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Victoria Crawford
Victoria Crawford

Posted on • Updated on

How Did You Find Your First Dev Job?

For all of you hired and working devs, I have a question for you: How did you land your first job as a dev? By this I mean, how did you come across this first position? Did you randomly see it on LinkedIn? Company job board? A friend? Old co-worker? Meetup? Career fair? etc. Did you have a CS degree or attend a bootcamp? Were you self taught?

I am asking as a young dev looking for my first role. I’ve been searching for a little over 2 months now and feel like I’m hitting that point of asking myself if it’ll ever happen for me. I understand that 2 months is not long, don’t get me wrong, but there always seems to be ups and downs during the job search and I’m currently sitting in a down. I think it’ll help inspire/motivate me (and other young devs) to see how experienced devs came across their first opportunities.

If you’d also like to include how long you searched for the job as well, that would be great too.

Top comments (27)

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coffeecraftcode profile image
Christina Gorton

CodePen job board. I didn't have any experience so I recreated the companies "work with us" page and put information about myself in it. Sent that as my resume.
That helped me stand out and get an interview.

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jeremylikness profile image
Jeremy Likness ⚑️

I was told I couldn't get a job as a programmer because I didn't have a college degree, and I believed everyone who told me that. So, I settled for non-programming jobs.

I ended up taking a job as a customer service representation taking claims in Spanish for an insurance company. We were ranked by how many claims we "closed" in a given period and the AS/400 software we used would sometimes crash. Waiting for IT to fix it would put me way behind in the rankings. I realized IT would often just restart the program, so I started doing that myself. IT noticed this in their audit logs and reached out to me to ask if I was interested in a role in IT. I said, "Yes!" thinking it would be my big programming breakthrough.

It wasn't, not exactly. They hired me on a night shift to run these massive printers that would generate insurance forms. They were black ink with either green, red, or blue highlights and the job consisted mainly of waiting for the printer to halt because it needed a different ink cartridge and then swapping them out. This went on for 4 - 6 hours a night.

I realized that there was a way to classify documents based on the type of ink they needed, so I did some research and figured out how to write a program that would sort them so the greens, reds, and blues were all grouped together. This took the job down to 2 - 3 hours so I used the balance of my extra time to "borrow" programming books from various desks (remember, it was the night shift) and teach myself RPG III, the language they were using at the time. After a few months I presented what I learned and management gave me an "overtime role" of managing the month end process in addition to running the printers. As part of that role, I wrote software to help expedite the process and this in turn led to me being transferred officially onto the development team.

Technically, I searched for the job that led to "the" job for months. I took on roles at fast food restaurants, in clothing stores, at bookstores, even worked in a pool hall and sold electronics out of the trunk of my car before landing the customer service job that was the first job to pay me more than minimum wage (I think I was hired on at $6.50/hour when minimum wage was $4.25/hour ... I bragged to my friends that I was a high roller and switched from cheap noodles and generic cigarettes to Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Marlboro Reds. I've since given up both cigarettes and cheese, but I still love good noodles.)

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Rob Kendal {{β˜•}} • Edited on

Mine was accidental. I was an IT technician in a school and found a job in the ambulance service doing the same, but with a remit to build their website. I searched on jobsite or Monster (can’t quite remember).

Turned out to be an epic job as I self trained in VB (switching to C# later on) and ended up doing more coding β€” internal systems and websites β€” and less IT stuff.

And the rest belongs to the ages.

But for you, don’t get down. I have a few posts on job hunting, hopefully they’ll help you. But it is gruelling and hard work and thankless.

Personally I do it in bursts. Apply for a few jobs, do the interviews and take breaks along the way.

If it helps, I did have a struggle recently where I applied for about 30+ roles and got nowhere. And I’m a senior level. So it happens to us all.

I tried to get as much feedback as I could and approached it from a different angle. Spent more time tailoring my CV, contacting companies directly and eventually things turned round.

Keep the faith ☺️

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Bartholomew Allen

Perseverance goes a long way my friend! Don't give up a job will call you back trust me and its all about timing! My advice is always make sure to keep an eye out for brand new job postings than ones that have been posted for weeks. Also make sure to apply to all jobs regardless if its beneath you a learning experience is much more valuable than being put into a sink or swim project and your out of a job in 3 months.

