Proven advice to secure your first developer job

  1. No formal education
  2. No professional coding experience
  3. No portfolio

What you’ll learn 👨‍🏫

Here are some of the specific takeaways you’ll have from her story:

  • Transitioning careers (law 👉 entrepreneurship 👉 coding)
  • Making time to learn to code as a new mom 👶🏻
  • A winning job-hunting strategy you can copy 🎉
  • Motivation and drive during a pandemic 🦠
  • Smashing the technical interview 👊
  • Salary negotiation 💸

Podcast links 🎧

If you’d like to bring this story with you as you commute, clean your house, or whatever you prefer, just click on one of the links below.

The Interview 👇

If you prefer reading over listening, we have extracted some of the most interesting parts of the interview below. However, if you like this read, I’d recommend you to also listed to the podcast, as you’ll get a more in-depth experience.

Welcome to #StoriesByScrimba. Could you start by telling us about your background?

Sure 😀

Then I married and had a baby 👶🏻 and then — you know — many questions arose around what I want to do in my life because I had time, and I felt I wasn’t professionally fulfilled.

After seeing many positive examples of my friends who transitioned from law to testing and development, I chose a testing at first but shortly after, I decided that I wanted to be a developer and I took a full-stack Java course and that I took the Scrimba Frontend Developer Career Path.

You mentioned you took a Java bootcamp before Scrimba. How did you decide where to begin?

I didn’t have any contacts in coding. I didn’t have engineer friends who could be my mentors so I Googled the web. Eventually, I found a few schools on-site.

I was so scared of online courses. I thought it was only on-site things that would teach you effectively. I was wrong.

I went to the full-stack Java course. When I signed up, I didn’t know what Java was, to be honest 😂

One of the projects Austeja build in the Frontend Career Path.

What would you say to someone who’s deciding between frontend or backend development?

I think it doesn’t matter because the main struggle I face every day is how to think like a programmer. Syntax doesn’t matter.

Language doesn’t matter. What matters is that you want to learn to think like an engineer and an engineer likes to play with things, mess with things and learn new concepts.

Remember, React didn’t exist 10 years ago. Angular angler didn’t exist 10 years ago either! So what will happen in five years?

When you decided to learn to code, could you study all day? Maybe your other obligations meant you had to learn on the side.

I couldn’t actually.

You know, when we’re out in the park, I’m always coding. When baby naps, I’m always coding. Late nights, I’m always coding.

If I cannot code late at night, I would wake up at 5.00AM or 4.30AM and I would go ’til 6.00AM because that was the only free time I had.

You must have been very driven. What motivated you?

I thought that it was something I could feel good about myself — that I could establish my roots as a professional because when I was in my twenties, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was pushed towards law because I was good with languages.

What I later realised is that IT is closer to languages than it is maths or physics. I feel like a linguist, you know? To me, Java/JavaScript feels like English/French.

I feel like I am grounded in my professional roots and that I’m expressing myself as a professional because other parts of my life are well done. I have a family -I’m really happy 😀! But professionally, I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I started to code.

From law, to motherhood, to your own business, now code. You’re a lifelong learner. Did you have an idea about the way to learn that was most efficient for you?

No, it was so completely different when I was learning law.

Take online courses, never go to university — I would never think of going to informatics and pursuing another master’s degree or something. That’s totally a waste of time.

We remember when you were participating in the Frontend Developer Career Path you joined a Scrimba study group on Discord and frequently helped others.

I was consciously taking other people’s problems to solve on my own because what I lacked was experience. And if somebody asks me, “how would you make this logo fit in something?” I say, “okay, let me think about that”. So I would take my time, Googling about that, coming up with a solution and presenting them to people.

When did you know you were ready to start applying for jobs?

I wasn’t ready…. And many times during my day, I’m not feeling ready 😂

I think that for many people, it might sound like a miracle and sometimes it sounds like a miracle for me, myself. But I did lots of research and homework. I Googled a lot about the company, I attended the open day events the company hosted.

I prepared a lot — for almost 6 months, I was gathering information about this company and about 2 more companies — they were my plan B and plan C. I was actively researching and trying to understand what technology stack the companies are using when they are hiring (because some companies hire in January or do massive hires or in summer, for example).

When you received the call, were they inviting you to interview?

They invited me to HR inter interview with the HR partner and the squad lead.

Would you tell us the story about that day? I bet it was exciting and nerve-racking 😬 How long did it take? What did they ask you? What was the process like?

The process was… All the interviews were conducted online through Zoom because of COVID 🦠. They didn’t want to perform interviews on-site.

I Googled out maybe 200, maybe more interview questions for frontend developers from junior to senior level.

I Googled out the answers from various places. I rehearsed myself explaining the concepts — like explaining BEM ( EDITORS NOTE: BEM is an acronym for Block, Element, Modifier and is an advanced naming convention for classes in HTML and CSS). I practiced explaining CSS — what a selector does, how preprocessors work, and more.

Of those 200 interview questions you practiced, how many came up?

All of them. Not 200! But all the questions that I received, I was more or less familiar with.

Sounds like you prepared really well. You must have been feeling pretty confident, right 😏?

No, I thought they wouldn’t take me!

But they did hire you! How did they present the job offer to you?

The interview was Friday at 3:00 PM and the squad leader called me Monday during the first part of the day. I only had to wait for a couple of days 😌

Did you attempt to negotiate your salary?

I received such a good offer that went beyond my financial expectations for a Junior Software Engineer and so I was just like.. “okay 🙌!!”. I didn’t negotiate.

Well, when you’re the lead developer in a few months (or even sooner) we can chat about it then 😉 What was your first day at DevBridge like? Were you excited?

Oh, yes! I was excited 🎉!

To close us out, can you summarise why you succeeded?

I was thinking about that myself because I received many positive messages. I think it’s related to that Scrimba posted something about me and people were asking me, “how did you get a job?” It made me think myself… I think that it was the preparation and the efforts I put forth.

I wasn’t only learning to code, but I tried to get familiar with the industry, find friends in the tech world, attend the events, read the blogs, follow the bloggers.

I tried to understand the technology world and the rules of this new game I’m entering.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Per Harald Borgen

Per Harald Borgen

Co-founder of Scrimba, the next-generation coding school.