How Did You Find Your First Dev Job?

Victoria Fluharty on June 10, 2019

For all of you hired and working devs, I have a question for you: How did you land your first job as a dev? By this I mean, how did you come across... [Read Full]
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I was told I couldn't get a job as a programmer because I didn't have a college degree, and I believed everyone who told me that. So, I settled for non-programming jobs.

I ended up taking a job as a customer service representation taking claims in Spanish for an insurance company. We were ranked by how many claims we "closed" in a given period and the AS/400 software we used would sometimes crash. Waiting for IT to fix it would put me way behind in the rankings. I realized IT would often just restart the program, so I started doing that myself. IT noticed this in their audit logs and reached out to me to ask if I was interested in a role in IT. I said, "Yes!" thinking it would be my big programming breakthrough.

It wasn't, not exactly. They hired me on a night shift to run these massive printers that would generate insurance forms. They were black ink with either green, red, or blue highlights and the job consisted mainly of waiting for the printer to halt because it needed a different ink cartridge and then swapping them out. This went on for 4 - 6 hours a night.

I realized that there was a way to classify documents based on the type of ink they needed, so I did some research and figured out how to write a program that would sort them so the greens, reds, and blues were all grouped together. This took the job down to 2 - 3 hours so I used the balance of my extra time to "borrow" programming books from various desks (remember, it was the night shift) and teach myself RPG III, the language they were using at the time. After a few months I presented what I learned and management gave me an "overtime role" of managing the month end process in addition to running the printers. As part of that role, I wrote software to help expedite the process and this in turn led to me being transferred officially onto the development team.

Technically, I searched for the job that led to "the" job for months. I took on roles at fast food restaurants, in clothing stores, at bookstores, even worked in a pool hall and sold electronics out of the trunk of my car before landing the customer service job that was the first job to pay me more than minimum wage (I think I was hired on at $6.50/hour when minimum wage was $4.25/hour ... I bragged to my friends that I was a high roller and switched from cheap noodles and generic cigarettes to Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Marlboro Reds. I've since given up both cigarettes and cheese, but I still love good noodles.)

 

CodePen job board. I didn't have any experience so I recreated the companies "work with us" page and put information about myself in it. Sent that as my resume.
That helped me stand out and get an interview.

 

Mine was accidental. I was an IT technician in a school and found a job in the ambulance service doing the same, but with a remit to build their website. I searched on jobsite or Monster (can’t quite remember).

Turned out to be an epic job as I self trained in VB (switching to C# later on) and ended up doing more coding — internal systems and websites — and less IT stuff.

And the rest belongs to the ages.

But for you, don’t get down. I have a few posts on job hunting, hopefully they’ll help you. But it is gruelling and hard work and thankless.

Personally I do it in bursts. Apply for a few jobs, do the interviews and take breaks along the way.

If it helps, I did have a struggle recently where I applied for about 30+ roles and got nowhere. And I’m a senior level. So it happens to us all.

I tried to get as much feedback as I could and approached it from a different angle. Spent more time tailoring my CV, contacting companies directly and eventually things turned round.

Keep the faith ☺️

 

I got my first Dev job through IT support. I have a Comp Sci degree but I didn't network at all in Uni and I didn't try very hard after graduating. I landed the IT support role at a ~1500 person tech company through a friend who said that there was the potential for developer mentorship (never really happened, turns out Devs are busy people).

What I did get was a fair amount of free time between calls to learn Powershell and c# and automate a bunch of stuff. This got noticed and eventually I was offered the role of "DevOps Engineer" in a newly formed team focussed on Employee Experience. This was basically a fullstack JS dev but also kinda support too, which was a great learning opportunity.

My advice would be if you can't find a Dev job directly, look for something tangentially related at a company who's culture might facilitate internal promotion. Something where you can keep your skills fresh by using them. I found having a lot of real world problems that I could apply programming to was much more motivating than working on random personal projects that I was never invested in completing.

 

Perseverance goes a long way my friend! Don't give up a job will call you back trust me and its all about timing! My advice is always make sure to keep an eye out for brand new job postings than ones that have been posted for weeks. Also make sure to apply to all jobs regardless if its beneath you a learning experience is much more valuable than being put into a sink or swim project and your out of a job in 3 months.

I found my first job through my university and decided to apply right away because at the time I was a dishwasher and I wanted to finally get a job related to my major plus better pay. The job required some knowledge of basic web development fundamentals which I taught myself the summer prior. Always make sure to teach yourself skills that are in demand and most companies need!

I think you should research what's in demand and try becoming proficient in that and apply to those jobs where not many people have that skill! For instance learn Docker or DevOps tools which are valuable and in demand!

If you need more information please feel free to reach out through messaging!

 

Applied for an internship at a small creative agency after I finished school. Worked really hard to impress everyone and was offered a job afterwards.

My jobs since then have been through connects I made there and meetups.

Keep up the search! Something good will come along!

