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Cover image for Life As A Bootcamp Dev - Week 4: Another Week, Another Job Hunt

Life As A Bootcamp Dev - Week 4: Another Week, Another Job Hunt

shawnhuangfernandes profile image shawnhuangfernandes Updated on ・11 min read

This Week In Review

This week went a lot smoother than last week, considering that I came in with a plan of attack for tackling the junior dev job hunt! Here's how I thought it went overall:

Alt Text

Presence - 8/10

AKA how I worked on how I appear to job recruiters, companies etc

What I Did

  • Sent out 10 job applications (previous week deliverable)
  • Finalized my Gatsby portfolio website (previous week deliverable)
  • Reach out to 5 recruiters and 5 developers (previous week deliverable)

How It Went

Sending out 10 job applications (cold applications)

It took some time to compare my desired job criteria against the actual job postings on LinkedIn, GlassDoor, Dice and other job boards. This included:

  • Reading the desired qualifications, and re-arranging my resume as necessary
  • Writing a unique, genuine cover letter as a supplement to the application
  • Contacting any bootcamp grads or engineers who may already work for that company for insight

I have been told that cold applications are typically the most unlikely way to get an interview as a bootcamp junior dev. That being said, some people get discouraged or don't understand the point of cold applications. I personally feel like cold applying is a great way of understanding more about the type of position you want to work in. I don't have expectations to hear back from employers, but I will put my best effort when sending my application materials over!

Things I Could Do Better: Send more applications out, and also do more sleuthing on finding actual people to talk to rather relying on an ATS algorithm to have mercy on me.

Finalizing my Gatsby Portfolio Website

It is finally up! You can find it here! It feels good to be able to actually have a website that is a central place to look at my projects and also see information about me. I haven't quite figured out in what circumstances I should share my portfolio project, but I am excited to fill in the fields for job applications that ask for it.

Things I Could Do Better: Having the Gatsby portfolio site is nice, but I definitely need to revisit it to make it more responsive. I'll get feedback on it and go from there.

Reaching Out To 5 Recruiters and 5 Developers

I wanted to reach out to recruiters to just let them know that I was interested in both the company as well as particular positions their companies were hiring for. I used LinkedIn to find all the recruiters by:

  • Seeing the recruiter on the job posting and contacting them that way
  • Searching the company on LinkedIn and finding the people/recruiters who worked for that company and messaging them

Of the 5 recruiters I messaged, 0 have responded. This is alright because I came in with the understanding that this is normal. Recruiters' accounts get blown up on LinkedIn, but I wanted to do my due diligence.

Reaching out to developers was particularly successful. I looked for bootcamp developers who went to Flatiron, particularly other earlier graduates who snagged jobs. This was much easier than writing a message to a recruiter:

  • I was very much excited to see how their new jobs/lives were
  • They would give me really honest feedback on their work
  • Most of them were situated in Seattle, and I could set up coffee meetings
  • Some of them very much understood the struggle, and offered to help me polish up things like my resume, or get me in contact with another professional

Things I Could Do Better: I spoke to a lot of people, and sometimes I'd want to reconnect with them at a later time (like a recruiter or someone who offered to help me out). I will be creating a separate category in Trello to track my conversations or follow-ups!

Next Week

  • Send 15 applications out, and try to contact developers/recruiters to learn more about each position if possible
  • Get feedback on my portfolio website from other developers
  • Fix up platform/size issues on portfolio website

Learning - 6/10

AKA how I learn to speak code, solve algorithms, and build projects

What I Did

  • Completed 15 Algos (on LeetCode)
  • Play around with React Native to build 4 simple views for one of my old projects, Flexable

Things I Didn't Do:

  • Read Chapters 7-11 on Cracking The Coding Interview (I didn't realize the amount of time meetups and new projects would take, and cut this out of this week's activities)

How It Went

Completed 15 Algos (on LeetCode)

These were all focused on Array operations. I think as an exercise it was really nice to keep my Javascript skills sharp. Furthermore, it was a good exercise in thinking about what a solid algorithm answer looks and sounds like. Whenever I tried solving an algorithm, I would think about some things I learned from Cracking the Coding Interview:

  • What is the O(n) in terms of speed and memory usage?
  • What type of data structure might be ideal for the algorithm?
  • What might be potential pitfalls/refactors to optimize the solution?

This helped me learn not only just how to solve the problem, but also how to talk about the problem, which is a really important part of white-boarding interviews.

Things I Could Do Better: Find some people to do actual white boarding with, and try to do some mock white board interviews with some colleagues! Also, maybe share some of my solutions with others to get feedback on the readability of my code!

