I really enjoy attending Meetups and conferences. One of my co-workers at Fullstack Academy nicknamed me the Meetup Maven because I attend so many of them. Tonight I went to my first Meetup of the year hosted at Redshelf. It was a Dev Together event organized by Mercedes Bernard (@mercedescodes) and eight speakers gave lightning talks on the topic of “your first developer job.” It was very relevant because I’m currently searching for mine!
The first talk was by Pamela Bergson (@pamela_bergson) and titled, “I Only Cried in the Bathroom.” She recommended that you read blog posts written by people in the industry and listen to podcasts so that you can discuss those topics with your interviewers. When I was studying full time for five months before applying to my coding bootcamp I read a lot of tech blog posts on Medium and listened to Syntax. Lately I’ve felt like there are more important things I should be focusing on, but I can at least read a blog post a day.
The second talk was by Zeke Nierenberg (@ZekeNierenberg) and titled, “What should I look for in my first software engineering job?” He focused on four different areas - culture, company, engineering and offer. A lot of what he covered are things that I’ve been deeply thinking about already. I’ve been focusing on applying to startups that are having a social impact and in my interviews I’m asking how much runway they have. I’ve only seriously considered working for companies that I feel passionate about their mission.
The third (and my favorite!) was by Fen Slattery (@sublimemarch) and titled, ”Differentiate Yourself Using Empathy”. They talked about why it’s important to stand out as a developer by demonstrating empathy. You can do so by having amazing skills, a unique background, creative work, or blue hair! 😉 They suggested getting started by writing documentation, knowledge sharing, and focusing on user experience and inclusion. They also suggested to remember why you wanted to be a developer, find your people, and look inward to figure out the thing you care about. I gave a tech talk on digital accessibility at my coding bootcamp and it’s a topic I definitely care and want to learn more about.
The fourth was by ‘Tine Zekis (@tinezekis) and titled, “Career Changers and Impostor Syndrome: Leveraging Your Unique Strengths.” She said that you should reflect on what your transferrable skills are from your background. I think the most valuable skills I developed from my time in the service industry are my ability to communicate with with many different types of people, keep calm in high-pressure situations and work well on a team. That would be a good topic for a future blog post - how waitressing prepared me to be a developer!
The fifth was by Shamyle Ghazali and titled, “To Foo or Tofu.” I loved the theme of this talk. As a new developer, you need to embrace the mindset of tofu. Tofu tastes like nothing, but it is highly nutritious and versatile, absorbing the flavor of everything it comes in contact with. I eat a plant-based diet that includes a lot of tofu so I’m ready to become one with the tofu. 🌿 He reminded us to boldly go where we haven’t gone before and to ask logical questions during interviews.
The sixth was by Jess Unrein (@thejessleigh) and titled, “Three Things to Learn the Hard Way.” Ve reminded us that as new developers we likely won’t be working on problems that haven’t been solved before and to leverage that. Some tips I can implement now are getting really good at command line git, ditching my ORM and removing barriers between myself and the data in a project. Ve also pointed out that we shouldn’t use the words “wizard” or “magic” when referring to tech, because anything can be learned with hard work! 🔮
The seventh was by Brittney Braxton (@mintiiB) and titled, “Journaling as a Dev.” She suggested journaling to keep a record of what you’re learning, what you need to learn and how well you’re doing at your job. I love to journal but I hadn’t really thought about keeping a separate space for reflecting on my career. She has a system similar to a bullet journal on paper. I have a lot of notebooks from my childhood but switched to a digital journal in college. I really liked this idea.
"If you don't get picked, don't get discouraged - if you're being considered at all, it's not that anyone thought you were bad, just that the timing wasn't right or that there were a lot of good candidates." - Carly Ho
The eight and final talk was by Carly Ho (@carlymho) and titled, “The Other Side of the Table: An Interviewer’s Tips for Getting Your First Dev Job.” She pointed out that interviewers aren’t expecting you to know or have everything memorized and technical whiteboarding is archaic. I’ve gotten consistent feedback during my onsite interviews that I do not perform well during technical whiteboarding - I get intense anxiety and my mind goes blank. I’m not stressing out about it too much and this article does a good job of explaining why. 😊 I don’t think playing the algorithm lottery is the best use of my time right now.
It was inspiring listening to all the talks tonight. Soon I’ll get my first developer job and I’ll be the one giving the talk instead of sitting in the audience.