Ask a Career Coach: How Do I Land My 2nd Job After Bootcamp?

Liz Eggleston

Written By Liz Eggleston

Last updated on August 4, 2022

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Welcome to Ask a Career Coach, an advice-column where real bootcamp career coaches take a minute out of their busy days to answer a question from a Course Report reader. Today, Marlene Tang, the Alumni Director and Career Coach at Coding Temple, is answering a question about the second job after a bootcamp. Marlene has been a career coach for over six years, placing thousands of graduates in jobs and supporting them through the entire career process, from prepping resumes to negotiating salary to asking for your worth. Even after students graduate, Marlene and her team at Coding Temple run weekly, curated workshops that go over everything from honing technical skills, to interview debriefs, to salary negotiations. 

Have a question for the Career Coach? Email us and you may see it answered!

And our question comes from a bootcamp alum, who writes:

Dear Marlene – I graduated from a coding bootcamp 13 months ago and now that I’ve been working in the industry for about a year, I’m ready to think about the next step in my career. Should I go after a promotion? Is it better to get my second or third job at a new company or try to advance within the company I’m at? And what should I consider when taking the next step in my career? Basically, what should my second job be after a coding bootcamp? 

As the Career Coach at Coding Temple, my goal is to ensure that every student who graduates feels valued, appreciated, seen, and recognized. I’ve supported over a thousand students in finding jobs after graduating from a bootcamp, and recently I’ve been hearing this question more from alumni. Since Coding Temple offers career support for life, I'm always happy to help an alum navigate questions like these.

First of all, ask yourself why you feel ready to move on. Understand that you don’t necessarily need to switch companies to advance your career. One of the hardest parts about finding fulfilling work is finding the team of people you enjoy working with! If you find yourself at a company that you love and don’t want to leave, but you need to make more money, then that information can help you navigate the conversation with your manager. Think about what you currently bring to the table and what more you could contribute, if you were given the financial boost you’d like, so that you can stay in the comfort of a company that makes you feel valued and appreciated and still advance your career. 

Here’s my advice if you want to go after a promotion at your current company:

  1. Determine your value by continuing to interview. It’s important to keep up with industry trends and keep your skills sharp, since tech is an industry that is in constant flux and iteration. Being aware of what skills to expand on or develop will help you feel like you can contribute more to your team and company, or if you’d feel more valued elsewhere. 
  2. Start the conversation with your manager early. Hopefully, when you landed your first job, you asked your manager the right questions: 
    • What are the tasks and responsibilities that I will have?
    • What are the expectations of me within the first 3-6 months and year mark? How do I ensure that I exceed that? 
    • What can I do outside of my responsibilities that will make me shine at this company?
  3. Track your own progress. Document what you have achieved outside of your responsibilities. If you do that and you have a list of all your accomplishments, then you can come back to the manager and say, “Hey, I really love working here. I've been able to go above and beyond to do these specific things. I'd like to know at what point would you see me either being promoted or receiving that raise for my contributions?”

Your manager should want to see you grow, especially if it’s within their company! If they don’t, then you know in the back of your mind that they want to keep you in that position and your likelihood of advancing is slim. Then you know to keep interviewing until you find a team with compatible values and potential for internal growth. It never hurts to tell your manager where you want to be and to ask what they would expect of you to get there. 

But wait – what if you’re interviewing and get a great offer??

If you do love your team and management, you'll be able to navigate that and manage what risks you really want to take and how to get to where you want to be. But you have to have a conversation about it, which is the hardest part. 

Everyone gets scared of these conversations! The imposter syndrome sets in, they're scared of rejection, of what people are gonna say, but if you don't ask, you're never gonna know. It’s like going on a date! 

Start off with: “I want you to know that I don't plan on leaving and I don't want to leave, but I understand that the market value has changed. Is there any chance that you can match this offer, or, how do I get to this specific pay grade? I know I can get it elsewhere, but I don't want to leave the company”

You may be ready to move on to a new company, and that’s okay! 

As a Coding Temple alum, your career support never ends. If you are interested in moving forward with finding out more about other opportunities, you can reach out to our Alumni Team and we will navigate this journey together!

Here are some major red flags I hear from bootcamp alumni. If any of these red flags are familiar, it’s probably time to look for your next role at a new company. 

  • Your management doesn’t make time for your 1:1’s.
  • Your team is not supportive in the projects you work on, or when you ask for support.If you voice it and you don't get anything back, that's a huge red flag!
  • Your team/manager tries to halt your progress and keep you contained.

Another perk of moving to a new company is that, often, this is the easiest way to get a pay raise. 

A typical raise each year is between 1-3% due to inflation and cost of living. When you're looking for a promotion, expect a raise between 5-10%, or even upwards of 15% if you’re at a company who can fund it. When most developers leave a company, it’s because they can earn a salary raise close to 30%.

However, there’s also a high risk factor in leaving companies for higher wages, because while you may get paid more in your base salary, your tasks and responsibilities may be different, your management may not necessarily be better, and your full benefits package may not be as great. 

Finally, wait at least 6 months to 1 year before moving onto a new company.  

Coding Temple alumni are always coming back to me saying that they’re getting poached by recruiters after having just one year of experience on their LinkedIn. Don’t hop around between companies too often, try to stick it out that first year. Loyalty is also important. 

To recap, think about whether you really want to work for a new company or if you want to go after a promotion at your current company. Start the conversations about your career goals early with your manager and keep interviewing to stay up-to-date on tech trends. If there are too many red flags are your current company and you’re ready to move onto a new job altogether, then be sure to compare the full benefits and compensation package. If you’re lucky, then your career coach will be there to help you compare offers like we do at Coding Temple.

Find out more and read Coding Temple reviews on Course Report. This article was produced by the Course Report team in partnership with Coding Temple.

About The Author

Liz Eggleston

Liz Eggleston

Liz Eggleston is co-founder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students choosing a coding bootcamp. Liz has dedicated her career to empowering passionate career changers to break into tech, providing valuable insights and guidance in the rapidly evolving field of tech education.  At Course Report, Liz has built a trusted platform that helps thousands of students navigate the complex landscape of coding bootcamps.

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