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Launchies 2.0!

This season, we’re helping you level up your interviewing skills! Each week Lauren Lee, Danny Ramos, and industry experts will offer advice on navigating career progression within tech.

Launchies is a show for folks launching into tech, and today we're kicking off this new season! Every new season, we plan to zoom into one specific topic and provide tangible resources and helpful advice for our listeners.

✨This season is going to be all about tech interviews and landing a job!✨

Do you have ideas about how we can make our show better? Or would you like to be a guest on an upcoming episode? Reach out to our #devrel team at devrel@newrelic.com. We would LOVE to hear from you with any questions, curiosities, and/or feedback you have in hopes of making this the best show possible!

Give us a follow: @LaunchiesShow

play pause Launchies

Danny Ramos: Launchies is a tech podcast dedicated to helping early-career developers or soon-to-be devs.

Lauren Lee: We'll share insights on how to navigate these early opportunities and bring on experts from the tech industry to give advice on general career progression.

Danny: In the first season of our show, we focused on how people launched into their tech careers.

Lauren: And now, in Season 2, we want to offer advice on your career progression.

Danny: The next 12 episodes will be all about the interview and landing your first job.

Hi, everyone, my name is Danny Ramos, and I'm a Developer Relations Engineer at New Relic. I am just barely passing a year at New Relic. So I really wanted to be part of this podcast to help people in any way that I can because it's very top of mind for me. I just kind of finished this process, the whole interview, going out there and networking and doing all that. So I wanted to be able to share the knowledge that I gathered during that process.

I'm a person who went to code school during quarantine, during the pandemic. And I was very fortunate enough to where it actually worked out for me. And I'm very, very excited to be here and to be able to share that with y'all.

Lauren: And hello, everyone. My name is Lauren. I am also on the developer relations team as a Senior Developer Relations Engineer at New Relic. And I am a teacher turned coder after about ten years as a high school English teacher. I got sick of the five-paragraph essay and decided that I needed to get with the times and learn something a little bit more modern, which meant me attending a coding program in Seattle.

And I'm so grateful for that journey and so stoked about the opportunity for this podcast because it allows us to merge the worlds of all of our interests of education, community, and tech. And I think it's just going to be such a fun journey for us. Welcome to Launchies.

Danny: Launchies 2.0.

Lauren: It sure is.

Danny: This is the bigger, the better, and what's the third cool word?

Lauren: Bigger, better, more. See, I'm taking it from the lens of like; we’re zooming in. We are picking a topic, and we are giving resources. We are giving content. We are giving things that people really need. I'm imagining someone's in the world wanting to get their first tech job and is like, how? That's the person we're speaking to on this adventure.

Danny: Exactly, exactly. Whereas before, we were learning about different stories, and people could relate to the story and be like, "Hey, whoa, I also am a barista." Or "I don't know if I can get into tech," or "I'm not sure if I can do this." And then hearing a story and feeling a little inspired and thinking if that person can do it, I can do it too.

Lauren: For sure.

Danny: If code school is not that hard of a thing or it is hard, but it sounds like many people are doing it [laughs] and --

Lauren: It is hard. Let's be real. [laughs]

Danny: It is hard. As I said that, it didn't even --

Lauren: I mean, even if the two of us can do it, I think is maybe a way to think of it. [laughs]

Danny: That is true, I know. As I said, code school is not hard; tears started forming in my eyes. I was like, --

Lauren: I know the sentence...Yeah, I felt super triggered. I went to a coding bootcamp as well. But there is always someone that's like flying through the program and asking all the correct questions. And you're just like, gosh, can you slow down? Or just a serious imposter syndrome of like, well, how come they get it?

Danny: Yeah, we could have a whole episode on that, on just the emotions.

Lauren: I know, for sure. But if you are curious and want to check out a show that does highlight the untraditional career progressions, I also have a show called We Belong Here. [laughter] So go check that out.

Danny: Yes, definitely do.

