If you’re a recent graduate from a school or a bootcamp, I probably don’t need to tell you how difficult it is to get your first job as a software developer. You may be discouraged by the LinkedIn articles you see where authors encourage you to send donuts to your interviewer, contribute to open source projects, host your own website, study complicated algorithms and network, network, network!
Holy Jimmies, you think to yourself, how the hell am I ever gonna get paid to write some gosh dang code?
There are enough articles you can find on the internets that will guide you through a variety of methods to land you first job in software and I will only add that I believe it is a bit of a numbers game when getting hired for the first time and persistence and faith are required to get through the rejections.
But who says you need a traditional 9–5 to get paid?
While a 9–5 is probably the most desirable type of employment for most job seekers, you don’t need to be under the thumb of corporate overlords to gain some really valuable experience in the world of software development.
Here are a few ways to get that first nickel:
Codementor is an online marketplace for, you guessed it, mentors to help others with code related questions. I’ve used the site both as a mentor and mentee and have had some success landing short gigs or teaching sessions with fairly little effort.
With a few reviews under your belt you can quickly become desirable and the amount of requests that I would consider approachable for a junior developer are pretty high.
Most of these gigs pay pretty well and the competition isn’t too fierce.
Teach at a Bootcamp
Now this is a controversial suggestion for me. On one hand, if you just graduated from a bootcamp or school, you probably don’t have enough experience to teach people but that certainly doesn’t stop a lot of bootcamps from hiring recent grads to satisfy their budget and high instructor turnover.
TrilogyEd has a series of bootcamps all over the US and beyond and are often looking for tutors and instructors. I’ve worked as both and the ability to work remote and instruct via zoom is challenging but really nice if you live outside of one of the few tech centers in the US.
You can check out their job board here: https://boards.greenhouse.io/trilogyed
Teaching is one of the best ways to internalize a concept and will also help you gain the valuable skill of public speaking… or at least public zoom speaking.
Yes, Craigslist. Stop searching the same 5 job sites or scrolling through LinkedIn for hours on end and use the world’s classifieds page. You see classified ads were run in newspapers back in the day. Newspapers were… never mind.
Maybe you live in SquirrelTree, Idaho and you’re yelling at the screen right now — “There’s no jobs like that in SquirrelTree you dolt!”
Fair enough. Try searching the software/dba and computer gigs section of Craiglist in cities like San Francisco or Seattle or Los Angeles. With the world in its current dumpster-fire-like-state, where a pandemic has led most tech workers to WFH, you almost certainly won’t ever have to meet your potential employers for these small gigs/contracts.
If you can sift through the scams and equity-based-pay gigs (pro-tip: 20% ownership of a company that’s worth is determined by counting the change currently in the right pocket of the “CEO” probably won’t get you that big pay day) then you can find some work for decent pay and are much more likely to get a response from a human instead of another rejection from an applicant tracking system.
You may notice I didn’t include sites like Upwork or Fiverr in this short list. These sites are so popular and oft-mentioned that the competition is fierce and the prices are often low or require skills beyond that of a new developer. I totally suggest you explore all platforms where you can trade your skill of writing code for money but hopefully you’ve discovered some lesser known places to attempt that.
Like your job search, you will face rejection and uncertainty when trying to land your first gig through the sites we’ve explored above. Keep the faith, keep applying and keep coding!