It has been one month since I started my job search after graduating from Flatiron School’s 15-week Software Engineer program in Seattle. As all too many people know right now, it’s not exactly a great time to be looking for a job. That being said, I am very fortunate to have a partner and savings that can support me during these uncertain times and I feel lucky to be transitioning into a field that happens to be much less affected by social distancing. Over the last month, I have learned a lot about making connections with people in the tech industry, using my time to learn and review, and avoiding imposter syndrome. Keep reading for my top tips regarding job hunting.
Networking has been one of the most difficult aspects of my job search, especially with social distancing. I’m already a pretty shy person as it is so in some ways networking remotely has been easier and more difficult. I have always preferred one-on-one conversations and that is almost impossible at most remote meetups. Luckily, I have had some luck with making connections on LinkedIn and have managed to set up calls with some of those connections. My rate of responses has more than tripled since the start of my search and I attribute that to my personalized messages and selection of people to connect with. This may seem obvious but I recommend connecting with people who you are genuinely excited to talk to because of some common interest or goals and be sure to mention those commonalities in your introductory message. For me, that often means people who work in an industry that I am particularly interested in or people who have experience with a big career change or a programming bootcamp. If the connection is with someone that is also searching for a job, you could offer to do mock interviews together or just trade advice, it's always nice if you can offer something to them. Do your best to make meaningful connections with the intention of maintaining those relationships and offer your own wisdom if the occasion arises.
The tech field is constantly changing which means there is always something new to learn. Every good programmer is a life-long learner so regularly studying and reviewing is vital. In fact, I often use this blog for reviewing material or organizing my thoughts on a subject in such a way that I can use it for review in the future. I've also made it a habit to have a running list of topics that I want to explore deeper so that I can always have something to research. This can be especially helpful if you repeatedly come across a topic on job applications.
Here are a few of my favorite resources that I've used recently:
- LeetCode and HackerRank (algorithms)
- Scrimba (interactive coding courses)
- freeCodeCamp (front-end development)
- System Design Primer (system design)
Almost every programmer is familiar with imposter syndrome, myself included. While I haven’t found some fool-proof confidence booster, I have noticed certain things that have helped me move past the feeling of being an imposter programmer. Perhaps one of the simplest and most effective methods was actually suggested by a connection who recently got a job as a programmer at Outreach. Basically, I made a Google Forms survey that asks me to rate my productivity for the day, reflect on what I accomplished, and set goals for the next day. I found this helping my productivity and confidence. Looking back on the day and seeing all of the things that you accomplished is very satisfying and motivating. If you connect the survey to Google Sheets, you can also begin to notice trends and reflect on larger periods. I recommend having an assistant on your phone (or I used the slackbot on Slack) to remind you to take the survey at the end of your workdays.
My job search has only just begun but I learn more everyday. If you are looking for a job right now, I wish you good luck and hope some of this advice was helpful. Please let me know if you found this article helpful or have anything to add, I would love to chat!