Play Around With React Native

As an exercise in a mobile development, I wanted to make small steps towards learning how to use React Native by building some simple views for one of my old projects. In my quest for mobile competence, I started learning React Native Navigation so I could go between my views. There were some additional projects and meetups that I became involved with that took some time away from this, so I mainly just got around to learning and implementing some basic routing. Here's a sample:

// React Native imports
import React from "react";
import "react-native-gesture-handler";
import { NavigationContainer } from "@react-navigation/native";
import { createStackNavigator } from "@react-navigation/stack";

// Custom imports
import LandingScreen from "./screens/LandingScreen";
import AuthenticateScreen from "./screens/AuthenticateScreen";
import MenuSelectionScreen from "./screens/MenuSelectionScreen";

import { YellowBox } from "react-native";
YellowBox.ignoreWarnings(["Remote debugger"]);

const Stack = createStackNavigator();

export default function App() {
  return (
    <NavigationContainer>
      <Stack.Navigator
        screenOptions={{
          headerShown: false
        }}
        initialRouteName="LandingScreen"
      >
        <Stack.Screen name="LandingScreen" component={LandingScreen} />
        <Stack.Screen name="AuthenticateScreen" component={AuthenticateScreen} />
        <Stack.Screen name="MenuSelectionScreen" component={MenuSelectionScreen} />
      </Stack.Navigator>
    </NavigationContainer>
  );
}

I spent a lot of time reading React Native docs and understanding how stacks, screens, and components all fit into the larger mobile 'navigation' picture. I added a simple button with an event listener to make sure stuff worked! Here's a sample of my landing screen with the equivalent of a Link To in regular React:

// React Native imports
import React from "react";
import { View, Button, Text, StyleSheet } from "react-native";

// Custom imports
import colors from "../constants/colors";

const LandingScreen = ({ navigation }) => {
  return (
    <View style={styles.screen}>
      <Text>This is the landing screen</Text>
      <Button
        title="Go to Authenticate"
        onPress={() => navigation.navigate("AuthenticateScreen")}
      />
    </View>
  );
};

const styles = StyleSheet.create({
  screen: {
    height: "100%",
    width: "100%",
    paddingTop: 40,
    paddingHorizontal: 15,
    backgroundColor: colors.primary
  }
});

export default LandingScreen;

I'm excited to continue further into React Native land next week!

Things I Could Do Better: I need to partition my time accordingly, because there's quite a few new activities that will be on my plate for the next week!

Next Week

  • Add UI components on each of the 4 views, and have functional navigation between
  • Solve 15 more algos on LeetCode
  • Try to do 3 Whiteboarding Sessions either by myself or with other people
  • Work on Play It Forward (see below)
  • Work on Personae (see below)
  • Read Chapters 7-11 on Cracking the Coding Interview

Networking - 8/10

AKA building meaningful relationships with other professionals

What I Did

  • New Project: Play It Forward
  • New Project: Personae!
  • Went to a SeattleJS conference
  • Went to a Career Path In Tech Meetup (Last Week's Deliverable)
  • Going to a Junior Dev Struggle Bus Meetup (Last Week's Deliverable)
  • Going to a Community Hack Night Meetup (Last Week's Deliverable)
  • Got a Referral for an actual job and took an interview and bombed it
  • Contacted by a consultant and sat down to talk about contract jobs
  • Reached out to various people and set up some meetings and explore some cool opportunities!

Things I Didn't Do:

  • Try to balance Networking with Learning and Presence (I definitely neglected learning React Native because I was running everywhere).

How It Went

New Project: Play It Forward

Play It Forward was one of the projects I worked on during one of Democracy Lab's hackathons. It was the brainchild of Jennifer Williams, one of my classmates at Flatiron and myself. We both loved the idea 6 weeks into our bootcamp and promised each other we'd keep working on it after we graduate. Sure enough, Jen and I reconnected and decided we'd get cracking. We met at a coffee shop and started making a plan of attack!

Alt Text

We're hoping to use this as a opportunity to practice our React chops and do some deep dives into new technologies such as GraphQL, Tailwind CSS, Apollo, Typescript.

New Project: Personae

During last week's Diversity and Women in Tech meetup, I met some really awesome people, including a PM working on a cool project. After some casual conversation he mentioned he was looking for support for a project that he was trying to get off the ground that might help local government and beyond. Coming from a government job, this really resonated with me, and it looked like he wanted some help mocking up a proof of concept web application. I volunteered to help him out and we set up a meeting this week! I brought this up to my Flatiron cohort and one of my peers, Christian Kastner, expressed interest, so we joined forces to help the PM work on this project. More details on this in upcoming posts!

Went to the SeattleJS Conference

My first conference! It was a very technical jargon heavy conference (talking mainly about cool new tools), and it was hard to follow the content. I decided to leave early and go home and work on my projects, algorithms, and job applications.