Lauren: Because it is important to celebrate ways that we as second career devs have navigated it and celebrate that community. But I think here what we are excited to be doing in Season 2 is saying, okay, how can we give back to that community and provide genuine resources, and advice, and tips, and wisdom so that you feel really equipped with the tools when going out on interviews and hopefully landing that first gig?

Danny: Yeah, especially I think when people are learning about all this, whether it's in code school or learning it on their own. It's always nice to get an outside perspective, kind of refreshing that part of your brain where you're just like, I have already read about all the interviews, or I've read all about this, and my instructor has talked about these different topics. But it's nice to get an outside perspective to be like, oh, okay, there are different stories out there.

Lauren: For sure. I mean, think of us as your coding big brother, big sister moment of like, we are here to help navigate that. Danny and I have been through this, have really [laughs] been in the weeds of interviewing, and faced a whole lot of rejection. I'll speak for myself personally. [laughs]

Danny: Not much for me but yeah. [laughs]

Lauren: Okay, happy for you, happy for you. [laughter] But I think it's an interesting challenge or topic for us to think about taking on for a show. We have this idea of every 12 episodes will be a new topic. And we want to start at the beginning, and that for us felt like tackling interviews.

So starting, you know, how do you even begin the process of finding companies to interview with? And then taking you all the way through that journey or lifecycle, if you will, to finally getting the job and negotiating how to assess an offer. So going all the way through that and us being with you every step of the way.

Danny: Yeah, and at the end of each episode, we're going to have somewhat kind of a call to action to really engage with our audience and almost be like a sample test or practice for you. So we'll have different things like, oh, talk about yourself like you are answering the question in the interview. Like, so, tell me about yourself.

Lauren: Oh. [laughs]

Danny: That amazing question that's asked every time.

Lauren: Literally.

Danny: And have a little...maybe in the future we could have a technical problem that you would solve via Twitter, or some new skill sets that you would put on your resume, and something that you could just share and then see different examples from other people in the Twitter world. I'm imagining this is done on Twitter. I don't know.

Lauren: I don't know. Yeah, you keep shouting out Twitter. And that's an important thing for us to acknowledge that it's really about community and finding community when you're in these early days and trying to make this maybe transition or career leap into tech, having folks around you to workshop ideas off of or to build that network for referrals to even get your foot in the door to get an interview.

And Twitter can be that for a lot of people. It can be a dark place on the internet. [laughs] But it also, at the same time, can be a wonderful community. And especially in tech, I think there's some niche, wonderful places within the Twitter ecosystem.

Danny: Yeah, most definitely.

Lauren: Okay, so can you walk me through what we're hoping to achieve in the season, in the episodes topics-wise that fall under this umbrella of the interview?

Danny: Yeah, the interview. Yeah, absolutely. Like we said before, there's going to be 12 episodes, and each episode really focusing on one specific aspect of the interview. And so, with Episode 1, we labeled it as Starting the Process. What that means is the resume, the cover letters, and how to go about them and really just dive in a little bit and share some resources.

Lauren: Yeah, I mean, this season, we're hoping to be really specific in covering each stage that we ourselves have navigated but know that is pretty common in the interview process, if you will. So we'll start at that like, okay, how to write a resume, how to write that cover letter, how to nail those, make sure that they get seen by a recruiter or, ideally, a hiring manager. So how to get your foot in the door.

But that then, of course, implies that you're building a network and that that is a huge thing that we'll spend an entire episode dedicated towards talking about, how to find mentors, how to build up a social media presence if that is your thing. I don't know; that one is tough. [laughs]

Danny: It's tough but, I don't know, it's such a big suggestion for me whenever I talk to people who are students. I'm like, "Do you have a Twitter?" And I don't know if that's because I'm just a social media nerd, maybe because I got my job through Twitter. And we can dive deeper into that in the episode, so stay tuned. [laughter]

Lauren: Yeah, because I fall onto the other side of it sometimes too. Okay, no, we'll save this for that conversation.

