Three graduates of Coding Dojo: Augustine Kim, Ulysses Lin and Minh Nguyen, came to speak at our Seattle campus and shared their own personal story in response to questions about their job hunt and what they found most helpful at the Dojo. Augustine works at Expedia as a Software Development Engineer, Ulysses Lin works at JPMorgan Chase as an Associate Applications Developer and Minh works at Allyis as a software engineer.
How can coding bootcamp graduates compete against developers with years of industry experience?
All three alumni found jobs in less than three months, thanks to finding creative ways to showcase their new skillset to employers!
Augustine: Sometimes we are looked down on by hiring managers because they believe we don’t have as much experience as developers that have been in the field for multiple years. So I had to think outside the box to set myself apart from veteran developers.
When I was interviewing for Expedia I remembered they had sent me a mail awhile back. I decided to recreate the mail they had sent me from scratch. In my interview, I showed that I had created the mail template they had sent me before. I not only demonstrated I had the abilities to perform the work for the job, but I did something so beyond the norm that I stood out among the rest of the candidates. I believe that extra effort, of recreating that mail, was what got me hired.
Ulysses: Thinking from the recruiter’s standpoint, you are a dime a dozen. Find something you did that sticks out among the competition. For example, I was a freelance graphic designer, before coming to the Dojo. So I shared that I had an eye for detail and design, in addition to coding skills.
My advice is to create a good looking portfolio. Create your own web page and add all the cool features you want. Think of your portfolio as a marketplace. Recruiters will come there and look for want they want. If they don’t see it they’ll leave. So make sure you highlight the parts of yourself you want them to know about. Especially projects relevant to job requirements. Finally, personality is important but more important is communication. Your ability to convey your ideas to someone else and explain your thought process is invaluable.
Some companies aren’t familiar with Coding Dojo, let alone coding bootcamps. For the interview, practice explaining what Coding Dojo is. If you have a black belt; practice explaining what the black belt is and why it’s significant. Additionally, practice explaining how hard it was and the time restraints that were put on you. Being able to explain what you did at the Dojo helps a ton. You are going to want to be able to prove how flexible you are at taking on challenges and coming up with solutions. If you’ve done the black belt training, and finished the Dojo projects, you should have no trouble explaining to them how versatile you have become.
Minh: Be personable. Don’t be afraid to show off your personality and just be yourself. There is no point in pretending to be someone else—you want the job that is going to hire you for you. As a result, don’t’ be afraid to share the things you know and don’t know about development. Be transparent, but show that you are hard working and are willing to learn quickly. You know who you are and what you have done.
Explain that you have a drive and determination that only comes from being at the Dojo. Share links to your past projects and work. Prove that you have done what you say on your resume.
What did you learn at the Dojo, that you found most helpful looking back?
Augustine: Coding Dojo is one of the only places that teaches three full stacks. This has made me a more versatile developer. It also made it easier to switch from one language to another at my work. I have been able to pick up new languages and problems quicker than some of my coworkers because of it.
Ulysses: Organization, for sure. I am thankful the Dojo focuses so much on correct file names and correct data flow through files. Knowing how your files are connected to each other and what files pass data to other files. That is crucial.
Minh: For me, it was all about the state of mind the Coding Dojo left me with. I now have a feeling of motivation and confidence I did not have before. It mattered not that I did not know how to solve a problem but that I was so willing and persistent in my process to solve it through learning so much in such a little amount of time at the Dojo. The Dojo has made me not only a hard worker but a smart worker.