Chapter 7: Life After Coding Bootcamp: Finding a Job and Coding Professionally
What to expect when you graduate
You’re in the final days of your bootcamp. Take a breath. First of all, congratulations. Second, take another breath. You’ve just entered a transitionary period in your life, and those can be tough, but you’ve worked hard and have one of the most valuable skills in the job market. Go you!
Depending on the intensity and extent of the program, you could enter an internship, apprenticeship, or a full-time job. Apprenticeships and internships can sometimes lead to job offers, but even if they don’t, they’re a great way to continue honing your skills. It sounds strange, but some students take apprenticeships over full-time offers because they can sometimes offer better future opportunities.
You also have the option to take on a contract job or freelance. Full time jobs often develop from these opportunities so don’t hesitate if you can’t get full time right away.
Depending on the scope of your program, you could go into full-stack, front-end, or back-end development. Some students go into software QA, UX, UI, or even product management, and still others create their own startups.
The first job search is the worst—it can take some time and be pretty stressful. The hiring process can take anywhere from a week after graduation to a few months. Don’t get discouraged. Some bootcamps offer to help build your portfolio, pitch yourself to a company, and prepare you for a technical interview.
If the bootcamp has active career services, you’ll be offered job hunting and general interview tips, as well as resumé and cover letter reviews. Finding a job isn’t a set process and everyone’s journey will be different. Utilize your resources, rely on your personal skills and strengths, and rigorously prepare.
Ideally, your portfolio should consist of an active GitHub profile where you’ve regularly pushed code, a couple of extensive projects (you did build a full-featured app in your bootcamp, right?), and some blog posts or technical essays that show off your knowledge.
Several full-time, in-person bootcamps have Career or Hiring Days upon completion of the program. During Career Day, hiring partners will give you a pitch about their company, and you’ll pitch yourself to them. If you’re a good fit with the hiring partner, they will extend an invitation to interview.
Technical interviews can be exhausting, sometimes lasting for 5 or more hours. You’ll be asked to solve different coding challenges and demonstrate your ability to problem solve. There are many resources online with sample questions. Use them. As you practice, use a pen and pencil, rather than a computer, and time yourself. The more you can simulate the real deal, the better you will perform. During the interview, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if questions or challenges are vague. Making wrong assumptions or appearing cocky will look a lot worse than asking for help where you need it. In fact, many employers appreciate that you’re able to ask for help, as it’s a sign that you’re going to be a good team player.
The interviewer won’t expect you to know everything if you’ve just graduated from a bootcamp. They want to know you have the problem-solving ability and proper skill set to find the solutions. So if you make a mistake, don’t panic and don’t let it impact the rest of the interview. Engage with the person interviewing you by asking questions. This will give you a chance to learn more about the role and the company and show that you have interest beyond being hired.
Research and apply to companies outside of the hiring partner pool, and utilize your network. Sometimes companies don’t publicly post jobs, but will hire based on referrals. Most importantly, keep coding as you continue your job search. Seriously. This is probably the most important thing you can do, because it shows companies that you’re dedicated to programming, not just the salary of a programer.
Life after bootcamp
You’re officially an alum and you’ve got a job! That’s a huge accomplishment and you should be proud of yourself. What now? Stay active in the bootcamp’s community, especially if you’ve stayed in the same city. Attend events they host, offer other coding newbies insights, and if you have time, be a mentor. Code on!