Updated: Feb 18, 2020
I know that I am not one-of-a-kind in my current experience, I know it for a fact since I have asked around. I also know that my current experience is not often enough addressed on open platforms, at least in the first-person whilst going through the experience.
I am YourGirlCodes, Zoë for short, and an Aspiring Full Stack Web Developer.
Unemployed, entry-level, passionate and unable to give up. The author of “The Bible for the Aspiring Developer” — which consists of an amalgamation of bibles passed down to me, my own experiences and hopefully something you can relate to. Stuck in the rut of not having enough experience to gain experience.
I talk about this last point way too often — how on earth am I meant to gain experience without having any experience — since gaining experience requires a job which requires experience?!
How did the current seniors become seniors, taking into account the fact that they too most probably had to start somewhere — which generally means learning something new and hence needing to gain experience?
This ‘limbo’ stage is quite frustrating. It leaves me on the search for a solution, and hopefully the side-effect will be a job. Or maybe the search is for a job and the side effect being a solution.
Either way, at some point in the hopefully-near future we’ll have pulled together a solution as well as a bible for the unemployed, entry-level individuals who find themselves in this ‘limbo’.
I’ll catch you up to speed, and then I’ll be documenting all my steps forward.
I moved to a country that speaks another language and changed career paths.
I graduated from a coding bootcamp, now have roughly 7 months of code under my belt.
That is, 7 months ago I had never read a line of code in my life.
The first 3 months were spent learning a long list of languages/technologies that make my CV look pretty cool.
The middle 2 of these 7 were spent interning and are therefore counted as practical experience; here I worked with languages/technologies that I was both familiar and unfamiliar with. Here, I also fell in love with ‘my’ stack: React, Node.js and SQL (this does not mean I’m that proficient, it just means that eventually I plan to be a Ninja developer in this stack) — here I can actually pass on some advice a Genius once gave me: choose your stack and become an expert, throw yourself into it.
The final 2 have been spent doing the following:
Being unemployed, applying for jobs and failing at interviews. Building an app with someone experienced in the industry, as my partner guiding me through. But, most importantly, drinking coffee and chatting with strangers (some call that networking). This is where The Bible begins.
Realise that this Bible is meant to complement applying for jobs — it is not the means to finding a job, but rather the means to enriching this time spent in limbo.
(And your life as a developer afterwards)
First Commandment: Human Interaction (Coffee)
I myself am following a bible. It was procured for me over coffee, by a Genius who I was put in touch with by another Genius who I had previously met for coffee, who I was put in touch with by the first Genius who I met through a great friend who is also a Genius.
The above chain is one instance of human interaction that resulted in invaluable Geniuses being added to my life.
Human interaction is number one in this bible; however, more specifically is human connection.
I personally believe that human connection is not given enough attention when it comes to networking.
Recently I came across an article that touched on giving vs receiving when it comes to networking. This article made me think about the concept of networking and how, as an entry level developer in a new country and new industry, I want my network to comprise real connections — people I find interesting, beyond just their profession. So far, it does.
The point of my coffee dates isn’t securing a job, nor is it just being handed a bunch of resources. The point is the exchange of experiences and knowledge, be real. I enjoy learning about people, and from them.
If you’re just after a job, go to a job fair.
Notice the depth of value that comes from human connection.
But since we are working towards finding a job and eventually no longer being in limbo, note that people will only invest in/hire you if they see worth in you as a person. That is, if they actually enjoy being around you.
From here on out, the Bible will no longer be a psychological examination.
We also need to act practically and logically.
Tell your story to family, friends, acquaintances and the man who helps you at the bank. You may end up with a partner to build an app with, maybe even a mentor or people who simply are rooting for you and who have a wealth of knowledge to share.
Find someone who can somehow help you improve your code quality — code review.
I think that it is also necessary to have someone who can help you decode the reasons for those failed interviews. Was it the anxiety? Was the technical exam beyond your capability? Someone experienced in the field will be able to help you wrap your head around the soul-crushing ‘no’.
This commandment is ever-lasting. You can order decaffeinated if you need to.
So, the one sub-step that I’m actually struggling with is going to actual networking events. Professional networks are ignited here — that’s the whole point of these meet ups. I’m thinking that a good point to add would be to find an event-buddy? Just to help warm up to those get togethers that I find super intimidating.
Attending networking events is an imperative practical action that sows together this bible. You’ve got to meet people in a professional sense too.
Second Commandment: GROUPS GROUPS GROUPS. (Group Chats)
Imperative to moving forward: Whatsapp, Facebook, maybe even Telegram
Sit with one of those Genius humans you have now created a connection with, and ask them to send you the links to the Whatsapp groups they are in. Facebook groups too.
On Facebook, I’m part of a group for each technology I have learnt about.
I am a ghost member right now, since I haven’t yet posted anything. However, I am an active reader.
(And I’ve become brilliant at Google Translate since most of these groups are in the native language of the country in which I live)
Most the messages and posts fly over my head but I still read them and try to keep up. Every day someone in one of these groups wows me — all I want right now is to be able to use these groups actively too. It’ll cut down the time taken to deal with amateur bugs.
This will come with a bit of experience. Experience in how to ask the right questions, how to articulate an issue correctly and eventually experience to be able to answer someone else’s question.
Whoever is helping you with code review could possibly give you some tips here.
Here’s a live example of the freak out I have almost every time there’s a message in the JS Whatsapp group I’m in:
Phone pings, it’s the JS group again, I start sweating because I figure someone’s asking for help on a topic I’ve never heard of. But, instead, one of the brilliant members of the group has posted an article he has written on debugging, hackers and researchers (pretty cool stuff.)
Here’s the article:
It is a copy and paste of some code needed to be debugged. This is when I start questioning my quest in becoming a Ninja developer. Sometimes it feels as though I’m reading Chinese (a language I really don’t know), and not because of the language barrier!
Add to this bible that you should read the code and solutions — you’ll learn how to ask questions more effectively (adding to your autodidact skill) and how to write better code.
My personal Bible includes the following in exact words:
“The first thing about learning to program is the need to spend the time to reprogram your brain”
Join community groups too — there are tons on Facebook that are simply for the purpose of keeping devs in the area up to date on events.
There’s something crazy about the dev world — the concept of community. Think about it, the only reason for technological advancement is the advancement of developers who are advancing because of others advancement. In the dev world, everyone teaches everyone. Everyone is aspiring to be better.
This concept of community is something I’m deeply in love with — devs are so cool.
Clearly we’ve got some work to do before Commandment 3.
— — — YourGirlCodes
(Follow me so that we can move forward out of limbo together — and so that you can easily be alerted of commandment 3)
** This article was written with a lot of inspiration from Raphaël Ouzan. https://www.linkedin.com/in/raphaelouzan/