By Brandon Culp 10-07-2021

Looking for an entry level programming job is not easy. It seems like every company wants you to have 5 years of experience, to apply for an irrelevant role (JavaScript !== Java) or even worse, take a non-technical role. When your education section on your resume says "coding boot camp" or "self-taught" the job search becomes exponentially more difficult. Thankfully, many of the FAANG companies have relaxed their degree requirements and other companies have followed suit. Regardless of where you are in your job search, my advice is the same as I received when I was first looking: keep applying, networking, and practicing both building things and interviewing. If you've made it this far, you've done most of the hard work and it will eventually pay off!

The mindset and determination that's required to switch careers or attend a boot camp are tremendously helpful when you land that first gig. When I got my first software developer gig I was a sponge trying to soak up every little piece of information from everyone I interacted with on a daily basis. I learned everything from bash scripting to Scrum methodologies to how to conduct myself as a professional developer. I actively sought out every free or cheap learning opportunity possible. Some of those included: online courses, mentors, lunch and learns, meetups, and local conferences. I attended most of these with the intention of picking up new development skills but I quickly learned that's not the only area you can grow in. It's just as important to improve your non-technical skills as it is your technical skills.

One of these non-technical skills is networking - specifically within your local developer community. By engaging with your local community, you'll not only hear about job opportunities faster than most people but you'll also meet a lot of really cool people and grow your professional and coding skill set faster than if you were living in a bubble. The faster you engage with both your local community and the larger developer community the quicker you'll realize that the developer community as a whole is fantastic. Most people will go out of their way to help someone even if they don't know them. Everyone is a problem solver but we're also curious people, lazy (efficient) people, unique, just all around cool people.

There's always something new to learn and when someone learns something new they always want to share their excitement or displeasure with it. This knowledge sharing has a spider web effect which encourages more people to experiment and learn which then continues the cycle. As a result, everyone is constantly learning about various things and helping each other improve. The only person preventing you from continuously improving is yourself which means you have a lot of control over your career trajectory.

Speaking of trajectories, there's no single "correct" path. Everyone I've met had a different background and a different reason for why they're in this field. That's one of the greatest things about being part of this community: it's full of diverse, open-minded, accepting, self-improvement junkies. I'm proud to be part of this group and to stand on the shoulders of the giants that have come before me. In honor of all of the people I've learned from and who have helped me become the person I am today, here are a few quotes that I hope help whoever is reading this:

"Don't be afraid to fail. The faster you fail, the quicker you will learn how to succeed."

"Do the thing you fear, that is the death of your fear"