In this episode we'll talk about 3 big mistakes that aspiring coders make when trying to land their very first job.

Getting your first job as a coder will be the most difficult challenge when trying to launch your professional career, make sure you avoid these three mistakes:

  1. Setting up your portfolio and NOT doing this…
  2. Incorrectly utilizing certifications on your resume…
  3. Getting a college degree and then…

Transcript

Trevor Page
Okay ladies and gentlemen fellow coders Welcome to now this is my third attempt, trying to record this episode, upgrading my, my hardware and my software to try to record these, these podcasts while I'm up for my walk, it's actually the afternoon now, instead of the morning. In any case, let's get into the content, so

Trevor Page
I've been doing this for a while now it's been, what, nine years over nine years that I've been teaching people how to code and I've myself professionally been coding for about 14 as of this point so in my, I guess almost decade of experience helping people learn how to code. There are similar stories that I hear, day in and day out time and time again. And that, that relates to essentially the struggles right so the topic I want to, you know, hone in on today is essentially the three most common mistakes that I see sort of beginner level programmers make when trying to get a job as a coder. So yeah, if you're in the position where you've got a little bit of code under your belt you feeling like you are more or less ready to hit the job scene, but are not receiving any callbacks for interviews, you might be falling into one of these three or maybe all these three categories. So listen up. The first sort of mistake I see is around people who, you know, this is in the best with best of intentions they get their portfolio set up, and with their portfolio set up they're feeling confident in that they are able to demonstrate their skills right they can show off their code and proudly display it to potential employers and say hey, look what I can do, and that's great, that is actually something you should be doing if you don't have a portfolio, and also have no experience as a coder, no professional experience. You need to be, you need to be creating a portfolio, this is mandatory. Otherwise, for sure you're not gonna get any callbacks, but I'm gonna assume that you have some sort of portfolio and by that I mean you have at least one big project that really demonstrates, more or less all the aspects of your skill set, right and more or less demonstrates, all of your strengths as a coder. Now here's the mistake people fall into. They have these, these portfolios, and they proudly display their portfolio. And the problem is that what they're displaying is horrible, Horrible code, and they have no idea that's horrible code because they just literally don't know any better. You know, this is a problem of you don't know what you don't know. Yeah, you probably don't realize that your code is awful and actually it's probably expected that your code is going to be awful if you haven't worked in the real world professionally right. If all you have is a college degree or you've been more or less self taught, you might not have learned everything you need to know to write good code. But there is a solution, no worries, I'm getting to it, but the symptoms of this problem are a little bit deceiving because essentially the symptom of the problem is you're applying to lots of jobs, and you're hearing nothing back about interview potential right you're not getting any calls for any interviews. All right. Now if you aren't getting calls and you are being invited for interviews and then still not getting a job well that's a different problem right. Your portfolio is most likely not the problem. Your resume is most likely not the problem, it's probably your interviewing skills. So these are the people are for the people who can't get the interview. So the symptom is you're not getting any any callbacks, right you applied to 100 jobs, 200 jobs, 300 jobs, and your phone is just not ringing. So, it's deceiving here because it's like, Well what's wrong, it might not qualify and am I applying to the wrong jobs. What's, what is wrong with this situation. Why is no one calling me back, right, and, and this is often the case, you have no experience, and therefore since you have no experience, the employers have to fall back on. Looking at your portfolio or some other means of trying to, to determine without seeing you in person. If you're any good as a coder. Okay. So, in lieu of real world experience they're going to look at things like your portfolio. And if your portfolio, they, you know, flip through it. It's very easy as a senior level programmer to flip through someone's code quickly and make a quick decision within 60 seconds. You make a decision as to whether or not this person is a decent coder or not decent for, you know, respective for the level that you're applying for. So you know, a decent junior level coder is going to have a different criteria than a decent senior level coder. But in any case, that decision can be made very quickly, and if you haven't taken the steps to put your best foot forward here. You can easily get disqualified and thrown thrown into the no pile and then you never hear from any employer ever again. Right. So,

