sorry me, I want to give more details how was, but I don't know how to write better yet.


This is inspiring and very motivating for newcomers. Use software to automate, get more productive at what you do, and people just won't be able to ignore you.


I worked for free for like 6 months straight.

I remember doing an app in AngularJS for my dad's company and also a basic HTML + CSS site for a friend.

This helped me build a portfolio.

I then found a company in my city willing to hire juniors, wrote them an email, landed the job a few months later.


During my undergraduate days, I was working part-time as a sales agent in a call center and I was wondering who was building the systems we're using and generating the leads we're calling so during the break time I would go around different floors to search for such a department. Then when I fount it, I decided to simply knock the door and introduced my self as one of their colleagues who just recently joined the call center, and I also told them that I am currently studying Software Engineering and would love to help in case they could use some help!

They started by giving me minor tasks and then after some time they started to get me involved in their meetings at that point I was in good terms with my direct manager as a sales agent and asked her to request an official internship from the development department so I would come a bit earlier before my shift to work with them. Eventually, the developers I was directly reporting to, had a better offer in another company and before leaving he recommended me to take his place!!! Only at that point (after around 3 or 4 months internship) I started getting paid as a developer!!

What truly helped me was being in good terms with people and taking the initiative to go introduce my self and tell people what I want! People are willing to help only if they know what you need :) I left the company but still in touch with the team and super grateful for everything they taught me! These CONNECTIONS, later on, helped me land my current job. :)


Phew, Esraa, this is so inspiring, thanks for sharing!

Big takeaway from here: all the good things lie behind that door you need to knock at some point, literally.

You had huge courage to speak and say "hey, I like coding, I heard you do that here, can I join?". Amazing.


After many months of applying, I saw a LinkedIn post from my now colleague advertising that the company needs interns and sent him a message.


Love it. Do you remember how did the message look like? Did you have to send a portfolio or something?


I think I just said "I'm interested in this position". It was the start of a holiday so I forgot about it after a couple of days, then I got an email from him asking me for more info. I only sent my CV which included some of my projects and my GitHub which I don't think anyone checked 😂 a couple of months later I was officially hired.

Haha I'm sure they looked at your Github and projects. Thanks for sharing, that's pretty useful!


I kinda of made the position myself....

I was working in IT for Yorkshire Ambulance Service and there was a remit to build a few internal web services. I self taught C# and ASP.Net (2.0 at the time). Gradually I did more development and less IT stuff, building up a few external projects via the NHS' wider network.

Using that experience I managed to land another role which was more 'normal level developer', but still felt quite junior as it was quite the steep learning curve moving from public sector stuff to private, commercial sector


Loving how you self taught a tool that would allow you to transition into what you loved. Making up your job is one of the best advice someone can get, that's for sure!


Funny story: My best friend worked at the company and gave me a referral. I nailed the phone interview. When it was time for the development test....I was stuck. I realized that I didn't know as much about HTML and CSS that I thought I did. I called him like 5 times in a one hour block. Finally, he decided to "alley-oop" me the full developed site.

When it was time for me to develop my first site, it was HORRIBLE. It was for a cleaning company. I took a picture of a broom, used it to separate the header and body, put a name in the top left corner, three links to the right of that, and a big block of content under the broom. BOOM! It was a masterpiece. My boss looked at me like I was crazy and stuck me on banner ads only for 2-3 months.

I spent that time reading, learning, practicing, inspecting website's code, bugging my friends and new coworkers and just consuming a lot of development stuff. By the end of my time at that company, I was one of the best web designers (yeah, we were called web designers back then) on the team. I left there and two companies-7 years later, I became a beast that still reads, learns, practices, inspects website's code, bugs developer friends and new coworkers and overall consumes a lot of development stuff.


I love how you just plunged into the unknown and worked up to the top of your craft. Practice makes better, you're the living example.


Thank you! Yeah, that's all it takes. Time and dedication. A very cliche statement but it's true.


I got my first job from an advice of a teacher. It says that there is a programmer who opens the job for a fresh graduate. back then, I was unsure about my skills and my good bet was only PHP (although i can use some framework) because i don't have enough experience about how project from a real world should be. And so, I take it.

But, three months passed and during that time, it always been part of my trauma. I don't help in coding because the programmer says I need to study more. He use EXTJS for work and yes I know my skills clearly. I really don't mind about it at first, but the problem is there's no spare time for me to study. And the salary i get was small.

I too got to work from 8 AM and my work done in uncertain time, but it always a late night. My plan to study became a mess because i chose to sleep in the time i got home. for the weekend too, it always been used to work. It was a tiring day and I don't have any energy left. that three months was full of stressful and mental pressure.

