How I Landed My First Job in Tech
Two weeks ago I received a message on LinkedIn. It was from a junior developer trying to break into tech and he was going to a similar process that I've been through on my current role. He was asking for any tips and insights that could help him on the interview process. After typing away for 45 minutes, sharing my experiences, perceptions, and knowledge about tackling interviews, I discovered some things about myself.
If it wasn't for this moment, I guess I wouldn't realise all the knowledge I gathered until now. I hadn't stopped to reflect on the effort I had put into taking that very first step in my career. In sharing my experiences with this junior developer, I realised just how much I had learned and grown in the process. It was a reminder of the journey that led me to where I am today.
This experience inspired me to write this article, I hope it not only offers insights but also resonates with anyone out there who is going through a similar journey.
Dealing with Impostor Syndrome
I want to mention this first because my personal biggest challenge is facing impostor syndrome. It's that feeling that maybe, just maybe, we don't belong, that we're not good enough, and that someday, someone will expose us as frauds. I've been there, but here's the thing, I've learned to conquer it, and you can too.
One thing I've observed among juniors, and I can only speak from my own experience here, but I noticed an absence of confidence due to a unrealistic goal of perfection. We set the bar impossibly high for ourselves, expecting our work to be flawless from the get-go. We forget that tech, like life itself, is a journey, not a destination. The truth is, "done" is often much better than "perfect."
Another two thoughts I like to have in mind is: "whatever answer that may come it does not define me" and "if it doesn't work out now, it just means you have to keep on trying and that will work anytime soon". It may sound silly but giving this ideas some thought brought so much easy and freedom to my process.
Study Your Employer and the Interview Process
Try to learn as much as you can about the company you are applying for a job, study how they approach that specific role and try to find as much as you can in terms of their expectations. If you have an idea of what they are looking for, you already have a lot to work on and have the upper hand on the interview. If you make yourself visible and accessible, chances are high that they will relate to you.
- Search on Glassdoor if there are any interview experiences shared by past candidates
- Ask employees of the company that have the same role about the interview process (sometimes you even land a recommendation)
- If you know who will make the interview, drop a courteous message on LinkedIn and make yourself visible
- See any relevant news about the company that you can use to ask and express your interest in the role
Understanding the company culture and its expectations, you can tailor your responses during the interview to align with what they're looking for. This shows that you've done your homework and are genuinely interested in the role.
Interview questions are created to know who you are and your skill level. Therefore, there aren't correct answers. Do not fall into the idea that you need to be able to answer everything "correctly" in order to land the job, instead, you need to be able to display who you are and what you can do and be.
Don't get me wrong, you still need to know that technical knowledge, is mandatory. However, is about having the ability to understand that "the correct answer" is just a small part of a bigger and more complex journey, especially for beginners.
On my first interview, I was able to answer 70% of the technical questions and I had a practical test where I had to solve a problem. Did I solve the problem? No. Did I show my troubleshooting skills? Yes. Did I show my soft skills? Yes. Did I show my resiliency? Yes. Did I land the job? Yes. Understanding that there is more than just finding the correct answer is key.
I like to think about the interview process like a story you tell someone. You have a determined time and you want to, within that time, make the other person feel and understand that message. An interview is about you, you are the story. So knowing who you are, where you came from, where you are going and your values, is half of the questions there.
I get it can be hard, knowing is different than telling. What I did was I took the LinkedIn Interview Prep and answered them for myself, trained how can I tell my story.
In this article, I've shared my personal experiences, insights, and tips for succeeding in my first job. However, I didn't make it on my own. Along the way, I had the privilege of learning from and being inspired by some incredible individuals. So for this topic I'll recommend them.
In terms of LinkedIn, I've been following Andrea Logan for a year now, all of her insights are magnificent. One of my favorite thing she says is "You can't expected people to know what you do if you don't show them. You don't need to say, you need to show". She is always posting insights and making lives, you can easily learn how to set your LinkedIn, how to write your CV and cover letter.
Your GitHub profile is a crucial part of your tech identity. It's where potential employers and collaborators can see your work and coding skills. If you're wondering how to set up your GitHub in an appealing and informative way, I highly recommend Kera's article, Writing Your GitHub Profile. Talking about GitHub and portfolio, I'll also leave this very good video from Niall about The One Portfolio Project You Should Build.
To wrap up this article, yesterday the very same guy that inspired this article, sent me a message saying that he secured the job. If I could resume all of this, I would say you have to believe in yourself and keep on trying.