I just landed my first job as a full stack developer. Tomorrow is my first day. I am so excited to start this new career. It was a long journey, longer than I though it would be. Fortunately there were many mentors along the way that kept encouraging me to push on. Never give up you will get there!
This post will reflect on that journey.
Back in May of 2019 I resigned my position as a project manager in biotech.
I enjoyed what I did biotech, but I discovered a growing passion that could no longer could be ignored. This passion was always there since I dabbled in software all my professional life. It wasn’t my main job though. My software passion gained considerable weight when I started my own software startup in 2016. It got me hungry to do more.
My friend Kevin, a software engineer, and I would have long conversations about cool software projects we could develop. At that time they were just talk but when I met a full stack engineer in April 2019 I realized I could follow through. So I resigned in May 2019 to learn all I could about full stack development.
Boy was that fun. So fun that I didn’t apply to any jobs for the first six months. Instead I took a deep dive into learning and creating apps.
My education roadmap concentrated on three areas, the MERN stack, AWS and mobile development.
During these first 6 months I went to tech meetups around town. I met a lot of devs and learned about machine learning, Flutter, react, dev ops, and serverless.
It wasn’t until I started going to code and coffees that I met people like me, looking for jobs. Their stories were different than most of the professionals I met. They were either self taught or going to bootcamps to learn code.
There were also a lot of seasoned professionals that I met at code and coffees. They came primary to socialize and have fun coding. Many of them were very smart and coached me along my journey. Some of them were from big companies like Amazon and Capital One and others were from less familiar ones. In either case they told me interesting stories about what it was like to work in tech.
So after I met the job hunters I asked them what they were doing for their job search. I learned that they were a lot more diligent than me. I was only applying to one or two jobs a week and they were applying to 15 or more and making progress.
Job search wasn’t much fun and I only applied to jobs I was interested in. I felt that a good fit was more important than just a job. My non tech friends told me to just get in, gain some experience and then you can find your dream job. I knew that wouldn’t make me happy especially if I got a job I hated.
I wanted to be a full stack engineer but did get talked into applying to front end positions and cloud support jobs. I really had no interest in them but applied anyway.
To prepare for these I started studying algorithms and data structures. I really hated this, but was told it was something I had to do. It took a few months and I failed at the interviews anyway.
Then I spent a month studying networking and failed at cloud support interviews too.
Something had to change.
What I was told to do did not match my original plan. I wanted to be a full stack engineer. I like to build things that solve a problems and do something useful. These products required both front end and back end work. So I stopped interviewing and started concentrating on my most important app https://www.iwanttodine.com/ .
To pull this off I had to get really good at react, material UI, serverless backends, and user authentication. The product pulled out all the stops. I spent a solid three months on it. During development COVID hit and restaurants were closed. Boy that was a blow. Still I continued to develop it and its now finished ready to pitch to customers.
This refocus must have worked because it caught the eye of a very unique recruiter who reached out to me on LinkedIn. What made him unique was the following post.
On April 1st at 10 AM, I was laid off along with the majority of our team due to the impacts of coronavirus on the hospitality industry. So, on April 1st, I got to work!
Here are some personal metrics I hope are meaningful to those looking for opportunities, keep grinding:
– 96 completed applications (34 easy apply and 62 long ones)
– 500+ connection requests (402 new connections)
– 287 personal LinkedIn messages sent
– 31 calls (29 because of connections, not applications)
– 10+ hours of company research
– 2 candidate exercises completed
– 3 opportunities (1 from applying, that’s a 1.04% success rate)
Notice I don’t count rejections or non-responses, I also don’t let them stop me. Stay positive, keep working, and ask for help wherever and whenever. You got this!
That made me curious about the company he joined. So I applied to a full stack engineering position there and got the job.
Now that I landed my job my work is not over. It has just begun. I am excited to learn more and apply it to real products. This is going to be so fun and am looking forward to every minute of it.