So I’ve done a tech Bootcamp, now where’s my job?

March 29, 2018

Amanda Laucher and Jonathan Graham

Bootcamp style training has gotten a bad rap recently because of reports that graduates cannot find jobs. Why are for-profit bootcamps charging students if they aren’t also handing out jobs? Why are not-for-profit bootcamps getting money from the government? There are many reports saying that there is an extreme shortage of tech workers, why does there seem to be such a disconnect?

As with any training program from bootcamps to universities to community colleges and even high school diplomas, nobody is promised a job. Job seekers must first obtain the necessary skills to gain employment but that is just the beginning. Having the skills doesn’t guarantee anything. There is a lot standing between a graduate (from any training) and that fantastic salary that will make all of our money woes disappear.

Finding a position can be a full time job… but it uses different skills

Even after you have the marketable coding skills, finding a job should be treated as a full time job. More sad news, the skills that you need to do the job are often very different than the skills that you need to get the job! This is something that isn’t heavily advertised through most training programs. The people who teach you to code are likely experts at ensuring that you have the skills needed once you HAVE the job.

You don’t see people suing Harvard or Yale because they can’t find a job afterwards. People have become used to the fact that certificates and degrees are valuable in and of themselves, and that there is no salary handed out at the end. This isn’t because all graduates from Ivy League schools are always immediately bombarded with offers. No. Those graduates also have to pound the pavement, create a resume, submit the applications, and ace the interviewing process!

Do not attend any training expecting to come out with a guaranteed position. Even if the numbers are high for a program’s graduates obtaining employment within 60-90 days, this is not a promise to you specifically. Every individual is different and a perfect job is something that only you can define.

Congratulations, you have obtains skills that are valuable

You can make something from nothing. That’s extremely cool. You have a lot of options. You can start your own company or you can go work for someone else who needs coding in their business.

You’ll have to be the one to submit the applications and write the resumes and cover letters. Unfortunately nobody can do that for you. Even if someone can give you leads or companies that you can apply to, they won’t be able to hand you a position. You will have to answer the calls and emails asking for interviews and you will have to hone your interviewing skills. Prepare yourself. Nobody but you can do these things and these skills do not come easy for everyone. Luckily you won’t have to exercise them every day, but you will have to do enough to get your foot in the door to your dream job.

But how?

You will need to do your research on companies that you would like to work for. Figure out what makes a person a good candidate for employment there. What positions do they have open? Stalk your ideal companies on LinkedIn and find out who works there. Reach out to those people. Even if you don’t know them, introduce yourself and ask them for advice. You’d be amazed how far a quick LinkedIn message will go. People want to help and they will often be honored that you asked. Ask good questions. What is their culture? What skills do they need? How do you match up? If you aren’t a match, why not? Can you improve some specific skills? Can you do something to make yourself more appealing in some way before formally applying? Is there a new language or library that you can learn? Is there something you can put up on Github to show that you are already qualified?

In the software development world, get out there on social media where people are talking about tech. Talk about the open source work you are doing or tech that interests you. Ask questions. People love answering them and they will notice that you are curious and working to grow your own skills. That is the type of person people want to work with.

If you have gone to a Bootcamp, you likely have excellent skills that are relevant to the industry right now! If you have no experience and no public portfolio, it’s going to be very difficult to get your name to the top of an interview pile. The first thing potential employers do is Google you. Put yourself out there and show potential employers what you have to offer.

As a Bootcamp graduate we already know that you are a self-starter.

Nobody teaches you how to code. They guide your learning path but you teach yourself. You learn with a team of people who are all teaching each other. Bootcamp instructors will all tell you that they learn something new from every cohort. Instructors are just like all developers. They don’t know everything either. They just know more about how to ask the right questions than you do as you are getting started. You learned how to use Stack Overflow, Google, and other tools to ask the right questions. You learned how to work together to solve problems. Your Bootcamp simply lit the path for you to find your own way. Now you have to show the industry that you are capable and that you have earned the title of software developer.

Don’t forget all of the skills that you learned. All of that process stuff, pairing, mob programming, testing, standups, operational skills, communication tools and skills, all of that stuff is important in this industry. Coding is only one piece of the puzzle. You have much more to offer than you probably realize. Put that stuff on your resume and put your resume somewhere that recruiters and Human Resource managers can find it.

Pound the pavement as they say. If you get rejected, ask what you can do to improve your chances in the future. Find mentors. Join Meet-ups if they exist in your area. Even if Meet-up groups or companies are using different technologies than what you just spent months learning. If you can learn one tech, you can learn others. So many skills are transferable. Don’t be afraid to apply for positions that are not using your exact stack.

If you need to take a position in the meantime to make ends meet, that’s ok. Think about positions with companies that also have development groups that you could perhaps transition into. Many folks at Mined Minds have to work through the training because they have mouths to feed along the way. You are obviously willing to work hard to solve problems or you wouldn’t be sitting there that with a graduation certificate or on the edge of graduation from a very difficult program. Software development is all about solving problems. Treat this like one of those problems.

Here is your homework: How do you stay alive while you search for your first break? You can do this. What is the first thing you did in class when you got the homework? Did you work with others? Did you start your research immediately feeling like you had no idea where to start but kind of comfortable because you had that same feeling last time you got homework? You can do this just like you did those other projects. You are remarkable.

Great news: there is no shortage of work & you are the right person to do it

It might feel like you don’t have enough skills to get paid but that is normal, it’s called imposter syndrome and it’s very common. Go ahead and Google it. Power through that and put the applications in. Ask your fellow bootcampers, instructors, strangers at Meet-ups, we have all been there and will likely fall in and out of that imposter feeling many times over our careers. Continue to go through the motions of job-hunting even when it feels like you want to give up. You will get the break you are looking for. Don’t give up.