There's actually more to tell but i think it will be too long. And yeah, that is, in a nutshell of what was happened. but in the end, I resign and study myself about javascript for three months via FreeCodeCamp, landed my next job and still work until now.

sorry for a bad english


Great story, thanks for sharing. you definitely put in the sweat and got the results you wanted. Congrats!


Thank you, it's very refreshing after i tell my stories


At 20 - nearly 20 years ago - I was working in a supermarket and desperate to get into the tech industry. My (then girlfriend) wife applied for a receptionist/admin assistant role at a small, local IT company and upon returning from the interview said "you should apply there, you'd love it, wait until you see the office it's lovely". They had no jobs being advertised, so with her blessing I applied for the same job she'd just interviewed for, believing that even if I could get the admin assistant role, it was a "foot in the door" and I could show them what I could do and move up from there.

I was called for an interview, spent it discussing sport, life, and everything except the role, only to be told that they'd filled the admin position and weren't planning on recruiting further - however, would I like a job?

I spent 12 years there and left as IT Manager.


Loving this story and how your wife was pivotal for your success. You can only get so far alone. Thanks for sharing!


I just recently landed my first job as .NET developer. I have never been a programmer professionally but have worked in IT for the past 6 years. I worked up from help desk to supervising a cyber security team. I have a lot of experience writing PowerShell scripts that automate tasks, do remote administration, etc. which helped when it came to my interview. I'm lucky the company that hired me really took a liking to me even with my severe lack of experience when it comes to programming. They are giving me an opportunity to learn on the job which I am grateful for!


Nice story. PowerShell automation at its best, landing you jobs you never expected. :D


Went to an interview to one of the top IT consulting companies in my country right after finishing college. I did the interview without any hopes of getting hired because of that. Weeks later I get a call from them that they wanted to hire me. What it helped me was that I took some Java classes on college.


Awesome. Can you recall what you were asked in this interview? I'm curious :D


It was more than 14 years ago, so I don't remember a lot. But it wasn't too technical, they knew I was just getting out of college and they wanted a recent graduate, since it's more easier to manage and mold than a experienced one.


I literally just did it. I got my first job as a junior last week!
I think that what may have helped it is a project that I have been working on since last year- a low-cost thermocycler (github.com/cetuspcr/Cetus-PCR). I think it may have shown what I know and am capable of.
Other than that, there is the fact that I participate in some groups of robotics in my school, getting some technicals and group work experiences...

Anyway, I'm really excited to have some real job experience. Do you guys have any first job tips?


One of the biggest lessons I learned early on was to be comfortable and get good at asking for help.

At my first dev job, I got assigned a task. I didn't ask a lot of questions (mainly because I didn't want to be viewed as not knowing something). For some reason I thought that if I asked a dumb question, they would be like "Oh you don't know that?! Umm idk why we hired you!" 🤦🏽‍♂️.

I spent days and weeks trying to make progress on the task, which turned out was really too big for me to do by myself. Ultimately, I would've been better off asking lots of "dumb", clarifying questions early on until I understood what I need to do.


This. Love it! Don't hold up to your questions, just spit them out.


Congrats mate! All the best for you in your first gig, you'll love it. I like how you leveraged GitHub and your side activities at school to make yourself look more credible.

First job tip? listen, learn, and repeat. Listen to whatever senior you work with. Learn from them. Repeat what you see in your code.

You'll have time to form criteria in the process, for now just be a sponge :D


My dad read in the paper about a local startup, so I emailed them saying I'd just graduated and would be interested in joining them as an intern or something. After an interview, they brought me on as a contractor, then hired me as the 7th employee.


Amazing how dads can be so helpful in one's career. Would be awesome to see how that email looked like!


It was most of a decade ago and I can't find it in my email archives, but I'm pretty sure that was about it. "I read about your startup in the county paper, I just graduated, are you hiring for an intern or something?" Nothing fancy, I didn't have any family connections to play on, just "Hello, are you hiring?"


I always aimed for product based companies like Google Microsoft dell etc etc.

And what they require most is knowledge of algorithms and system design.

Me and my friend started preparing together for like 2 months.(fyi he is not on Dev).

Finally I landed a job at Dell and my friend Landed job at Microsoft.

Now what helped us was geeksforgeeks.org and nlogn.in to prepare for algorithms and system design interview.


Awesome! you went the algorithms route which is a great one, IMO. Thanks for sharing what worked for you! would you mind telling us how you got your resumes on the door of those big companies?


