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 🦄.
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
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.