Season 3, Episode 2 | July 12, 2021
On this episode of the podcast, we talk to Abbey Perini, a full-stack web developer, about the importance of practice, building in public, and sending thank you notes when you're interviewing for your first tech job.
Abbey Perini is many things - a metro Atlanta native, a person of many hobbies, and a full-stack web developer. Currently ramping up in her first development role, she loves blogging about stupid Discord bots, animated CSS buttons, and other fun and useful things about programming. You can find her work and ways to connect with her at abbeyperini.dev.
On this episode of the podcast, we talk to Abbey Perini, a full-stack web developer, about the impact building in public has had on her developer journey, what her experience as a recruiting admin taught her as she sent out 160 applications before landing her dev role, and how rehearsing before an interview can make a big impact.
Hello, and welcome to season three, episode two of the Virtual Coffee podcast. I'm Bekah. And this is a podcast that features members of the Virtual Coffee community. Virtual Coffee is an intimate group of developers at all stages of their coding journey. And they're here on this podcast, sharing their stories and what they've learned. And we are here to share it with you here with me today is my cohost Dan.
Thanks Bekah. Today we are joined by Abby Perini, a full stack web developer, and a delightful human being about the impact building and public has had on her developer journey. Uh, what our experience as a recruiter taught her and how rehearsing before an interview can actually make a big impact.
We start every episode of the podcast. Like we start every Virtual Virtual Coffee we introduce ourselves with our name, where we're from, what we do and a random check-in question. Today's question is, would you rather be stuck on a broken ski lift or a broken elevator? We hope you enjoy this episode. my name's Bekah. I am a front end developer from a small town in Ohio. And if I had to be stuck on a broken ski lift or broken elevator, it depends if we are allowed to add conditions to that, I really do not like heights. So I would not want to be stuck up very high.
I feel like I've seen enough movies where you can escape a broken elevator. So if I had to choose between a high ski lift or broken elevator, I would MacGyver it out of the elevator.
Um, yeah, that's, that's a good point about escaping it. It's like, but I feel like that's also like bad guys can come in that way too and stuff, you know? So you
Are there bad guys in this scenario? Because.
Well, you got to always be ready, but I mean, if you're stuck in an elevator, then, you know, bad guys are probably coming, you know, that's just like one of the things
I think I still would rather be in an elevator than a high ski lift with bad guys. How do you get out of that?
Oh, I mean, if you're stuck on a ski lift and there's bad guys around, you just stay there cause they can't get to you, but the elevator, they can just go down
Why can't bad guys get to you on a ski lift climb downloads. You have thing
Uh, oh yeah. You mean like, oh, hand over hand, like monkey bars kind of like scoot down. Well, you'll be able to see them coming along the way.
I wonder, like if you had a shirt and you wrapped it around the ski lift thing, can you slide down?
like a zip line.
Yeah. Yeah. Can you make a zip-line that I might
that's making your case for the escaping the ski lift though.
Yeah. Well, I might be okay if I could make a zip line, then I might be okay with trying to escape the ski lift.
Um, all right, we're going to move on. Uh, I'm Dan, I am a front end developer from Cleveland, Ohio. And, um, yeah, so my answer is ski lift for sure. Um, I've actually jumped off a stuck ski lift before, uh, when I was snowboarding, um, we, we were like kind of close-ish to the thing. And we were in the part where like the snow had been it, a big pile of like loose snow. And so we, we just like toss our boards off and. Uh, in high school. And so I have escaped the stuck, stuck ski lift before. So, um, that's easy, but yeah, I mean, going back to the, the, like the bad guys and stuff, it's like the visibility thing is really my, you know, if you're stuck, you just kind of know what's going on, but you're stuck in an elevator. You can't see anything there's just buttons. And you don't know if it's a computer that's stuck or like a mechanical thing or whatever. And you're just in a little box. And I feel like my guess is that movies have misled all of us. The panel that's up there in the ceiling, you know, in every movie. Cause I've looked up, you know, sometimes in elevators you look up and there's never a panel like that. So, I mean, it's possible. I'm just going in the wrong elevators,
and elevators. You just got to take that drop ceiling and
maybe, maybe, but also we all just know that movies, you know,
lie about that sort of thing.
They lie about a lot of things.
My, uh, Ben asked me like, how do people fall on bananas? Because.
