How to Get a Job as a Coding Bootcamp Graduate
Can you really get a high-paying programming job after coding bootcamp? Here’s a guide on how you could. This is the final piece from the 3-part series based on our Codementor Office Hours with Haseeb.
Coding bootcamps will help you get ready to land a job in tech. You will, eventually, if you put in the hustle as much as you did during the program. It will be a struggle, but don’t give up and treat everything as a learning experience.
Here’s how you can utilize your bootcamp experience in the real world battle of actually finding a job.
1. Getting interviews
The Basics: Resume, portfolio, cover letter
Basic but critical. These will be the first things your prospective employer will see, so you want to make a strong first impression. There are plenty of resources about making your resume standout, and it’s standard to make your resume, portfolio, and cover letter relevant to the job you’re applying for. If you’re a developer, highlight important technical stuff you did on the bootcamp, or on your own. If you’re a designer, make sure the design is great. Do the same thing with your portfolio. Try to avoid copy & pasting cover letters from the internet. Instead, write a basic skeleton of what you want to say, but make sure you personalize it every time you send it to a different company. Making it short and relevant is the best rule to follow to help make your resume or portfolio appear stronger.
Job applications: Job platforms, mass applying
Job hunting is a numbers game. Obviously, the more you put yourself out there, the higher the chances of you finding a job. But, still be intelligent with your job search.
This will also take up plenty of your time as you need to scour the internet for every possible opportunity. Of course, there are job platforms to make your life a little easier, but mass-applying to companies is a good strategy, too. This can get a little handful, so try to sort out a system that will work with your schedule and goals. Make a list of the companies you want to send raw applications to, then set a weekly or daily application schedule. The stresses of job hunting can get to you quickly, so managing them into practicable batches will help you feel a bit more in control.
Networking: reaching out, cold emails, coffee dates
One advantage of going through coding bootcamp is that you’ll be surrounded by industry peers who are usually more than willing to help fellow developers in the community. Use this to your advantage and put yourself in front of the right people. Once you get any initial introverted tendencies sorted out, you’ll realize that being connected to the right people is a faster way of getting to the door than just sending out applications randomly.
If you haven’t yet, make yourself part of a community. Go to meetups. Or go through your friends on Facebook and LinkedIn; chances are there’s someone you already know who’s working for a good company. @Mention people on Twitter, send cold emails to developers you researched. Make a spreadsheet of all these people, and just reach out to them.
Of course, don’t be creepy about it. Try to sound friendly but professional. Let them know you’re a developer as well, and you just want to pick their brain. Not everyone will reply, but if they do, take them out for coffee. Meet them and try your best to make a genuine connection with them. Make it a habit to talk to people and treat them for coffee. Don’t just stop with a few; grow your network by buying people coffee. Literally just put yourself out there.
Once you have all these coffee dates scheduled, don’t meet them with the intention of asking for a job blatantly. Ask them what they know about a certain technology, or what it’s like to be in the industry and their company. It’s an informal informative interview, and you are the interviewer. Truly hear out what they are saying, so look genuinely interested. What’s important is you get them talking and maybe, getting them to talk enough will lead to a job referral. But let them bring it up on their own. Never assume that they will give you anything willingly just because they agreed to meet you.
Remember, you are asking for their time, so try and make it worthwhile for them, too. Even if the conversation doesn’t lead to a possible job opportunity, it’s likely that they can refer you to another contact and your network will grow even more. Keep repeating it to everyone you meet, and keep building your network.
This route may lead you to an opportunity quicker, but this still doesn’t guarantee it. Nonetheless, if you do this often enough, and if you still make the effort to connect with them after the initial coffee date, a job referral could happen eventually.
Study and practice
If you’ve finished a coding bootcamp, this means you already have relevant experience in writing programs. However, you shouldn’t just rely on what the bootcamp has taught you. Online communities and resources can help you practice and learn more. Look for coding problems and solutions you can learn from, like these tutorials for both beginners and experienced programmers.
It’s the same with your job application process – put down some plans to further your learning. Try to schedule your learning as often as you can, but don’t overdo it either. Have plenty of breaks in between, too. If you’re working on an algorithms problem and you can’t figure out an answer within 20-30 minutes, look up the answer or ask others for help. Watch videos or read resources if there are concepts you don’t understand. Once you have the answer, try to understand why it works and try to solve it again until you finally get the answer on your own.
Keep making things, building projects, learning technologies, and just continue programming.
The Basics: best practices, staying curious
Looking for work is a struggle. It may seem bleak at first, but all the effort you put into looking for work everyday will eventually lead to an interview, you just have to keep at it. When that fateful day arrives, still apply the best and common practices you know from past interviews in any field. However, keep in mind that now, you are applying for a tech position and there are certain norms to remember. It can be as basic as wearing the appropriate clothes but putting it in the context of a tech company, which may mean smart casual clothes as opposed to formal business attire. Be personable, but learn how to talk tech jargon, too. Be curious and ask them about the work they’re doing, the team they’re working with, and the company culture. Staying curious during the interview will help you see the interview as a learning process instead of only caring whether you get the job or not.
The interview: basic questions, technical problems
Interviews are tricky. Whether they’re asking you a trivial question or a more technical one, always make sure you understand exactly what they are saying. Feel free to ask them again for clarification.
When you’re doing a technical or whiteboard interview, don’t jump straight to coding . First, explain your approach in the abstract and walk your interviewer through your thought process by actually saying it out loud. They want to know how you reason, and tech interviews are as much about communication and thought process as they are about getting the right answer.
There’s also the possibility that you have no idea about the question they asked. Be honest about it. You’ll only look foolish if you pretend to know what you’re doing when you actually don’t. Tell them that you’ve never encountered this problem before, but still be open-minded to learning about it. Continue asking them questions because you’ll end up learning a thing or two from this interview.
Remember, it’s okay to be wrong. Be honest and always ask questions, and learn as much as you can in the interview.
Another good way to approach each interview is to go there not really expecting to get the job but just being excited to be given an opportunity to prove yourself. Being excited creates a more affirmative experience for both you and the interviewer. Staying upbeat about it will help you exude more confidence about yourself, and help you perform better. Your interviewer will also get a sense of your genuine interest to be part of the team and product.
If everything goes well, you may finally get an offer. But still be intelligent about it and negotiate. It’s not unusual for coding bootcamp graduates to be offered entry-level positions with entry-level pay, so always try to research the pay scale of the position offered to you.
Have a pay range in mind, but never tell them a specific figure. In fact, try to avoid talking about salaries in the beginning. Money can be an awkward thing to talk about if you’re both just trying to assess each other, so if you can hold it out for a later conversation, do it. When you do get to talk about it, try to avoid hard numbers and always say you are flexible about it. But always try to meet halfway with your employer. Sometimes, companies offer amazing benefits and bonuses so maybe that’s something to consider, too.
Approach every stage of your job hunt as an exciting opportunity to learn, and that’s probably how you’ll make the best out of your situation. Be positive about it all, and stop worrying about getting a job because you will. Just hang in there; keep on being curious, stay excited, and continue learning.