I’ve had conversations with many developers trying to understand how to get their first job without any experience. And my go-to solution is: create a Github account and start uploading code projects you’ve worked on. Either that, or create new ones and publish them there.
Sadly, not everyone has access to Github, given how the platform is part of Microsoft and given the latter is a US company, it needs to comply with the US export law. Thus developers from countries such as Iran, Syria, Crimea and others are blocked by the platform.
This puts a harsh roadblock in their chances of getting their first job, especially if they’re applying for a remote position or a freelance gig. Either way, the main code repository for developers is out of their reach, so how can they find ways to show what they know how to do?
Let’s take a look at some options.
Granted, this is not a code repository, but we’re going barebone here.
Other public code repositories like Bitbucket are also blocked in many countries, so we’re looking for alternatives.
Wordress.com allows you to set up a blog for free, where you can add whatever content you want. So let’s take a look at this and consider the opportunity it represents:
- You’re free to show our code however we want.
- You’re able to provide samples of code through direct download links, or through directly showing what it looks like.
- You can also write content around that code. Are you showing a project you built? Create a series of articles around that project and link it to the code.
You can also take advantage of WordPress plugins such as code-prettify which lets you highlight code on your posts. That way you generate a similar look and feel users would get by reading code directly on Github.
If you have access to hosting and a domain name (ideally something like your name .com) you can even download the free version of WordPress from Wordpress.org and install it yourself. This would give you a lot more control over how your site works.
If you’re looking for something similar to Github but that it’s not blocked, you might want to give LaunchPad a try.
It’s similar to Github in the sense that you can publish your project’s code, track bugs and issues, perform code reviews and more. And while the tutorials are written following the use of Bazaar instead of Git, they claim that the latter is also an option.
Granted, the visual aspect is not the highlight of LaunchPad, considering they don’t allow you to show a lot, in fact, there seems to not be a place for a Readme file. However, you can definitely add a link to an external website, so that way you can provide extra information about the project if you want, and focus on giving access to your code through this platform.
Writing is an alternative to showing projects done. It’s definitely not the same, however, as part of technical articles you can definitely show some aspects of your coding skills.
And that is what we’re after here, isn’t it? Trying to show potential employees that you know what you’re talking about and that the list of skills on your resume is definitely true.
Writing in a lot of places is free and public, so you don’t need to spend any money if you don’t want to. And if you’re doing this for a resume, I would strongly suggest you write about the subjects you claim to know. Maybe not about all of them, but the most relevant at least.
But even if you’re just getting started, spend some time honing your writing skills, their return of investment is huge considering how much they can affect your communication skills.
Granted, this one might be a little bit extreme, but what better way to get in front of everyone you want to be hired by than assisting the same social events they do.
Some of the biggest (and sometimes not so big) software companies normally either sponsor some meet-ups or the big conferences, and they tend to send some of their employees as well. It’s a great opportunity for you to be there, speak about something relevant to your experience and network!
I understand that it’s not easy for everyone. Especially conferences require travel and not all of them are willing to pay for your plane ticket and hotel room. But at least do the research, there is a ton of information online about the different conferences you could be speaking at and they normally tell you if they have some travel budget or not.
Think about it, it might sound like a lot, but you’re also putting your name out there. The video of your talk will surely be on YouTube a little bit after, and anybody interested in you will only have to google your name. This is definitely a powerful, yet scary, opportunity.
Do not discard it until you’ve done the research.
Getting noticed is not all about code, but it definitely helps. The thing is that when I say “code”, you usually go straight into “side-project”, and from there you go right into Github, and that is where the plan collapses. No Github access, no side-project, no new job. Done.
But that’s not the case, find alternative ways of showing what you know how to do, either by finding less popular (or user-friendly) alternatives, or by doing other things around your projects (like writing or speaking about it).
What else would you suggest to a new dev looking for their first job as an alternative to having a portfolio on Github?
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