Danny: [laughs] Oh, we're already starting the episodes. But for me, that makes sense for the next episode, which will be Episode 3, which is finding where to apply. And I found out where to apply through Twitter. And so we'll hear different people's stories on what was their tactic? What was their way of going about things?

Lauren: For sure. Because mine was via almost like a whisper network of where folks I knew were loving their jobs. And then, I had to create a list of places where I knew people were hating their jobs, so I knew not to apply at those particular places.

Danny: Wait, I love that you just said whisper network.

Lauren: That is what my Ada or my coding bootcamp we referred to our Slack channel as. It's like a place for us to highlight incredible teams and also to be like, hey, let's all stay away from this one. It's super helpful.

Danny: Whoa. Yeah, it sounds like a guild or something.

Lauren: Yeah, well, let's make our own guild here. That's what this can be is as like, I don't know, that could be a good call to action for that particular one is like folks that are super happy at where their jobs are. Like, where should we be applying? Just because that stuff matters.

Especially for a first-time dev, that first job you want it to be a positive experience. Otherwise, there's a high turnover rate for coding bootcamp grads or even self-taught folks. I guess, in general, just career transitioners. Those first jobs, if it's a flop or unsupportive or a toxic work environment, that can be your first job but also your last job in tech.

Danny: Yeah, you're absolutely right. And it's so important to have a mentor or mentors that can help you along the path.

Lauren: And that will be Episode 4. Love it. Okay, cool. The episode I'm particularly excited to cover is the talking about yourself one [laughs], which sounds ridiculous when I say it. But it's that how to nail concretely that 30 seconds elevator pitch when someone asks you to tell them about yourself.

Danny: So tell me about yourself. Why do you want to work in tech? Or why do you want to work at such and such company? Do you find yourself updating it?

Lauren: Yes, of course. I think because my career has changed a lot since I've entered tech. I can speak exactly to what it was during my first round of interviews trying to land my entry-level job, like my first-time dev job. I spoke to how being an English teacher translated to this industry and my coding bootcamp experience.

Now I have been in the industry for a bit, and I've had different roles. And I want to make sure that I incorporate those sorts of things like. I might say, "English teacher turned coder," and that is maybe it. What about? Do you notice this change?

Danny: Well, I was doing some research, and I looked up my cover letter, and my hook, first sentence in my cover letter is very similar to how I answer that question, like, tell me about yourself. It was actually kind of triggering because I remember saying this specific sentence so --

Lauren: Over and over.

Danny: Oh yeah, over and over and over that, I started to hate it. But it was "Two years ago after finishing an eight-hour shift in a large warehouse; I walked into an old, dingy dive bar to try stand-up comedy for the first time." [laughs] And I was like, what the heck is that? Why did I do it? [laughter]

Lauren: Hold on, stop it. So you said...It's like telling the hiring manager...you're like, "Picture this. Close your eyes. "[laughter]

Danny: I know. And it somehow worked. I don't know how I have a job but look. [laughs]

Lauren: Stop. Wow, I can't wait to dive deeply into that particular topic on that episode. My goodness.

Danny: I'm telling you. I howled when I read that. I was like, what is this? [laughter]

Lauren: Oh God. Oh, and the mean streets of Denver when you walked into a dive bar.

Danny: I had just finished my shift. I didn't even have my name badge off yet.

Lauren: Oh my God. You could smell the Costco hot dogs. God, that's funny.

[laughter]

Danny: And they were like, this man's a storyteller, my God.

Lauren: And they were like, we must have him on this team.

Danny: Stop. Stop. We can't even hear the rest of what you have to say. We are hiring you right now.

[laughter]

Lauren: And it's above what you're asking the salary, actually. Oh God, that is later in the season. But we will have negotiation tips and how to assess an offer. That's going to be a good one. Because it sounds like you really didn't have to navigate that because they were giving everything you wanted.

Danny: Oh no. I was godawful at that too. I was really bad. I was like, I don't know. What do you think?

