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How did you get your first Dev job?

Yesterday's discussion on Ben's post:
What’s the most frustrating thing about the process of looking for work or interviewing?", really intrigued me and I wanted to do a follow up.

After many rejection emails, how did you finally get your first dev job?

Was it through a job site, networking, a meetup or etc? Share below, with advice! :)

Top comments (67)

aspittel profile image
Ali Spittel

My very first programming-related job was TA-ing for my school's computer science department. The professor reached out to me about it based off of taking one of his other classes.

Then, the next one, I cold-emailed a startup whose skillset was similar to mine to see if they were looking for people -- they ended up hiring me without really interviewing me, which is kind of weird in retrospect. But I worked there for a while, so I guess it all worked out okay!

apastuhov profile image
Aleksey Pastuhov • Edited

The year 2013. After a conference at my university, I came to the speaker and we had next short talk:

Me: I want to develop games and I want to work with you, are you looking for Junior developers? I have never worked with iOS/Mac, but I am good enough as a developer.

Good Guy: Okay, read those books and come to the interview:

  • The Objective-C Programming Language (2009-10-19)
  • iPhone SDK Programming - A beginner's guide (James A. Brannan)

I read them in 3 days. As a result after the interview, I worked with that guy for 9 months as the iOS developer, it was a great time. :)

david_j_eddy profile image
David J Eddy


Later found out I was the only applicant to be able to create a HTML form, submit it, validate the data, and store to a SQL database. Out of 20+ people who interviewed for the entry level developer role,I was the only one who completed the practical.

maxwell_dev profile image
Max Antonucci

I got very lucky and was found by a recruiter, which managed to connect me to my first job.

The more common, and recommended, way was how I got my second job - networking. There was a development group in a nearby city and went to several meeting, talked with the members, showed off my skills, asked lots of questions, and contributed where I could. Eventually one person messaged me and said they had an opening they think I'd be a good fit for. A month later I'm working there and learning from lots of experienced devs.

tux0r profile image

Accidentally. They asked for an Excel guy but they somehow needed more than that. I ended up doing webdev in Perl. I did not write any Excel macros during that time.

lkopacz profile image
Lindsey Kopacz

Networking! I went to a lot of meetups for the industry I was trying to get into and made lots of friends. People saw my drive and therefore would personally recommend me to the places I applied to. It helped a ton! I think I may have applied through their site, but it was followed up with a recommendation.

rhymes profile image
rhymes • Edited

TLDR: by co-founding a Python conference essentially. An extreme version of "networking" I guess. Instead of going to a conference we couldn't afford, we decided to band together and create one with other people's money :-D.

A friend of mine had the idea while we were trying to find jobs in Python close to us (not really advertised anywhere at the time). We pitched it to other people we knew from local mailing lists, they loved the idea and helped finding the funds and the sponsors. The Python Software Foundation embraced the idea and in few months we had the first edition of the conference setup.

We had some contacts with some professionals through mailing lists and my friend was doing some small contract work in Python (I was doing the same in C# and .NET) but no long term prospects so we bet on the idea.

After the summer I got my first "Python job offer" (my friend too IIRC, he's also a way better programmer than I am). I was hired by one of the other organizers that pitched the idea of hiring me to his boss I guess. He worked at a financial company and everything they had was running on Python, C++ and PostgreSQL. A dream come true at the time :D I learned a lot, but really a lot. Most of my colleagues had PhDs or were mathematicians. I was the ugly duckling college dropout who knew zero about the financial market. So they definitely took a chance on me.

I interviewed during the summer, first with the future colleagues, then with the CEO after a few weeks. I was a junior career wise, but I had programmed for years just as a hobby. Lots of free time before they invented smartphones :D

I got really lucky, I had nothing to lose, we were foolish and stubborn and were adamant that we didn't want to work with Java or PHP (basically everybody was hiring for those two languages). We chose plan B, worst case scenario we could go back to plan A and keep using Python on the side. Having no one to provide for also helped I guess.

This was 11 years ago. I have left the organization of the conference a few years ago but I'm proud of all we did back then!