He saw it in curious George, I think. And I'm like, well, you know, they're kind of squishy and stuff or whatever, but also like, literally I've never seen that happen in my entire life
peel, not, not going to lie. I've got enough kids that I believe I have fallen on a banana peel in is slippery.
So can confirm you, just let them know.
movies, like bananas. I can see bananas being slippery, but just like, as a reg, as like a thing that always happens, you know, it's like,
It's not as frequent as movies would leave. You lead you to
And on that note, I'm Abby, I'm from Atlanta. I'm a full stack web developer on month, two of my first developer role. And, uh, I have also been stuck on a ski lift before, so I'm going to pick ski lift, um, and I've seen enough horror movies to never pick elevator like that. The whole pregnant lady walks into an elevator she's immediately giving birth. That's.
I feel like I would Excel in that situation. I would deliver that baby.
You would, I believe it you're a champion
if the question is, would you rather help a baby be delivered on a stuck ski lift or a stuck elevator? I'm going to
then we're Yeah. we're voting elevator because movies have led us to believe, but it happens perfectly fine
that'll work out. Yeah, right. Um, I would, I don't
It would be hard to catch a baby in a ski lift. Yeah.
yeah, that's what I'm saying.
I just, yeah, I also don't like Heights, but for some reason, ski lifts are fine. Cause like you're strapped into the chair and you're just swinging in the cold air. Well, no one is coming to rescue You It's fine. I was not close to the ground and also like eight. So it was not happening. We just got to experience the views for a very long time.
It's like, what is a Ferris wheel? Right? Like if you're ever on a Ferris wheel and then they're unloading the Ferris wheel and you get stuck at the top forever. I don't like that. That's that's enough. I could probably climb down a Ferris wheel. I
I panicked on one of the swingy boats one time and like the older I get the closer to the ground, my vertigo kicks in, which is very unfortunate. And I know my aunt has it. So I'm screwed.
well, welcome to the podcast. went through 10 different versions of that question. So now everyone is very well versed in how we would respond to various scenarios of that,
thought about all the angles
all of them. Um, so we would love to start by exploring your origin story, how you got to this point, what you have done and where you're at now.
This is funny. Cause like once a week, Kirk is like your origin story just keeps growing because
I have a lot of hobbies of dabbled in a lot of things. Um,
about being a DJ. And I did not see that on anything that I've seen about you. So that is new to me.
I'm really not. And, uh, so then I moved the bootcamp up a month and quit my job, um, in the bootcamp, obviously everything loved it. And then, um, the founder had actually challenged us to write four blog posts. By the time we were done with bootcamp, which was four months long. And. Again, overachiever. I was like, thank you for personally giving me a goal. And I started writing blogs. And the first one that I was like, oh, people actually seem to like the blogs I'm writing was an animated CSS button that I was just like, oh, I love animated CSS buttons. Look, you click it. It moves. Isn't this great everyone. And everyone was like, you know what? This actually is kind of great. And I was like, oh, great. And kept running. And then I think around the time that I joined Virtual Coffee was when I had my portfolio. I had that blog get top seven on dev Tio, all that stuff, and just completely blown away because it's just literally just me being like, I love programming. Oh, I'm going to write a blog about this thing that I like about programming or the one that is, has the most like staying power is the one where I was like, there's not a straightforward example of this anywhere. It's react. Here have an example with Shebaz in it. That's my goal to put more Shebas and programming. Uh, it took. Me about three months to get a job after graduating bootcamp. And I did that almost exclusively through, uh, networking, um, the blog building in public, um, which I recommend. And, uh, mark Noonan who's part of Virtual Coffee, looked at my stuff and was like, oh, You're doing great. And, um, I went through an interview process with him and, uh, when I posted my website itself on LinkedIn, that also got like 8,000 views on LinkedIn, which I don't know where that stands in ACA in LinkedIn stats. But, uh, my old boss saw it and that's how I have my current role because she put my, uh, resume back in the cycle of my old company. And now I'm working. I quit in August 22. I was a recruiting admin. Technically my title is talent services manager, and I joined Ronstadt again in April as a software application developer, which is pretty awesome.
That that's very awesome. It's um, I love that the, the bootcamp was, was helping you with the goal of, you know, writing blogs and stuff, because I think that's, I don't hear about that very often. And, um, some of the. People that I've talked to, um, over the last year or whatever that have come out of bootcamps. Um, the, the ones that I feel like the ones that I've had a lot of success, uh, have parents that like a lot of their learning with writing. Um, and it's been pretty cool.
