March 20, 2017
On January 20th I graduated from a full stack web dev course at Galvanize in Seattle and one month later I am officially a software dev. Now, on my one month working anniversary, I think it's a good time to share what I've experienced in the lead-up to being employed, my first day on the job, and the weeks since.
After graduation I took off to Australia for 2 weeks to catch up with family and friends before I got locked down with a job. During my second week I got an email from the CTO of a company called Migo titled, ‘Trying to hunt you down’. Turns out he was looking to hire a Galvanize grad and, after speaking to some of the staff at Galvanize and our instructors, he'd added me to his shortlist.
The following week he called me for a phone interview and asked me a bunch of questions I wasn't able to answer at all/very well. I'd spent a lot of time practicing whiteboarding questions but clearly not enough time on technical questions. If you’re preparing for an interview, phone or in-person, make sure you prepare yourself to answer both whiteboarding and technical questions. I did a terrible job at answering everything the CTO threw at me which left me feeling like a complete dumbass. Surprisingly, he asked if we could meet in person the following Monday for another interview.
My second interview went for about 2 hours and mostly consisted of being asked more technical questions, meeting the team, talking about the Migo product, and discussing my third quarter project. By some stroke on unimaginable luck, I wasn’t asked to complete any whiteboarding questions. I'd dreamed of such an interview but never thought I would be fortunate enough to experience one. From what I’ve heard, there is no escaping whiteboarding questions if you interview at larger companies but they’re not always a part of interviews at startups.
The following afternoon the CTO called me and said he wanted to offer me a position at Migo and that he would call me the next day with more details. I was stunned. The in-person interview had gone well, but I thought the phone interview had flopped. I knew some of the other people who had been interviewed and thought they had a better shot at the position than I did so I'd assumed I was out of the running. Even after speaking with the CTO again and agreeing that I would start in just under a week, it all felt very surreal. I couldn’t believe that I had just landed my first role as a software dev.
I spent the next several days becoming increasingly nervous. I had no idea what to expect. I’d been a teacher for 10 years and was about to start working in an entirely different industry with a mere 6 months of dev training under my belt. I was worried I was going to feel completely lost, have no idea what was going on around me, and end up looking like a complete fool. On the morning of day one I was a mixed bag of emotions. On one hand I was unbelievably excited about seeing my career change come to fruition, but on the other I was a nervous wreck. Turns out, the biggest thing I had to worry about on day one was trying to decode all the acronyms that were being thrown around. It took a few days to find my feet but, with the guidance of my boss, got up to speed with the ways of Migo, and had a list of things I could work on.
There have been a few occasions since I started where I’ve felt a little lost but, overall, my experiences in my first software dev position have been great. I was really concerned going into the role that I would be spending the majority of my time struggling to keep up with everything but that hasn’t been the case. My boss gives me tasks that he knows I can handle, with a sprinkling of new content.
It was only about a year ago that I first decided I wanted to change careers but, at that point, it was something that seemed so far out of reach. I’d only been teaching myself how to program for a few months but loved it so much that I knew I wanted to become a developer. In August last year I started as a web development student at Galvanize and now, here I am as an official software developer. The journey was tough, and there were so many times I questioned myself, but I definitely have no regrets.