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Israel Fermín M.
Israel Fermín M.

Posted on • Originally published at

New grads survival guide

OK, OK... I'm sorry, I lied on the title, but please, don't stop reading. I know... I know, we started bad our relationship already but, I can explain it, I swear.

Yes, it says "survival guide", but it's not like that, I'm not going to tell you a recipe to get the job you want, in the company you like and the country you dream, that's impossible, as programmer we all know there is no silver bullet, and it applies not only on software, also in day by day life problems.

What I'm going to share with you, is what worked and still working for me, let me give you some context. I'm a Software Engineer from Venezuela, yes, I know... we're famous for good baseball players, beautiful women and, most recently and sadly, thanks to this guy.

Hugo Chávez, worst Venezuelan<br>

And this other guy...

Nicolás Maduro... even worse that<br>

My country is, obviously, a 3rd world country, we're facing huge and very serious economic and political issues and it's quickly getting worse thanks to those guys, my family is not rich so I couldn't travel or go to another country to study until things get better and, by now, I'm living in Dubai, paying my rent and brought my wife abroad so we have some hope of having the quality of life we dreamed together and have 2 kids, how I did it?, my job is my flight ticket and my passport.

I managed to get out of Caracas, one of the most violent and dangerous cities in the world, and come to Dubai in 2014. Obviously this wasn't with money from my own pocket, a local company hired me and covered my relocation expenses. I'm going to share with you some things I did and still doing, this is not guaranteed to give you the job you want, but certainly will help you increase your chances.

Set up a decent LinkedIn profile

No joke, this helps, a lot of recruiters and companies in LinkedIn, don't underestimate that tool, it's really powerful and you don't need to pay for the pro or premium version to get something out of it. A good LinkedIn profile includes a picture, a description of each job you had, and by description I mean responsibilities and key achievements and responsibilities in that position.

Have a public GitHub account

And actually use it!, I'm not telling you to contribute to a lot of open source projects or to start yet another social auth library or JS framework, just experiment with new tools, build some cool hello-world style projects and upload the code to GitHub, this will show that you're actively learning new stuff all the time.

Have a StackOverflow account

And, again, use it, answer some questions and ask some questions, it's useful and it will help you, trust me.

Be passionate

Love your career, you studied it for a reason. Learn new stuff, experiment with a new language or framework, show everybody the cool stuff you're working on, get ideas from other people and learn from them.

Be pragmatic

Yes, when it comes to work, you have to let your knowledge and logic guide your decisions, not your emotions.

Choose your weapon

And do it early, it's good to be versatile, you're a programmer, not a user of a programming language. But you need a battle ax, the one that helps you solve any problem faster and you feel more comfortable with.

And finally, the one I consider the most important.

Choose your first job carefully

Yes, I mean it, don't let the job choose you, you have to enjoy your job because it's where you will spend most of the day and, trust me, your first job will define your career. If you start developing J2EE applications, people will hire you to do so, because that's the experience you have. Don't be afraid to say no to an offer you're not totally convinced of taking.

In my case, when I was looking for an internship, I turned down an offer from Microsoft in Venezuela because I've always been an Open Source enthusiast and a Linux user, I didn't really saw myself programming in ASP.NET, I decided to take an offer from Vauxoo, a local small company that developed open source modules for OpenERP (now Odoo) and I'm very happy I took that road, I learned Python in that job, which is my battle ax and my main tool by today.

So... yeah!, not a recipe, but some tips I hope will help you on your first years as a professional.

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