They also did. Um, like you had to have your LinkedIn up to date, you had to have a resume that was, uh, applicant tracking system compatible, that kind of stuff, which is good. Uh, I wish we had done more algorithms or they had told me that I could just not do algorithms for interviews. I just turned down interviews with algorithms.
Did you yet? So that was, did you run into that a lot when you were interviewing.
Yeah. I cried every single time someone sent me a time browser ID algorithm, and like I can program, I can build things. I, if you and I, if the three of us sat down and you were like, Abby, we need to write an algorithm together. I'd be like, yeah. Okay. Let's do it. If you send me a link, it has a timer and it's an algorithm. I just cry.
Yeah. Yeah, I can totally see that. I mean, the, the timer like kicking off of the wrong, the wrong chemicals in your brain,
Yeah. And like, I think we did, I think we were supposed to do it every Friday and we just ended up doing like a handful of days. We were supposed to solve some algorithms and I was solving them. Uh, fast. They weren't like really good at doing things fast, but they were solved and I thought that was sufficient. And then it would be like, here's the first step of an interview process. You desperately want this job for some reason you're terrible at this thing that has nothing to do with the job that you're trying to get. Uh, it's just, you know, C feel that real hard. And the February, the dark February before I found Virtual Coffee and I was just sitting in my house unemployed during the pandemic.
You mentioned that you wish somebody told you, you could just turn down interviews that have those, is that advice you would give to people like now that you've kind of been through it a little bit,
Yeah. definitely. If you, if you like, if it's just a cycle of you failing, don't engage in that cycle. Like, uh, the two offers I got, neither of them required me to do a time algorithm and. Like that just may be that you do a lot more networking than you do, uh, throwing your resume into the void, which you know, is, you know, better. I'm not, I've got a whole blog out there that says that you can do the throwing resume into the void thing. It is possible. I've seen people get seen many people get jobs that way. They also apply to somewhere between 400 and a thousand jobs. So.
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
A really good point to make, because I think that there are so many different approaches and you have so much different information coming at you about what the interview process should look like. And. Plenty of people out there that there that say, oh, learn how to code in three months and then you'll have a job. Right. And maybe that happened for them, but that certainly is not the story for most people. And so talking about that and talking about, you know, turning down interviews, like that's scary for a lot of people or at least shifting your mindset to, um, it's not. It's a practice interview, right? Like, I'm going to go into this because I need practice interviewing and if something happens great, if it doesn't I got practice. Right.
Yeah. One of my mentors, Asana was like, it's a. It's every interview is practice for the one that works. It's exactly like sports. Like you're just like pretend it's the one every time, but this is also practice for the time that it actually works. And, uh, I had another point about. Oh, Yeah. I had, I had the privilege to go to a bootcamp and quit my job. And my husband was like, it's okay if you don't get a job immediately. But I was putting a lot of that pressure on myself. So I was extremely desperate for jobs. So that's coming from someone that knows the pain, but B had the option to do it this quickly and do it in this manner. Like if I didn't have that, I definitely would be like, okay. Yeah. Just start teaching yourself to code, start building, start building in public and expect it to take years. But I like stuff I put out on the internet. I got job offers from startups for that. Knitting is programming job or knitting. Knitting is programming blog. Like you never know it's luck and timing, especially.
Yeah, I think that's so important. Go ahead, Dan.
yeah. Luck in timing. But also, I mean, also the, I don't know exactly what the right word is, but sort of consistency of, of doing the, like actually applying the learning. Um, like you said, and I suspect that some people, um, wait on that part, wait on blogging because they're still learning or because they maybe feel like they don't, um, have anything new to, you know, like to talk about or, or, um, or whatever. But my, I just love seeing people like, like either have come through and we're blogging just like from the start and. Actually leaning into the learning right. And learning in public part. Um, because it's, it's great. And I, it, it expands your borders. It helps you learn. Um, and like I said, the networking and everything like that, it just kind of comes along for free. Right. When you're, when you're, when you're doing, putting the work in. Um,
And when you joined the Virtual Coffee,
And when you joined Virtual Coffee,
The Sheba counter blog. I referenced earlier. My thought when I hit publish was man, I just really hope I don't sound like a, like a really dumb book enter or something. And like, people are learning from that. Like, you don't have to be. Perfect. You don't have to be a senior. You don't have to be an expert. Just start writing, just start putting it out there. And like when, um, I, I struggle with confidence. That's the reason that I was able to give a whole talk and blog on what, like how I built up the confidence for the job search. And the first thing I did was I applied. I started applying to developer jobs. I didn't even have a portfolio. I didn't have an ATS compatible resume. I was immediately rejected and I was like, oh, that's the worst? Application I'll ever do. I was wildly under-qualified. I had no idea what I was doing. So now every application after that slightly better doing great. And it was the difference I saw between when my resume had a portfolio that was a template. And when Myers may had a portfolio that I wrote was really impressive. And like, I've heard that from other people and that doesn't, it doesn't have to be a perfect portfolio, but they'll look to see whether or not you. Built it, if you're a web developer, that's, that's the copy. I have, I am my web developer.