Trevor Page
yeah, this is a doozy. So, how, how do you know if you've fallen victim to this. Well, there's no way to know for sure until you hire someone to look at your code for you hire someone who is a senior level programmer with more than five or 10 years of experience, have them look at your code. Okay, now you had to hire someone who is you know, whatever language you wrote the code in they'd obviously have to have experience in that language. That would be the best fit. But you'd hire someone to do it now if you don't know how to hire someone to do that. You, there's places you can go right there's like, There's a website called up work up as in the arrow up and work as in working. So, up, work.com will allow you to sort of post a job opening or a temporary job or whatever like a one time job and say hey, looking to pay a senior level programmer to review my code, right, a senior level coder, can probably take you know if it's a decently, you know, large size project for a portfolio project, you know, it might take a few hours of senior level programmers time, so like maybe a couple 100 bucks, but this is a couple $100 That is very, very well spent because you are going to return on that it's gonna be great if you just get one job, right, the ROI the return on investment for $200. You know, just for the peace of mind of knowing that this is not the problem like my code has been reviewed by a professional. I can feel good about this right. Another opportunity, again, shameless self promotion here. This is something that we just do inside of the boot camp. So for every assignment you do in the in the boot camp and for every Final Project, this the final project is what you would display in your portfolio for every final project, you will get a code review as well. So that's just built into the boot camp, you're going to get a professional with, you know, X number of years least whatever four or five years of experience, looking at your code, and making sure that it's good writing and making sure that you're putting your best foot forward. So yeah, if you're looking to not only just get a job but also you know, improve your skills in general, feel more confident as a coder, fill in any gaps you might have in your knowledge that kind of thing yeah boot camp might be a good fit for

Trevor Page
you. Again coderscampus.com/bootcamp to check that out, shameless self promotion over. Okay, so next most common thing, or problem that I see, sort of, you know, junior level programmers make when they're trying to get their first job is with respect to the resume. So again these things are done with the best of intentions, and we don't realize again we don't know what we don't know we don't realize that they are harming our chances of getting a job which is really unfortunate. Which is why I'm here and talking about it right now. So, if you are someone who again has no experience in the real world as a coder,

Trevor Page
then you might fall victim to something that again feels right, you know in your gut, this might feel like a really good decision. But in actuality it's a, it's a bad decision and that is one of certifications, so pursuing certifications, and putting them on your resume is not, is for whatever reason, not a good thing. So if a recruiter or a hiring manager looks at your resume, and they see a list of certifications, you know, at the bottom or wherever you know in your Awards and achievements section or whatever, they see a bunch of certifications listed. They actually throw out your resume, that's a red flag for, you know, hiring managers in general. They don't like to see that, and it is a disqualifying factor when it comes to people's resumes. Again, this came as a surprise to me, I didn't find this out until I was actually interviewing hiring managers, myself and just sort of asking the questions to help my students out in terms of getting jobs. So it was a complete it, you know, came out of left field for me, because again you would think that going and doing the work and paying money and putting in effort to get a certification in the language that you know whatever company is hiring for. You would think that would be a good thing. But I guess what what's happened is that having a bunch of certifications listed on your resume is an indicator for someone who's struggling to find employment. Typically speaking, if someone has employment, or does not have a problem getting a job. They don't need to go out and get a bunch of certifications, unless, unless they are being forced to write and let not finally use the word forced, but unless the employer is asking the employee to go and take a time and do this certification, you're probably, you know, you probably wouldn't do it, you probably wouldn't spend your time trying to get a certification. So generally speaking, this is seen as a red flag. And like I said there's some correlation or causation or whatever, that hiring managers have found between getting certifications, and being a good employee for whatever reason. So if you're struggling to get a job. Try to not put a bunch of certifications on your resume doesn't mean you should put none, I would say pick one that you're most proud of. Take whatever one that you spent the most time and effort to achieve, put that one on your resume. Okay, that one's okay you can have one in there that should not look bad on you.

