The key to “starting your career” is actually getting that job. Self-taught coders and boot campers both tend to hit a wall there. They can’t “prove” they know anything if they are not given a chance to interview, right? Well, no… That is the myth. The interview should come after you have proven you know what you are doing.

Now, I am willing to admit that my circumstance was a bit lucky when I exited my boot camp, but that doesn’t mean it was easy. I happened to have a brother that worked for an email company when I completed my schooling and the first Monday after the last week of school I reached out to him and asked him a simple question.

“Is there a tool or piece of software your team could use that would make your jobs easier?”

Immediately he said yes and we began to brainstorm. Within 12 weeks this tool “his team would use” turned into a full blown web application deployed to AWS, rebuilt twice, contained sample data, authentication, a split front end, back end and DB. Most importantly, it showed business value. How do I know this? Because I was building it for a team that was part of a business.

This was my golden ticket to the job that I landed almost two and half years ago. After seven months in a boot camp and another three to four months writing my very own web (job) application, I could send emails to prospective employers where the resume and boot camp experience played second fiddle to the user name and login information I could share with potential employers. My web application was my resume. It only took one “interview” to land a job because my work spoke for itself. I could intimately explain everything that was built, how it was built, the problems I had and how I solved them. It was MY interview, not the potential employer’s.

If you’re looking for a job as a software developer, the best thing you can do is find someone with a need, and offer to build them something for nothing. You will learn more than you ever will from taking Code Academy courses or even attending a boot camp. Just be prepared… It is a lot of work and a lot of frustration, but anything worth doing is.

Funny thing is… I don’t even write code for our web application; the very thing that got the job.

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