Actually we are students of NIT and in India NIT's and IIT's are the most reputed colleges and top notch companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon directly comes for on-campus recruitment.


I freelanced for roughly 4 years before I started working for someone as a full time employee. I started at the company within a jr capacity despite not actually being a junior. My experience helped me land the job so the years I spent freelancing and honing my craft paid off in the end.


Inspiring. Freelancing has brought so many benefits for me as well that I can be thankful enough. Thanks for sharing Larry!


A combination of being in the right place (final year of my postgrad work at a university where my first employer had contacts), at the right time (start of the first .com boom) and with the right knowledge (relatively deep Java experience for the time).

Did I plan any of these things? No.


Right, luck plays a big part. I think most of it is also resilience and grinding. You were doing postgrad and working on your Java skills. It was a matter of time to receive the good things :D


I was still at High School, but had been coding for almost 4 years (at the time) in Open Source projects, and was looking to apply for a Remote Game Developer position at a specific company.

I sent an improvised CV, listing my Open Source projects related to the main goal of the business.

Luckily, the lead developer of the company knew my work and followed the development of one of my projects during its initial release. They replied to my email in the following 2 hours, looking to have a call with the Manager and the Lead developer next day in the morning.

That same day in the afternoon after our first call, I was being introduced to the whole team.

I can’t still thank enough my 13 y’old self for starting in the Open Source community before anywhere else.


Wow you started doing open source at 13? what a beast! :D This is yet a great real-life example of how open source can open a lot of unexpected doors, even more when you have no professional experience. Thanks for sharing, Jorge!


After burning out in fintech customer support after 6 years, I quit and spent around a year with Colt Steele's web dev bootcamp and then learning via Youtube tutorials. Made a few static websites and started desperately applying for junior positions armed with only vanilla CSS/JS/jQuery.

I don't even have a degree in anything, it was a fool's dream! From the refused applications and tech tasks I realised quite soon that knowing at least one of the Front End frameworks is necessary as well before even being considered. But just as I was ready to throw in the towel, one startup invited me for an interview since in my pleading cover letter I mentioned wanting to be even just an intern, if possible, for the possibility of learning. As soon as I met the team, it clicked immediately. They made me a 6-month contract and I went to the office to learn Vue+Vuetify from scratch. Now, 3 months later I am actively involved in coding not 1, but 2 projects, and next week we'll settle down on the permanent contract details since they told me they'd love to keep me <3

Stubborness and stupid enthusiasm over tiny wins (yay this button has a hover effect!) got me here!

Link to my posts describing the journey a bit more if interested :)


This is so inspiring, Anzelika! You're a great example of how switching careers works with a lot of determination and hard work. Keep it up, inspire others that may be in the same position you were months ago, and enjoy coding! :D


After I got out of the bootcamp, I had 2.5 months to find a job in the US before my visa expired. That was a big motivating factor for me. After 200+ applications, I was very very fortunate to land 2 job offers. Yes, I used the "spray and pray" approach, which I don't recommend to everyone, but I had no choice given my time constraints.

Some surprises:

  • Networking events didn't work for me at all. I found the return on investment to be very low (time spent attending events vs # of phone screens achieved).
  • My prior connections to the tech circle didn't help as much as I thought (referrals only help so much if you don't have any experience). I think something like 10% of referrals actually called me back.
  • You can get surprisingly effective results by branching out of the standard "drop your resume online" approach. For example, I got several phone interviews from a Twitter post. I got even more from posting on tech forums.

Thanks for sharing! This is enlightening. You grinded so hard and you finally got the job. I find it curious how you got great results by posting on twitter or on tech forums. Very recursive!


I think the best approach it to prepare portfolio, high-quality cv, motivation letter and later apply for as many position as possible via. i.e. LinkedIn.


Yeah definitely. What kind of portfolio do you recommend a junior should build? like open source projects? or a youtube channel talking about dev?


Create github repository and create few basic projects in it. For Frontend/Fullstack position create apps like:

  • ToDo list
  • Github Users Viewer
  • Counter etc.

i.e. for Junior Frontend/React dev it would be nice to show (using those projects) that you know/can use:

  • React Hooks or LifeCycle methods
  • Redux
  • CSS
  • make API call

Wise words, I'll pass on this advice, thanks Tomasz!


I landed a junior software developer role through a Facebook post on a private IT alumni group after I finished my internship.


This strikes a chord on me. Community is essential for survival, as it is for landing jobs :D you can only get so far alone. Thanks for sharing!

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