A Flatiron School Alum’s journey 3 months after graduation.
Congratulations! You did it! Making this transition to tech or even sharpening your technical skills is definitely no easy feat and you should be extremely proud of yourself. You’ve worked so hard to get to this milestone in your life and it's just the beginning.
This amazing accomplishment, definitely calls for a celebration but don’t celebrate for too long! That is one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made post-graduation. After working full-time and doing this bootcamp part-time, I felt so burnt out. I wanted to take a week's break from studying and practicing my code, however, it lasted way longer than that. I spent about a month and a half not really touching code. I fell into this abyss where I so badly wanted to move forward with my technical skills but, I still felt so burnt out from everything. I mean I was applying for jobs at this time but it was very passive in the sense that, if I saw that it was an easy application, I would go for it but never follow up with anyone or try to network with anyone from the company. As someone fresh out of bootcamp, I really felt like I was lost because I have never applied to software engineering positions so I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know what I needed to study or how I should tailor my resume. The entry-level positions that I was applying for were also not encouraging because of the level of experience that they were asking for.
I felt like such an imposter because I somehow managed to create full-stack applications and make it through a coding bootcamp yet, I still feel like I know nothing. Even now as I’m writing this, I feel this way. But you know what, it’s okay! This is a normal feeling. To feel like you know nothing is actually ideal because it motivates you to stay curious and keep learning.
So after some time of really reflecting and taking a very much-needed break, I decided that these feelings of uncertainty will no longer define me. With the help of my amazing career coach from Flatiron School, we made a schedule to keep me on top of my studies and how to really market myself with the unique experience that I possess. Let’s break this down into some easy tips so that you won’t end up in that post-grad abyss like me.
Tip #1: Create A Schedule
Okay so the first order of business, create a schedule! Now that you have all this free time, make sure to create a schedule for yourself to keep you busy and on track. The worst thing you can do for yourself is to have an empty schedule because it can lead to steering off track and is not the best practice for time management. Creating a schedule can help you stay productive and allow you to keep yourself in line with your career goals. Some ideas for your schedule could be to do HackerRank or Leetcode problems for an hour in the morning and then take a quick 15–30 min break. Then maybe building out a nice profile page for your Github or working on your personal portfolio. Then take another break or have a lunch break and spend the rest of your day applying for jobs and tailoring your resume to what they are asking for. Then take another break. Network with people on LinkedIn and take another break.
As you may have noticed, I have really put a strong emphasis on taking breaks between tasks. Sure it may seem unproductive, however, taking a break is actually the most productive thing you can do between tasks. You DO NOT want to set yourself up for burnout so remember to take breaks as often as you need. Maybe even a 30 min nap if that gives you an extra energy boost during a mid-day slump!
Tip #2: Market Yourself
Since we graduated from a bootcamp, most of the time, we come from untraditional backgrounds. Typically no computer science degree or any form of technical experience prior to attending the coding bootcamp. This means that we MUST be able to market our abilities and share how our unique experience benefits the company.
If you do not have a LinkedIn already, make one! It is super easy to use, it’s basically like a professional Facebook, and you connect with people you know, co-workers, or mutual friends. You can even connect with fellow Flatiron alumni and message them about their experience post-graduation as well! LinkedIn is a great starting point to market your abilities and have your network endorse your technical skills! You can really show a future employer why you are passionate about software development and the amazing skills you’ve learned in such a short span of time!
You also want to make sure that you have a GitHub that speaks to your personality. We’ve all seen the basic GitHub profile that has an overview of the top projects or repositories you’ve pinned. What better way to showcase your technical skills than to spruce up your GitHub profile! Feel free to check out this article that really helped me revamp my GitHub or check out my GitHub page for inspiration as well!
Tip #3: Practice Practice Practice Your Code
Practice makes perfect and will help you in your technical career in the long run. Get comfortable with continuous learning! Technology is advancing at such a rapid rate so you must be able to learn new technologies in order to make you the best developer you can be!
Tip #4: Community
This is a big thing that is often overlooked. Reaching out to your community should be one of the first steps you make after graduating from a bootcamp. Of course, you won’t know what to do post-graduation because you’ve never done this before! What better way to get some insight on what to study or how to market yourself than from someone who was in your shoes! Your community can be your fellow bootcamp alumni, a front-end or back-end developer group, women who code, etc. They can be any community that you get involved with or have been involved with. It can even be your fellow cohort mates and you can keep each other on track by practicing code together or creating a cool project together! It may seem daunting at first, especially when reaching out to bootcamp alums whom you’ve never met before, but I promise, everyone is super nice and those who respond to you only want to help you!
If your bootcamp offers career counseling or even your own personal career coach like Flatiron does definitely utilize them! They are there to help you and make sure that you’re taking the right steps to land your first tech job!
You Got This!
With all of this in mind, I am truly rooting for your success! After over 180 job applications, 4 take-home coding challenges, I finally landed an interview at one of my top companies! It may seem like a long journey and job hunting is a full-time job but when you finally land your first job, everything is totally worth it! If you have any questions or want to chat with me, feel free to connect with me or leave a comment! I’d love to share my insight as I go through this journey. I’m extremely proud of all the accomplishments you’ve had thus far and I cannot wait to see my fellow bootcamp grads grow exponentially as a developer! Good luck out there and happy coding!