I found my first job through my university and decided to apply right away because at the time I was a dishwasher and I wanted to finally get a job related to my major plus better pay. The job required some knowledge of basic web development fundamentals which I taught myself the summer prior. Always make sure to teach yourself skills that are in demand and most companies need!

I think you should research what's in demand and try becoming proficient in that and apply to those jobs where not many people have that skill! For instance learn Docker or DevOps tools which are valuable and in demand!

If you need more information please feel free to reach out through messaging!

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frogamic profile image
Dominic Shelton

I got my first Dev job through IT support. I have a Comp Sci degree but I didn't network at all in Uni and I didn't try very hard after graduating. I landed the IT support role at a ~1500 person tech company through a friend who said that there was the potential for developer mentorship (never really happened, turns out Devs are busy people).

What I did get was a fair amount of free time between calls to learn Powershell and c# and automate a bunch of stuff. This got noticed and eventually I was offered the role of "DevOps Engineer" in a newly formed team focussed on Employee Experience. This was basically a fullstack JS dev but also kinda support too, which was a great learning opportunity.

My advice would be if you can't find a Dev job directly, look for something tangentially related at a company who's culture might facilitate internal promotion. Something where you can keep your skills fresh by using them. I found having a lot of real world problems that I could apply programming to was much more motivating than working on random personal projects that I was never invested in completing.

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adro.codes

Applied for an internship at a small creative agency after I finished school. Worked really hard to impress everyone and was offered a job afterwards.

My jobs since then have been through connects I made there and meetups.

Keep up the search! Something good will come along!

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Jonathan Kuhl

I started applying for jobs last May. Sent my application to a two or three companies and Revature, thinking I'd start ramping up applications as the summer months came. Especially since I was feeling intense burn out at the call center I worked at (I will never do that again) at the time.

Revature demanded a college degree in CS which I didn't have but I sent my application anyways. Suddenly a few days later I get a phone call and I'm scheduled for a technical interview in Java and OOP basics. I panic a bit, not expecting they'd actually reply to my inquiry due to my lack of a degree. And all I knew about Java at the time was a few hours worth of Treehouse courses. So I start studying up on it

I aced the interview. 4 pillars of OOP? Inheritance, abstraction, encapsulation, and polymorphism, with a few sentences describing each. Finally vs final vs finalize? Yep, got that one. Abstract class vs interface? Got that one too. JRE vs JVM vs JDK? Yep, yep, and yep. Got the job and started their bootcamp in July of last year.

It was eight weeks of coding, four major projects (the last being a big group project involving the whole class in an Agile environment) then got assigned through Revature to Infosys, where I'm now awaiting assignment.

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Igor Ilic

This is my story:

While I was still in school (Secondary school) year 2 of 4ca.
One day I was leaving the school when I noticed a job ad on schools info board and took a quick pick of it. Later that day I had a talk with my mother about it (since I was still a minor at that time) and if I should apply or not, as I have been "coding" for about 2 years now (just messing around with a lot of stuff and learning new things, nothing professional).

So we decided that I should send an email with my CV and see what happens. Tomorrow I received a response and an invite for an interview. I stayed at that company for about 3 years before landing my second first real job. As this was more me learning new things and experiencing how to actually do a proper projects and what goes into them.

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Emanuel Martinez

As other devs, mine was accidental too. I was studying a CS degree in university, when at middle year I started to feel down, and exhausted about some classes. The university has a job portal where startups/small companies search for partials works.

I applied to only one, their description of project was good and match my favourite skills. 2 weeks later I forgot about all of this, and the next day I received a call from them

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emrz profile image
EMRZ • Edited on

I started learning how to code at the age of twelve, my father bought me a book called something like "Visual Basic 6 Reference Manual".

Later on i attended to a technical highschool specialized in computers and there i studied C, C#, SQL. When i graduated i started working repairing computers. When i started to feel pissed off with the PC technician job i started to look for programming jobs in local job looking web pages from my country.

I applied for a job on an insurance systems company, they required no coding experience and offered a 1 month training course. If you pass the exam, you get the job. The course consisted in VB6 and SQL training, since i already had that skills passing the exam was easy.

Basically i was blessed in the sense that at 12 years old i already knew that i wanted to be a coder.