[laughter]

Lauren: Actually, that's not a bad answer when they ask what's your salary expectation, to put it back to them. That is a good tip.

Danny: Yeah. And I was acting nervous just to make them feel more...

Lauren: Mm-hmm.

Danny: Yeah, exactly. We'll get into it.

Lauren: He's kind of like that, folks. [laughter] We're hoping, of course, it's not just going to be Danny and myself sitting here waxing poetically about things. We really want to be bringing on industry experts and mentors to give their perspective on things, folks from established and revered companies that can talk to us maybe about the behavioral part of the interview because that's one section.

But then we also realize that there's the whiteboarding, the dreaded terrified part of where they ask you to traverse a tree or do some string interpolation. That part of the interview can be very stressful and anxiety-inducing. So you're not alone in that fear. So we want to make sure that we stack the deck with really thoughtful folks that will give some tips and wisdom in that particular part of the interview process.

Danny: Yeah, absolutely. And a good handful of them are co-workers, colleagues that we have here at New Relic. So I'm excited to get to know them more and get to hear their story but also their expertise in the subjects that we have on the episode.

Lauren: And we're going to bring some folks from our team on to talk about how to interview the company back, which I think is a really good topic. It may feel like when you're trying to find your first role that, you just want to say yes to everything. You offer me a job. I say, "Yes." You don't even think about it.

But there is an important part of deciding is this going to be a good fit for you? And we'll give the example questions of how to phrase those questions, to pose them to the interviewer so that you can really evaluate it for yourself if it's going to be a safe space for you to learn and get mentorship and to grow while on the job.

Danny: Yeah, absolutely. And so through all this rambling and laughing, and tears, and just overall fun we --

Lauren: So wholesome.

Danny: [laughs] Yeah, we're just going to cover the interview, and this will be this season. And we plan on focusing on different topics each season. And so, Lauren and I will really be narrowing down this interview process. We hope that you learn some things, get inspired to get out there, and interview.

It's the beginning of the year. You probably have some resolutions; you have some intentions. And maybe those involve crying from a rejection letter, maybe making some new mentors, or talking about yourself in a cool, new, dingy bar way like I did. [laughs]
Lauren: I say a concise, clear, and pointed way. [laughter] But you know what? Potato potato.

Danny: And that's why Lauren's here, to really level me out, or I'm just going to be unhinged with the microphone. [laughter]

Lauren: Do you have any intentions for the New Year? Speaking of, when we're recording this, it's still January. I think we might be launching out in February. Who knows what this...but do you have things you're thinking about?

Danny: My intentions are is that I want to gain more technical knowledge and contribute to maybe four to five open-source projects that revolve around Rails, maybe some new framework that I haven't worked with before.

Lauren: I love that. And I think the community, like listeners, can support you in that too. That's something cool about sharing it aloud.

Danny: Absolutely. And now they will hold me accountable. [laughs]

Lauren: Perfect.

Danny: If it's October and you're like, you've only contributed to one project, you got to figure this out. [laughs]

Lauren: I think you also had one around mentorship too.

Danny: Yes, yes. And because I had such great mentors when I was in code school, I want to be there for two individuals or more or whoever needs my help and guidance in any way possible. I would like to be there for them and give them the same type of value that I received when I was in school.

Lauren: Sure. DMs are open, folks. Go ask a question.

Danny: Oh no. Oh no. What about you? [laughter]

Lauren: Oh gosh. I really want to be thoughtful around community this year. And as the world hopefully begins to open back up, I want to blend the work that we did last year, which was really online communities and on Twitch and just being at virtual events, bringing that to a hybrid and connecting...

I'm in a new area in South Florida. I've recently moved. And I'd love to know developers near me and get them excited about perhaps New Relic technologies and be supportive of people's journeys and be a champion of that also. I'm also bringing a child into this world this year which is --

Danny: Yes. I was about to say you're going to do all of this amazing work whilst having a new child.