I think that, I don't remember. I was going to say.
I definitely have to like, be like, okay, here are my points.
So what kind of things did you put on your portfolio when you were like, when you were first applying when you were applying for jobs?
So I had four projects that I had to do for bootcamp. Um, I S I started seriously applying when I had three on their belief. Maybe we did five projects. There was one that I didn't include because I wasn't happy with the result and it was a group project. Um, so I have. For a while until I had my portfolio, I did just a straight here's an, uh, an old nineties XML site converted to a HTML CSS site, like pixel for per pixel. And then like, here's how I made it responsive. Here's how I did this, which was like a side. Like a, like an extra assignment that they had given us that not many people did, because I was like, I know basic issue your own CSS. I'll just do all the fun stuff. It was that, uh, and, uh, then I think it was all react to projects. Yeah.
that's cool. I was just asking, because I was, I don't have like a portfolio at all and like, I'm not, I'm not applying for jobs or anything right now, but I never even know what kinds of things go on them anymore.
Yeah, I mean, if you've built something and you're like this shows, well, I mean, we can go into how I pitch your experience to employers, but like, uh, yeah. As long as it's something is like, this shows that I can do this technological concept,
I guess my,
go on your portfolio.
point was, was going to be if I was, and this is true, the first time I hired a junior, um, and it was back up, but like the, that I don't, I have no idea if he even had a portfolio at that point, or if I looked at it or not, but I definitely looked at the blog. This is what I mean, like. Projects that you do in school or in boot camp and stuff are like good. And, you know, it's good to share, but if you have like writing about those projects, that is like, you know, tied with the portfolio, um, or just that are happened to be on your blog, you know, that's
I don't know that my current employer even looked at my blog. I got asked in-depth questions about every single one of my
your, your current,
this work? Yeah,
I'm sorry. So they looked at the portfolio, but they didn't
they looked at the portfolio, but they didn't look at the. bug. No.
And I think, I think it depends too, because I've certainly been in interviews where people have just mentioned my blogs or have just mentioned podcast episodes that I've been on that they've listened to. And so I think, you know, having a balance or trying to do all of those things. Can be really important. And then I know we had to write for flat iron school blog posts, and a lot of people were not happy about having to write those posts. And for some people it's a, it's a very different skill. It's like, well, I'm learning this skill to code. And now you're asking me to do this rather than thinking of it as this is a tool for networking, or this is to demonstrate how you can communicate something. Um, so it can be overwhelming. And an additional skill that you feel that you have to learn, but I think just trying is worth it because it does grow your network of people and the people that you can talk to about these things.
Well, and to that point, uh, I w I went to a middle in high school that like, if I didn't know how to write, like that was a problem. So. I've I've just been like, Hey, people are actually like interested in my writing that I've always had to do for every aspect of my life. And I've never been complimented on it before. Um, But the thing that we're all ignoring is your GitHub, because that can show all of these things. And more like if you're reading, these are descriptive and that's just you describing exactly how this technology works. That's totally fine. If you've got a bunch of projects in there that you haven't blogged about. Like I had an interviewer pull up my GitHub repos and have me walk him through step-by-step over the phone, a bunch of those stuff. So like, Use the tools you're, you're fancy you're on the internet you're program or use the tools that you have.
your bootcamp talk about writing, read MES.
