You have just recently acquired an entire new awesome set of dev skillz(yes, with a z!), next up, finding a job! But where should you apply? What things should you consider when looking for your first dev job? Here's a list of a few things to keep in mind as you are job hunting. These can help ensure that you end up with the first job of your dreams and that it will set you up for career success.
My first job was a 6 month internship at a 15 person startup with the option to hire at the end. I was able to prove myself on the job, and at the end of 6 months, was hired full time. One of the nice things about applying for an internship is usually the interview is less rigorous. When I interviewed for the internship, they were well aware of how junior I was, so instead of having me write new code, they had me show them a project I was working on. During the interview, I walked the other 3 devs through it and how it worked. It was a really great interview experience.
If you find a company that appeals to you but they have no Jr. Dev openings or internships, shoot them an email anyway. You never know what might be available and there is no harm in asking. When I applied for my first job I saw a post on Hacker News that the company was looking for a full time dev. I was clearly not ready to be a full time dev but I really liked the sound of the company so I emailed them anyway. Much to my surprise, they were open to taking on an intern and the rest was history.
I have talked to a few junior devs who are applying for jobs. Most of them mention they are only looking at big companies because they think that is the only place with resources for them. A lot of people assume that smaller companies don't have the resources to mentor a junior dev but that is not always the case. For example, some companies might have the bandwidth to mentor but don't have the capital to hire a more experienced dev. Furthermore, I have found that the smaller the team the more it feels like a family at work. It also means everyone is invested in ensuring you succeed because you are a big part of that team. At my first dev job, I was on a team of 4, including myself, and the education I got was second to none.
When you are starting out, usually you are dying for someone to hire you. All you want in life is for someone to validate that you have what it takes to succeed in this world. You study syntax and algorithms, and you do everything in your power to ensure you nail the interview. But your performance is only half of the interview. You also need to make sure this is a place you want to work! Come ready with questions! What is the work environment like here? What is your typical day like? Is there a junior dev I could talk to about their experience working here? Make sure you are evaluating the job and company just as much as they are evaluating you. Interviewing is a two way street, you should make sure your needs are going to be met as well.
Your future coworkers probably matter more than you think. When you are interviewing for a first job, the people are probably the most important aspect you should be paying attention to. Are there people who are willing to mentor and teach you? What are their teaching styles like? Is the vibe in the room one that you like? Having a good mentor and a solid support system is going to set you up for career success. The 3 guys I worked with at my first job were not only incredible teachers, they were also extremely supportive. Days when I doubted myself, they believed in me. They laid the foundation that my dev career has been built on and I can't thank them enough for that. Half of this job is about having confidence in yourself, and if a company can help give you that when you are starting out, nothing is more valuable.
If you are hunting for your first dev job, GOOD LUCK and don't settle! Your first dream job is out there, just waiting for you to find it!
For those looking for other resources, @DevTogetherChi is hosting a Meetup Tues Jan 8th. They will be doing lightening talks and the theme is "Your first dev job" Talks will be posted after and they live tweet during it. Might be worth following along!