I used to think that to get a job, I had to exemplify the Tech Aesthetic. I had to:
- attend EVERY hackathon
- build LOTS of amazing apps and websites
- memorise the solutions to the Top 100 on Leetcode.
In the end, I made a few self-discoveries: I didn't like losing, spent more time overthinking than actual coding, and didn't quite finish even a quarter of the Top 100.
Just before COVID-19 hit, I locked in a place in one of the "Best Places to Work", potentially earning more than any of my family members when they were my age. A 20-ish year old woman who started my first year in university knowing ZERO people in coding and tech, and just as much knowledge about coding.
I knew what it is like to be desperate to get a job and being overwhelmed with the "Tech Aesthetic". That is why I am writing this - a (hopefully) no-nonsense guide to building your own tech job network from zero.
>>> load(ainlovescode.fourcareerhacks()) Loading...
Never turn up to a networking event unprepared! Online or offline, you want to seem like you know your stuff. ACTUALLY show interest in the company by being prepared, even if you FEEL like you are not.
Polish your LinkedIn profile and have at least a soft copy of your resume in GDrive with a sharable link. Do a quick read of the company you want to chat with so you can ask them questions about recent news and available roles. You would be surprised at how easy it is to be remembered by strangers when you are put-together AND interested in them!
Yes, there are a whole bunch of free resume, namecard, portfolio site layouts and brand banner templates on Google. The tricky but also the most rewarding part is when you add your own spin on them!
Get your own online domain, make a simple logo of your "brand", think of a arguably cheesy motto or saying that you resonate with. Instead of a Gmail or school email account, consider investing in a firstname.lastname@example.org email!
Let's face it - recruiters and random Internet strangers might look at your profile for only a matter of seconds - make those precious seconds count and reel them in with your personality!
If there is anything I learned about networking and connecting with people, it is how asking relevant questions can make you memorable. Asking the right questions not only makes the person about how to respond to you, but also indicates that you are interested in them AND the company!
Most people like being looked up to, and most people also like feeling special for being part of something - even if that is the company they work with. Asking the right questions about their experiences might make them excited about being at the event, and you did that!
In the same vein, do not be afraid to ask for advice. Go to your school's career office for help with your resume, or practise your interviewing skills. Ask your friends or professors if they could recommend someone who is open to answering specific questions that you have. Most importantly, show appreciation for their time and effort, even if nothing positive comes out of it.
Being polite and respectful is an underrated soft skill that can bring you unexpected fortune - secret referrals, sudden reminders of how you interacted with them, and even thinking of you first when an opportunity only they are aware of opens up!
>>> Loaded... >>> 4/4 Ain Loves Code Career Hacks
Soft skills like networking and communication are hugely underrated, yet can be even more difficult to learn than any coding algorithm. A wrongly-placed phrase can devastate even the closest of relationships, not unlike a typo in your production code.
Human relationships take longer and more effort to prepare for than software code. Yet the former can last longer and have greater impact, long after a programming language dies out.