Landing your first job in tech takes time, as it requires careful planning. To avoid making bad decisions, anyone new to tech should prioritize access to clear and valuable information.
Vanessa Aoki (a full-stack developer at Fetchly Labs) wrote this article to provide the most basic and essential information anyone should focus on before pursuing a dream job in tech. She also shares some of her experience and uses it to provide practical advice to help you get your first job in tech.
Getting your first job as a developer can be challenging, but with the correct mindset and preparation, it is possible to delve into tech and land your dream job.
Every journey begins with a step, and knowing the proper steps to take when embarking on a new journey is crucial. From my experience, delving into the tech space after practicing law was no easy feat, but I could find my footing with the correct information.
Working as a full-stack developer at Fetchly Labs
is a dream come true, and through this article, I would like to help you achieve your dreams of monetizing your skills by sharing some tips that helped me secure my first job as a developer.
To get started on your journey, here are some important practical tips:
Be open to different job options.
This first one may seem discouraging, but your first job can often be a stepping stone to a better one in the future. Use whatever opportunity is available to gain practical experience, build your skills, and make connections that can help you grow.
While doing so, remember that you need more than tech jobs to provide you with all the relevant experience required. To clarify the previous statement, I'll give an illustration;
“Starting my career as a lawyer led to a major improvement in my communication abilities. This proficiency has allowed me to mediate between conflicting parties efficiently and ensure that everyone involved, technically skilled or not, comprehends the necessary steps to resolve any issues.”
With all that in mind, don't limit yourself to one specific role or company when starting. For instance, if you are a back-end developer, you shouldn't discard full-stack positions if you have the chance. Also, it is advisable not to focus on tech companies only.
Several positions are available in startups, government organizations, non-profits, etc. As such, being open to different jobs will increase your chances of finding the right fit, and you may even discover a career path you never thought possible.
Create a compelling resume and portfolio.
Your resume is the initial impression you make on potential employers and should highlight your skills, experience (as mentioned before, inside and outside tech), and achievements clearly and concisely.
Often, applying for a job can become a demanding and time-absorbing task. Nevertheless, customizing your resume to align with the specific job position you are seeking would be beneficial.
In my case, a tech recruiter wouldn't be interested in knowing I could write several legal briefs and pleadings daily. Instead, highlighting my ability to document and thoroughly explain highly technical matters is another way to get the recruiter's attention.
Though it is easy to talk about your skills, the best way to display them is through a portfolio. A good tech portfolio should include a description of each project and the technologies used.
If you focus on getting a job as a front-end developer, consider including screens and videos of the flows. For back-end developers, relevant code samples that can demonstrate your coding style and best practices are a great move.
By presenting a well-rounded portfolio alongside your resume, you can offer prospective employers a comprehensive overview of your abilities and professional background. This will enable them to discern how you can add value to their organization easily.
Develop a social media presence.
Networking and building relationships are crucial to job searching.
Nowadays, the best way to be seen is through social media. Based on research findings from Forbes
, 95% of recruiters are on LinkedIn, so having a solid profile is necessary
. Having a complete and professional profile can take you a long way.
Making meaningful connections with people is another excellent way to develop a solid social media presence. Interestingly, your contacts don't have to be restricted to only aspiring developers, but people who can give you important insights on what you should focus your time on, such as product owners.
Also, you can connect with LinkedIn groups
within your area of interest - language, framework-specific or generic ones, such as "Frontend developers group
," for instance. After connecting with like-minded folks:
- Be honest with your goals.
- Share your pain points.
- Collaborate with those with the same common interest.
Work on your hard skills.
One of the most proven ways to increase your chances of landing your first job is to improve your technical skills continually.
You can improve your hard skills by taking online courses, enrolling in a boot camp, reading technical books and articles, or working on personal projects - keeping your portfolio in mind!
And, specifically for your first job, you should try to focus on a single high-demand language. Acquiring proficiency in a new language requires significant time and energy. Moreover, if your understanding of the language is superficial, you are unlikely to resolve practical issues you encounter in real-world scenarios successfully.
Demonstrating a solid understanding of a single language will likely gain you more points than general knowledge of several others.
It is essential that developers stay up to date with the newest technologies, but bear in mind that once you've mastered one programming language, it becomes easier to learn other languages, as many of them have similar syntax and logic.
Equally work on improving your soft skills.
Though technical skills are essential, they are not the only factor employers consider when hiring, especially for entry-level positions. Soft skills like problem-solving, communication, collaboration, and flexibility are equally important.
Keeping that in mind, one way to improve all skills mentioned is through pair programming
. Remote pair programming is when two developers work on the same code simultaneously but with different interchangeable roles.
One person is the "driver" and writes the code while sharing their screen, while the other person is the "navigator" who specializes in reviewing the code as it is being written. The two developers switch roles, which can be done after completing a task or at a given time to ensure that both individuals are actively engaged in the process.
Pair programming is largely used in tech companies like Fetchly Labs to speed up development, improve code quality, and share knowledge, so getting as much practice as possible in that area is advisable.
Prepare for Technical Interviews
Preparing for technical interviews is essential, as they constitute a vital component of the recruitment procedure. You can start by researching common interview questions and practicing answering them, especially algorithms, data structures, and software design patterns.
To prepare for algorithm questions, it's vital to review fundamental concepts such as time and space complexity, sorting algorithms (e.g., quicksort, merge sort
), searching algorithms (e.g., binary search
), and graph algorithms (e.g., Dijkstra's
As for data structure questions, review the basics, such as arrays, linked lists, trees, and graphs. Then, familiarize yourself with the operations performed on each data structure, such as insertions, deletions, and searches.
For software design pattern questions, it is advisable to deeply study and understand familiar design patterns, such as the Factory, Observer, and Singleton patterns.
Securing your initial role as a developer can be a challenging and tiring undertaking, however, to expedite the process and increase your chances of success, consider doing the following:
- Being open to different jobs.
- Establishing a solid social media presence.
- Creating a compelling resume and portfolio.
- Consistently working on improving your hard and soft skills.
Implementing the steps provided in this article will help you get started on the right path as you begin your journey into working in the tech industry. Above all, ensure you are deliberate and consistent with your preparations; soon enough, the calls will start rolling in!
*This is not the official Fetchly opinion but the opinion of the writer who is employed by Fetchly*