 

This is my story:

While I was still in school (Secondary school) year 2 of 4ca.
One day I was leaving the school when I noticed a job ad on schools info board and took a quick pick of it. Later that day I had a talk with my mother about it (since I was still a minor at that time) and if I should apply or not, as I have been "coding" for about 2 years now (just messing around with a lot of stuff and learning new things, nothing professional).

So we decided that I should send an email with my CV and see what happens. Tomorrow I received a response and an invite for an interview. I stayed at that company for about 3 years before landing my second first real job. As this was more me learning new things and experiencing how to actually do a proper projects and what goes into them.

 

I graduated with a Computer Science degree in December 2001. It was shortly after 9/11, and there was some kind of weird IT panic going on. People were firing IT staff - or so it seemed. I had no idea why. Something something redirecting money to security.

After 2 months of searching and finding nothing near me (remote wasn't really a thing back then) I took a job a half hour away in a call center for dialup tech support. I felt defeated and like the work wasn't what i wanted, or even what i was good at.

About 3 weeks into the job, the CTO, who I went to high school with, mentioned that they wanted me to write them a web application, so I did (I'd never written a web application - I'd written a few web sites (on geocities), but I knew nothing of database connections or anything of the sort). After that they moved me to their development team permanently.

I wasn't paid enough for my work, they didn't bother to change my pay from the call center, and it took them about 3 years to get me up to what would have been an okay salary for a 24 year old back then, but I don't think that's super common - they just kinda sucked :D

 

I was fortunate to get a break right out of college in the year 2000. I was graduating in Statistics from Mumbai university and was simultaneously attending a 2 year computer programming course with a local school in Mumbai (Aptech). This course lead to a fortuitous interview call in a dotcom, they had just moved their offices to Mumbai.

They needed Perl & MySQL developers neither of which I knew at that time, but had some knowledge of Linux which they were using on the server side. Being right out of college, I joined them for next to nothing. And in the interview both me and a friend who had gone together presented a confident facade, which I guess helped to land us our first break.

During this stint I was fortunate to have a great group of techies around me, nearly all freshers who were very hungry to learn. We regularly used to have 12-14 hour days with no complaints, looking back I think I learnt most of my coding/logic building skills in that 2.5 year stint.

Keep the faith, present a confident (yet ready to learn and share) attitude. Good luck & god speed!

 

A little bit of background story of mine. I studied Electrical Engineering for a year. During that time, I realized 2 things:

  • Hardware related subjects such as Digital Logic Design and Circuit analysis are too much dry for my taste.
  • There aren't any that many jobs related to this field (this is especially true in case of my country which is Pakistan).

This was enough for me to switch to full time computer science program (which I did).
Another factor was of my siblings' influence on me.** Being the youngest one among all of them meant that I got to learn tonnes of things about scope of higher education, latest trends in industry etc. To be honest, I am lucky because of them. They were the ones who went through the wall and got bloody unlike me.**

In terms of job hunt, my initial perception was that it wasn't going to be that difficult because of 2 reasons:

  • I had already done a 3 month internship at a startup as a RoR developer so I knew how does one actually practice Software Engineering skills in real life.
  • I already knew about the whole interview process, what are company's expectation from candidates, types of questions that they ask etc. I also knew about the experiences of my mates who got hired a year ago. Their perspectives were helpful too.

However, I realized that my perception was wrong. I*t's one thing to know about different interview hacks but it's another to actually sit in front of the panel/interviewer and deliver right answers in small span of time.* At every step of interview I realized that** there's always somethings that either I didn't knew or I had read it somewhere wasn't able to recall at that time**. All of this lead me to adopt the following strategies:

=> Interview Prep

 

I had two job offers when I was looking for a tech job the first time. One was from a consulting firm. I met the CEO at a meetup hosted by his company. The other offer (the one I took) was from a job posting on LinkedIn. They didn't respond to my application for two months.

I was more or less fresh out of bootcamp at the time. I applied to 50-something jobs. Actually, I wrote a huge blog post about it that I find more or less encouraging.

 

I had a degree in game development but it was quite hard to find a job in that field where I live (Saudi Arabia) back then. I began looking for mobile app development jobs and had quite a difficult time finding any openings online. I had to rely on word of mouth and kept asking people I knew until I heard of a company that was searching for mobile devs. They asked to see some code I had written in the past (I was fine with it), I was working on a Unity game with a friend and I showed them its code. They liked it and I landed the job. I pretty much learned native iOS development on the job.

The salary was quite bad, it wasn't a healthy place to work at but I had an awesome manager and it introduced me to some awesome people and was the start of my professional network here, which was and still is the key to landing me awesome jobs.

 

While I studied at university, I attended some local user groups, a Linux one in my case. Some work experience turned into a "proper" project, and that year-or-so on my CV looked great to my first employer, whom I found simply by job websites.

As a graduate, I was seen to have the right mindset to identify and learn things rather than already possess the skills, so the employer felt confident I would be able to do the job.

