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My 3 cents for junior developers/data scientists looking for a job

Upkar Lidder
Upkar Lidder is a Full Stack Developer and Data Wrangler with a decade of development experience in a variety of roles. Educated in Canada and currently residing in the USA. <3 Python and JS!
Originally published at Medium on ・5 min read

We get some wonderful interns at IBM every year. These smart and talented young minds range from high school to college. My advise to them is threefold …

  1. try new things and learn as much as you can. Not to say the learning ever stops. You are always learning in the this career, whether you are a software developer or a data scientist. Whether you are a year in or ten years in. However, now is the time to learn fearlessly, without hesitation. You have more time then you will ever have again. Make mistakes early! And you cannot make mistakes without trying things out! Oh, while you are at it, HAVE FUN!!
  2. build a portfolio. Turn everything you learn into a Github project (while being respectful of company IP). You are learning anyways, use it to your advantage. You will be surprised what projects you rely on years after you have moved on to other things. Companies are less interested in what degrees and certificates you have and more interested in what you have built so far. Do you have an app on the app store? Do you have a glitch site you can show? What about a freecodecamp portfolio?
  3. ask for help and make friends. It is hard to find mentors, but if you are lucky enough to find someone, make use of them. I mentor two people at IBM and often I learn more from them than they from me! So trust me, you are doing your mentors a favor! You know what else you are doing? You are building a network. I cannot emphasize enough how important this network is going to be for you.

Alright, so you finished your internship. You went back to school and passed with flying colors! You are now looking for a job. If you ever asked me for advise and actually followed it, you have some projects, you have learned lots of things from your mentors and you have an amazing network you can ask for help. What next? How do you get help? The one mistake I see a lot of recent grads make is write an email or a message on the lines of …

Hello dear mentor! I just graduated. Here is my Github profile. I am looking for a job. Do you have anything?

As a mentor, I am going to put this at the bottom of my TODOs. Seems like a lot of work to look for open opportunities for you, even though I think you are a brilliant developer. It really does not motivate your mentor to help, unless your mentor is your family. Family almost always helps! The trick here to help your network help you. Make it EASY for them. Here is what I propose …

I. Meet in person or over the phone, but be very respectful of their time

I might be old school to think that meeting in person over coffee or speaking over the phone instead of communicating via email is more effective. An email gets lost or goes to the bottom of the pile. A face and a conversation stays in memory. I know it’s not always possible to get a face to face, but even a facetime or a zoom meeting is worth while!

Ask for only the time you need. I start with a 15 minute meeting and it is amazing what you can get done if there is a time constraint. Be respectful of their time! I have tried below before and it has worked great for me.

Hello, I got your contact information from xyz. I am looking for an opportunity with your team. I have attached my resume with this email. I would appreciate your time for a small chat. I have sent you an invite for 15 minutes next Monday. I am happy to reschedule as per your convenience.

Once you have a meeting arranged, have an agenda. Yes, a 15 minute meeting also need to be planned and thought of in advance. Finally, make sure your ask is clear at the end of the meeting. An ask could be to get some clarification on a role, to get an interview with a team lead or to make some connections for you, introduce you to the right person.

II. Go to them with a job posting

Better yet, if you see an open job posting in your network, approach them with the job posting in hand. Remember, the idea is to make it as easy as possible for your contact to get you an interview at their company/team/department.

Hello, I got your contact information from xyz. I am attaching an open position (id-xyz) that I found on your career site and I believe myself to be a good fit for this role. I have attached my resume with this email. I would appreciate your time for a small chat. I have sent you an invite for 15 minutes next Monday. I am happy to reschedule as per your convenience.

III. Do your homework

This is a big one as well. Talk with people in the position you want to join in. Ask for organization charts. Ask for pain points and strategy. Get to know your future role as intimately as possible. Better yet, create a few notes or slides on why you are a good fit for this role and potentially start off your 15 minutes meeting with a presentation. I say potentially, because every meeting is different. You can also go through your notes without actually showing them as a slide. It does not have to be an official presentation to get your point across. This will do two things for you

  1. It will impress your contact and/or mentor that you did your hw.
  2. They are not handholding you anymore. You are again making it easier for them to help you. You are empowering them to fight for you.

Finally, keep in touch with your network and mentors even when not looking for a job!

What are some of your advise for developers and designers new to IT or data science and looking for a job? Calling out some senior devs and mentors who I look up to at IBM— John Walicki , Max Katz , Gabriela de Queiroz , Kim Newman , Spencer Krum , Ryan Anderson , Vijay Bommireddipalli and many more who I could not find on Medium and dev.to :(

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