You finished your coding bootcamp and now is wondering “What’s next”.
You might be wondering whether all that money invested was worth and if you will see the benefits (and how much will it take), it is only normal.
The last research (2019) from Course report states that:
The majority of graduates of coding bootcamps are finding full-time employment, and 83% of graduates surveyed say they’ve been employed in a job requiring the technical skills learned at bootcamp, with a median salary increase of 51% […]
Although this numbers look great, you might still feel like you’re part of the 17% that didn’t make it, in this article I’ll try to help you increase your chances to be part of the 83%.
Let us walk through the steps required for you to be hired as a software engineer (or developer, or programmer, etc), the order might change a lot:
- Attractive CV and/or cover letter
- Screening interview with recruiter
- Code challenges, live coding, technical interviews
- Behavioral interviews or culture fit interviews
Building an attractive CV is not a matter of picking the right template or platform, is more about content than anything else, although the style matters.
Then, you need a set of keywords and to show relevant experience. Keywords are the easy part, think about the technologies you used in your bootcamp, and you’ll be able to put some but for the relevant experience the bootcamp alone in most cases will not suffice (the same is truth for a university degree).
No need to start feeling desperate, you can build the relevant experience even without a job opportunity, instead of focusing 100% of your time on doing other online courses and learning more and more, reserve a good amount of the time to build stuff. I know it might sound counterintuitive, but trust me, there’s no better way to learn and master a coding skill than using it to build something with it, if you want to learn to knit you’d be knitting all the time, and the same goes for every other crafting skill, you need to use it to craft something in order to learn.
Building stuff help you in several ways:
- Address the gaps: Remember that lesson that you only made because the teacher helped you? Now is the time to learn yourself.
- Build muscle memory: Remember in the first days, when typing
git pushtook you several attempts? How about the end of the bootcamp? Now is time to have the same muscle memory for the other parts
- Show off your skills: Yeah, having dozens of online courses certificates in your CV makes it attractive, but having a website/app/something that you build yourself with your skills that looks good and feels that a lot of effort was put into it is way better.
The natural thinking that occurs is: If that person managed to build that cool looking stuff, they certainly will be able to build our stuff.
Don’t lose too much time thinking about the right idea to build, and don’t get caught thinking you will be building your startup idea and won’t even need a job (it might be truth for some, and if that was your goal with the bootcamp you could have stopped reading this article way before, sorry), remember to focus on your goal, find a simple idea that will make you look good in front of recruiters and give you valuable experience, everything else is noise.
Some ideas to build:
- A fancy online CV with github pages
- A mobile app/website that solves one simple problem you have
- A Telegram/slack/etc bot that does something really nice
- A playable game in any platform
Apply, interview, repeat
I used to think that I don’t need to prepare for interviews, I had this silly belief that if I prepare then interviewers would catch me or worst, I’d get a job I am not qualified for. Little did I know that preparing is not about telling someone else’s story, or lying, or faking.
Several times, right after leaving an interview I would come up with way better answers in my head for the questions I had, we all know this, having the sense you didn’t use your best argument in a discussion, why would it be different in interviewing?
I cannot count how many interviews I did already, and even while on a regular job that I have no intention to leave I interview at least once every couple of months, the reason is that I don’t want ever to stay in a place just because I don’t want the hustle of interviewing again (been there, and do not recommend), and more importantly I do not want to lose this muscle memory and preparation on how to answer properly and ask properly.
In my career I have interviewed over dozens of people already, and it is not easy. We usually have roughly one hour to get a summary of a person’s ability, it is never fair, and it is so hard to get your bias out of the way and be objective.
Knowing that you can always give a better answer, and that interviewers have such a little time to get the full picture of you, coming unprepared to an interview seems such a waste of everyone’s time, doesn’t it?
After reading Cracking the Coding Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell, by the book’s suggestion I came up with an interview prep sheet, basically a google docs with these sessions that I regularly update.
One page with an introduction about myself, consisting of who I am, what I do now, a glympse in my work history, what I love about my career choice and what I do besides work, this has to be something you can say by heart and in under 2 minutes, that you’re comfortable it represents you.
A table with some prepared answers for common questions, fill the columns with experiences, think about the ones that have stories you can tell on the subject, at this point we’re only throwing the stories in the table, do not worry which one is best for now, please note I didn’t mention job experiences. If you struggle to fill in with job experiences, use anything else, just have those stories.
|XP 1||Xp 2||Xp 3||Xp 4|
|What you’d do different|
After you filled it with the stories you can remember, bold the ones that are bold stories and reflect better who you are.
Control the narrative
Now you know the stories that reflect better your experiences, is time to control how they’re told. Take some time to write the ones you liked better, one page at most each, read it out loud, tell the story to other people, ask for feedback, specifically how they perceived your actions. Remember, is now about faking or lying, is about presenting the best version of a real experience.
Think about the headlines below:
Criminal that was sentenced to death for breaking the rules.
Religious leader that was tortured and killed by a dictator.
Although is the same story (I think you can guess who), they way they’re framed make an enormous difference, make sure your experiences work for you and not against.
These are simple questions, but having them pre answered in writing will help you see how the answer sound before you share them with someone.
- Why I want to work on _
- Why hire me?
- Why leaving current job?
- Myself in 5 years?
- Outside of work?
- Strengths and weakness?
Come up with your questions
One of the most overlooked parts of interviews is when the interviewer asks: do you have any questions?
Don’t overlook it, I have completely changed my mind about someone in an interview for the questions they ask, is amazing to see what the person is interested about, what they care and where they’ll spend time once they join, so be sure you have at least 5 questions prepared (some will probably be answered during the interview), in my sheet I have over 20 questions of important stuff to me in a company, and I decide which ones I use in each interview/company.
I know all this sounds like a lot, it is not (mine has 7 pages only), and you’ll thank yourself for doing it everytime an interviewer ask you something you are prepared for.