mark cerqueira well-rounded nerd

Tips on Getting a Job

I recently held a small fireside chat (sans the fire) at General Assembly with some of their iOS programming graduates. We focused on job hunting for technical positions. I brought a single slide to keep the discussion open and to avoid giving overcomplicated advice.

Let’s take a dive into each of these!

  1. Leverage your network. One of the biggest hurdles to getting a job is really early on in the process: getting a recruiter to review your resume and reach out. Applying through a jobs website can work but you may get lost in the deluge of other resumes. Internal referrals are a great way to get around this hurdle. Ask (don’t demand) if a friend can refer you or introduce you to a contact they know that works somewhere you’re interested in applying for.

  2. Have a resume. It’s 2017, but you’ll still need a resume when applying for jobs. Preparing a resume is a great exercise in reviewing what you’ve done in the past; at all stages of interviewing you will likely be asked to discuss previous work and projects.

  3. Post your code on Github. This is especially important if you don’t have any “professional” work experience. Having a previous job or some code samples to look at quickly addresses any questions about your basic ability to code. You don’t need to write perfect code to put it on Github. Pick a problem, solve it, and put it up there. A nice README file will explain what the code does and include some screenshots.

  4. Write! Writing is not valued enough for technical roles but it’s an incredibly helpful thing to do. Writing is an exercise in gathering your thoughts and outputting a set of coherent, fluid words. That helps with lots of things you’ll be doing day-to-day as an engineer: understanding and fleshing out problems, discussing solutions, and implementing clean, readable solutions. Start a blog! Write about whatever you want; it doesn’t have to be technical. I always advise people new to coding to write about their experience coding through new challenges: discuss hiccups you run into and how you went about solving them.

  5. Prepare for technical interviews. Doing well in interviews takes lots of preparation and a little bit of luck. You need to have an absolute firm command of data structures (especially sets, lists, maps). Practice whiteboarding because coding on a whiteboard is different from coding on a computer.

And that’s all there’s to it! Getting a job isn’t easy but you should have confidence in yourself and be proud of the work you’ve done. Good luck!