Trevor Page
So examples of, okay, certifications to put on your resume again, maybe a maximum of one, I would say, again, pursue what your own risk if you put two, again I would only pick one personally speaking, if I were you. One is the way to go, but a good example of one that you couldn't put is if you pursued. Some of the industry standard certifications like the Oracle Certified Associate or Oracle Certified programmer if you're looking for a Java position, that is sort of a well known and somewhat respected type of certification to have on your resume. I'm not saying to go out and get that if you don't have it, that's not what I'm saying Don't misinterpret what I'm saying, if you do not have that certification. I don't recommend going out and seeking actively seeking an Oracle certification. But if you already have it if you've already invested the time and the money and you've passed and you had the certificate certification. Fine, you can put that one and only one on your resume. Another one that does make sense it passes the gut check which is something like a boot camp right at boot camp. It's, it's, they are well known in the industry and a lot of employers do look positively on a potential student or potential sorry employee who has a boot camp, you know, a certification or whatever. So if they've gone through a boot camp, that tends to increase your chances over someone who has no education. Okay, so fine you can put that as an achievement and put that on your resume. Outside of that, outside of any super popular industry standard certificates or, you know, big boot camps that you've taken a lot of time and effort and put into you know into display on your resume, outside of those two to two things I wouldn't recommend putting a certification example of a bad certification to put, it's like a Udemy course, like oh hey I completed, you know Udemy gives you these digital certificates when you complete a course, don't, don't put that on your resume. That just looks cheesy, it just looks like hey I paid $7 And, and maybe just, you know, click the few buttons and then magically I said you know I complete everything and then. And you know I didn't even take the course but I got this piece of digital, you know, certificate paper that it just don't do that, don't, don't put it that's not impressive. That doesn't that doesn't take months and months of work and lots of time and money to unlock a Udemy certificate, or the like, write those, that's a good example of one not to put on your resume.

Trevor Page
All right, so moving on now last but not least, the third most common issue I see in programmers who are trying to get their first job is someone who just graduated with a degree in a related programming field, you know, computer science, computer engineering. I don't know, mechanical engineering, whatever the degree is that, you know, relates to the IT industry in general. So people who more or less are about to graduate or have already recently graduated. If this is you pay attention. People who get it and I'm guilty of this myself so this this comes from. Hopefully, a place of I learned the hard way so that you don't have to. So don't take this the wrong way. If you're, if you have a degree or about to unlock a degree in computer, you know programming field. It's not enough. You can't rely on that solely to get a job. That might have been the case. A long time ago. It was not the case when I graduated in 2006. Okay, I graduated with a computer science degree in 2006 and still could not get a job. Okay, my first job that I got out of University with a degree was something called the forms analyst, you might have heard me talk about this before. I worked for an insurance agency as a forms analyst, which had practically nothing at all to do with programming. It was a job that was not fulfilling, and did not in any way shape or form, flex my programming muscles if you will, my intellectual coding muscles, and it was literally what I called paying my dues I had to pay my dues in that company working this job that I essentially was overqualified for because I couldn't get a job as a programmer anywhere I'd applied to hundreds of jobs for months and months and I think for like six, it was six months I spent applying for jobs. And ironically, the job I ended up getting this one as a forms analyst was not one that I had applied for obviously I wasn't gonna apply for a job that had no programming in it. But I just gave up and said you know what, I'll take it, because that company that insurance company had a Java development team right there was a software team doing Java that, you know, I could potentially move into I could do a lateral move or whatever within the company, but I had to pay my dues in the job I did not like as a Forum's analyst for a year before I finally was able to get an interview for a job as a Java programmer at that same company. And even then, I pretty much flunked to the interview but they, they, they gave me the job anyway because they felt bad for me, so. So, university degree. If you graduated great congratulations, it is a big achievement. I'm very proud of you. I felt great when I did it it felt like this amazing sense of accomplishment and this prestige and it's like oh my god I did it. But the real world is a bit of a, well, it's, it is a, it's tough because it meant nothing. It did not help me get my job ultimately and helped me launch my career, I essentially was able to unlock that job because I was just a good worker in general, not because I had a degree. So, don't rest on your laurels there don't just think, Oh, I know I have a degree therefore, I'm better than 70 or 80% of the other people and I'm just going to get a job, based on that alone, it wasn't true in 2006, it wasn't true in, you know 2016 When one of my friends went through the same process, and hit the same wall, getting a degree, and then still not being able to get a job as a coder. And it's not true. Now, you know this year for any of the computer programmers that have come through my doors. Almost half of my bootcamp students who are actively in my boot camp enrolled in it and taking the going through lectures and everything in the boot camp, almost half of them are have degrees in a related field. As a computer you know computer programming, computer science, computer engineering whatever like they have a degree as a programmer, and they are still in my boot camp so it just goes to show,

