We’re going to be honest: Finding a job as a junior web developer is not always a piece of cake. A junior web developer, Samantha, realized this and asked the Ruby community in New York City for some advice on finding her first developer position. We want your job hunt to be as seamless as possible and extracted the best advice to Samantha’s question on how to find a job as a junior web developer.
1. Be active: contribute to projects and attend events
Spend as much time as you can writing code. It’s true that the more you practice, the more you learn; but more importantly, you have more code to show to potential employers. Contribute through freelance and/or open source projects. There are many meaningful ways to go about this:
“Pick up stuff on elance.com or odesk.com. You may have to suck it up early and get some low paying stuff, but you’ll be able to build up your experience fast.” –Mike Cavaliere
“Do craigslist or guru jobs.” -Oleg Shpak “GitHub commits to open source projects (especially documentation and testing) [which] are fantastic.” –Gabe Kneisley
In working on these projects, keep the bigger picture in mind: the goal is to get hired full-time. This means you should commit to showing finished coding projects, but also be precise and point to specific code samples you’d like to highlight. Doing so will help technical recruiters evaluate your technical skills easily.
“Focus on code that ships. When people look at half-finished projects like a Hacker News clone, it is in no way clear what you wrote and what you copied.” –Gabe Kneisley
“Tell [them] exactly what code to look at. Less is more. It could be a single class, a pull request or specific commit. Don’t just point [them] to your github profile or [a] big Rails project.” -Tor Erik Linnerud
Working online is great, but meeting people in person can be more effective. Find and attend meetup group events, hackathons and coding conferences in your area:
“Keep hitting programming events, hackathons, etc. You’ll meet other programmers who can give you tips on who’s hiring, and often people who want to hire developers as well.” –Mike Cavaliere
“Go to meetups / whatever places to talk to people as much as you can. Let them know that you’re looking for a job” -Hoa Newton
2. Create a blog
Blogs are effective because they add a more personal touch to your online persona and display the variety of projects you’ve been working on.
“Did you finally grok prototypal inheritance? Cool! Write it up. Find an algorithm in a dusty book and apply it to a novel problem? Awesome! Write it up. Get on twitter and tweet at library developers when you come across something awesome in their library. Tweet your own blog posts, and respond to interesting stories in company blogs.” –Gabe Kneisley
“It is worth getting up a blog and show what you have done.” –Daveyon
“Write about your thoughts on tech, even if they’re not unique. “My experiences with learning XYZ” shows you’re learning and engaged… If you write something good, put it on your website and/or Github. Then tell people about it.” –Mike Cavaliere
Not sure how to start? Here is a great example of a coding blog by our student Rehan.
3. Be open and eager to learn
Push yourself. Apply for a variety of jobs, even ones you’re not sure you completely qualify for. Nevertheless, be honest in your capabilities. Many employers are interested in investing in a web developer who has great potential, not necessarily in an individual who has reached his/her peak.
“Don’t be picky / scared when applying for job. Apply for whatever job title (e.g testing / front-end / back-end). Don’t decide ahead of time but let the employers say ‘no’ to you… Be interested, excited to learn more and show people that you can ‘learn’ not necessarily you can ‘do’ right away.” -Hoa Newton
“We hire junior developers not because of their current skillset, but because we believe in their potential. It is ok that your knowledge is limited, don’t try to hide it.” -Tor Erik Linnerud
“Be interested, excited to learn more and show people that you can “learn” not necessarily you can “do” right away” -Hoa Newton
Even after the job offers come rolling in, keep learning. The technology field changes by the minute and it’s crucial to stay on top of what’s going on in order to remain relevant.
“And above all, keep learning and practicing constantly.” –Mike Cavaliere
4. However, specialize too
We like to call this the “T-shaped” employee: one who has a good understanding across fields, yet is specialized in his/her field as well. This strategy will make you indispensable.
We hope these tips helped create some insight regarding how to score a junior development job.
Keep coding and meeting people and we are confident that you’ll find an awesome job as a web developer.