Yeah, we were, uh, strongly encouraged. It wasn't necessarily required, but like we had to have a good get hub profile that had, uh, the, the headers were a thing by the time I start. Yeah. Let's talk about how, how spoiled I am. There's always been Flexbox there's always been. Um, so they're, they're getting hub remains and it was like, put like a picture of you and like some description of your stuff, bare minimum. And then every single project it would end and our teacher would be like, so go make sure you read me it's up to her to like And he really stressed a lot of things like, um, make sure that anyone going to your get hub can immediately with like a minute. Or a maximum of two clicks, get into your app and play around with it. If it's something that's on your portfolio. And he strongly suggested having like a guest login for everything, and you read me, filled out with screenshots and walkthroughs so that they didn't even have to go to the live app and all that stuff. His was, his whole career was built around, like he does Udemy. LinkedIn courses. And at this point, people will call him and ask him to do a job, having just seen those courses and be like, oh yeah. I mean, I know, you know what you're talking about. So.
Yeah, I think that's great advice if you, I mean, especially if you have a project like that, because lots of times you see. Projects and, you know, I suppose this is more of in tutorial and then in, um, uh, maybe in a boot camp, but you see somebody learning and doing a project, you know, an example project. And it's hard to tell sometimes if it's just been cloned from the example, or, you know, if they've, if a person has just been going through the steps and pasting in, um, or if they. Done a lot of the work, you know, and, and the steps that you're describing, I think go a long way towards, um, solving that, you know, and actually displaying like that you have done this work and you do understand this project and you do understand like why it does what it does. Um, et cetera. I like the idea of.
We keep talking about my fancy blog, but let's be clear. That's me being like, oh, I built this thing here was my first step code block. Can't my second step code block. Like it's. And then I was like, why are people responding to this so much? And then I see other blogs that are just like code black code black code block. And I'm like, oh, so just say the steps you took and people will believe you I'm like your blog. This is the secret to my success.
no, go ahead, Bekah.
I was just going to say one of the tips that I got when I was starting to apply for jobs was to create, um, a short walk through of each of your projects. And actually somebody had told me if you're not very confident in the code that you wrote sometimes. Linking to the video is better because you can talk about it. If you're confident in how you talk about it. They're probably not going to ask you questions about what you did with their code, with your code. So I don't know. I mean, it makes it like a quick reference point. You can talk through things, but also that might be another way to communicate what you've been working on.
Uh, I'm going to go ahead and credit my husband with, uh, how good I am at describing my projects to people. Not great. Let's be clear. Uh, we had to do presentations of all of our projects for the bootcamp. And I was the only one that got prompted to like explain the business case at night. Like maybe talk slower.
So there were times where he like watched the recording or something. Cause I'd be like, I just like, what am I doing wrong? And he was like, so all these people are spending five minutes on one. That's like a fraction of any of the features that you've built in here. And you're going through everything, everything in the same amount of time, like you need to actually explain how difficult things are to like figure out and like your process and like aspects of the code that you enjoyed writing or didn't enjoy writing or stuff like that. And applying that to interviews. A whole nother step, because if by the time I was in my final interviews, like I had rehearsed all of my answers so much, which is another point, um, that I wasn't like, I was like exhausted in my last interview and had all the answers and it went fine because I was just not panicked and practiced all of this. And. If you, Yeah. Explaining your code to people, especially like link, explain your code to your dad. Like you don't have to use all of the technical concepts, but explain that you wrote, like you had to sit there and write a button that would listen for a thing and then do this thing and response. And once you can start explaining it to lay medic, it's a lot easier to then jump into all of the heavy technical concepts. When someone asks you in an interview.
I love that. I, I, uh, I was going to say, and this is just going to tie back. Great to, I keep saying about how great it is to write, but somebody, I can't remember if it was on our podcast or a different one, but it was talking about, um, the writing, a blog post about that. Like, if you wrote a blog, post explaining kind of the steps that you did for a project, um, it helps you be prepared for when somebody asks you about it, you know, and it's just like the, maybe even just a script for your answer. It helps you talk about it more. Um, Uh, I dunno, thoroughly and, you know, with more detail, um, and probably also help you remember if you have it, you know, helping you remember the steps. Cause if I wrote something a year ago and somebody asked me to talk about it, I, if I hadn't done any prep, I would be like, uh, I don't know. Well, let's go look at it and see,
let's be clear in interviews. I've been like, uh, that was four months ago. I wrote a lot of code in between now. And then can you give me like a little bit more specific on your question, please come. What are you, what answer are you looking for For me? And I've got what two blog posts talk now where pretty much my answer to everything is practice. Practicing the thing, practicing the thing without any caveats, like you wrote a thing, it doesn't have to be like, oh, I didn't write the complete thing and I didn't write this and I didn't write that. Like, you can, you can have that anxiety yourself if you want, but there's no point in telling an interviewer because he's the only person, like the only thing they care about is you coming in to the role and being able to do that same thing.
