When I was young I dreamt of becoming a scientist or an inventor, so I could be the first to create a real time machine. By now that ambition has long shattered as I slowly lost interest in pursuing a scientific career, mainly due to a distaste of physics. Nowadays, I am pursuing a different career that involves the same innovation and creativity I used to dream about.
I got into programming at the start of college. At the time I was still undecided and didn’t know what I wanted to do. My friend and then-roommate was doing computer science, and I was like ‘hey, that seems interesting’, so I decided to go into it as well. I fell in love with it right away. It was that element of having unlimited potential and endless possibilities birthed through our own intuition, creativity and innovation that really drew me in, and still does today.
During University I worked as a teaching assistant for a Java Development course. I acted as a mentor and guide for my students teaching them basic software development. It was a good mentorship experience, and teaching others allowed me to look at things from a different perspective.
As a student, I got an internship as a Software Engineer at NYS Department of Financial Services, where I had another great learning experience, getting to know the professional workplace a little more and learning new languages and technologies. It gave me a better idea of what working in a professional team environment was like.
After I graduated I faced the biggest challenge of my career - job searching. Even with my one internship, I still had very little professional experience I could use. As a result, I was getting very few responses and almost no interviews. The times I did manage to get an interview I was rejected due to my lack of experience. There were instances where I interviewed onsite, passed the first round, passed the second, was in the process of discussing offers - only to receive an email stating that while I had the technical skills they were looking for, I just didn’t have enough professional experience. It was really tough.
Having such a difficult time trying to find a full-time software development position, I decided to apply for part-time, just to gain more much needed experience. I managed to get a job doing data entry and software engineering. I did part-time work there for six months before I started looking again for full-time. And that’s how I found Hatchways.
When I first signed up with Hatchways they didn’t have their project-based program yet. I took their assessment test, received positive feedback, and had an interview regarding my opportunities. However, due to the difference in my skill sets, I wasn’t matched with any companies. A few months later, Hatchways reached out to me regarding their new project-based course, and of course, I said yes. The rest is history.
The project-based course was super useful. It made me get out of my comfort zone and do full-stack, something I wasn’t really used to, as I mainly did backend and had rarely touched front-end. It really challenged me to learn and apply the new technologies I was learning as I went through the project. It helped me become a better team player. The course replicated a professional team environment through sprint meetings, daily standups, and through the use of Zenhub, which is a super useful new technology I had the chance to learn. I’m really grateful that I took the course.
Aside from that, the resume revisions and interview prep Hatchways offers is also extremely useful. With the resume revisions, I definitely got a noticeable increase in responses, my LinkedIn profile views increasing more than 10x (I used to get about 5-10 views a week, now I get 100+). With the help of the interview prep, I am now able to answer behavioural questions much more spontaneously and accurately. I would go so far to say I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t found Hatchways, or taken the project-based course.
If I could go back and give my college self some advice, I would tell him to take looking for internships on career websites and job boards more seriously. Internships during University were crucial, and the more you have the better off you will likely be. I’ve seen friends get jobs instantly just by having multiple internships under their belts. And many companies are actively seeking interns every year. I wish I had started with them earlier, and had done more than just the one as a student.
For those starting out in the industry, if you’re struggling to land a full-time position, try internships and part-time work. It might not be what you’d prefer, but gaining some professional experience will make it much easier to get the job you want.