Remote jobs are rapidly becoming more popular in nearly every industry, growing by over 173% in the past decade. This phenomenon is sweeping the US, Canda, and most of Europe as millennials demand a better work-life balance. Over 3% of US employees work from home at least half of the time, and over 5% of the US works full-time remote jobs. Whether you want to work from home, become a digital nomad, or have a more flexible schedule, becoming a remote developer can help you find the job of your dreams. Remote work and remote coding bootcamps open a wide range of possibilities, including better salaries (remote software developers make an average salary of $66,000), less time spent commuting, and a better work-life balance.
“I’ve been working remotely for Hilton now for a little over a year now. I have a good work-life balance. It’s unreal sometimes that I can just do my job in Peru,” says Codesmith graduate Eric Carillo.
With over 75 online full stack coding bootcamps and courses out there, your first step is to choose the best coding bootcamp for you. Of course, you don’t need to attend a remote bootcamp in order to become a remote developer, but learning web development online is actually great preparation for a remote career because you’ll become an expert in remote tools like Slack, Trello, Zoom, etc. Also keep in mind that as a result of COVID-19, many coding bootcamps have moved their curriculum fully online, such as LearningFuze, DevMountain, and Lighthouse Labs.
The online learning portal will be your classroom! Attend an online info-session, read the school’s mission, and ask yourself if this is the right fit for you. Also look into what the online school can do for you if you run into a roadblock. Will you need and get one-on-one attention? Will you get support from a community on Slack? Make sure that aligns with your needs. The proper foundation for will set you up with both relevant technical skills and with soft skills needed to become a remote developer.
“Learning on my own was definitely useful, and I still recommend spending a significant amount of time preparing if you're considering a bootcamp. But the structure that I had in General Assembly allowed me to succeed,” says Alex Merced, General Assembly remote bootcamp graduate. Alex attempted to teach himself how to code online before realizing that remote bootcamp was the best route for him. You’ll need to decide which learning method is best for you: a self-guided online course, online mentor and community lead courses, or a remote bootcamp.
What to Expect: You’ll learn digital skills via recorded lectures. Expect to practice coding in your browser and get help from chatting with other students or experts in a community Slack channel.
Cost: Free - $500
Pros & Cons: Inexpensive, but also require a lot of self-motivation.
Examples: Codecademy, Udacity
What to Expect: Expect to be matched with a mentor who works in the field. You’ll learn the technical curriculum on your own, but will have weekly one-on-one sessions with your mentor. You could use those sessions to clarify a topic, get unstuck, or get career advice.
Pros & Cons: Flexible time commitment, but still requires self-motivation and can take longer to complete and change careers.
Examples: Bloc’s Web Developer Track, Thinkful's Engineering Flex, Skillcrush's Web Development Bootcamp
What to Expect: These are full-time immersive bootcamps delivered remotely – expect to spend time in live lectures, interaction with classmates, and targeted career coaching.
Pros & Cons: The most time-intensive and expensive option, but it’s worth it for the community support, instructor-led teaching, and career services. Many also offer a job guarantee.
Examples: Hack Reactor Remote, Galvanize Online Software Engineering Bootcamp, Fullstack Academy Remote Immersive, General Assembly Software Engineering Immersive Remote
Remote software engineer jobs come in many forms. You’ll find part-time, full-time, contract, and freelance developer jobs. If you do best in a stable team environment with employer motivation and a mentor, you’ll want to look for a full-time employee position. These often come with benefits like paid vacation and healthcare too!
There is more flexibility in contract or freelance work including the ability to make your own schedule, set your own rates, and be your own boss. Just remember that you’re the only one responsible for your pay and success in these situations, and you’ll probably want to find your own mentor. You would also need to set up business systems for yourself including invoicing, scheduling, and insurance. Online freelancing platforms like Upwork and TopTal can handle those for you.
Remote employers are also looking for bootcampers with soft skills fit for online communication, a portfolio of projects, and how you plan to continue learning after bootcamp. Since you’ll most likely be applying and interviewing remotely, your portfolio, resume, and LinkedIn need to showcase your personality as much as possible. You can show personality in the projects you choose to work on and include in your portfolio. Use your personal summary to show what you were doing before bootcamp, how some of the experiences might transfer to remote developer jobs, why you love coding and chose to change careers, and what you are looking forward to in the future. Remember, just because you won’t be working in an office in person together doesn’t mean you can’t seek mentorship from your future employer!
Building your network is the most effective way to secure remote work. Entry-level positions are often not advertised online and if they are you’ll be cold-applying. You can make your application stand out by connecting with other developers or employees from the company you're applying to on LinkedIn or AngelList. Reach out to them and ask if they’d be willing to chat with you about what it’s like to work on their team. If you are searching for job listings online, start here:
|Remote Job Boards||Tech Job Boards with Remote Listings||Online Job Boards|
Also keep in mind that some companies, like Basecamp, Treehouse, Zapier, InVision, GitHub, and AirTable consist of only remote employees, so be sure to check out the career pages on their respective websites.
“It does take discipline to be a remote worker because no one is sitting over your shoulder making sure you do what you need to do. You need to show that you can manage yourself and push yourself,” Alex Merced notes from his work from home job. You’ll need to define those boundaries for yourself and find the right work-life balance for you. Aside from not commuting to an office and less in-person interaction, remote work requires different communication skills and self-discipline.