And like, at that level, so.
I think that's great. I get. For me personally having, or even just outlined having this sort of thing down, um, helps me because I just go like galaxy brain immediately, you know, and I get caught up, you know, my brain is like hopping all over the place and if I'm just, and I'm sure packets listeners have heard me do this on the podcast, but, uh, my, you know, not having something to follow my brain just goes all over the place and with code in, you know, it's. Uh, there can be a logical way to walk somebody through and there, but if you just go follow every import or something, and you're like, well, this component, you know, and then he gets sidetracked and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I don't know. So having it all written down and practicing it, it's just such great advice.
Yeah, I uh, I talked about being prompted to give the business case and that's because like very frequently, like on a daily basis, I'll tell a story with exactly zero context. I'm just assume people are in my brain and know what I'm talking about to the point that like our friends will just stare at me the one that. You know, married to someone like me and be like, and Matt will be like, so here's what she's trying to say. Here's where she got the idea from here's what's happening. And I learned from interviewers mid interview, rant, rant, rant, rant, rant, rant, rant, rant, rant, rant, rant, rant, rant, about code. So to summarize my top three things that I would use in the answer to this question, this point, this point, and this point, and the level of understanding and interviewers faces went up exponentially.
And there are times where very kind interviews. Prompt me to be like, and could you, could you summarize that answer quickly for me? And then like, I could do it totally fine, but like, if in the, with the anxiety and like being asked the question and wanting to tell everyone about code, I would just rant for like three minutes and they'd be like, well clear, clearly she knows what she's talking about. I'm not sure if this was related to my actual question, but here we are. So. You can do it. It's really apparently my point to everyone getting a job.
I'd do the same thing. And I think for me, it's such a challenge when I have been going off for a while and I don't realize that I am. And then I see, like I noticed their face and I'm like, oh, I need to figure out. To bring this back or, and, but then it also makes me more nervous because I see the look on their face and it just like has upped the pressure to come back and like be better. And I just was for the last three minutes, it's it's a whole process.
It really is. It's all practice. Uh, I was in an interview process. It was a fee. It was the one the cycle before I got my job and I made it to the final interview for two mid-level roles. Impressive. Uh, I like the second one. The first one had no intention of hiring me at any point. Uh, the second one, uh, the hiring manager offered to be my reference and I made them think about it for an extra week. And accomplishment. It's not the job that I wanted, but it's an accomplishment. And there was a point where I was in, oh my God. That was the one where I was in a three hours straight of people asking me questions. And there was one point where they were like, here, you could have a five minute break to get some water. And, um, they, they were trying to see if I was the type of person that would go to a star wars movie in the middle of the day with them. That's the question they should have asked. They asked me. What are your hobbies? And, uh, I saw their eyes glaze over as I was answering this question because it was like, you can't, you can't ask me that question. Like, let me just keep going on for like literally hours. Like I could do, if you get me started on one, like that's just at the end. I was like, Yeah. And fantasy. And they're like, oh my God. Oh my God. I was like, Okay. ask better questions.
How many interviews did you go through?
Um, I think I got up to like 160 something applications. Um, I think that was the final number. I can look it up at some point, but, um, I went through like getting to the final interview, probably five or six. Um, there was one in the very beginning where. I was interviewing for a dev ops role because I had applied to the company and they saw my resume, uh, like a month later and were like, oh, well, she could do a dev ops role, which like, honestly, that's what I was expecting to go into, uh, with my background. Cause eight and a half years of customer service, I was like, I can break it into the Texas tech industry and then eventually get into a developer role. And the longer I was not doing customer service, the more I was like, I never want to do it again. And, uh, In that interview. My very first technical interview, the hiring manager looked at me and was like, yeah, I can't, I can't in good conscience, like recommend you for this role. Like, obviously I would hire you for this role, but like, you need to hold out for a developer role and then like, promise me that something would appear. And I just never did. And I was like, well, that's unfortunate, but yeah. There were other dev ops roles where like, uh, one of my friends, I pass the lead on to him and he's, he's in it now. Cause I was like, look like, this is a great role. You're not wrong. And like looking at my resume and being like, I would be a great fit, but I honestly, like I would just be looking for the next fill, like the first developer role I could find. And he was like, yeah. It's like, he was like, I'll pass your resume on. Yeah, sure. Thanks. Um, as far as like not final interviews, I probably did a handful more. So let's say. Like 10 to 15 total interview processes from like 160 plus applications.
