How To Enter Tech and Find Your First 'Home' 🦄 🐊

The following are the slides that I presented at the Unicorns In Tech 2022 Berlin conference. I have included the notes as well. The conference itself was really small, comfy and friendly. It is rare to find a space that is both professional and also inclusive. I look forward to coming back 🦄.

PDF Here

Slide 5: The bootcamp I graduated from has roughly 30 students per batch. The bootcamp gets through approximately 6 batches per year (including full-time and part-time). That means each year a bootcamp can pump out nearly 200 students who are all competing for junior roles. A lot of these will also know the same stack (usually a combination of MERN or Ruby on Rails). How do you stand out from the crowd? What can you do to highlight your skills?

Slide 6: The most important thing is to keep learning. Something I noticed with my peers during the bootcamp is the people who graduated and then stayed within the tech stack they had been taught tended to have a harder time finding jobs. I noticed that a lot of companies in Berlin were using golang and react.js which is something we hadn't really touched on during the bootcamp so I made it my priority to focus on learning those things. Also keep focusing on building things! One of the projects I demoed to my first company was a website that showed you the colour of the sky outside when I was too lazy to get out of bed. I was able to demonstrate my knowledge and understanding of tech and, because I enjoyed making it, it was easy to talk about in interviews.

Slide 7: Rather than simply writing on your CV that you are proficient in software engineering you should be showing potential companies. This can be achieved through either documenting your learnings in a new language visibly on github, creating a personal website and making it public or become creative! Instead of actually sending my CV and cover letter to companies I would instead send an API that contained my CV along with the github link showing tests, experiments, issue handling, etc. I also blogged a LOT. Every time I learned something new or worked on something interesting I wrote about it.

Slide 8: All of your experiences matter and all of them can be presented in a way that matters for tech. During my interviews for my first junior position I spoke about queer representation and allyship a lot. Probably even too much! Juniors are hired based on two things: potential and company fit. I got offered my first role in tech not just because I showed that I was eager, willing and able but also because I just vibed with the recruiter really well. On my CV I wrote about my passion for making wine and disco music and this discussion occupied the majority of our interview.

Slide 11: It's a meme that a company's commitment to representation ends whenever the month for the representation ends and that is true in a lot of cases but there are some very easy ways to tell if what they do in their day to day operations extends past changing their linkedin logo to include a flag

Slide 12: Although the recruiter I dealt with at Scout24 painted a very thorough picture of their diversity and inclusion policies I had to remember that a recruiter's job is to sell the company to you. Throughout my interviews I badgered everyone from managers to junior engineers what their experiences with this were. I straight up asked engineers if they had ever encountered racism or sexism during work which helped to paint a full picture.

Slide 13: Seeing how companies actually engage with the communities they say they're representing is a good indicator of whether or not diversity and inclusion is just a buzz word for them. Part of the reason I joined scout was how active they are in working with charities and regular in-house talks and education programs surrounding issues about "others".

Slide 14: Looking at who has decision making power within the company is also a great way to look at it. If a company is dedicated to inclusion and diversity then this inclusion shouldn't be that all the diversity is only at the junior level.