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How I went from newbie to dream role in 225 days...

Ahh it’s been too long since I sat down to write, I am so, so, so excited to bring you this latest instalment!

As you may or may not know, I GOT MY FIRST TECH JOB 🥳

225 days after starting my learning journey, I accepted a role as Developer Relations (DevRel) for Veeqo starting Monday 18th January 2021.

This article follows on from my last post:

And will cover:

  • what I did next
  • a bit about bootcamp
  • what my job application process was like
  • how I got my job
  • job application tips

...and of course, the burning question that you’ve just thought of, what on earth is DevRel?

Where we left off

On the 19th August 2020 I told you all I was going to carry on self-teaching, but if I’m being honest readers, it was only because I had a not so supportive partner (with no tech experience) who had told me that bootcamp was a load of hoo haa and he wasn't prepared to support me through it.

By the end of August, I had decided a career in tech was more important to me than an unsupportive partner, so I left and decided to pursue my dream alone!

I passed my entry challenges and enrolled in the General Assembly Software Engineering Immersive course within a week and signed up for the cohort starting 21st September 2020.

Turns out, when you least expect it and you’ve resigned yourself to being a lonely old spinster with 10,000 dogs, someone comes along and ruins your well-made plans…

Cue Ant 🥰

Laura, I’m here for the tech stuff, not your love life, tell me about the bootcamp…

I wrote about the bootcamp application process here:

My course was fully remote due to COVID-19 (for anyone reading this in the future who doesn’t know, COVID-19 was like a sort of apocalypse over 2020-2021 similar to the movie Contagion where no one was allowed out of the house and people busied themselves by stockpiling toilet paper).

My classes were held on Zoom with 1 tutor, 2 teaching assistants and a cohort of 23 students. We would log into class from 9:30am until around 4:30pm with a 1-hour lunch, except on project weeks where you were gifted a lay-in and didn’t have to log in until 10am!

Our course was 12-weeks long and the syllabus covered:

MongoDB (& Mongoose)

Here’s a breakdown of the timescales:

table showing breakdown of bootcamp timescales

What was the teaching like?

Class was a mix of sessions and “labs”, the sessions were 45 minutes or more and then the labs were mini practical exercises done in groups or alone to break up the learning. During labs we would often be put in breakout rooms on Zoom which would be a smaller group that you could chat to or solve problems with.

Homework was set at the end of each day and varied in length and complexity. In the first few weeks it was going over concepts we’d learnt that day, from week-7 onwards it was replicating a full stack application that the teacher had built, adding to it each day with the things we’d learnt in class.

I work better in the mornings so I would get up early and work for 2-3 hours before class, but I know most people in my cohort did theirs as soon as class was over for the day.

Go on, how much did it cost?

It definitely wasn’t cheap.

The General Assembly Software Engineering Immersive costs £9,000 if you’re a boy, unlucky. However, if you are female or identify as female you get a discount of around £1,500.

BUT and this is a massive but, you HAVE to have a Mac which is obviously a huge outlay on top of the course fees.

How did you make it work?

I chose to fund the course fees from savings.

I got the Mac on credit card (eeek 😬)

And I’m extremely blessed to have parents who are able to help me out. Although somewhat begrudgingly, they paid me monthly “pocket money” so I could pay my bills and afford to feed myself.

All I will say on this, it’s best to be prepared financially for bootcamp, it’s stressful enough without adding money worries in the mix. There are part time options which although cost around the same, you can fit them around a job so at least you don’t have to stop earning.

Is bootcamp worth it?

I think this is a really personal question…what do you want to achieve and why?

For me I was making slow progress with JavaScript and I wanted to go quicker, I felt like I’d put life on hold enough in the past so I wanted to do something that could help me achieve my goal of being a developer as quickly as possible.

Also, after trying university before I knew that style of learning wasn’t for me.

It is true that you can learn everything I learnt at bootcamp for free online, but I felt I needed the support and community learning that bootcamp brings. I loved having people to ask questions, chat with about code, check understandings and also the solidarity when thinking “I don’t get this at all…”.

What are some things to bear in mind?

It’s like a massive information dump for 3 months

If you don’t get something, the next day you’re onto a new topic and you have homework so it can be difficult to go back over material during the course.

It’s really intense (no, really)

I was totally unprepared for how intense bootcamp was, its 7 hours per day, 5 days a week. You have homework and you’re learning masses of information each day.

The GA course also has built-in career support called “outcomes”. The outcomes team set homework and arrange networking sessions in the evenings a few times throughout the course. Once you finish the 12 weeks teaching you go straight into 2 weeks outcomes work which include work to get you job ready – CV/Resume, cover letters, LinkedIn, portfolio, READMEs and a job tracker.

No one gets you a job

If you are hoping going to bootcamp will magically get you job offers left, right and center and you'll be alright because bootcamps have affiliated employers, unfortunately you’re wrong. You have to put in all the work on your deliverables yourself, approach employers yourself and prepare for those technical interviews yourself.

Ok, enough about bootcamp, tell me, how did you get a job???

