It’s Been 2 Months Since Bootcamp: What I’ve Learned So Far
Throughout my 10-month bootcamp with Flatiron School, my focus was on learning as much as possible and gaining the skills needed to get hired as a software engineer. I completed my program and have been on the job hunt for the last two months. I thought I would share how it is going so far and key takeaways.
People Will Help If They Can
It is no secret that networking is one of the most crucial aspects of finding a job. In the first few weeks, I reached out to trusted family and friends in the industry for help. With each conversation, I learned more about prospective companies and quickly grew my network as they referred me to their friends and coworkers. Even with a mutual connection or virtual introduction, I was nervous to ask people for help. I quickly discovered that people are incredibly kind and more than happy to talk to you if you simply ask.
An experience that stands out to me is when a friend referred me to her long-time friend and neighbor. She wasn’t sure the exact type of software he did, but assured me that he “cares about people and is the most personable and genuine person you’ll ever meet.” I enthusiastically agreed to the introduction and she connected us in an email. Before I had time to craft a response, he had already replied with an email packed full of advice about tailoring a resume, working with recruiters, structuring your job search, and a color-coded spreadsheet detailing Atlanta tech companies. We proceeded to have a delightful phone conversation the next week, where he continued to share valuable insights about his journey as an embedded software engineer, interview tips, and red flags to watch out for. He and I still connect every week or so, and I love getting an email about a random company or piece of advice he wants to share.
Time and time again, I have seen how awesome and generous people are. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and always have a list of questions ready.
Make a Schedule, Prioritize, and Reprioritize
If you are looking to land your first tech job, a normal week consists of flagging potential jobs, applying for jobs, prepping for cultural and technical interviews, interviewing, completing code challenges, sending networking emails, attending webinars, blogging, and of course, coding.
I have found it really helpful to make a weekly and a daily list of what I plan to accomplish each week. Depending on how much I get done, I adjust my schedule for the following day and determine what tasks are the most important. When I first started the job search, I would spend hours looking through job postings on LinkedIn. When I finally stepped away, I felt like a zombie and had no idea what I just applied for. Early on, one of my contacts told me not to spend more than 1–2 hours per day looking/applying for jobs, and it has been a game changer! Some days I flag jobs that sounds cool, and other days I look through flagged postings and apply.
Being strategic, prioritizing, and reprioritizing tasks allows you to be more efficient and focus on what is most important on any given day or week. I recently realized I was devoting too much time to emails and applications, and was lacking in algorithm knowledge. It took me completely “bombing” a coding challenge to realize that I need to practice coding questions every day. When you experience a tough situation and come to a new realization, don’t freak out! Remember how far you’ve come, and simply reprioritize.
Add Some Spice to Your Weekly Routine
The weeks of networking and job search activities is a grind, and there have been times where it is particularly hard to motivate. This past month, I attended my first webinar. I learned a lot and made great contacts, but most importantly, l left inspired and re-energized. Since then, I have made it a goal have one weekly event that is out of the ordinary. Instead of scheduling a networking call, I went to a networking dinner. Instead of reading about potential apprenticeship programs, I attended a webinar and asked questions.
I know that I am a social person and love the opportunity to connect with others. Try to incorporate activities you know you’ll enjoy into your week.
Take Care of Yourself
Last, but certainly not least, make sure you are taking care of yourself. Think about what puts you in a great mindset. For me it’s playing sports, practicing yoga, reading a book, taking a bath, socializing with friends, or getting a good night’s sleep. Even though a tennis match may last 3 hours, I return home in a great mood and ready to accomplish more. Take time to slow down and enjoy life outside of the joys (and hustle) of the job search.