Written By Steven Watkins
You've just finished your bootcamp experience (con-grad-ulations!) and now you’re ready for your first job in tech. This is not the time to power down; in fact, today is when the really hard work begins. While finishing a bootcamp is an accomplishment, graduation doesn’t get you a job. You’ll need to stay focused, hungry, and diligent on your search. Here are 7 ways to spend those crucial weeks between graduation day and your first day as an employed developer!
A bootcamp will give you a solid understanding of each programming language in a tech stack, but mastering the advanced skills is up to you. Whether it be Ruby on Rails, PHP, or Python, advanced features will help you become a better developer. Find complex functions and utilize them in your code. The more time you spend exploring those advanced features of a programming language, the more fluent you become. For example, at Launch Academy, you’ll learn best practices in Test Driven Development (TDD) within the Rails framework. Now, take a deep dive into writing highly effective unit tests and feature tests.
Potential employers love to see that you kept coding after completing your bootcamp. Make it a goal to keep up your GitHub commit streak until you get a job. This tells employers that you are committed to becoming a better programmer and will consistently work to improve your skills.
In most technical interviews, you will likely be asked to whiteboard a technical problem. Whiteboard problems may be complex or not make any sense (my friend was asked to draw an Entity-Relationship diagram of Middle Earth...a ring belongs to a hobbit). It's vitally important to practice writing and speaking at the same time. Solving the problem is important, but employers want to understand your thought process behind your solution. If you get stuck, employers will be more inclined to help guide you through the problem if they know what you're thinking.
Maintaining contact with your peers via a chat system is vitally important. It's a great way to share interview experiences, organize study sessions, and ask each other technical questions. If your bootcamp gives you access to their space after graduation, plan to work with your classmates there. Who better to vent and share experiences with than the people who helped shape your bootcamp experience?
A warm introduction is one of the best ways to land a job. Do you know that a Launch Academy grad is working at Constant Contact? Use your bootcamp’s alumni network to get an intro or an informational interview at your dream company.
...And With Your Bootcamp
Most likely, your bootcamp has extensive job placement resources- an advisor, recruiters, connected instructors etc. Help them help you by maintaining regular contact with their career resource coordinator. Give them feedback as to how interviews went, what companies you liked or didn't like, and what a given company's culture is like. The more productive feedback you provide, the better opportunities they can find that best fit you.
Programming meetups are great opportunities for you to meet experienced developers in your community. More often than not, they're willing to share their experiences and career advice with you. Additionally, their company may be hiring, or they may know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who's hiring junior developers. Be diligent in growing your professional network.
Keep track of what you're learning and how you’re growing emotionally, and show potential employers your stuff by writing a blog. Talk about the projects you're working on at bootcamp and on your own, what difficulties you've had, and how you've solved them (including links to applicable Github repositories). A blog is also a great way to show people that you're not a robot. Marketing yourself is not easy or natural. It requires effort and strategy. Consider a blog a piece of your marketing package, like your LinkedIn profile, Github account, and resume.
Finding a job in software development is a lot like dating. Companies do their due diligence in finding the right fit for their needs- you should do the same. You're not going to like every company you interview with, and not every company is going to vibe with you. Hone your skills and go the extra mile to find the right fit.
Steven Watkins is a Launch Academy alumnus and currently serves as their Developer Evangelist. Keep up with him on Twitter.
Just tell us who you are and what you’re searching for, we’ll handle the rest.