Written By Jess Feldman
Southern California is a competitive tech hiring market – but worth it! Speaking directly from the LearningFuze campus located in California, President Parth Shah advises you how to land a tech job in Southern California. He outlines what SoCal employers look for in new hires, how to stand out in the local hiring pool, and what type of person thrives in the SoCal tech environment. (Plus, tune in to the video to see what the LearningFuze campus actually looks like!)
What are the main cities we’re talking about when we say “Southern California”?
Southern California or “SoCal” is a broad region — it's bigger than most states in America! I consider SoCal to be from North Los Angeles to San Diego. Major cities in SoCal include Arcadia, Pasadena, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Laguna Hills, Orange County, Long Beach, Orange, Newport Beach, and San Diego.
At a high level, how do you land a tech job in SoCal — especially, your first tech job?
Is the Southern California scene mostly large tech companies or is it also home to startups and companies from different industries?
There’s a wide range. There are obviously major tech companies, like Google, but there are also a lot of video game companies, like Blizzard Venture Entertainment. I tend to encourage students towards small or medium-sized companies because they offer easier career progress.
At LearningFuze, we’re not trying to get you your dream job — we’re helping you build your dream career. That means landing the entry-level role, then in two years pivoting to a role that will offer a significant pay increase. If you’re starting out in a junior developer role at $80k-$90k, we would look at how we can get you in your second role closer to $120k-$130k. Then we wonder how to get you to $180k! Career Services at LearningFuze are lifelong.
Does LearningFuze have any hiring partners or connections to the local Southern California employment scene?
We are based in Orange County, so we have a lot of Orange County hiring partners, plus a lot of LA County hiring partners. At the end of our bootcamp, we have a Demo Day where students get to showcase their final projects and we invite hiring partners to attend. We’ve seen offers given that day to our bootcampers! They love the project and want to hire them on the spot. Sometimes a job posting won’t even go out because hiring partners reach out to us directly, asking if we have LearningFuze grads that would be good for the role, which of course we do!
What are Southern California employers looking for in their new tech hires?
Hiring partners are looking for someone who can contribute right away. Obviously, a junior developer is an investment because they’re not sure how they’re going to help grow the company. Junior developers need to hit the ground running when they get hired — Learn what people are using, have a deep willingness to learn, and be ready to dive in. Junior developers should try to contribute as fast as possible!
At LearningFuze, students work in the same developer environment that is used in the industry. Every project that a student completes has to be reviewed on GitHub, and the instructors are constantly reviewing pull requests and giving comments before they merge it into their final project. That's the way it works in industry: You have to get your code reviewed by a peer or by someone senior that then merges it to the final project. Students are used to that development cycle so when they're actually in the job, they're able to follow that same development cycle to a tee.
Is there a certain type of person who thrives in the SoCal tech environment?
It really boils down to your ability, willingness to learn, and communication. Most people have baseline technical skills when they graduate from a bootcamp, but the ability to keep learning is what will help them grow.
The great thing about being a developer is that it’s a lifelong learning experience. The languages have completely changed from when I started learning how to code. Jumping into a code base with languages you haven’t used before can seem daunting, but if you know the fundamentals of programming you should be able to pick up new languages. Companies want to know you can adapt and pivot between languages.
Communication is important especially as work evolves to a more hybrid environment. You have to be able to self-advocate and showcase where you’re at in the job. Be able to articulate the issues you’re running into and what you’ve tried, and be able to ask for a pair programming session with someone. We fundamentally teach those communication skills at LearningFuze.
Is working in SoCal best for those with some experience or can career changers just starting in tech also do well here?
We see a lot of junior developer roles out here in Southern California. At LearningFuze, we're still seeing a 90% placement rate of our graduates for junior developer roles in the Southern California area.
SoCal is such a desirable area to work and live for technologists! Do you think it helps your odds if you already live in the area or attended a SoCal-based coding bootcamp like LearningFuze?
Yes, I think it does. While there are a lot of companies that are remote, many companies here are hybrid, so they want you to be in office some of the days. Going into the office is important for junior developers because your early career is all about networking and building relationships with people, so that when you get to your second, third, and fourth job, you shouldn't even really be applying. People should know to refer you.
Since LearningFuze connects graduates with hiring partners, we know exactly what these companies are looking for so we can train it and put it into our bootcamp curriculum.
Do in-person LearningFuze students have more opportunities to interact with local SoCal companies?
The Demo Day is just one example of how LearningFuze grads are connected with SoCal companies. Our career services manager, Andreana, is always posting networking events specific to Orange County and LA County and we’ve seen plenty of graduates get jobs from those networking events. We’ll also encourage alumni to come in and network with new grads.
Do you find that your in-person LearningFuze grads typically land tech roles in Irvine and other California cities?
Mostly, yes — many people want to stay in LA County because it’s where they grew up and their families are here. However, we also have students that want to move to San Francisco, New York, or Miami, and we will help them get wherever they want to go! We help students get jobs all across the nation, especially our remote students.
2023 has been a turbulent year for tech hiring. Has this disrupted the local, SoCal tech hiring scene?
At big companies, yes. At small and medium-sized companies, not really. Venture-backed companies hire for what they need in 10 years, not what they need next year. When an economic recession happens, they have too many people for what they need at that time. The small-to-medium companies hire for what they need for this next year. We're not seeing layoffs at the same pace as these big companies and are actually seeing growth! We’re actually noticing an uptick in hiring post-Covid! It’s exactly why our placement rate hasn't changed — we're still seeing successful placement, even in 2023.
Do you have any tips for those currently on the job search in SoCal about how to stand out in such a competitive talent pool?
In order to stand out, every single part of your process matters.
There's no way around it!
At LearningFuze, we train you to be the best. You do not graduate until you have a complete portfolio with great projects and an approved resume by me after technical interviews with me. We make sure that you are at the top of that talent pool before you even apply for jobs. You need to be one of the best and we help you become that.
Jess Feldman is an accomplished writer and the Content Manager at Course Report, the leading platform for career changers who are exploring coding bootcamps.
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