Lauren: I have no idea how that will change things; I’m sure it will. I have to be realistic about it. But I also want to think about how I can incorporate motherhood (I don't know. Like, I even feel nervous saying that aloud.) into my code or innovative demo project ideas that support parents in tech and embed that into projects that I'm working on and things.

I think there's an opportunity for a new community too. And so I don't know what it'll look like, but I'm excited to navigate it and to be along for the ride, I think.

Danny: Snaps. Snaps.

Lauren: I think a part of me was really hesitant of resolutions and things this year because it was like, oh my gosh, I'm going to have so much change anyway that I set a goal like, I just need to survive. [laughter] But I think if I want to be realistic about it, it's really about supporting folks in our community, growing our community, and making sure that people who are on this career transition or are learning to code, teaching themselves to code, attending a bootcamp, that they know that they have us as support and not only as mentors but as friends.

When they're frustrated and banging their head against the wall because of a particular error in their code or they can't make sense of why something is breaking, that we're there for them, whether it's on Twitter or...Gosh, I'm sure we will have a way for people to reach out to us @LaunchiesShow, I think on Twitter. All this will be in our show notes, the details.

Danny: The deets.

Lauren: Clearly, we have some ironing out to do.

Danny: Yeah. And just to be clear, our DMs are open. [laughs]

Lauren: Whoa. Yes. That is true, actually. I am always willing and happy to chat with folks about this particular process. And I think it's important now that we have made it into the industry. I'm speaking in the We, but I'll say it for myself. Maybe you feel the same way, Danny.

But it's our duty to help people navigate it and bring them up and make sure that they feel like that this is a collaborative effort and that there's room for all of us to succeed. And there are plenty of jobs in tech, and there are tons of different areas to be an expert in. And we really want to be supportive of that.

Danny: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So, everyone, that has been Episode Zero. This is just kind of a little sample, a Costco sample, if you will. Well, now I don't think I can say Costco, but this is a small sample, if you will.

Lauren: Is that proprietary? Was Costco coming for you as a prior employee?

[laughter]

Danny: I actually have no idea how those things work.

Lauren: Well, let's look at the legality of that because I've definitely dropped that now into the episode. [laughter]

Danny: They honestly probably do not care. They're like, well, Danny was such a good employee. Talk about us.

Lauren: For sure. They're probably like, wow, he is an ambassador even now after. [laughs]

Danny: They're like one of the only few companies that doesn't use Twitter or anything. Their Facebook is run by people who shop there. [laughs]

Lauren: That's so interesting. What an opportunity.

Danny: So here I am. This is a little small sample, Costco sample, if you will, walking around, getting a little meatball in the little paper cup. [laughter] And so this is just to give you a little teaser of what we will be accomplishing this season, being lots of laughs, being lots of education. I just said being lots of education. I don't know what we're talking about at this point.

Lauren: Packed with educational resources or tools. I'm imagining each episode...I have this visual of like a little fanny pack that we --

Danny: Let me just add real quick that as Lauren is saying this, she is dancing with each word that she is saying. [laughter]

Lauren: Because I'm now close your eyes. Picture this. [laughs]

Danny: Okay. I'm waiting.

Lauren: So we have a fanny pack that's empty, and you're about to go on a hike. And we are preparing you with individual little tools that you're going to pack to it so that by the time you're ready to go off on to that...I'm picturing like by the time you're done with this season, you can be on the bus to your interview or on your commute driving to that first interview. And you feel so equipped and ready. You have all of the tools and resources in your little fanny pack all ready to go and to say, "Here I am. Hire me. You know you want to, and here's why."

Danny: Yes. Oh, I'm seeing it. For some reason, the bus stop is on the other side of this mountain. And you're climbing up this mountain, getting all the resources. And then, once you have them, you're there. You're at the bus stop.

Lauren: Smooth sailing. You're on a sled.

Danny: Smooth sailing.

Lauren: I'm now mixing --

[laughter]

Lauren: That's a great visual! Picture that!