I think my job search journey is a little bit unusual, so I’ll tell you, but I’ll also give you some tips for a more traditional job search.

As some of you might know since starting to learn to code, I have built a Twitter following (I don’t have the secrets as to how, but I’ll do my best to share some tips in a thread another day).

On the 19th December 2020, I posted my new portfolio letting everyone know I was looking for work.

I had a few people direct message me and one of them was the CEO of Veeqo who said he thought I might be a good fit for the Developer Relations role they had advertised with a link to the role.

DevRel was something I knew I wanted to get into but never dreamed I could do as a junior so I jumped at the opportunity.

The application was very simple, upload your CV, add a cover letter and answer a question - which CTO do you find most inspirational and why?

I chose Gerri Martin-Flickinger because she's female and was the first ever CTO at Starbucks and I think her vision for technologically connected coffee shops is pretty cool 😎

I was so glad to be shortlisted and the interview process was then done in 3 stages:

Interview 1 - 15-30 minutes

Chat with their Head of People about the role, Veeqo as a company, their culture and the sort of thing I was looking for to check it was a match.

Interview 2 - 30-45 minutes

Chat with the hiring manager about the role and my experience in more detail.

Interview 3 - 45-60 minutes

I was asked to give a 15-minute presentation on their API, how it works and its benefits.

What are other tech interviews like?

I got a job quite early on in my search, but I interviewed at 4 other companies, I won’t disclose who, but I’ll give you an overview of the role, the type of business and the interview process.

Full Stack Developer
Digital Agency

About 3-4 weeks into bootcamp, chat about the role, my journey, the tech I was familiar with and transferable skills

Outcome: Rejected

Frontend Developer (React)
Start Up

Chat about the role, my journey, the tech I was familiar with, the type of role I was looking for, transferable skills and my learning style

Outcome: Withdrew

Frontend Developer (React)
Start Up

Interview 1
Chat with the CEO

Interview 2
Chat with the CEO and backend developer

Outcome: Offer Declined

Junior Software Engineer
Start Up

Interview 1
Chat with hiring manager and technical test – create a function in any language to convert a serial number and letters in certain numerical values to find an overall check digit and check the authenticity of the serial number

Interview 2
One and a half hour pair programming session in React

Outcome: Withdrew

Where did you find all these roles?

Twitter & LinkedIn

There’s no magic trick to it unfortunately, you just have to sift through lots of roles however networking can really help bring the roles to you rather than you going looking for them.

I have like 1 Twitter follower, will I ever get a job?

Everyone has to start somewhere and you definitely don’t need to have followers on social media to get a job in tech.

Here are some practical tips for you if you’re currently searching:

1. Show some personality

Job applications don’t need to be boring, you’re not a tech savvy robot, you’re a person and that is the person the hiring manager is going to have to work with on the daily should you be successful.

Are you a loud or funny person? Show it!
Are you a Warhammer enthusiast? Show it!
Are you a dog lover? Show it!

You can check my personal statement on my portfolio if you’re struggling to get started.

2. Show you are passionate about tech/development

I’ve spoken to a couple of recruiters and one thing they both said was that COVID has caused a massive influx of junior developers in the market and not all of them care as much about development as you do, and it shows!

Set yourself apart from other candidates by showing your passion and commitment to the developer community. Share your wins, your losses, create content and build, build, build.

3. Build projects without following a tutorial

Show your creativity and willingness to strike off on your own, by all means replicate something that has been built 1000 times before but do it in your own way without copying the code line-by-line.

4. Have a portfolio or at least a GitHub or CodePen to showcase your work

Once you’ve built those projects find some way to showcase them, don’t worry about someone digging around in your code, firstly, you might learn something and secondly, it shows your progress from project to project

5. Get your CV/resume in check

Make sure your message is consistent across all of your platforms, don’t call yourself a Frontend dev on LinkedIn and then a Full Stack developer on your CV.

For the UK market your CV should be no more than 2-pages including:

  • Your name
  • Your current job title or job title you are hoping to achieve
  • Your contact details
  • Links to your other platforms i.e. Twitter, GitHub,
  • A personal statement
  • Summary of your technical skills
  • Experience including dates, projects/content created whilst in that role and a description of the role/responsibilities
  • Education
  • Achievements (these don't have to be tech or even job related)
  • Hobbies and Interests

6. Use your LinkedIn to supplement your CV and actually make an effort with your LI

Can’t fit all your awesomeness on 2 pages?! Me either...add a little note on the bottom of your CV “for my full career history, please check my LinkedIn”

Make sure your LinkedIn is up to date and consistent with your CV. Sharing on Twitter? Cross post to LI too, that way you have the chance of reaching hiring managers or decision makers on either platform.

@DThompsonDev has a great guide on updating your LinkedIn, here's one to get you started...

HOW TO USE LINKEDIN PROFILES TO GET JOBS! Stand out where the hiring managers hang out!