Trevor Page
it's not the solution. It's not the be all and end all there's more work that needs to be done there. Obviously again self promotion blah blah blah you know the idea you can join a boot camp. And that greatly increases your chances of getting a job because that's what bootcamps are focused on, but that's not the only answer right. It just means that you have to do more to stand out from the crowd to prove to employers that you know how to code. That's all employers want at the end of the day. At the end of the day employers just want to hire people who know how to code. And the story. The problem with the university and the reason why university graduates aren't being hired left right and center is because the university curriculum teaches you a little bit about a lot of things. And that's not helpful in the real world. If you learn 10% of a programming language. Okay, versus someone else who's gone through a bootcamp who's learned 90% of that same programming language. Who do you think is gonna get the job. right, is there going to be the person who knows 10% of Java and 10% of C++ and 15% of C sharp and 20% of JavaScript and 10% of assembly language and blah blah but you get you get my drift right and 10% of astronomy and 20% of microeconomics and all these other electives that don't have anything to do with computer science,

Trevor Page
or

Trevor Page
the person who just knows 90% of the Java language. If the job that they're hiring for is a Java programmer, guess who wins. Is it the person with the fancy degree with four years of, of, you know, hard work under their belt. And, you know, 10s of 1000s of dollars spent, or is it the person who has the exact knowledge that the employer needs, you know, whose, if you were an employer who would you pick, not to, you know, throw shade at universities. Again, I have a degree myself I went through the process, the greatest years of my life I tribute to university, but in terms of real world skills, real World, I should say professional skills. You know University unfortunately did very little for me, because I learned a little bit about a great deal of things. And the majority of those great deal of things that I learned a little bit about, I never ever used in my entire career. So it's really, it's just a shame that that's the default path, that a lot of people are thrust into. And if you're in that doing that path right now, and this message is hitting you now, and you're feeling uneasy about the fact that I'm saying this. I'm sorry. Again, great experience, hopefully you're having a lot of fun in university again it's a wonderful social experiment. Hopefully you are growing very much as a human being in general. Just don't rest on the, you know, the education in terms of the academic education that you're getting, because you can't rest on that because others, pursuing other means of education might have an upper hand on you. So that might be a hard pill to swallow for some but yeah I comment, I say this with, with the best of intentions for you so anyway let's recap. So

