The 5 P's to Stand Out as a Coding Bootcamp Grad
The fact that software developers are in high demand shouldn't come as a shock to anyone. However, while there are more jobs available than qualified candidates to fill them, that doesn't mean someone who can program can just walk into a company and ask when they should start working. Even though companies are starving for talent, they are still willing to wait for the right candidate (not the absolute perfect candidate, a candidate that is right for the job and company culture). That being said, how can one become that right candidate? It's all about setting one's self apart from the rest of the competition - but how? In this article, we will discuss five P's that can make anyone become the clear choice for a software developer role.
While in class, students all have projects they have to build for assignments. These activities are great for learning how to code and gaining the skills necessary to enter the industry. However, every student has to complete these assignments to graduate - and if everyone is doing it, that means it becomes the bare minimum. In other words, if you do what everyone else is doing and stop there, you will look just like everyone else. To stand out, bootcampers and college students alike need to go above and beyond the minimum requirements to graduate. Build a portfolio of projects that you work on in addition to your assigned work. This is one of the quickest ways to progress as a developer, and also one of the key indicators that employers look for when deciding who to hire. You should put a link to your portfolio or GitHub on your resume, and you can even get creative and list out your projects with individual links to each hosted app. Practice talking about your projects, why you built them, what technologies you used, and what problems you encountered and how you overcame them so that you have some great things to talk about in an interview. However you go about showing off your work, the most important thing is that you have the work to show off.
Not too unrelated from building a portfolio is making sure you constantly practice. The reason these two concepts are separated is that while project work definitely makes for great practice, you have to practice additional skills as well in order to be seen above the crowd. Two of these additional skills include practicing how and when to use different programming constructs (coding challenges are one of the best ways to do this) and practicing interview questions - both technical and soft skill, as well as the questions you will ask the manager. There are so many different coding challenge websites out there that are great for this type of practice. You can make lists and flashcards to practice interview questions; you can even get creative and build fun ways to study such as a Jeopardy game based on different interview topics. However you decide to do it, make sure you practice daily so that when the opportunity arises, you are easily picked out among others.
3. Problem Solving
A very desirable skill in all technologists, some believe that problem solving is an inherent skill. However, we've seen time after time individuals improve their capacity in this arena. A lot of it has to do with practicing coding and logic puzzles, but there's something to be said about looking at a problem and simply talking through the solution, without implementing it. This is one of the best ways to hone problem solving skills. It's commonly stated that programming is 90% thinking and 10% typing; remembering this can help you improve vastly in the solutions you provide for a given problem. Always analyze first, verbally talk yourself through a solution, and then start to implement it. Try this when solving coding challenges to increase your problem solving skills. When you get into an interview and are given a whiteboarding question, make sure you do the same thing - repeat the problem verbally, then start talking about your thought process and how you would go about providing a solution. This is key to standing out in a tech interview.
After you crush the first 3 P's, remember that some things take time. A job search presents so many different variables and each individual will have a different experience. Even the same individual, throughout multiple job searches, will experience vastly different results due to factors outside of their control. The key to focus in on at this point is to keep at it. Keep applying. Keep interviewing. Keep networking. If you give up, you've not only robbed yourself of an amazing career opportunity, but also a company of a future all-star employee. If you can weather storms such as holiday hiring slumps and a botched interview, you will come out on top. Remember, it's about setting yourself above the competition - you can't do that if you aren't persistent.
Last, and most importantly, is passion. If you do everything above and a thousand other things, but don't have a passion for what you are doing, it's all for not. Employers love an interview with a candidate who can excitedly talk about what they've learned and what they are currently working on. Getting giddy about technology and the projects a company is working on goes so far in an interview! As always, this inevitably ties in with the other P's in this article. If you're passionate about coding, you'll have a portfolio and projects that you've created just because you enjoy tinkering. You'll solve coding challenges because the idea of stretching your mind and leveling up as a developer excites you. You'll have things to talk about in an interview because when you're passionate about something you can talk forever about it. It's an interesting concept, though. The more you're passionate about programming, the more you learn - and the more you learn, the more your passion grows. So, pick one; get excited about coding, or start learning to code, and then watch the wonderful cycle ensue so that you can be a strong candidate.
Passion, Persistence, Problem Solving, Practice, and a Portfolio will help you rise above other candidates, stand out, and land your dream job.