7. Cover letters are still necessary, unfortunately

Your cover letter should be tailored to each job, it doesn’t need to be an essay, all you need is:

  • One paragraph about why they are the best company ever and why you want to work there

  • One paragraph about what you could offer them, don’t big yourself up using statements like “I’m the best candidate”, “I’m exceptional with Python” just talk about practical skills you have and how they match the role on offer:
    “I really like working with JavaScript and particularly enjoy using different array methods…”

  • One final paragraph to summarise:
    “I’ve attached my CV and would love the opportunity to talk you through my work and discuss the role you have available…”

8. Speculative applications might open up your options

Found a company that you’d really love to work for, but they don’t have any open position? Apply anyway.

Send a cover letter or cover note on LinkedIn and ask if they have any positions coming up or could they please consider you for any future openings.

9. Network, network, network

It’s estimated that 85% of job roles are filled by networking alone so get out there talk to people and start making friends in your industry

10. Put a post out on social media

You never know that 1 follower could have your hiring manager in their contacts, what have you got to lose?

Ok, last question, what on earth is Developer Relations?!

Developer Relations aka. Developer Advocacy is a growing specialism, it’s a bit of hybrid role that is different from organisation to organisation but generally you split your time between development and building a developer community around your companies’ product(s).

So, Veeqo, is an inventory and shipping platform for ecommerce retailers, they can do things like stock control, picking, packing, shipping, purchasing and financial reporting all in one spot however, some retailers want to build their own bespoke app so, Veeqo has a public API that can be used in the building of apps.

My new role will be looking after that API, making the API and its documentation as user friendly as possible. I will also be the go between for developers using it, getting their feedback and supporting them with any issues to make developer experience the very best.

I will also support the community by creating helpful content and speaking at conferences and other events.

This article What exactly do developer advocates do? from @lynnetye is a really great way to learn more about more about DevRel, she chatted to 15 Developer Advocates or Dev Avocados as they lovingly call themselves, about what they do day to day.

My role is being built from the ground up so I’m really excited to see where it goes, as always, I’ll keep you updated!

A little note from me

If you’re reading this, I assume you’re learning and/or looking to get into a tech so a massive GOOD LUCK on your journey! I love hearing from you so please feel free to reach out if you have any questions!

Thanks for reading 😎

Top comments (20)

ritaxcorreia profile image
Rita Correia

Laura! Perhaps you don't know this but we were meant to be bootcamp buddies - so I've been following you on Twitter since October. I'm EXTREMELY proud of you and what you've accomplished this past year - it really shows that dedication and perseverance pays off. I hope it's me in a few months too!
Wishing you ALL THE BEST xx

lauracharvey profile image

Awww just seen this! I have no doubt it will be you soon :) xx

aurelmegn profile image

Congratulation @lauracharvey .

I wonder why was a mac mandatory for the bootcamp. After taking a look at the bootcamp program, there is no mac related lecture. 🤷‍♂️

Can you link your portfolio and what have you built to practice your skill before getting the job.
I think that you forgot to mention the link to @lynnetye article.

lauracharvey profile image

I think it makes it easier for the tutor to debug issues during install etc.

The link for my portfolio was included above but here it is:

I've added the article in now, thanks for pointing that out :)

aurelmegn profile image

I like your portfolio, it is original

merveillesk profile image
Merveilles katumba

Congratulations for your journey and success.
I am also a newbie, i have made this year goal to be my learning year, not doing boothcamp but I purchased an online course on
Still saving to buy a laptop to begin. But I was inspired and read the full article. Thank you for your best wishes at the end.
Hopefully I will be able to write and post an article in the future that could encourage other on the journey.

lauracharvey profile image

I look forward to reading that article :)

optimbro profile image

I read the full article, thanks for sharing, also congrats for your journey. I'm into self teaching mode as this is the only option for me, can't afford bootcamps. Dedicating this year for learning from TOP (TheOdinProject)

giorgosk profile image
Giorgos Kontopoulos 👀 • Edited

I am not newbie nor looking for a job but your post was very inspiring one full of energy perhaps that is what won you the DevRel position

One question though, did you actually dump your partner (boyfriend or mate) because he was not supportive or was that a figure of speech ?

lauracharvey profile image

Thank you 🙏 glad you enjoyed it!

frsr profile image
Fraser Embrey

Have you got any tips for reaching out/networking?

lauracharvey profile image

Just do it 😅 if you're not on Twitter, get on there and start following some tech people and chatting with them or even commenting on posts here like you are now. Anything that gets you chatting with other people in the community ☺️

frsr profile image
Fraser Embrey

Thank you! 😊 I did sign up for Twitter for this reason. I think I am generally shy about commenting but I should notice that and improve.

tiaeastwood profile image
Tia Eastwood

I loved reading your story, Laura! Enjoy your new job it all sounds so exciting! So nice you found your supportive guy along the way too :)

lauracharvey profile image

Thanks Tia ♥️

ddaniel27 profile image

You give me a reason to put more effort in my journey to become in a dev! Thanks!!

lauracharvey profile image

This makes me so happy! Good luck!

bc profile image
Brian Canzanella

Great read! Thank you.

umapreethidev profile image
Umapreethi Santhanakrishnan

Thanks for sharing your experience. It's really inspiring.