A Junior Developer's Guide to Bootcamps: Part 3

A Junior Developer's Guide to Bootcamps: Part 3

In today's post, I present the 3rd and final part of my Bootcamp guide...The Job Search. I'm a little over a month into my current position and have finally recovered enough to talk about the experience that led me to this point.

There are numerous resources out there to aid in the job search and interview process. There are tons of websites to apply on and a plethora of information made available. My biggest tip is to do some self-reflection and know what applies to you. For example, The job market for someone holding an associate or bachelor's degree and someone holding a GED are two completely different worlds. It's easy to be discouraged by listings that have education requirements when you're coming from a non-traditional background. I wouldn't advise you to waste your, or their time by applying to them but don't fret either. I believe this subject is best tackled in 3 sections, applying, preparation, & interviewing. I can't give you a surefire roadmap to employment (considering I stumbled my own way in) but I can provide what worked for me.



Some people will tell you that applying is a numbers game, but I believe the opposite. Sending out 20+ applications daily to positions you're unqualified for is an easy way to drive yourself crazy, ruin your inbox, and possibly take yourself out of the running for a job you can do. I would liken the job search to any major purchase you may be planning to make. You have to do your homework and know what you're trying to get into. When applying I made sure to look for positions that listed a level of experience close to mine. You likely have a better chance with a position looking for 2 yrs of experience as opposed to 4, anything beyond that may require a level of expertise that would be very hard for a newcomer to provide. If you're a bootcamp grad an obvious sign should be if the company has hired anyone from your program before. Check the tech stack, see if they're using tools you have experience with or are currently learning, and try to find postings that align with your interests. Additionally, if you're using LinkedIn, I would prioritize on website apps over easy applies. It doesn't hurt to do them, but they're equally as effective after completing a few on website apps.

Have an updated resume & cover letter and make it presentable. A lot of sources will tell you to edit your resume for each listing and list the tech they're using. I'll leave that up to you but personally, I found it easier to only list tools I had real confidence and experience in using.


In relation to applying, the first step in your preparation should be learning the tech stack and proposed job duties of the position you're applying to. The second should be learning about the company. As someone coming from a bootcamp with next to no educational background to speak of, I believe the cover letter is your most powerful tool to get yourself interviews. When drafting your cover letter you should have spent some time on the company's website reading about what they do. Any employee/community initiatives they have, anything related to culture, and also blog posts/articles if they have them. This will help you learn what the company does & get excited to (hopefully) interview.

Be mindful of your emotions however, dig deep enough to understand the company and the role but maintain some distance until you get a phone screen. I say that because it is very easy to get infatuated with a possible position that may ultimately lead to disappointment later on.

After doing some preliminary research you should know enough about the company to write a compelling cover letter. Tell them why your experience relates to the role & why you're excited about the work they do. Identify some of their areas of expertise that you would like to learn and also let them know what you can bring to the table. If you can do all of that in a thoughtful tone with little to no spelling errors, I believe you have a good chance of getting a phone screen.


The number of interviews varies from company to company but I believe the phone screen is a constant. In this section, I'll provide my tips for the initial phone screen and general interviewing techniques I picked up along the way.

I think soft skills are the most important factor in initial phone screens. You'll likely be told beforehand who will be conducting the phone screen, and that person will likely be a member of the HR, or talent/recruiting team. This is where some people make their first mistake. Never think of anyone differently because they're in a "non-technical" role. The majority of every company is "non-technical" roles and if they are a member of the HR team they will ultimately be one of the most important contacts in your time at the company.

You can ingratiate yourself to them by being prepared, punctual and polite during your phone screen. They have to interview tons of candidates and the quality of the companies talent pool lies almost solely on them. Be enthusiastic and honest in your answers because they do their research. Remember you got scheduled for a phone screen for a reason, don't be too nervous and just speak to them like you would any other employer or manager. Try to come prepared with questions, it shows your interest and enthusiasm about the company. You may be interviewing for a specific department or team but your phone screener likely works across multiple teams within the company and can provide some knowledge you may not be able to get elsewhere.

If you make it past the phone screen and get selected to move forward, you should be going all-in...to an extent. As I stated before be mindful of your emotions. Do not put the job or company on a pedestal to the point that you're rendered helpless in negotiations or in the case you do not get the offer. That being said you should be spending your time digging and preparing for your interview. Learn about the company, learn about their technology, if you expressed interest in something they use or do take time and look into that subject. See if they've received any accolades for a cool project & look up your future managers.

In your phone screen round your questions will likely need to be more operational in terms of the position, the company, growth opportunities, employee culture, and so forth. In the later rounds, you have the chance to ask more technical questions. Find out why they use certain technology, ask about your expectations as a new hire, or discuss a new tool that may be relevant to your role. This is your chance to prove that you're someone who will be a great teammate. This blog post is intended for people trying to get their foot in the door, so I will add to remember you don't know everything and procedures vary from team to team. You will have to learn a lot and you will make mistakes, no matter how capable you think you are. If you can demonstrate your willingness to learn, ability to take direction, and just have a generally good attitude you have a chance of getting the offer.

Coding challenges are a part of a lot if not all interview processes. I can't really speak to them too much because I haven't experienced the full range of them. I have mostly completed take-home challenges and live coding exercises. My advice would be to make sure you ask questions to clarify what you're doing if given little instructions. If given a lot of instruction, make sure you cover all the bases and do exactly as told. Again I've only had about 10 challenges with most of them being take-homes. The other thing I would be cautious about is completing a take-home challenge too early in the process. If you haven't at least had a phone screen I would be wary of the challenge. While I can't say you're definitely being used for your ideas, it just doesn't make sense for you to invest possible hours of your time before they invest a 30-minute call.

So while all that may read as a convoluted hodgepodge of information, that's kind of how the job search is. There is no real way to gauge it, some people apply to a single job and get it. Some people get a job after 2 weeks, some 2 years. You can get an interviewer having a bad day & you can have a bad day yourself. The most important thing is to shake it off and prepare, in that same sense remember that the industry in itself is not that big. If you're applying locally there are only so many companies hiring, and even remotely you'll notice your prospect list getting smaller after just a few weeks. This is why I hoped to convey to any readers to be intentional. I believe quality is better than quantity and always see the silver lining. If you make it to the final round and don't receive the position you know 2-3 contacts in that company by name, you know what they're looking for in new hires, and you have time to become that person. If you don't move past a phone screen you have data to better prepare yourself for the next. That's how you build the skill of interviewing. There are a ton of scenarios that can lead to someone not getting an offer but staying diligent in your efforts is the only thing that can lead to success.


Best of luck & feel free to follow me on twitter @chriscmojekwu.