How do I get a job as a Software Engineer?

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How do I get a job as a Software Engineer?

For many, figuring out how to break into the tech industry can be confusing and frustrating. It’s a notoriously difficult field to get into, and it often feels like you need to have some inside connection or know someone who can help you get your foot in the door.

I’m here to tell you that it is possible to break into tech without prior connections or special knowledge. When I started my journey in Software, I did it, and it only took me six months!

I should note that I avoided Coding Bootcamps because of how they heavily endorse the “learn now, pay later” scheme… up until you’re employed, known as Income Share Agreement.

After hearing about the many lawsuits filed by students who felt misled and taken advantage of by these programs, this added an extra layer of risk that I did not want to pursue personally.

These are the steps I took to get my first job in tech, and I’ll share some resources that helped me along the way!

Plan out the entire study schedule.

The first step may be the most confusing for most as it was for me. Due to the nature of self-studying, there is no direct structure to follow, which can be very daunting.

There are a few different ways you can approach this, but the way that worked best for me was to sit down and map out the entire tech landscape on a Google Sheets file.

Google Sheets Bootcamp Schedule & Time Calculator

In my case, I started by looking at job descriptions for positions I was interested in and then researching the required skills. I also read a lot of articles and talked to people already working in tech to better understand what each job entailed on a day-to-day basis.

Planning was a crucial step for me because it allowed me to understand what should be the focus of my studies.

Follow tutorials/courses to learn the essentials.

Now that you have a plan, it’s time to start learning the required skills.

For me, this meant following online courses and tutorials to learn the basic concepts and essentials for each skill. I started with the basics of HTML and CSS and then learned more advanced concepts like JavaScript, React, and Node. I also took some time to learn about DevOps tools like GitHub, Jenkins, and AWS.

I used Zero To Mastery, and their Software Engineering + React Developer roadmap for this portion to guide my studies. ZTM was an invaluable resource that allowed me to learn at my own pace and understand the underlying concepts of each technology.

Zero To Mastery

After concluding each course, I even received a certificate that I could add to my resume, which helped validate my skills to potential employers!

Zero To Mastery React Developer, Redux, Hooks, GraphQL Certificate

However, one of the most valuable resources I got from ZTM was access to the ZTM community. The ZTM discord community has more than 330,000 members, all eager to help each other succeed.

I could even add myself as an Alumni of ZTM on LinkedIn! From there, I reached out to other alumni from the ZTM LinkedIn group and connected with a few people who worked at tech companies.

Some of them had already been through the interview process and were able to provide me with some insight and tips, which was immensely helpful.

Create projects from scratch.

Now, it’s time to learn how to solve problems at this stage.

Here, many people get stuck because they only know how to follow tutorials but don’t know how to apply that knowledge to create something from scratch.

The best way to get out of that “tutorial hell” is to think of a project idea and develop it from start to finish, whether you get stuck or not. The problem-solving skills derive from getting yourself unstuck on your own.

In my case, I built out two Github-worthy projects that involved getting comfortable with:

  • MongoDB
  • AWS
  • TailwindCSS
  • StripeAPI / Payments

Gain semi-professional work experience

In this step, I gained contract experience through Upwork. This step is not required, but if you want to take it one step further, I recommend doing it.

Gaining contract work experience helped me understand how to work with clients, an essential skill for any job in tech. It also gave me more confidence when discussing my skills during interviews because I could back them up with actual work experience.

Another resource for semi-professional work is Hack For LA, a platform that connects volunteer coders, designers, and product managers with local non-profits in Los Angeles.

Interview Prep + Apply.

In the last step, I would simultaneously interview prep while applying to jobs. Applying to jobs, whether I wasn’t ready or not, got me more comfortable with the interview process.

I started by applying to jobs that I was overqualified for and worked my way up. I received a lot of rejections at first, but each “no” brought me one step closer to a “yes.”

I eventually got hired as a Junior Software Engineer!

For interview prep, my strategy was to use Zero To Mastery, LeetCode, and the System Design Primer as my primary resources.

This post includes an affiliate link.

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Hi, I’m Tem! 👋 I’m a software developer that also makes music sometimes. I’m interested in how tech can solve day to day problems.

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