My Experience Learning Web Dev - Part Three - Getting Hired

After learning enough web development fundamentals to have some apps in the wild I started to look into getting hired. Job sites were a bit of a mess, and ruby on rails didnt seem to be big in Edinburgh.

The things I did

Check that I actually knew what I was talking about

All the apps I had built from the many tutorials I had been through I went back through once more but introducing variables. I swapped out the CSS in the blogger app for Bootstrap. I used HAML for the Micheal Hartl tutorial instead of ERB. I deployed a website to Digital Ocean rather than Heroku. I learned how to upload images to S3 rather than to the local drive (thanks for the nudge read-only heroku access).

Go to the nearest Tech Incubator/ Co-working Space

A new incubator had sprung up in Edinburgh, with an introductory offer of £60pm for hotdesking (co working without a desk to call your own, simply take one thats free on the day). I pondered the opportunity until they posted a picture of the reception staff with a French Bulldog and then I trotted accross town the next day with hopes of getting hired and getting the chance to pet a French Bulldog.

Figure out the companies nearby using the same languages

It's really easy to find out if the companies are hiring, other wise you have to do some snooping on their staffs github/linkedin/twitter profiles. Sent cold emails to the companies not hiring enquiring about possibilities of interning and application letters to those with vacancies.

Read up on interview questions

I never had a "real" interview, more like coffee leading to pair programming. But while I was obsessing about making sure I could survive an interview I did pick up on things I had missed. Even being able to state the difference between Ruby and Rails.

Have something to offer

When I met with one of the Co-founders of Float they mentioned that they were using Paypal and Gocardless for payments in the app. Mentioning that I hade looked at Stripe would be able to do the work of both gave me a chance to hack out implementing it, a chance to get to know the codebase and see if I could work with the CTO (and if he could work with me.)

The things I wish I did

Contribute to some open source projects

I kept on feeling like I had nothing to contribute feature wise, I should have been working my way through the github issues list for ruby gems etc.

Go to meetups

TechMeetup and the (Insert programming language/OS) User groups are great places to meet like-minded individuals. I supposed I wasn't very confident in my abilities and was worried about leaving a bad first impression on future employers. There are loads of people who love nothing more than to share knowledge and mentor. Find them!

Find someone in the same situation as myself

I worked pretty much alone besides the odd comment on Reddit about Rails questions. About three months into my role at Float the receptionist in our office building mentioned there was an ex-lawyer teaching himself web development in the hot-desking area. I passed on the resources I found most useful and spent some time pairing on little features going into Float. Eventually we hired him as the third developer at Float.