Later VB6 started to feel boring since it's legacy tech and one year on it i already knew the whole full language since it's pretty small.

An ex co-worker recommended me on an start-up where he was working at the time and there i made the jump from client-server apps to web development and that's it.

I guess it is a mix of luck and good timing (having the right skills of course).

Keep searching, you will get your job !

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Omar Bahareth

I had a degree in game development but it was quite hard to find a job in that field where I live (Saudi Arabia) back then. I began looking for mobile app development jobs and had quite a difficult time finding any openings online. I had to rely on word of mouth and kept asking people I knew until I heard of a company that was searching for mobile devs. They asked to see some code I had written in the past (I was fine with it), I was working on a Unity game with a friend and I showed them its code. They liked it and I landed the job. I pretty much learned native iOS development on the job.

The salary was quite bad, it wasn't a healthy place to work at but I had an awesome manager and it introduced me to some awesome people and was the start of my professional network here, which was and still is the key to landing me awesome jobs.

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jibbi

I graduated with a Computer Science degree in December 2001. It was shortly after 9/11, and there was some kind of weird IT panic going on. People were firing IT staff - or so it seemed. I had no idea why. Something something redirecting money to security.

After 2 months of searching and finding nothing near me (remote wasn't really a thing back then) I took a job a half hour away in a call center for dialup tech support. I felt defeated and like the work wasn't what i wanted, or even what i was good at.

About 3 weeks into the job, the CTO, who I went to high school with, mentioned that they wanted me to write them a web application, so I did (I'd never written a web application - I'd written a few web sites (on geocities), but I knew nothing of database connections or anything of the sort). After that they moved me to their development team permanently.

I wasn't paid enough for my work, they didn't bother to change my pay from the call center, and it took them about 3 years to get me up to what would have been an okay salary for a 24 year old back then, but I don't think that's super common - they just kinda sucked :D

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Juneau Lim • Edited on

I can't say much since I'm still a student.
However, you might be already doing, but if you are not, please do listen to secondCareerDevs. It helped me a lot.
It's not a serious job, but I'm currently on a contract job that I got from my friend from school. It really seems like a network is everything.
BTW, I didn't know you have just graduated. I thought you were an experienced dev. So I hope you would not worry too much!

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seawolf profile image
ben • Edited on

While I studied at university, I attended some local user groups, a Linux one in my case. Some work experience turned into a "proper" project, and that year-or-so on my CV looked great to my first employer, whom I found simply by job websites.

As a graduate, I was seen to have the right mindset to identify and learn things rather than already possess the skills, so the employer felt confident I would be able to do the job.

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Mirza • Edited on

A little bit of background story of mine. I studied Electrical Engineering for a year. During that time, I realized 2 things:

  • Hardware related subjects such as Digital Logic Design and Circuit analysis are too much dry for my taste.
  • There aren't any that many jobs related to this field (this is especially true in case of my country which is Pakistan).

This was enough for me to switch to full time computer science program (which I did).
Another factor was of my siblings' influence on me.** Being the youngest one among all of them meant that I got to learn tonnes of things about scope of higher education, latest trends in industry etc. To be honest, I am lucky because of them. They were the ones who went through the wall and got bloody unlike me.**

In terms of job hunt, my initial perception was that it wasn't going to be that difficult because of 2 reasons:

  • I had already done a 3 month internship at a startup as a RoR developer so I knew how does one actually practice Software Engineering skills in real life.
  • I already knew about the whole interview process, what are company's expectation from candidates, types of questions that they ask etc. I also knew about the experiences of my mates who got hired a year ago. Their perspectives were helpful too.

However, I realized that my perception was wrong. I*t's one thing to know about different interview hacks but it's another to actually sit in front of the panel/interviewer and deliver right answers in small span of time.* At every step of interview I realized that** there's always somethings that either I didn't knew or I had read it somewhere wasn't able to recall at that time**. All of this lead me to adopt the following strategies:

=> Interview Prep

Timeless DEV post...

How to write a kickass README

Arguably the single most important piece of documentation for any open source project is the README. A good README not only informs people what the project does and who it is for but also how they use and contribute to it.

If you write a README without sufficient explanation of what your project does or how people can use it then it pretty much defeats the purpose of being open source as other developers are less likely to engage with or contribute towards it.