On the way to the first offer…

Hello! My name is Artur Vartanyan and I work as a Java developer at Reksoft. I got into the corporate world of IT a little over two years ago, but I still remember very well my first attempts to get a job in an IT company before receiving the first offer, namely:

In this article, I would like to share my experience, which would help a novice specialist to be more self-confident and not give up when looking for his first offer in the IT world.

I decided to divide my article into paragraphs, each of which will contain useful tips and life hacks.

  • Environment

    In my opinion, the main thing to start with is to try to create an environment for yourself in which people from the area you want to get into will be represented. This is the most difficult point, but at the same time the most useful, and I will explain why. When a person is just starting his journey in any profession, he is constantly in a state of uncertainty. This uncertainty begins with the fact that he simply does not know where to start and how to dive into a new area, does not know whether he is doing something right and does not have an objective assessment of the work done.

    In this case:

    1. you have to learn only from your mistakes, and your mistakes are not always obvious.

    2. the process of learning and expanding one’s horizons, based on the chosen area, can last much longer, and there will often be trips around the second circle.

    To create the right environment for yourself, you first need to communicate more with the right people. If you are an applicant and plan to enter a university, take a closer look at those areas at the faculty where there will potentially be representatives from the desired field. Chat with the administration of the faculty, ask about the teaching staff, study the topics of scientific works in the presented departments – this information will be useful.

    Attend conferences and meetups. You can find them simply by googling the nearest IT events, or by monitoring groups and publics of different companies in social networks like VK or Telegram. If you see something interesting for yourself on the profile – visit without thinking. Let not all topics be clear at first, but it will be possible to meet people with similar interests. In my practice, I have not yet met closed and gloomy guys at such events. Everyone is as open as possible, eager to make new acquaintances and share practical experience.

    Excellent option will be, if you find yourself a mentoralthough it will cost you money. You can find them on sites for finding mentors and teachers. The average bill for an hour of communication can vary in the region of 1500-2000 rubles. Register on thematic forums, discuss issues and be active. Having formed an environment for yourself according to the interests of at least 2-3 people, it will already be easier for you to move up the steps of knowledge. It will be possible to share experiences, get opinions and ask for tips at times when learning a topic is difficult.

    Personal experience: it so happened that I entered the Faculty of Mathematics of the Voronezh State University, where the direction of my studies was called “mathematics and computer science”. Programming was taught to us, but in small quantities. The main emphasis was on mathematics and, accordingly, most of the teachers at the faculty were mathematicians and had little to do with commercial software development. I had to go to google with my questions, and all questions regarding development went to stackoverflow, where I met a more experienced beginner, whom I later offered to write something joint. It was my first positive experience of working in a team. Later, I began to attend all the IT events that took place in the city, and a couple of times I even went to festivals in Moscow. As a result, I got acquainted with FinTech developers and received even more answers to my questions. I still communicate with some of them.

  • Courses, internship programs and practices

    Now it’s quite difficult to get into the position of a junior right away. The overwhelming number of vacancies is a large number of stack and knowledge requirements. If we compare vacancies in IT professions 7 years ago and the current ones, then the difference will be felt quite strongly. That’s why as a possible “ticket” to the staff of the company may speak internships and practices. These options will be a great opportunity for you to express yourself, gain experience and, returning to point 1, make useful contacts. If you like and perform well, then the internship will end with an offer for you.

    Can be monitored periodically available courses. They are both online and offline. Most often, employers use courses as a mechanism to select capable newcomers. In fact, they teach and give basic knowledge in courses, and then, by the method of natural selection, make an offer to those who successfully pass them.

    At the end of this paragraph, I would like to note that if, having got into a course, internship or practice, you feel that you are lagging behind the group and it is unlikely that you will be able to catch up, then still try to attend classes until the last, as in any case you will receive minimal experience and knowledge .

    Personal experience: after I learned the syntax of the programming language and wrote the simplest application, I “went to look for a job” and realized that there are still a lot of frameworks and technologies that need to be mastered, and you can’t just get a job with knowledge of the language. At the same time, the amount of information on the necessary technologies on the web was insufficient. We needed practical experience and live communication with competent people. I started looking for options for passing summer practices and internships in different companies and from time to time I got them, the other issue was that my level was too low, and I quickly dropped out. I had to work on the mistakes and try again. For the 4th time, I got into Java development courses from Reksoft, and having successfully completed it, I got the opportunity of an internship in a company with further employment.

