The job search… the big question mark at the end of every coding bootcamp.
“Will I really be able to get a job after this?”
“What does that 97% hiring rate that Fullstack Academy advertises really mean?”
My job search was postponed when I became a teaching fellow, so I was able to watch some of my former classmates go through it from a distance. Some of them were lucky and landed dream jobs within a few weeks. Others, the majority, I think, seemed to struggle more. The anticipation built.
I told myself that I would start my own job search on January 1st. This would give me 6 weeks before the end of my fellowship (and looming last paycheck). I procrastinated. I submitted my first job application on January 3rd. I received my first job offer on January 27th, and my second offer on February 1st. I accepted an offer on February 2nd. The whole thing was over and done with in less than a month.
This was, obviously, a favorable outcome. Do I know what I did to make this happen? No. I must have done something right, but other things I almost certainly did wrong. Here’s a bulleted list (yay!) of facts about my job search. I think it serves as a nice contrast to some rather frantic posts I have read about the post-bootcamp job search, although I do not propose that any of these things are “lessons” or in any way indicative of what is typical or will work.
- I applied to a total of 10 jobs. I found all of them through online job postings. This is not recommended.
- The only two sites I used to find jobs to apply to were Angel List, which has a collection of job postings at start ups, and Tech Ladies, which is a community of women in tech that has a job board.
- The great thing about Angel List is that, once you fill out your profile, applying to jobs is very easy. You simply write a short message to the employer, no long cover letter. I did write personalized messages for all of my Angel List applications, but each one took only about 10 minutes.
- The great thing about Tech Ladies is that it provides contact information of someone at the company for each job post. This allows you to reach out directly to a real person after you send in your application. I got a pretty good response rate from my applications through Tech Ladies (3/4 of my applications through that site got responses).
- I played up my previous non-technical experience as a teacher A LOT. I genuinely learned a lot of valuable lessons from teaching, and I know that I have more to offer because of it, even if the “hard skills” are not the same.
- I made a portfolio site and linked to it in all of my emails with employers. I used an html5up template for my site, because I wanted it to look very clean and professional (and be mobile responsive), and I didn’t have a lot of time.
- I keep a blog, which a lot of employers mentioned (too meta?)
- I didn’t go to any meetups (not recommended).
- I limited my search to smaller companies, since I hate bureaucracy.
- I sent thank you emails after literally every conceivable interaction.
- In the company at which I accepted an offer, I tried actually sending thank you emails to every person I talked to during my onsite (I talked to 4 or 5 people within the company). I didn’t actually have everyone’s email addresses, so I sort of creepily guessed their emails until I found something that went through. I wasn’t sure if that would work out, but apparently it did.
- I wrote new, personalized cover letters for each company I applied to.
- I applied to jobs even if they said they wanted several years of experience.
- The position that I accepted said it required 3 years of experience. LOL.
- I had my cute story about how I became a developer down.
- Something like: I took my first comp sci class in college, and I really liked it, but I didn’t become a major. When I graduated, I started teaching math, and I was teaching myself to code on the side. I started to spend more and more time on it, until eventually I found myself sneakily coding in the teachers lounge when I was supposed to be doing my real job. And I realized that, if this was what I wanted to be doing at work, I should just make it my real job.
In any case, today is my second to last day of work at Grace Hopper, and I start my next job next Wednesday. I am very excited to get started!