How to start ‘networking’ as a junior dev

I’ve had a few chats recently with people you are studying or have just finished studying at Enspiral Dev Academy about networking. The common question is how do I start networking if I don’t know anybody. So, here are a few ideas on how to get started.

Meet Up

logo-2xWhat is Meet Up?

Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. More than 9,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities.

I think I was introduced to Meet Up when I learnt about EDA. They have there own where every week there is a NodeSchool Wellington meet up and Ember.js School. They also semi-regularly have Tech Talks – like this one: Starting out with established codebases.

There are heaps of meet ups, and not just tech ones. Here are the ones I belong to, you don’t have to be really active in them. I’m not but if there is something that comes up that I am interested in I can jump onto it.

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One meet up that I think would be really good for those new to Ruby and Rails is Wellington Railsnoobs.

Back to way going to meet ups are good for networking. You will meet people in the industry, you can connect with people, you can learn what is going on and learn something new.

I have a goal of talking to at least two people I don’t know at meet ups. Otherwise I have a tendency to stand around and hide in a corner. It can also be good to see if anyone you know is going and see if you can go together, strength in numbers. Don’t let this stop you from introducing yourself to other people though. Perhaps work together to talk to people you both don’t know.

I find it useful to have thought of  few questions to ask when I introduce myself. “Hi, I’m Libby, I work at Flick, where do you work?” “Is this your first meet up?” “What do you do?”

Once you have the ball rolling, try to figure out if you have any common interests and make a connection. This doesn’t just have to be around coding, maybe they are into surfing and you can share the best places to go for a surf. Try and connect.

Twitter

I have Twitter useful while I was teaching and now as a developer it is great to keep up to date with what people are up to. The trick with Twitter is that you have to be active to really get the benefit from it – i.e. it is a “social” network, so you have to be social! I joined Twitter in 2011 but wasn’t really active on it until 2012. I didn’t get it until I started being more active on it.

Around the time I started being social on Twitter I started this blog for my Registered Teacher Criteria (something teachers have to do). I linked this to my Twitter account, so whenever I blogged, it would be tweeted as well. This is one way of being active.

Coming back to networking, start following people that interest you, tech companies, companies you want to work for, people you admire in the industry, sites that offer training. Start retweeting tweets you see that you find interesting. Every now and then add your own comment to the things you retweet.

If you aren’t sure who to follow, start looking at those you do and see who they follow. Have a look at some hashtags – #rails, #rubyonrails, #webdesign

Look at lists that people have created, here is one listing EDA people – https://twitter.com/SchuKnight/lists/eda/members, start following people off the list. You can also subscribed to other peoples lists.

Go here to learn more about Using Twitter lists.

If you are keen on getting started with Twitter but your not to sure how to, have a look at this 14 Day Twitter Challenge. It is for PE teachers but follow along and just change out PE things for web dev things.

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Day 3 – find and follow, try this list of developers. Day 4 hashtag – #webdev. Day 13 – Twitter Chat – to come.

Friends and Family

Network with your friends and family. Start sharing what you are up to, what you want to do, what tech you are passionate about, what you want to make. Explain to them what Dev Academy is all about, or however you have been learning. Sooner or later someone will go ‘Oh, I know so and so who works at one of the biggest web companies in Wellington’. Funnily enough, through my mother chatting with someone in her ladies choir I could have made a connection with one of the head honchos at Springload. You never know who is connected to who, so talk it up with whoever will listen.

What ways do you network? Who should new developers follow on Twitter? What meet ups do you recommend for new developers? Do you have some advice for new developers who are just starting out with networking?

What to do once you have graduated? My thoughts after finishing at EDA

I graduated from Enspiral Dev Academy at the beginning of July. The week following graduation was Careers Week. This covered interview practice, offline networking – going to meet ups, CVs and cover letters, your digital footprint, getting everything up to date. It also mentioned to keep coding.

KEEP CODING!

keyboard-417090_1920I think the best thing that I did was to work on my own project from when I graduated to when I got a job. I was doing some casual work once I graduated but I made sure that I took time to work on my project (this was making a Ruby version of my cohorts final project – PikaDish).
This was good in a few ways. Firstly, it got my head back into coding. I probably didn’t do any coding for about two weeks from graduation. I actually found the first few days once I got back into coding quite difficult. It was almost like I had to look everything up again. My recommendation would be to maybe have a few days off from coding once you graduate but don’t leave it any longer then that.
Secondly, I really enjoyed being able to work on a project by myself and do it how I wanted to. This helped with my confidence in my ability to code.
Thirdly, because there was no deadline or other people to worry about I was able to take my time. This meant I could sit back and try to remember how to do something and take the time to google ideas I had about how to do something.
Fourth, this meant that I was coding AND committing regularly to Github. I think this is VERY important to keep doing once you have graduated (if you are going to be looking for a job straight away). Employers will look at your Github profile and it will be a big plus for you if they see that you have continued to code.

I would also suggest putting up repos from bootcamp onto your public facing Github. We all wrote a lot of code during bootcamp, why not show it off. Some people might say don’t put poor code up but I think if you can show where you were and how you have progressed, that’s got to be a good thing. And you could always go back and improve it.

To download all of your work from EDA have a look at what Nick Johnstone made, a RubyGem – eda-code-downloader“eda-code-downloader is a command line tool that clones down all of your Dev Academy code for you. It handles pairing and solo branch names, and can also be used to download all the challenges for a cohort.”

JOB HUNTING

I made a Trello board for my job hunting.

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Casual jobs, formal and informal, had I sent my CV, applied, interview questions / study to do, questions I wanted to ask.
I found this really useful. I looked for companies that I was keen to work at as well as advertised positions. I also talked to quite a lot of people that I knew in the industry about jobs, what jobs to apply for, should I apply just for Ruby and Rails jobs, what about waiting for the perfect job, I asked previous graduates what they had looked for in a job and if they had any advice. I added all of this to my Trello board and used it to help me decide on whether I would apply for certain jobs or email companies and it also helped me decide on what job I decided to accept.

LEARN, LEARN, LEARN

Keep expanding and exploring your learning. You can achieve this in a number of ways, it doesn’t have to be learning a new language as soon as you have graduated. I started looking at upgrading my text editor. I use Sublime so started looking into upgrading to Sublime Text 3.Sublime_Text_Logo

This led me to looking at adding linters and having a closer look at the functionality in Sublime Text that I wasn’t using. From doing this I have learnt a lot. I have had to take RVM off my Mac and just use RBENV. I have had to do a lot of troubleshooting. This has all helped with building my confidence in knowing that I can work things out and solve problems and that I am getting good at googling!

From talking with a few people who are in jobs where they have some involvement with hiring graduates or new developers, the things that I keep hearing are:

  • keep coding, keep pushing to Github
  • show your passion, be passionate about something, have a spark in your eyes
  • have ideas about things you want to do, want to learn
  • be learning something – so you can talk about it!
  • ask questions in an interview / technical interview – if you ask a question or say you aren’t sure about something but you would approach in this way does not mean you will not get the job, they would rather you talked through a problem then struggle on silently, they are not just looking for technical skills but how will you can communicate and connect with other people

So, that is my two cents worth. I hope someone founds it useful. If you are a graduate, what is your advice for those who have just graduated?