My First Developer Job - 30 Stories
Our industry is growing at a rapid rate with many people looking to get their first dev job. In this article you're going to read the stories of 30 different developers (having different backgrounds) and how they got their first dev job. Get the most out of their stories and apply it to your own journey.
I was a technical account manager at a startup with 300 people, but worked with our CTO directly to support our customers. I did code projects on the side to help my team out since engineering bandwidth was limited. After seeing my work and especially how hard I worked, the CTO decided to move me to engineering without any interview. I had taken just one python class in college, and the rest was self-taught!
My first dev job was for a VC-funded business on SF as a remote engineer working from Germany. I got the job because the CEO asked me in a Twitter DM if “I wanted a gig” because he had seen my GitHub profile and I had just built a project with the exact tech them that they used for their service. Two weeks later, I was flown into SF to meet the team and see if I was a fit. Worked for them for over a year. Learned more from a week on that job than from years of university.
I graduated from civil engineering about 4.5 years ago, and I already knew that I wouldn't fit there. I was always into computers. I wrote my first line of code when I was 13 or 14 years old. It was Ruby on Rails. But I give up after a few days.
After graduation, I decided to become a frontend developer. I attend a Bootcamp, but it was a loss of money. I was ahead of my classmates, and I had to wait for them... 😥
After 4 months of learning, I decided to send some CVs. I sent over 50 CVs, and I had 6 interviews. One of them goes well, and here I am. I'm working with the same company for almost 4 years. At the beginning of this year, my company decided to make me a partner in the company.
I used to be a Tech Recruiter at Honeypot, and after 3 years, I got the suggestion from the CEO at the time (Emma Tracey) to become a developer. After a lot of time of pros and cons of should I do it or not, I decided to switch and did a bootcamp. Since Feb 2020, I am a Junior Frontend Developer at Honeypot. 😁
I had pitched a developer marketing campaign to an ad agency when I was in college. The project was small but went well. They asked me to contact them when I graduate. And that's how I got my first job, right after graduation, that paid three times what my class fellows got paid.
For me I was very proactive about getting my first developer Job. I was in change of a tech meet-up, I went to events and in general got to know the developer community where I live. It was nice as when it came down to it, I did not feel forced into a role just because it was my only option, and I was able to take my time and choose the best offer for me personally. Saying that it took A LOT of work and many hours of my day, for weeks! So be prepared to get out there are put in the time!
I used to be an opera singer and had been learning web development for about a year. I created a video introducing myself and my skillset, and posted it to Twitter. It was forwarded on to the managing director of my company, who immediately messaged me with information and asked for a chat. After talking to him and then having another meeting with HR and my team lead, I got an offer the very next day and began work as a Junior Software Engineer
My bootcamp had something called "Industry Day", a kind of potential dev <> employer speed dating event. Us students sat at tables with our laptops and gave 2 min pitches; introducing ourselves and explaining our favourite project to potential employers/hiring partners. The bell rings. They move around. I had a couple of interviews as a result, and accepted an offer two weeks later!
I got my first job offer while I was still finishing my 5 month internship after a year of vocational school in web development. I had no prior education/experience before I started the dev school. They took me after just an informal interview and a background check with my internship company. Unfortunately that job lasted only 3 months. However It took me only 3 weeks to land my current job. I was invited for an interview. I showed them my ongoing MERN project. They were looking for a React developer and I had been learning React for over a year. I had another round of interview but I was just for one final confirmation.
I applied for various internships through college, and I only got accepted for one in my 3rd year. I participated at a Hackathon in the weekend and next week I was supposed to have an interview. When I got there, I realized that the two people interviewing me were members of the jury in the hackathon and they immediately recognized me. It was the best interview ever, I felt like I got the job from the start so I wasn't nervous at all (compared with the other interviews where my palms were sweating constantly).
Along the way, I had interviews for other jobs with people that read my blog or participated at talks that I gave so it was pretty easy to pass them. What I'm trying to say is that getting involved will help you a lot in your career! 😊
I had some pretty tough barriers in my way from a troubled past to anxiety issues and absolutely no experience, so I started with freelancing. I was able to put together a pretty impressive portfolio of real client projects in production and around 2012, I landed my first dev role at a medium sized company north of Boston. I worked with a lot of PHP, jQuery and later on, AngularJS. Later, I ended up starting my own little business offering different types of web services and ultimately ended up doing what I love most, which is teaching and content creation.