Things I Could Do Better: Try to endure a jargon heavy experience (by Googling and make connections with people!

Went To Career Path In Tech Meetup

One of my old coaches at Flatiron who is now employed, Lucy Suddenly, was a panelist during this meetup, and I wanted to support her. Additionally, I love compassionate tech spaces that are actively trying to support those who are statistically at a disadvantage in the tech field. This meetup mainly hit on the non-conventional ways the panelists found their way into a tech job.

Things I Could Do Better: I actually spent a lot of time socializing, but I forgot to actually connect with people on LinkedIn or leave thank you messages for the hard work of those who planned the event. Gratitude goes a long way!

Going to THE JDSB (Junior Dev Struggle Bus) Meetup

Great Meetup with a mixed crowd of developers sharing their experiences with job hunting, networking, and learning. It was held in a loud bar, and I found myself almost losing my voice just trying to talk to people! It was really encouraging to chat with other devs going through the same experience as myself. I connected with some other bootcamp devs, but I also decided to leave early to get home on time!

Community Hack Night Meetup

Simply some time for developers to work on personal projects in a group setting. I went with my fellow graduates Jen and Fonzie and we used the time to study. We arrived slightly late and didn't talk too much to anyone. I definitely want to go again and work on my React Native Project, Personae, and Play It Forward with other community devs.

Got A Referral, Bombed an Interview

I applied to an awesome company and was introduced to one of their recruiters who gave me an opportunity to actually take a pre-screening frontend technical interview on Code Signal. If I passed the test, I would move on to the next stage.
I was given 1.5 hours to tackle three coding questions:

  • A simple algorithm involving arrays (or string, or numbers, based on how you approached it)
  • A basic DOM manipulation problem in JS
  • A string-related algorithm I was incredibly nervous, and had never taken an interview before. I accepted this as a learning experience and jumped in expecting to struggle, and struggle I did*.

My strategy was this:

  • Solve the problem using a naive solution if an elegant solution wasn't clearly obvious to me
  • Write comments explaining each step
  • Below the code write how I would optimize for performance, what I thought the big O was, and possible caveats/refactors

I spent 20 minutes on the first problem, 60 minutes on the second problem (which didn't pass the tests), and ran out of time on the third problem. I understood DOM manipulation pretty well during my bootcamp, but after 6 weeks of React and no vanilla javascript, I was very rusty.

What I Could Do Better: Practice writing Javascript, try to do as many technical interviews as I can.

Spoke with a Consultant about Contract Jobs

A Consultant reached out to me this week and wanted to know if I was interested in doing contract work in the future. I set up a meeting to learn more about it and met them on-site. After a short discussion I gleaned the following knowledge:

  • This wasn't a job offer, this was just trying to gauge whether or not I would be interested in being considered for contracts. I would still be interviewing for these positions.
  • The consultant did not just reach out to every bootcamp grad (to my surprise), and mentioned that it was clear I put a lot of thought into my resume, which was the reason they reached out to me. Arguably, I don't really know what their bar is.
  • The consultant did not find me on LinkedIn, but apparently found me on Dice. I happened to be on Dice because I had applied to a job that required a Dice account.

The person I met was actually really nice, and very honest about the pay and how their business operated. It seemed like a good opportunity for junior devs to get a food in the door with a company if hired on contract, because companies often hire contract engineers to full time positions later down the road.

When I got home, I sent a thank-you email to the person I met, and also wrote a reminder to check back in with them at the end of next week.

Reached Out To A Bunch Of People

I've been really active with reaching out to a lot of people. I think the biggest lesson I learned this week is that helping people and being nice is the best networking strategy. Many people who have offered to help me out have either worked with me on a team or are people who I made laugh. I have a couple exciting activities lined up with some people this next week, and we'll see what happens! I'll be sure to talk about it in more detail later!

Next Week

  • Email Follow Ups
  • Software Engineering Interview Meetup
  • Other meetups
  • Coffee Meetings

In Closing

This week as been really busy, but there's definitely room for improvement. I now totally understand why job hunting as a junior dev takes a lot out of you. However, I have enjoyed branching out, meeting people, working on meaningful projects, and exploring the options for my future. Whether it takes 3 days or 3 months, you'll find me here, working and blogging!

Good luck with your own endeavors!
Shawn

Posted on Feb 24 by:

shawnhuangfernandes profile

shawnhuangfernandes

@shawnhuangfernandes

Hi! I am an electrical engineer transitioning into web development! I want to leverage the tech skills I've learned to help everyone make the most of their lives!

Discussion

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Hi there Shawn! Another great post. Got an idea for you: instead if in-person meeting for coffee, do a virtual coffee with (the free version of zoom or with hangouts. Stay safe!

 

Absolutely, considering everything that's going on. Social distancing is really important! Great suggestion!