Trevor Page
the three common mistakes that you need to avoid if you're trying to get your first job as a coder. Mistake number one is you want to avoid having a beautiful portfolio prominently displayed with awful code. Okay, you need to get that code reviewed, either you hire someone from upwork.com to review your code, who's a senior level coder, like, you know, don't spare. Don't spare any expense here this is an important step in the process, pony up the cash, it's worth it. It's an investment, it's not a cost, it's an investment. And it is worth it. Every penny to hire a professional to look at your code and give you the feedback that you need to make it look good. Okay, or obviously join a boot camp, we'll talk more about that at length in just a moment. Number two is don't litter your resume with certifications especially meaningless, certifications, aka Udemy course completion certifications or something any course generic course completion certifications, don't do it. Pick your best pick your one probably display one on your resume. Okay. Third, as I just ended, or justice spoke about is yeah if you're a university grad or about to be a grad, you're not done, there's still more work to be done, you need to gain more skills related to the job that you are actively going to be trying to get. So, whatever language you're most interested in whatever language you're most comfortable with, maybe double down on that one, but also do a Google search or whatever, indeed search to see the job availabilities for entry level jobs. Generally speaking you want to pick one that that you know has a healthy amount of job jobs available for the language right. Don't pick a language that has like five job postings in your area. Okay. It tends to be, again, I'm speaking in generalities here. Python and Java tend to be the two most dominant languages. When it comes to job availability, at least from what I've seen. Obviously I'm a Java guy so you know take that for what it's worth, but, Java, you know, served me well for the last 14 years of my career. It has led to a very beautiful lifestyle that I'm absolutely blessed and absolutely spoiled, to have. It's crazy in a way. So yeah that's what I would say in terms of the work that you need to do as a grad, it's not done, you need to now dive deep into a language that will open up the most doors as possible for your future career. Now how do you do that, this is where I transitioned into the sponsor portion of this episode which is, yeah, boot camps, right, so obviously I have a boot camp I've been running in boot camps since 2019 now, and I've had a lot of success in both training people with the Java language in the Java stack to be a full stack web application developer, which means you can create web applications using HTML, CSS, JavaScript for the front end, as well as Java on the back end and database, and all the technologies all the Java frameworks to connect everything together. So it's a very well rounded education that you receive. We go deep right we go deep into the Java language, because once you know, one, you know, object oriented language. One popular object or language. It's not too difficult to be able to learn any other one on your own, relatively quickly. So once you know one really really well and you feel very confident with one you've gone deep. It's not hard to go to another one. Okay. So I focus on Java because Java, tends to be a bit harder to learn than most and that's a good thing because if you're doing a boot camp. And you have someone, a mentor, like myself, to guide you and help answer your questions and get you unstuck. It's great to have that as a resource when learning a harder language, like the Java language when compared to something like Python right. Python is, is, you know, popular because it's fairly easy to pick it up. I'm not gonna say it's easy, no known programming language is easy, easy to learn. But Python, relatively speaking to other languages, tends to be easier. However, going from Python to another language if needed, is actually a bit difficult because there's a lot of additional stuff that you're going to hit a lot of additional concepts and you can be like wait what I don't understand this. I never learned this, this isn't in Python. Whereas when you learn Java, a lot of that stuff. If not, you know, all of it is transferable to other languages. So that's why I say arm yourself with a mentor. I would highly recommend boot camps, as I've talked about in past episodes, boot camps are just the most effective means in terms of getting yourself from where you are now, to becoming job ready.