I spent one year learning basic programming skills by taking the free "Intro to programming" courses from Stanford, MIT, and the University of Helsinki, and by going through some of freeCodeCamp's web developer curriculum. Networking at a local programmer meetup got me my first interview, which led to a job.
Learning is important, but the cheat code to getting a job is networking.
I learned to code at age 14 and started freelancing. I did sites for free, sites for neighbors, and got paid eggs for another site.
When I got to college, I had a web dev class where the entire semester was learning how to make a website. I told the professor that I already made websites. He said "Show me a website". I showed him a website and he said "Wow! this is great! To get your A for this class, you will do my client projects!" So he actually paid me and gave me an A for that class. And then I had him for 3 other classes! The biggest project I built with him was a big project that was showcased in a Las Vegas casino's systems!
I basically fell into my dev job. I had been coding on the side for a while but was working as an IT Engineer designing/maintaining large network infrastructures. I saw some manual processes that were happening in the company that were very time consuming. I knew these could be easily automated, so I built an application on the side and showed my boss. It saved the company lots of time and money. That was 15 years ago and ever since then I've been a developer and never looked back.
My tech career started with Java and Angular. The interview process for my first job was multiple rounds of interviews, whiteboard coding and all the things that we hate about interviews (lol). I prepared by making projects that I can discuss in an interview, speaking to developers that work there on LinkedIn so I would have an idea of what they worked on so I could mention those things in the interview. The effort, information and expressed interest won the interviewers over!
I hadn't heard back on any of the 5 positions I applied for at different divisions for this company so I showed up in a suit and tie to follow up on them. That scored me the interview, which was a phone screen from HR, initial talk with the Director of Engineering, a take home assessment then meet the team for a personality culture fit. I didn't know PHP, MongoDB, XSLT or anything about REST API's so I spent at least 35 hours that week learning and doing the take home assessment and then in the meet the team interview I pushed that I'm willing to learn anything and I think that's what landed me the job.
In 2017 I was working for a forensics laboratory as head of marketing. The company was using an outdated system to manage lab samples and was activity looking for someone to build out an entirely new system with a budget of about $70,000 to start.
At the time the only coding experience I had was some HTML and CSS skills for customizing Wordpress websites. I saw this as my chance to learn how to code and land my first gig, so what did I do? I spent every free moment I had for the next 3 months reading every book I could find and watching YouTube videos. Most days I woke up 2 hours before work to code and then stayed up to 2-3 in the morning studying.
Well after those 3 months I felt confident enough to draw up a prototype of what I had in mind for the new system and pitched the concept at the next company meeting. Long story short, I landed the gig and spent the next two years building and maintaining the system before I sold it to the company for $41,000.
My first job was the result of doing a good job at my internship. They asked if I wanted to stay, so I did all my studying on Monday for my degree, and worked the other 4 days at my job.
Finished my degree with 2 years of working experience! 🔥
I was a geek in high school and started learning programming. People around me knew me as the guy who makes a website for everything. This was my "reputation". Then, one day a guy that knew me from school and graduated a few years before, created a startup and I was the first developer there, right after I graduated high school. I stayed there for 5 years, first I started learning more stuff and I was also paid to do that. In conclusion, a large chunk of what I know today is because of my geek reputation in high school and because of that guy who offered me a chance when everybody else was only looking for experience.
I had a few "different" first dev jobs. My first freelancing job. My first part-time job. My first full-time job.
I got my first freelancing gig after learning the basics of HTML and CSS (pretty much on my own). For this gig I had to convert a template from design to code.
During college I attended a career fair and there were these companies that were looking for students to take on different part-time positions. I applied for a company that sounded interesting and after a short coding quiz, I got the job.
My first full-time position came 1 year after I finished college. I already had experience working as a freelance web developer and I started learning React several months before, which was proven to be the key to landing this job. I aced the coding interview process as I've spent a good amount of time learning and preparing for such an interview, plus I also had an advantage because I "didn't have to" get the job which meant that I was very relaxed during the interview which I got the job.
To be honest, I didn't really "prepare" for the interview, because I wasn't actively looking for a job. I was just studying on my own and a university professor sent me some emails about this possibility.
What I can say is that you don't need a computer science degree to work in technology. But for me it helped the have the contact to work for a great company, so if you want to get a degree for various reasons, it might come in handy in some weird ways, like this one.