 

I went to a presentation senior year of college, someone from the company I would eventually work for was talking about the value of networking.

He said he had some jobs available, I went up to shake his hand afterward, then we exchanged emails and the rest is history.

So basically, networking. I never really went looking for a job in development, it had been a hobby until then. Trying to find a career in chemical engineering that I could legitimately enjoy wasn't turning out great, so taking a chance on that kind of pivot was both spur-of-the-moment and also completely logical.

 

I started learning how to code at the age of twelve, my father bought me a book called something like "Visual Basic 6 Reference Manual".

Later on i attended to a technical highschool specialized in computers and there i studied C, C#, SQL. When i graduated i started working repairing computers. When i started to feel pissed off with the PC technician job i started to look for programming jobs in local job looking web pages from my country.

I applied for a job on an insurance systems company, they required no coding experience and offered a 1 month training course. If you pass the exam, you get the job. The course consisted in VB6 and SQL training, since i already had that skills passing the exam was easy.

Basically i was blessed in the sense that at 12 years old i already knew that i wanted to be a coder.

Later VB6 started to feel boring since it's legacy tech and one year on it i already knew the whole full language since it's pretty small.

An ex co-worker recommended me on an start-up where he was working at the time and there i made the jump from client-server apps to web development and that's it.

I guess it is a mix of luck and good timing (having the right skills of course).

Keep searching, you will get your job !

 

About 5 years ago, a friend texted me to see if I knew someone with basic HTML/CSS skills, and also good hardware knowledge. I had them, so I applied for the job and landed it. Since I also had taken a few programming classes in college, about a couple years later I helped fixing bugs on a old .NET/C# internal application, and wrote another one on my own.

At that point, I felt like I had good enough experience for a Jr dev position, so I applied to a bunch of places. It took me about 4 months to land a job. I can't count how many jobs I applied to, and had like 5 interviews. One of them was for a full-stack position which required good level in C# and Javascript. I didn't land the job, but the recruiter's feedback said that I needed to strengthen my JS skills.

From there on, I took several good JS courses in Udemy. About a month later, I applied for a job with a local startup that was looking for junior JS devs. Because of the courses and training I took, my experience was way higher than what they needed, so they hired me for a jr/mid position (obviously these "jr", "jr/mid", "mid", and "senior" positions depend from company to company). So the feedback from that first interview somehow helped me take necessary actions, and land that job. The startup didn't quite worked out, so after a couple of months I left, pretty burned out and frustrated. About a month later, my current employer contacted and hired me.

For me, the whole initial job hunting process was emotionally hard and heart-breaking and I had the same doubts you may be having now. What I learned is that those feelings came from the fact that this is what I really loved, and my strategy was to use whatever feedback I was provided to improve my skills. Sometimes I applied to a job with skills I didn't had that strong, so what I did was to study and learn more about them.

If you really feel like you love coding, don't give up, use any feedback to better yourself, and have lots of patience. You'll eventually land something good enough, maybe totally unexpected.

 

As other devs, mine was accidental too. I was studying a CS degree in university, when at middle year I started to feel down, and exhausted about some classes. The university has a job portal where startups/small companies search for partials works.

I applied to only one, their description of project was good and match my favourite skills. 2 weeks later I forgot about all of this, and the next day I received a call from them

 

I can't say much since I'm still a student.
However, you might be already doing, but if you are not, please do listen to secondCareerDevs. It helped me a lot.
It's not a serious job, but I'm currently on a contract job that I got from my friend from school. It really seems like a network is everything.
BTW, I didn't know you have just graduated. I thought you were an experienced dev. So I hope you would not worry too much!

 

I started applying for jobs last May. Sent my application to a two or three companies and Revature, thinking I'd start ramping up applications as the summer months came. Especially since I was feeling intense burn out at the call center I worked at (I will never do that again) at the time.

Revature demanded a college degree in CS which I didn't have but I sent my application anyways. Suddenly a few days later I get a phone call and I'm scheduled for a technical interview in Java and OOP basics. I panic a bit, not expecting they'd actually reply to my inquiry due to my lack of a degree. And all I knew about Java at the time was a few hours worth of Treehouse courses. So I start studying up on it

I aced the interview. 4 pillars of OOP? Inheritance, abstraction, encapsulation, and polymorphism, with a few sentences describing each. Finally vs final vs finalize? Yep, got that one. Abstract class vs interface? Got that one too. JRE vs JVM vs JDK? Yep, yep, and yep. Got the job and started their bootcamp in July of last year.

It was eight weeks of coding, four major projects (the last being a big group project involving the whole class in an Agile environment) then got assigned through Revature to Infosys, where I'm now awaiting assignment.

 

Somehow, 'quick apply' on LinkedIn worked for me.

 
 
 

Hardwork learning the right technologies and having a very article CV

 
 

I found it in the newspaper. I had actually interviewed for the same, or a similar position, and had not been offered the position, about a year before.

 

Through a student work agency in the city where I am studying

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