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Sloan the DEV Moderator

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Did I try looking for a job too fast?

This is an anonymous post sent in by a member who does not want their name disclosed. Please be thoughtful with your responses, as these are usually tough posts to write. Email if you'd like to leave an anonymous comment.

I'm a bit confused right now. I think I messed up a perfectly good opportunity to find work because I ran too fast towards looking for a job. Here are the details.

I graduated from code boot camp in mid-November. I spent extra hours after regular working hours were over, grinding away. My camp runs a career fair where kind people from the surrounding area with ties to our business development branch come in and interview students. Camp grads can only attend one, ever. I took the one taking place 3 weeks later. In retrospect, I feel like I should have bided my time and attended the later career fair but it's in February and at the time, I thought that was too far away. I feel dumb. Of the 4 interviews I did, I got 2 email confirmations and then 1 invite to a hiring day.

I go to the event. There are 3 other candidates. My interview was alright and then we received a practical test. We were to build out a project as much as we can, add documentation in a readme, and a way to build out the project from the repo. I did my best but in the end, I got passed over. No problem. But then I find out one of the other 3 guys was a dead ringer. This dude had 3 months of previous experience in the same role! He was a good guy and he definitely deserved it. I bear no ill will.

So I started looking inward. I don't have a traditional background. My repo has a decent number of commits but I haven't had a code review, ever. I might suck, I don't know! Did I screw up by not biding my time and "launching" during the later career fair a few months later?

I can't help but feel like career fairs are just like meet and greets. They are formalities and the only people anybody wants already has enough experience to do the job anyways. Nobody wants juniors, ever. Maybe I should just work a regular job and for the next few months on nights and weekends contribute to open source or non-profits. Maybe after a few months, I can break into the industry. I'm lost right now. Can I get some advice?

Top comments (8)

jess profile image
Jess Lee

I think it's crazy that your bootcamp only allows you to attend one job fair! I think you should feel proud for getting to the hiring day portion, that's not an easy task!

I'd encourage you to start getting more feedback on your code to figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are so you know what to focus on as you practice. Instead of career fairs, maybe you can find some dev meetups instead? I find these events so much more conducive to building actual relationships.

kjwong3 profile image
Kelly Wong

Getting a job in this industry is not a one time only event. It takes effort to break into a field. The first thing I would do is search job sites for any job that seems like a match for your skills and apply. You don't have to check off every box, but do try to stay in the same major area. For example, if you can write Javascript but not a specific framework, still consider that a possible job. It doesn't cost you anything to apply. It's not your job to filter yourself out, it's the company's.

If you want to stand out more, then I would work on a personal project to showcase your skills. It doesn't have to be anything too fancy but you should be able to proudly show it to a potential employer. I would continually add features over time to keep it fresh in my mind and learn new things. This demonstrates your ability to write maintainable code and pick up new technologies, both essential for any developer.

Right now, with developers in such high demand, I'm sure there is a job out there for you, you have to go out there and find it. Spread your net as wide as you can. As Jess mentioned, going to meetups and talking with more people will increase the chance you'll find your opportunity. If you have another job, I wouldn't quit it just yet because it can be a bit of a slog when you're just starting out. But if you really want to get in, no you didn't miss your chance. Meet more people in the industry. Keep improving your skills. You will get in eventually.

bengreenberg profile image
Ben Greenberg

I completely relate to where you are coming from right now. It can be very difficult to break into this industry, especially if you come with work and life experience in another profession.

You are seasoned enough as a professional to make hiring managers nervous about you as an "entry level" or "junior" developer, yet you are lacking the real production experience in development to make an easy case to hire you for anything more senior. If you are not a 21 year old CS graduate, your resume for an entry level role can just confound an already overwhelmed hiring team.

Yet, having said that, don't despair! Genuinely don't despair. There is real hope. I, along with countless others, graduated from a coding bootcamp and managed to get ourselves in the door. It takes a combination of perseverance, patience, diligence and self-care to make it through.

One idea that was important for me in the process, and that I needed to reinforce regularly, was that each company is its own possibility. Each interview experience is only connected to what came before it inasmuch as we paint that connection in our own minds. It's really easy to construct a narrative in our own heads of interview failure followed by interview failure, but in reality, each new job opportunity is it's own thing. If you can successfully "checkout a branch" for each new interview and see it on its own without painting a picture of a chain of bad experiences, you might have a better chance of approaching it with positivity and good energy, which will be felt by the interviewers.

This, in my experience, takes a lot of self-care. It's okay to step back from the interview process for a day or two, or as much time as you need. Interviewing is a full time job, so just like in any job, you have a weekend, give yourself a weekend here as well. Go see a movie. Talk a nice walk. Do something that relaxes you and rejuvenates you. You will be a better candidate for it.

Best of luck! It feels like a low point right now, but the industry needs you, and a place will surface that will recognize your unique talents and contributions.

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao • Edited

Actually, It depends as I would love to find junior developers who had graduated from boot camps to provide referrals to my company be it for an internship or a full-time position.

My advice would be that you can consider in looking for an internship to break into the industry.

That worked for me when I was starting out by brushing and upgrading my skillsets to be relevant for the job in the internship company. Which they gave me a full-time position after I had completed my internship.

jenc profile image
Jen Chan • Edited

Why... would a company hire someone who did a bootcamp? I did one 2 years ago.I’m A/B testing my CV with and without that line because my experience begins before I did a bootcamp and I got a bad impression from some workplaces.

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao • Edited

Simple cause it's harder to find local tech talents in my country, so you need to cast a wider net.

Especially those with CS background would have been snapped up by the bucketload from big companies, banks, consulting company and government agency if you're in my country.

As developers who want to work in startups is considered a minority but has grown as a popular career path in recent years due to success stories with successful startups like Sea, Razor and Carousell.

To me, startups can be a great place for a new developer to learn new technologies and grow as a developer beside going to silicon valley.

jenc profile image
Jen Chan

I’m a bootcamp grad who tried job hunting even before I did a bootcamp, but I did a bootcamp because I felt directionless and ill informed on what was current, and I am by all standards still “not good enough”. It is completely normal that you feel this way. The market has and will always be hot for seniors and degrees. After about a dozen interviews you’ll get the hang of different interview styles and tests. A lot weighs on portfolio too at this point. Keep on doing it.

rhymes profile image

Don't be too hard on yourself!

The only experience I have of career fairs comes from american movies and they don't look like the best environment to be noticed if you don't have a lot of skills. Think about how many unknown juniors swing by dropping their CV.

Software development in a way is like many other jobs. Networks are important, so, meet people IRL and online, be known.

This post may give you some info about how to recover from what you perceive as a failure:

Did I screw up by not biding my time and "launching" during the later career fair a few months later?

Honestly? We'll never know, so in a way... who cares :D