Some of us still meet, after all this time, at least once or twice a year for dinner, so I'm not totally out of the loop :)

nflamel profile image
Fran C. • Edited

I skipped a class on university, went for a coffee with some friends and found a classmate who had just found a job. I congratulated her and she told me that her company was looking for new devs. Send her my resume and the rest is ancient history. I had my first real gig and she got a ver nice romantic weekend with her boyfriend as a reward for my recruiting ^

jacobtstaggs profile image
Jacob Staggs

So far I have been pretty lucky with my job searches. I have been 2/2 in interviews and getting the job. (First was an internship and the second is my current job).

But, my professor in college basically got me both of these. At my internship, he worked closely with them and put in a good word. At my current job, one of his older students said there were some openings. My professor recommended this job to a group of us and the majority of us got offers.

From my experience, working with your professors will pay off.

pcharbon70 profile image
Pascal Charbonneau

My very first programming job happened almost by accident. I was studying psychology and looking for a summer job. I stopped by the college summer jobs board and saw an offer where they were looking for a third year student. That was back in 1989.

I decided to apply as I always did some personal programming projects at home. Just for fun, I decided to do a small demo in Turbo Pascal.

I was actually one of the only two students to apply and because of that small demo I ended up being hired. I really had no academic knowledge or I learned by myself how to code and modify their accounting system. I ended up working there for 5 years then moved on to start my own consulting firm.

You know what the best bit of all this is? After some 20 years they managed to track me again...and that good old DOS program was still running the production management part of the business using less than 4 MO of RAM.

A year later and here I am working again for that same company who gave me my first job with a new technology stack I chose and enjoy.

Talk about lucky?

andrewsmith1996 profile image
Andrew Smith • Edited

Speculative applications!

My first dev job was a year's internship between my 2nd and 3rd year of University. I speculatively sent my CV to a number of companies asking them to take me on, had a couple of interviews and lo and behold I had my first internship! Fast forward about 2 years and I'm now halfway through completing the final year of my degree! And the company I worked for deemed the student internship scheme so successful that they continued to take on student interns for the following years!

Just apply! Meet people, get yourself out there, and get in touch with companies!

dougmckechie profile image
Douglas McKechie

For about 6 months after graduating I had no luck; most companies wanted to hire people already with workplace experience and even the recruitment agents were hopeless and could not find anything despite IT being in high demand and employers telling the government that there was a "skills shortage" in this sector.

In the end, out of desperation, I started walking in to the reception of various companies that looked interesting and asking if I could speak with the IT manager - the plan being to introduce myself and give them my CV.

This paid off, my first job in the industry was at one of these companies I had visited; while IT manager was not available at the time of my visit, I left a copy of my CV with the receptionists who the promised to pass on. They did! The IT manager saw my CV, gave me a call and the rest is history.

Fortunately this employer had hired graduates before and had a good experience with them, so that helped as well :)

juliusdelta profile image
JD Gonzales

I was a bootcamp student, so I didn't have much going for me in terms of experience. So I did the following:

  • Had a system for applying to jobs, a Trello board more specifically, where I tracked every lead, every application, every email, phone call, interview, and status. I'd also write down on the card when a company committed to reach back out to give me an answer or set something up so I could always follow up 48 hours after that deadline.

  • I practiced coding interviews and challenges like crazy. Every day I spent about an hour going over code katas and I'd speak out loud (to my dog mostly) about how I was approaching solving the problem.

  • I practiced explaining technical topics in "human language." Which also helped me to find gaps in my own knowledge

  • I networked like crazy which ultimately lead me to getting the job I have now. I met the CTO of Modern Message at a meet up and we hit it off, developing a good rapport. As a result, I was able to apply and get interviewed for a position at the company and get hired about a month later. I'm still with the company today and I really enjoy it.

theringleman profile image
Sam Ringleman

My first Dev job was a small freelancing company that I started to get some experience under my belt. I did this for a few months then applied to a large company and I had plenty to show them. I also found out that I disliked working with clients so I'm better in an engineering role. But I worked very hard and moved my way up into their R&D department and now I build very large scale web applications. Just work hard, get those projects under your belt. Under promise and way over deliver. You will kill it!

chrisvasqm profile image
Christian Vasquez

After making UI tests for almost 2 years as a QA and taking online courses on my free time, two of my friends and ex coworkers recommended me to their boss and she got in touch with me.

After a few phone calls and an onsite meeting with a coding test I was contacted a few days later here we are, almost 6 months into Android development and the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know anything hahahaha. There's always new cool stuff to learn!