I'm sure anyone who's ever looked for a job has been through this. You go through your day and then you get the email from the company you interviewed with recently. Your heart stops and, depending on how much you wanted this job, that moment before opening the email seems to last for days. As that panic starts to set in you open the email and the only line that you really read expounds “thank you for your interest, however we've decided to go with someone with more experience.” You take your breath and reread the email, fully grasping the content of the message. Unfortunately however, the damage to your morale is done.
Now this is all much less dramatic than described above however that small twinge in the stomach is still present, no matter how many times you've been through it. Coming from a self taught background this may be something you hear often. Even coming from a traditional four year college background you'll run into this. Often times it conjures up the scene from Batman Begins when Bruce Wayne, played by Christian Bale, gets his mansion burned down. Lying there forlorn with his spirit broken; Alfred, played by the great Michael Caine, repeats something Thomas Wayne always told Bruce. “Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.” My life isn't nearly as interesting or heroic, nor is the idea of being turned down for a job. However the message is just as relevant, especially when it comes to trying to break into software development.
Unfortunately people's usual ideas of software gurus conjures up images of geniuses that have been coding since they were four years old, have a similar etiquette to that of an annoyed Vulcan, and are part cyborg. Those people exist and I don't begrudge them their hard work associated with that moniker “genius.” By the time they reach working age they often have a huge portfolio of work they can show to potential employers. For the rest of us when we pivot at some point in our lives and decide to go into technology, we have a different experience.
When you have no professional experience it's common to be overlooked for a job. There are ways in which we can distinguish ourselves for our next interview. A quick Google search of “how to get experience in software development” will yield plenty of threads explaining how to overcome that obstacle. The author is completely in favor of the suggested approaches gleaned from performing that search. It's something I have been doing for some time. Recently my personal projects have been ramping up and I have been helping to create networking tools during my free time. As a result my coding skills have improved and I'm starting to find myself getting more and more comfortable using new tools and new languages.
I love doing this, I love working with people of a similar mind and working with code. This is how you keep going. You focus on your projects and your product, you. You are your greatest product, and investing in it is exactly what you should be doing with your personal projects. Branching out, trying new languages, trying new approaches, building something you would love to use, or maybe writing.
On a note about applying for jobs. The best advice I've seen on applying for jobs came from Eli The Computer Guy. You should apply for every job you want. That's what I've been doing. Every two weeks or so I go through a curated job postings list and look for jobs I might be even a little qualified for and apply. For me, I am targeting companies in which I've read reviews about or use their products personally and apply for jobs that way. I also expand my search into different cities around different parts of the country I live in. Simply put, sometimes you have to go where the jobs are. The concept of drag netting and applying for every job out there is not something I would suggest anyone do. As you end up interviewing at ten places you really didn't want to work for and fending off tenacious recruiters.
This article says nothing new. You work hard and sometimes that hard works pays off in the form of breaking into an industry you weren't previously a part of. Sometimes it doesn't. That experience is a rallying cry to keep going. It shouldn't even be called a failure as often times not enough things aligned for you to be selected for that job. You keep going, you keep learning; Persistence is the enemy of failure.