I had the privilege of co-hosting a Women Who Code Tech Talk called “Zero to Hero.” We had an all-female panel who graduated at various periods from our 12-Week Hack Reactor coding bootcamp. They discussed their different career paths taken afterward. (Did you miss it? Don’t worry! Take a look at our Women Who Code in Austin events list for upcoming get-togethers and talks.)
The highlight for me came when an attendee sent a message afterward:
“I wanted to thank you again. Hearing your stories gives me confidence in my job search.”
Sometimes I forget how gut-wrenching a job search could be, but it doesn’t have to be so bad when you have the right mindset and tools. Here are 10 lessons learned from that all-female panel discussion:
Lesson One: Connect with a software engineer at the hiring company
Try to speak with people who actually work at that company before you have your job interview. What you miss in the job description is the nuances of that company, such as company culture. There are only a few key requirements that an employer is really looking for, and you want to make sure you hit those points in your resume and during the interview.
Lesson Two: Trust your gut
It’s important to take a moment and say it’s okay to not take a job if it’s not the right fit for you, no matter how awesome it sounds on paper. You need to recognize what is important to you.
Lesson Three: Practice what you’re not good at
Job hunting can be uncomfortable because you have to sell and promote yourself. Take every opportunity to get in front of people, and practice answering hard questions. Practicing things that make you uncomfortable will help you get better; hard questions will start to become part of muscle memory. You should target the aspects you struggle with and practice those aspects over and over again. Then you can be confident when you land a big interview.
Lesson Four: Have a growth mindset
Learning to code is very doable, yet so many people don’t realize it. You have to adopt a growth mindset: it’s okay to fail (many times), and when you do, just pick yourself back up and try again.
Lesson Five: Break down and solve problems like a software engineer
No matter what you’re doing—whether you’re a recruiter, in sales, or looking for a job—you’re still trying to problem solve, and that engineering mindset will take you a long way. You can solve anything when you break down a problem into its smaller components. Then, think about your output (final result), and reverse-engineer the solution by using the steps of OICE:
- Output: The final result you’re after
- Inputs: The variables involved in getting to your output
- Constraints: Challenges to getting to your solution
- Edge Cases: Are you asking all the right questions?
Lesson Six: Don’t give up
Software Engineering is hard, but it’s very rewarding for the same reason it’s so challenging: it feels awesome when you finally solve that problem.
Lesson Seven: Unapologetically embrace who you are
Impostor syndrome can turn your into your own biggest enemy: during the learning process, it’s fairly common to think you don’t belong on an engineering team. However, it’s okay if you wear dresses and put on make-up while everyone else is in gym shorts and a graphic t-shirt. You don’t have to look the part. It might surprise you how inclusive and accepting the tech industry has been towards women, people of color, and other minorities (from a general perspective).
Lesson Eight: Go ahead and ask that question
Sometimes it’s daunting to ask a question in an interview room full of software engineers. You might think that you don’t belong and that your “dumb” question will expose you. The reality is that you do deserve to be there. The interview process is hard for everyone, and someone in the same room may be wondering about the same thing you are.
Lesson Nine: Negotiate
Believe in yourself and make sure you negotiate—always. It’s okay to ask for what you’re worth. Tell yourself that.
Lesson Ten: Don’t dismiss a job you are underqualified for
Apply for jobs, even if you don’t meet most requirements. Most job descriptions are written by recruiters who may not know the exact job requirements. Some descriptions may ask for things that don’t even exist (i.e. 20 years of React JS experience). Plus, you get the extra bonus of practice with interviews and writing cover letters. Make sure you nail the “tell me about yourself” question because you will be asked that every single time.
For more detail on the panelists, questions, and responses, see our Google doc.
Want more information about attending a coding bootcamp? Find it here.