You know you've got what it takes, but does anyone else?
6 Feb 2017
8 minute read
Every developer has to start somewhere. You gotta make yourself known, and to make yourself known, you gotta have something worth being known for.
Build a portfolio website. On your portfolio website make sure you include your email address, LinkedIn, Github, your projects, and links to any places you share professional opinions on development, like a blog or Twitter account.
As a career changer, your public code is the most important part of your CV. It’s critical that you put together a portfolio. Don’t have any freelance jobs ready to go yet? Some things you can build are a blog, a game, an informative site or a few page tutorial, a calculator, or perhaps you could rewrite a popular website in a language it’s not written in now. Constantly keep this updated. However, it depends on where you want to work. Companies increasingly like to see staff with a little product knowledge and project management skills.
It’s preferably that you don’t do tutorial projects. It’s very obvious that they are, and it doesn’t show much sign of original thought. If you must, build on top of them and make them more awesome, or rewrite them and improve the way they deliver
Integrate with popular libraries
Build something others can use. No-one expects d3 type work. Just a small tool anyone can use, or maybe a gem.
Be consistent in what you write. Messy code is a sign of a lazy developer. And not in the good way either.
Collaborate with other developers
Explain what you did in the README. What are the features, what’s the tech stack? How did you structure it and why?
Don’t copy/paste. You must understand every piece of code you write and all it’s logic.
Write clean code
Think about what would impress your ideal company
Most companies have a few developer jobs going. Maybe they’ve spoken about a challenge they’ve had as an industry. This is something you can address when talking to representatives at meetups, and even make proof-of-concept projects for.
Your social media presence
Twitter & LinkedIn can be great ways to profile your skills. While it’s hard to demonstrate teamwork skills, outside of say, winning hackathons as a team, you can demonstrate team spirit. Some great examples we’ve seen from students and alumni are posting about attending hackathons, going to conferences, screenshots of student projects, sharing articles that helped them learn something new. Interact with some industry giants. We promise they're not that scary!
Participate in offline communities. For example, Ruby has two monthly meetups in sydney called Ruby on rails oceania sydney, and Sydney Ruby. Attend other meetups too. Do you also do web design? Take an interest in information security? Meetups exist for that too, and they are easy to find. There's truly something for everyone.
You can see i'm good
Make your personal project code public on github. If you have to make your code public you'll think more deeply about how you're going about it.
Do you have skills outside of development? You could use them to get a job which combines those skills with web dev. Companies are increasingly understanding of the value of hiring someone who understands the market and so has interesting product suggestions to give..
Tell us about it
Start a blog and write about your experiences. Create resources for others. Not much how documentation about how to do something you did? Write about it. Link to your blog on your portfolio. You might even make it part of it. Do an interesting project? Got a better explanation? Now’s your chance.
Your First Job
To get a job, you have to have experience. To get experience, you need to have a job. So what can you do to solve this Catch-22?
See if there’s an opportunity to do dev work for a company you are currently or have previously worked at (we hope you left on positive terms!). They’ll always have little projects, so it’s worth a shot. You may end up assisting the analytics teams or working on the company website. Talk to developers who work in your current industry about opportunities to assist and look over their shoulder at the process.
I get by with a little help from my friends
Do small freelance projects. Offer to tweak websites or redesign a website for a non-profit. There’s still plenty with pretty ancient websites that you could help out. Ask friends & family if they have anything they want done, or if the company they work for has an opening, so you can build experience and prove you can get work done to an external deadline. You may not be able to provide the source code but you sure can link to the results.
Testimonials can help clear a path to more work by establishing credibility. You might find it useful to add testimonials for your freelance work. These are basically references. They’re important! Keep them prominent.
Okey dokey, you're now ready to apply for your first job!
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