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Written by Clayton Wert on February 23, 2018
It will be one of the hardest things that someone can do in their life. What you might not know is that what will successfully get you through a coding bootcamp can sometimes be quite the opposite of what will help you succeed in finding a paid position in the tech industry.
Working as a success coach with bootcamp students, I sometimes feel like I can be a broken record repeating the same things over and over again. One of these repeated sayings is taking your eyes off of blue light of the computer screen and getting out into the world to meet other developers and career tech professionals.
The funny thing about a job search in any given field is that there are no certain answers to your success. Yes, it’s binary. You either get a yes or a no from employers, recruiters, or anyone else in the job search, but it’s more complicated than that. There are best practices, traps to avoid, and common knowledge that will help you land your first paid position, but ultimately, your journey to landing a role as a developer, in QA, or any other field you might fancy will end up being a lot of potential highlights resulting in low points, hitting brick walls and working hard to find new solutions.
One thing is certain about the job search, networking is key. It can take time to get comfortable with networking, just like any skill, but with a little practice and these 10 tips on how to earn a paid position post-bootcamp, you’ll be networking your way to a paid position in no time.
This is essentially your succinct, 30-second version of your background and who you are as it pertains to a career. It’s also known as an “elevator pitch,” in case you ever get stuck in an elevator with Richard Branson or Elon Musk and they’re looking to hire. Be ready to give your pitch in any setting that you’re in, whether it’s out to eat with friends, at an actual networking event, or walking your dog down the street. There are always people around you that may present an opportunity, and you want to be prepared to introduce yourself with confidence when that moment arrives.
This ranges from having too many drinks at the bar so you’re your first impression isn’t being a sloppy mess, and knowing to not interrupt people in conversations and forgetting to follow-up. Self-awareness is imperative in a job-search, and not making an embarrassment of yourself at an event is a good place to start.
There will be times when you doubt yourself, it happens to everyone, guaranteed. Don’t let that slow you down. And don’t let anyone else tell you that you can’t do it either. Networking comes with good and bad, and you will meet people who have differing opinions on any bootcamp grads and whether they would hire them or not. Stay true to the work you’ve accomplished over time. You’re a quick-learner and self-sufficient, let those skills alone propel you in to the next level of a job search.
In the day-to-day of networking and on the job-hunt, you should be reaching out to people on LinkedIn, searching for recruiter and employer emails to schedule informational interviews, attending meetups, and continuing your self-learning of programming. That’s a lot to balance, but as the old cliche goes, “looking for a job is a full-time job.” In the long-term, you need to have patience and persistence. The typical job search takes at least three months, and you’re starting the next phase of your entire career. Realize that you have a lifetime ahead of you to perfect and shape your career, and learn to love the hard-work that comes in to a job search.
Chances are that you don’t have years of experience in any programming language coming out of a bootcamp. You don’t know everything, and that’s okay. Was Michael Jordan the greatest 13 weeks into his basketball career? No. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not, it will only serve to hurt you if you don’t take ownership of who you are as a programmer and where you are in your career. In this process, learn how to humble yourself. It will not only make you more receptive to constructive criticism, but you’ll notice growth both personally and professionally.
You should never be expected to understand the ins and outs of every aspect of a business or individual, but you should be doing the needed preparation to go into any professional setting with some knowledge about the company and hiring manager. If you have a list of the people attending a networking event or meetup, a quick Google search can be one of your best friends. Be resourceful and use the tools at your disposal to make tech work for you to come prepared to any event or interview.
If you haven’t done so by now, clean up your social media presence and tailor it to yourself as a programmer. Your personal brand and online persona are more important now than ever, and that importance is only going to scale upwards. Follow fellow developers on Twitter, start a blog on medium.com or write the occasional post on LinkedIn. All of these actions will show that you’re taking steps to be active in your industry’s community and are naturally going to be gaining the attention of employers, other developers, and everyone in-between.
Going to a networking event is where you begin the conversation. After you meet up and speak with anyone, ask them for a business card. No card? No problem. Ask them if they’d like to connect on LinkedIn on the spot. You might not have business cards yourself and you may not even want to purchase them, but almost all professionals in any industry should be using LinkedIn as their professional networking tool. Let them know you’ll be sending an email and follow up within 24 hours. Try to go the extra mile and research their company or their role, make yourself stand out from the crowd and you never know where these connections may take you!
One of the reasons people dread the networking event is because of the repeated spiel of telling people where you work and what you do. Getting down the personal pitch is important, but why not try to tap into a person a little more than what they do professionally and on the surface? Ask about passions, hobbies, and interests. Show a genuine curiosity about people at networking events and chances are that most people will talk to you with enthusiasm. You may even have some shared interests with someone!
The best networking is putting on a real smile and some genuine curiosity. Staying positive, expect to grow and learn, challenge yourself, and have fun! You never know who you might meet at a networking event. It could lead to new friendships, people with common interests, and the coveted paid job opportunity. Get out of your comfort zone, be helpful and generous, and you’ll be surprised at the opportunity that may come your way.
Clayton is a Student Success Coach at NYCDA. After previous stints of working as a career coach in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City helping students and professionals pursue their dreams, he has relocated to his home state of Pennsylvania to help make every NYCDA students’ experience more meaningful and successful as they transition into thriving new careers. Passionate about experiential learning and helping others, Clayton is a lifelong student of the world in the pursuit of growth both personally, professionally and every other aspect of life. You can find him listening to podcasts and obsessing over how to roast coffee, taking photos of landscapes and nature, cooking up new recipe ideas or re-creating the burger of the day specials from Bob’s Burgers, and traveling to new destinations pretending he’s Anthony Bourdain.