Danny: Someone draw this out, please. That's the first call to action.

Lauren: A graphic. [laughs]

Danny: Yeah, someone draw this graphic.

Lauren: Like little badges, little Girl Scout badges, no gender scouting badges. So next episode will be to start the process, to take from the blank page and turn that into a resume or turn that into a cover letter because that is intimidating. That is a terrifar...terrifarty --

Danny: [laughs]

Lauren: Terrifying part of the process. And yeah, you might end up applying to let's go and say 100 roles, and you might not hear back from 90 of them. And four of them will maybe turn into an interview. It's like a numbers game, and we're going to be there for you, help you make sense of it. But at least you'll feel equipped to get going with it after Episode 1, I hope.

Danny: I think so.

Lauren: I mean, TBD.

Danny: TBD. But also, we're open to feedback. If you're like, hey, Episode 1, I learned this. Thank you so much. This was amazing. Wow, when can I get my badge? [laughs]

Lauren: Let's make badges.

Danny: Now I'm thinking...Did you ever play Pokémon? I feel like you didn't.

Lauren: Sure did.

Danny: You did? Yeah! I don't know why I said it that way. We are almost the same age.

Lauren: It's okay.

Danny: Maybe because you're going to be a mother and I --

Lauren: Because I'm older, so you were aging me. Oh, I see. Wow, this feels fun. Safe space.

Danny: [laughs]

Lauren: No. Your turtle's named Tortie [SP], and my turtle was named Squirtle growing up, so that feels like important information.

Danny: Oh my gosh. You're right. Oh my gosh, you're right. I'm just imagining us as little animated characters in a Game Boy like in Pokémon, and we're getting badges.

Lauren: For sure. Aw, how cute are we?

Danny: I just want...now I'm just getting...oh wow. Okay. Wow. We could have something to talk...that's a whole nother episode.

Lauren: Wow. Now he's like, now I like her, geez. [laughter] Now she's cool. We've been working together for months. And I finally earned my cool points with Danny. [laughter] Congrats, folks. You heard it here. Wow.

Danny: Oh my gosh.

Lauren: Building connection and building friendships.

Danny: That's right.

Lauren: All right. Should we wrap this up and just let folks...Episode 1 hopefully will be dropping soon if it hasn't already.

Danny: If you're listening to this, be ready. Be excited.

Lauren: Get stoked.

Danny: Get stoked.

Lauren: Feel nervous. We're nervous too.

Danny: Get that new notebook ready to write down some notes. Get some new resources in that thing.

Lauren: Maybe a fresh page on your phone. I think taking notes electronically is an important tip so that you can do a quick search for an indexing moment. If you're wanting to look up a buzzword or something, a notebook sometimes is hard to find the answer.

Danny: You're right. Whoa.

Lauren: That was controversial because it was against exactly the advice you just gave. So, apologies.

Danny: [laughs] This is yin and yang here.

Lauren: 100%.

Danny: We have conflicting ideas, and that's why we're doing this together.

Lauren: Opposite sides of the aisle.

Danny: Yeah, you can tell that we are very different personalities. [laughter] Oh wow. Okay. So thank you so much, everyone, for listening, for being here with us, and being excited with us.

Lauren: Yeah, being a part of the community.

Danny: Exactly. And we'll see you next episode.

Lauren: And that's a wrap on today's episode of Launchies. Thank you so much for listening. Be sure to go give us a follow on Twitter @LaunchiesShow.

Danny: And if you have any questions in regards to New Relic, our amazing sponsor, the place we work at, and the place that gives me free shirts, be sure to follow us on Twitter @newrelic.

Lauren: And if you want to say what's up to us online, of course, you can follow me personally @LoLoCoding.

Danny: And you can follow me @muydanny.

Lauren: And lastly, of course, please, please go give us a rate review and follow on Apple or Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. We will so, so appreciate it and would love to hear your questions and read your ratings and reviews. Maybe tell a friend about our show. Help us spread the word about what we're trying to do.

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