There is no one way to work remotely! Some employers will offer flexible hours for remote workers while others still expect a 9-5 commitment. Some work-from-home jobs will require you to be in a specific time zone, region, or even city. Depending on the size of the company you may be provided with equipment but many expect you to provide your own computer, internet, or smartphone. Working remotely still typically means working with a team but you will be communicating digitally. Each remote team will be different so be prepared to adapt to new technologies and get on board with productivity tools. If you’re more productive on your own, then this is perfect for you. If you feel easily disconnected, then set up regularly scheduled human contact outside of your coworkers.
“Having a voice in a remote team is different. You can’t just sit at your desk and be there. Your team needs to see you being active in chats, active in problem-solving outside of your specific ticket, and if you have a problem you need to be okay with asking for help,” Carillo shares from his remote work experience as a digital nomad.
One of the most noticeable differences between office jobs and remote jobs are the work-life boundaries. You won’t have the action of leaving the office to trigger the end of work anymore. You might have a flexible enough schedule that allows you to take larger breaks during daylight but that might mean working later into the evening or earlier in the morning.
You’ve graduated from coding bootcamp and polished your application materials. Now for the hard part! Online interviews can be tricky and they’re different for every position so we’ve rounded up answers to the most common questions.
Every hiring manager is going to ask you different questions, but the questions will typically be geared toward learning how you problem-solve, your work-life balance expectations, and your communication style. Remote jobs will also want you to demonstrate how you will fit in the remote work environment.
What tools do you use to collaborate? How would you remain productive if one of those tools were to go down? How will you communicate effectively using those tools?
Describe your communication style.
Will you be able to stay motivated without an in-person supervisor? How will you combat slumps in productivity?
How will you schedule your work?
How would you go about solving conflict or disagreement with your team?
If there is a time-sensitive problem and the rest of your team is offline, how will you handle it?
Explain a challenge you had with a project that you worked on from start to finish and how you overcame it.
Why do you want to work remotely?
Can you describe your home office setup?
What do you anticipate being your biggest challenge as a remote worker? How do you plan to deal with it?
What are your expectations for this position? What hours do you expect me to be online? Will I need to be located in one city, state or region? Do I need to come into the office occasionally?
What does communication look like on your team?
Where is everyone on your team located? Will I need to be mindful of time zone differences?
What does a successful remote worker look like in your opinion?
How will feedback be given to me?
Is there an onboarding process or ramp-up period?
Coding bootcamps are particularly great for preparing you for a remote job because they already teach and use remote technologies like Slack, Zoom, Trello. “We used Zoom and Slack to communicate during remote bootcamp. I built solid relationships with my fellow cohort students,” says Alex Merced who attended General Assembly’s Remote Software Engineering Immersive. “When we do labs, we're in breakout rooms of three or four students. Often you're asking other students for help in the labs and sharing your screens to figure things out together.”
Downloading Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, and Webex in advance will make your interview day run more smoothly. Pro-tip: ask a friend to do a practice run before the day of your interview!
Even though remote jobs can mean working in your pajamas, you should still dress professionally for your interview. A few other tips from Career Coaches:
“Be intentional about setting up your interview space. You should have good lighting, good sound, and it should be clear of distractions for both you and your interviewer,” says Rithm School Career Coach Zach DeRossette.
“Preparation for remote interviews isn't just about researching the company and the role (although those are both important and should definitely be done), you also have to prepare your technology and your appearance. Preparing the technology includes downloading the software you're using for the interview, testing the audio and video in advance, and becoming comfortable with the technology - any technical difficulties could take up valuable time during the actual interview. And let's not forget the most important part of your appearance - your smile, eye contact, and facial expressions. Nonverbals go a long way in a remote interview!” says Tech Elevator’s Lead Career Coach Kelly Brucker.
Arrange to have your interview location where you won’t be disturbed.
Test your set-up beforehand so you know you’ll be well-framed in the shot and the room behind you looks clean.
Get set up 5-10 minutes before your scheduled interview so you don’t have to worry about being on time.
Employers are looking for proactive team players with the demonstrated ability to collect information, read the context of a group chat, know when to step back and support your team, and implement regular feedback. Taking the initiative to find a solution, doing your research, and showing that you’ve thought through your role’s duties will help you thrive.
Rithm School’s Career Coach Zach DeRossette suggests, “Get to know your co-workers beyond the basics. Schedule an introductory 1-on-1 meeting with all of your teammates. A group introduction is not enough!”
Keep in touch with your bootcamp and your cohort. These connections could be your foot in the door for a remote job, the solution to a problem you’re having, or the emotional support you need down the road.
Prepare your home office during the job hunt so that it’s ready to go on your first day. Do you live with roommates or family members? Inform them you’ll be working from home. Either establish a do not disturb schedule or an indicator of when you shouldn’t be disturbed. The most important part of your home office is the tech. Can your laptop handle the workload you’ll be putting it through? Will you need a second monitor? Do you have a solid internet connection?
If you can help it, don’t completely rely on coffee shops and public library wifi. While these are fine places to go when you have cabin fever, they’re more likely to distract you and reduce your productivity.
Take communication seriously: As Tech Elevator’s Lead Career Coach Kelly Brucker says, “Communication is key. Whether you're working remotely or in-person, communication is always important, but when you're working remotely, communication becomes imperative. Find out how your co-workers prefer to communicate (Slack, email, Zoom meetings, phone calls, etc) or if your company has a preferred method of communication when employees are working remotely. If you're able to communicate with your co-workers quickly and effectively while working remotely, it will make your day-to-day role flow smoothly in a remote environment.”
Do you work from home and have tips for future bootcampers about how to be the best remote developer and teammate? Let us know in the comments!
Rachel Meltzer is a freelance writer who loves writing about career transitions, tech, and the outdoors. She helps adventurous people tell their stories on her podcast and coaches new freelance writers. She was born and raised in New England and currently lives in North Carolina.
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