Post Bootcamp Job Hunting, One Year Later

Almost a year ago now, I graduated from the Turing School. Turing doesn’t call itself a bootcamp, but as far as companies are concerned (especially once you get outside of Denver and its reputation doesn’t precede it quite as much, though it’s starting to), it’s the same thing.

Job hunting is hard. It’s emotional and it’s ambiguous and it will feel like you’re not getting anything done. Submitting job applications blindly doesn’t work very well. You’ll be joined by a sea of other bootcamp grads, and while you’ve certainly got some things to make you stand out, whether it’s portfolio projects or prior work experience, you’ll still be better off if you manage to get face time with someone who works at the companies you’re interested in. It takes more time and energy, yes, but it will pay off.

It’s scary to reach out to strangers on the internet. I get that. I’ve been there, and I’m both introverted and awkward, which is a great combination. But it’s possible, and it’s worth it. About once a week, I get a cup of coffee with a recent bootcamp grad, and I actually enjoy it (it’s so much easier from this side of the table). The below are just a few things that I appreciate — they’re framed specific to me, but I can almost guarantee all the other strangers you’re meeting with will appreciate it too.

I didn’t teach myself all these things (Thanks to Jeff and Lia for teaching me everything I know), but from the other side, I can definitively say: it’s all so true. Go forth and conquer your fear of strangers. Ok, I’m projecting now — maybe you’re not scared of strangers like I am.

  • Be specific in your ask. Name a time and a place. If it doesn’t work for me, I’ll suggest a different one. Tell me whether you’re looking for general advice or connections or a job at the company I work for. I promise I’m not going to think you’re being too forward. I’ll be grateful our email exchanges will require less back and forth, and I’ll go into it knowing exactly what you’re looking for (which means I’ll be more prepared and more likely to be able to help you).
  • Come prepared with questions. It seems obvious, but it’s not. I’ll probably ask you about yourself too, but you need to be prepared to drive the conversation. These might be general job hunt questions, or they might be specific to the place I work. If you want to work at with me, know what my company does, and be able to articulate why you want to work there. Ask about the interview process.
  • Follow through. If you’re actually just curious about the job market/tech scene in Seattle, want job hunting tips from someone who’s been there, this isn’t as relevant, though you should feel free to keep in touch. But if you’re planning on applying for a job at with me or ask for a referral link, don’t wait a month to do so. Don’t even wait a week. My memories of our meeting won’t be quite as sharp (which means the note I told you I’d leave on your application, which I will do, will be vague and less helpful to you).

That said, let’s chat. People have been where you are and they’re willing to help. They want to help.