Trevor Page
Right. Boot camp and I might say the most effective I mean most effective in terms of least amount of time and effort at Washington State effort least amount of time and cost, right, because there's cost to doing it on your own, without any help from any professionals that cost comes from lost opportunity costs, there's my microeconomics or macro economics coming into play, maybe University isn't as useless as I say it is. Yeah, last opportunity cost of learning on your own. If it takes you two years to finally get to the point on your own, without spending any money as it could have taken you know, six months at a boot camp, you know, that's, a year and a half earlier that you could have been earning a higher income and thus, it's more costly to learn on your own. And it's especially more costly to do it via the education, formal education system like a university or college. I'm sorry. It's hard to say again if you're in there. It's a tough pill to swallow, but that is the real world for you folks. So, boot camps, again, obviously we'd love to have you consider my boot camp coderscampus.com/bootcamp. But as I always say, All I care about in my business, is that you get a job as a coder. So whatever I can do to help you get from where you are now, to working as a professional, you know, entry level coder. I will do whatever I can do to help you to unlock that possibility. Okay, if that's through my boot camp, great. If it's through someone else's boot camp because it's a better fit for you, then great, I can make those suggestions I can point you in the direction of some very successful ones, if that's if that's what needs to happen. I have a lot of I have a lot of confidence in my own boot camp because I can control it, I'm the one who creates all the lectures, I'm the one who's hired all the staff, I'm the one who's, you know outlined the whole process and who obsesses over the metrics like, you know how many people are being employed. So, I have control over that and I have conviction to my own boot camp, I believe. It's obviously the best for you if you're listening to this podcast, but in case, boot camps are just the most effective way to ultimately become employed, like I said if you're a college student, a recent grad or going to graduate soon, you still could be a great fit, like I said, almost 50% of my students in the boot camp are in your shoes. If you're someone who's currently working in a job that sort of adjacent to programmers, such as a QA person, or a dev ops person, or I don't know a product, you know lead that works with programmers or whatever, if you're in sort of the field of software in some way shape or form, just not as a coder. You're also a good fit. I find that a fair number of my students match that profile as well. So if you're adjacent to programmers and work with programmers on more or less daily basis, and want to become a programmer, this is probably a good fit for you. The final sort of group that's not as great a fit, but still does fit is you're just in a completely unrelated field, and you're just tired of the job that you're doing, maybe it's, you know, hard physical labor and your body's giving out on you or you're just stuck in a job that is not fulfilling and you just feel like programming is calling you to learn it and to get a job as a coder if you feel pulled and called to do this kind of work to create things with code. If that just seems fascinating to you. And you've already started the journey, and really want to become a programmer, yeah, that you could definitely be a good fit for the bootcamp as well I would love to have a chat with you and talk about potentially getting into the boot camp so for all of those people, I welcome you to apply to the boot camp, you can do so via coderscampus.com/bootcamp, fill out an application form and book a call with us, so you can book a call with my admissions team, which currently admissions team is a fancy word to say me. I'm currently the admissions team but who knows the boot camp grows. I might have someone else that that takes care of the admissions process. But currently, the admissions team is me so you can book a call with me and we can have a chat and I can learn more about you. Learn more about your background in terms of your interest in coding what sort of skills you already have with coding, and just see if you'd be a good fit for the bootcamp itself. So I would love to invite you to apply, you can do so via coderscampus.com/bootcamp.

Trevor Page
To learn more about it. and if you are someone who has no experience in code whatsoever. If you've never written a line of code in your life, or you've never created a simple Hello World application, ever, you know, I would not, I would recommend that you don't go to the boot camp that's, um, that's not the right fit for you. It generally takes a little bit more work to get to the point where you're ready for something like a boot camp. And for those people. If that's you, don't worry, you can go to coderscampus.com/start. So if you go to coderscampus.com/start that allows you to get a free course is, I call it my bootcamp prep course. So it allows you to dip your toes in the waters of programming. Learn from me, get an idea of what the bootcamp would be like, do some assignments. Like I said, dip your toes in those waters and just see if, if you like it, because sometimes this is from you again I've been doing this a long time. Sometimes people who say that they want to be coders, but I've never coded before in their life. It's just something that they say, and it's not until they do the work inside of this free course that they realize, oh, this is definitely not for me. Okay, so I don't want you to, to waste a bunch of money and time in a boot camp if you know, or if you find out in the boot camp, this is not for you. Right, so I want you to get for free. So you can go check out coderscampus.com/start. Try it out for free dip your toes in those waters for free, and see if, see if you like this whole coding thing. Okay, but if you already crossed that threshold, I call it the great filter. If you've crossed that great filter and are sure that you like to code the whole process of learning and doing is fascinating to you and you've done it, and you're still wanting to do anything. Yes, I invite you to check out the boot camp coders camps.com forward slash boot camp. Having said that, I will stop talking about boot camps, I'm sure you're tired of hearing about it but I still love talking about it. I will go ahead and end this episode now.

Trevor Page
Hopefully if nothing else you've gotten a lot of value from these three common mistakes that coders make and hopefully you have left this episode with more knowledge and with more confidence in knowing where you're going next. So thank you so much for joining me. Thank you so much for listening and I can't wait to see you in the next episode, take care of yourself. Happy learning, and bye for now.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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