  • Interviews and technical interviews

    Let’s say you have been actively studying materials for a couple of months, reading technical literature and trying to put into practice the acquired knowledge, but none of your friends and acquaintances can objectively check your level and, as a result, give you feedback. In this case, there are only two options:

    1. Find a person who will do this (for example, for money or on a forum where you communicate. The main thing is not to be afraid to ask).

    2. Try to pass a real interview (interview) in the company.

    The first option is not as interesting as the second, at least because you won’t get combat interview experience. Yes, most likely, the experience of passing the first interviews will not be very pleasant and sometimes shocking, but this is normal. If you create an adequate resume for yourself and throw it on about 10 vacancies from different companies, then in the end someone will respond. The main thing when writing a resume don’t be lazy describe in as much detail as possible all the technologies with which you worked, attach projects that you wrote in courses, or make several of these projects specifically (just do what is in demand – monitor vacancies, you will definitely stumble upon clear indications of what companies are looking for, for example, creating a personal account and authorization, a mobile application with geolocation of transport). At the end of the interview, you will be given feedback and recommendations. At the initial stage of development, this is a useful option for testing yourself and your knowledge.

    It is important to remember that first interviews always are given hard due to the lack of such experience. Do not answer interviewers’ questions with short answers. Try to think and reason before answering questions. You need to allow competent people to assess their knowledge in a short period of time, so restraints must be dropped. And of course, do not forget to never ask for a detailed feedback, because this is the main thing you came for.

    Personal experience: I got the idea of ​​interviews from John Sonmez’s book The Man of the IT Age: The Programmer’s Way. In a fairly short time, I formed a resume for myself (the most common of the available designers) and scattered it over various vacancies. The first experience was disastrous. I often forgot important topics, lost my thoughts and put myself in an uncomfortable position by simply saying “I don’t know this topic, let’s skip it”. Sometimes it seemed that in a year and a half of self-education I didn’t know anything at all and I would have to figure it out for another 5 years before I reach at least some adequate level. But this was just the first experience, over time I developed the skills to pass the interview, and I began to receive feedback and recommendations from technical specialists. This experience helped me pass the final interview at my current company following the internship. In general, I would note that it is an excellent practice, including for experienced professionals, to constantly have interviews once every six months in several different companies in order to have an objective assessment of your level.

  • HR managers

    Many of us have been taught since childhood that we need to be well-mannered and never impose ourselves on people, especially strangers. I consider this a good rule, but do not forget about exceptions. In the case of HR managers, it must be remembered that all active and purposeful they actively take on a pencil. Wherever you are: at a conference, at a meetup or at a job fair – search for HR, communicate with them, find out about open vacancies, internships and courses, exchange contacts and keep in touch with them from time to time. You can feel free to open a list of IT companies in your city (if you wish, you can also from other cities, if we are talking about remote work and online) and call HR managers to clarify hiring questions. You will never be able to impose yourself on them, since they themselves are interested in recruiting the best specialists not only in hard skills, but also in soft skills. And what you are doing is exactly that! Even if you came to the interview, but at the moment you do not fit the vacancy according to the level of knowledge, but showed your best side (point 3) – it’s okay, you will at least be remembered, and you will succeed leave a good opinion. After a few months, if you wish, you can again be interviewed for available vacancies.

    Personal experience: while still a 2nd year student, I attended a conference where a leading HR manager of a large company spoke in one of the developer rooms. Then she said: “In the IT world, the best friend for an inexperienced specialist is an HR manager.” This phrase stuck with me to this day. I started to get acquainted with managers at the first opportunity, keep their contacts, from time to time find out about new vacancies and internship programs. I was never rude, but on the contrary, they kept my contacts and called back at the first opportunity with available offers.

  • Work, self-education and a drop of perseverance will not keep you waiting long when looking for your first offer! I hope that this article was useful and interesting for all beginners, regardless of the IT direction that they have identified for themselves.

    Finally, I would like to end the article with a quote from Earl Nightingale:

    The biggest mistake is to believe that you are working for someone else. Employment is no longer guaranteed. The driving force of a career must come from the individual. Remember: companies own jobs, you own your career!

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