How to Get Paid Experience
Sam Jarman 👨🏼💻 Mar 19
So you just graduated, you need a job, your friends seemed to have got one, magically, but you’re wondering when it’s your time.
This post is intended to be a highly practical post with ideas for how to get there. A lot of authors on this topic, tend to go high level, but I want to deep dive, and hopefully help you and others.
Perfect What You Have
First up, your CV/Resume and cover letters. These need to be on point. Hopefully by now, you know someone in the industry who is a senior, or has at least done some interviewing. Ask them to review yours. Buy them lunch if you have to, and go through it. They tell you exactly what is wrong, if anything.
Failing that (you don’t have any network or connections just yet), approach your learning institutions careers department. They can offer great high level advice, but may not be ideal for software roles. Still, something is better than nothing.
Lastly, go get on Google and search up tips from others. There’s heaps.
However, employers might turn around and critique your experience. Duh, I’m a new graduate might be your first instinct, but there are ways to get experience if you’re willing to work for it, which I hope you are. This is your career and livelihood after all.
Hustle for Experience
The circle of depressing truth. Supplied by @summeroftech
Experience comes in many different forms. Ideally, employers want to see that someone paid you for work, and you delivered on that work. More often than not, you need to find this work for yourself.
First up, internships. Your institution or city probably has an internship programme. If you’re in New Zealand, look no further than Summer of Tech. If you’re in America, there are many, many more programmes. Ask around, and maybe actually read those notice boards in the computer labs? Seriously though, the clubs, organisations that are trying to help you actually know what you’re doing. Have some humility, go along and learn.
Next up, freelancing gigs. If you jump on any of those task-doer websites (like UpWork, Fiverr, Hired etc) there’s almost always a tech gig on there.
If those aren’t working for you, it’s time to get creative get your hustle on. So let’s get into some quick fire ideas, some of which I used myself while I was studying.
- Family and friends — do they need websites or tools written? Set them up on Squarespace or Wix, and charge for your time. They might be willing to be a reference if you’re professional, listen to their needs, and deliver a suitable solution (you know, the job of an engineer).
- Live in a small town? Take a walk down the main street. Google every business as you see their sign. If their website is great, keep walking, if not, go in for a chat. Once agian, empathy and Squarespace.
- Live in a bigger town? Go to your weekend/permanent market. Same idea as the small town street. Once again, empathy and Squarespace.
Find literally any business, by any method, that is small and offer the same things.
- Personal campaign coming up? Local council? A school board? Offer to set up their site! FirstNameLastNameForThing.com.
- How about going to a few gigs? Chat to the musicians afterwards and see if they want a band website. They probably have a soundcloud, but they might want more.
- Graphic design, acting or artist friends? They may want a portfolio website. Help them out.
There are so many people, still, in 2018, who need to get online but can’t afford an expensive web agency, and dont have the time to seek out a cheap developer. So be proactive, present yourself, and get that paid experience.
What are your ideas? Let me know in the comments?
If this was useful to you, please click/tap the heart button, it’d mean so much to me.
All is not lost! You may not have been successful in the first round of grad hires, but it doesn’t mean this wonderful industry isn’t for you. Your path to getting started might take a bit longer, but please, please keep trying. Work hard to land some experience, be gracious in your interactions, and try to enrich others’ lives with your newfound command of technology, and things will work out. Best of luck.
Some extra tricks for you wonderful Dev.to readers.
Do you want this? Do you really f*cking want this?
Okay, here’s what you do.
Go online. Search your local area (or wherever you want to work, lets go local for now) and find tech companies there. The bigger, the better, usually (for grad roles). Jump on Linked In. Grab the free month of Premium. This will give you the chance to cold-message 3 people. You might need those later.
Now, for each company, search their employees. Look for hiring managers, team leads, senior engineers, etc. Message them. Say something like this.
‘Hey, My name is Sam. I’m a big fan of . I am a new graduate, and I’m really just looking to get my foot in the door somewhere and get some experience. I’d love to come to your office, and pair with one of your devs for the morning. I’ll get pizzas delivered to the team for lunch in exchange, too!’
Send that to 10–15 employees at the company (be smart, hit different departments etc), and then move onto the next one. Don’t get me wrong, most won’t answer, some you’ll need to use your 3 free InMail messages for. But this is the hustle, a numbers game. Do this for 10–15 companies. At this point, you’ve sent 100–200 messages. It’s been a few hours, but we’re hoping for 2–5 replies.
Go into that company, ask smart questions, be very personable, and get some quality pizza. On the way out, hand them your resume and ask them very nicely to keep you in mind.
Rinse and repeat.