Everything we do, in some way, will be useful to us in the future. The last thing I can say is that a few months earlier I did another interview, for a smaller company (always by the same professor), where I was refused for not remembering some basic sql commands. So don't feel bad if you get turned down from an interview. It could be the luckiest day of your life.
Jessica Chan (aka TheCoderCoder)
I actually got my first job though a recruiting agency (in in the US). I gave them my resume and they found all the jobs and interviews for me, which was really great. My skillset at the time was more backend: SQL, VB.NET.
The interview process differed based on company. For some I had to do whiteboard questions, for others they would do a phone screen to ask me certain concepts, and others I had to do a live coding test to solve problems on a computer in front of the interviewers.
In total it took me maybe a few weeks to land my first job after starting with the recruiting agency. I think nowadays it takes much longer to find a job. I admittedly got my first dev job almost 10 years ago, but as someone who has been on the other side of interviewing more recently I think there are some ways you can prepare that still hold true now.
First is to have a good portfolio website with links to your GitHub projects and websites. Even if they're demo sites, anything that will help potential employers see what your skill set is is a good thing. Try to make your websites look as polished and professional as you can. Take advantage of frameworks like Bootstrap or Tailwind if your design/CSS skills aren't your forte. Keep your GitHub organized with good readme's to make it easy for employers to quickly assess your work.
I prepared for my first job by knowing basics of the technologies that were required for that role. Requirements were HTML, CSS JS & PHP. I had no knowledge of PHP prior to my interview, I had projects to display and a portfolio also. These projects weren’t the best, but they demonstrated my passion for learning and having a go which is what employers love to see. It took me 3 months to get my first role. I was approached by a recruiter local to me & introduced to the company. We had an interview scheduled for the following week (on my birthday!) and it consisted of questions on the requirements above, as well as accessibility, design & photoshop, but no technical test. I love my job now I’ve settled in & I also help out in the family business with website design & images for an E-commerce & Magento site.
I am coming from 12 years of logistics and at 42 after 9 months I landed my first job. I studied frontend development during this time. With zero knowledge into programming I had to schedule between 3 - 5 hours per day so that I could get the job. The interview process was smooth and after a week I received a full time job as a frontend developer.
I was studying software development while learning front-end in my free time. Met the company at a career fair, told them I wasn't sure I was ready to work as a front-ender yet. They told me to apply anyway, and I did it on the same day. Got the job a few weeks later.
I was in school and got a crappy internship paying $500 a month. I leveraged that internship to get a better one paying $25 / hour. Once I graduated, the company sponsoring me offered me a FT job! My big takeaway is that you just need that first gig which will you make you more reputable.
I am a Life Sciences graduate since 2019. I loved the subject but the infrastructure and funding aren't good for Research and Development in my country, so I made a switch.
I din't come from a CS background and I didn't start programming until my mid twenties. One day it hit me that my current career path was not gonna give me financial stability so I started to learn programming.
For almost two years, I dedicated one to two hours of study every night. It was fun and I enjoyed learning. I wasn't in an immediate need to find a job so that helped me a lot. When I finally felt ready, I started applying and after around six months I got my first developer job. It was a very tiring process, lots of ghosting, take home assessments and rejections.
My advice is to be patient and consistent, this is a long process for most people, so don't get discouraged when things don't work out. Also never stop learning.
My first Dev role was as a Software Engineer at a truck manufacturing company. I developed software that is controlling thousands of semi trucks in the US. The way I got this job is pretty boring. I went to a job fair at my school to look for an internship. I ended up being an intern there, my last summer before I graduated. After I finished the internship, they offered me a full time position starting the summer after. And I took it!
Honing skills that align with the area in tech I wanted to work was super helpful in landing an internship and then full time job with Microsoft right out of college. I knew I wanted to be in the games side of dev, and my interests with lower level systems, AI and networks were a natural fit. I set out to work on game related projects that focused on those skills including a game server for other students to use in their game projects to stand out to the recruiters that came to a local job fair, showing passion and drive along with the skill set to back it up.
I was in 10th grade and after winning the 3rd place at national IT contest I applied for fun at a couple companies. One called back, and during the call I was telling them that I basically know nothing and they said no worries, you will learn. That’s how I got my first dev job.
Different people. Different backgrounds. Different stories. Same result.
Let's sum this all up with a few key takeaways:
- take your time to learn and experiment with the basics.
- build projects and create a portfolio. Make the journey easier by building projects which you are passionate about.
- apply for jobs and go to interviews. Try to learn something from every experience, even if you don't get the job on the first try.