And how many months was that?
Um, I started applying seriously and November. I didn't get any bites until January. Um, and I graduated from the bootcamp in January at the very beginning.
Okay. And this is like in the middle of COVID. So there was hiring freezes everywhere.
Exploded in like, uh, January 20, 21, especially like tech. It was nuts because I had been looking since August, September, and then all of a sudden it was like daily, like five coming out for junior level. So,
Yeah. I was, I had seen that before, too. And was interesting to see because you know, part of it is. New budgets, you know, and stuff. And then I think companies finally figured out like the, the, um, that they are okay with the remote stuff, you know, which has been
well, Q1, Q too. Like you could talk to recruiters. I was in the recruiting industry, right. It'd be like everybody. We're going to be Okay. We're going to make it through, like, it's gonna, let's just rally together. And I don't know, do something with our new free time. Honestly, I had eight hours to study programming in like April 20, 20. I'd answer like two calls a day. And, uh, by like Q4, uh, you could see people were like relaxing a bit. And like recruiters were like, oh, I actually have things to do. Cause again, like if you want to connect with recruiters, connect with me on LinkedIn because
hundreds, hundreds of recruiters in my network. So.
Were you able to take some of the stuff you learned from recruiting and apply it to your job search?
definitely. Um, uh, so my, one of the main aspects of my job was breaking down, uh, job descriptions and writing them and so that we could post them on the internet and the right people would apply. So from that, I not only could pull out and again, I was in engineering. So like there was some, there were some differences, uh, in engineering, if you job hop from after, like one year, people are like, is something wrong with you? If in Texas, A given. And I was like, oh, hello. the other part, the other one that was, I was also in frequent calls with hiring managers, retooling the job description that they had given us because they weren't seeing the right candidate. So I knew how incredibly frequent it is for the job description, not to match what the hiring manager is looking for. So that made it very easy for me to take the advice of someone saying, well, if you see one book. Go for it. Cause like the hiring managers don't know what they want. My current job description was. Three years experience CS degree, master's preferred, uh, the recruiter that, uh, I worked with heavily implied that I would never get the job. And then did the same thing to my friend who was in my bootcamp, who has also gotten the job. So like, it's a whole thing. But, um, the other thing was, uh, I was trying to do the math earlier. Let's say on average, I over, I was involved in 12 interviews a week, right? And I was in that for five years. So like, there was, there were times in my own interview process where I'd be like, I'm not getting this job just from like the way feeling out the way that a hiring manager responds, because th the one where they waited a week to tell me that they'd be my reference. Like, I was like, I'm not, I really wanted this. And I know I didn't get it at this point. And everyone was like, no, you've got to wait. And I was like, Hmm, I would have heard on Friday. Uh, but beyond that, You hear feedback from the candidates? Cause I was supposed to be every single time a candidate went through an interview. I was supposed to get on the phone with them and at least hear them out about how it went. And you hear about like the questions that they got asked and like, if we sent three candidates through a process, then I would know. What they had the, like the person that got it had versus the two that we sent in previously and stuff like that. And there are some things that I highly recommend that are very controversial, not because I think that the U S hiring process, the way it is, is great, or like, has any standards whatsoever, but. can use a thank you note to push for feedback. Like even if you're not getting the job, you are more likely to hear why you didn't get the job. If you're emailing someone like politely and asking questions and like a thank you note as just a wrapper for that, you can be like, Hey recruiter. Here. Can you pass this? Thank you. Note on for me also, can you answer these questions for me? And then like, I would get, um, my current role with my first interviewer responded back with like, oh, thank you for sending this. Like, it was so lovely to speak to you too. I'm I'm that was like, that gives you a little confidence as you go into the next interview and stuff like that. So, uh, the other, what was the other point that I had? Oh, I would do hiring and firing.
So I, I would get to like, get the feedback as to why they wanted to go with the candidate. I would do, uh, negotiations on behalf of the candidate. Like I would call it laminate and, um, say it's Joe Schmoe, mechanical engineer. And he's been doing mechanical engineering for 30 years and he's been doing contract work for 20 years. And he was like, no, where are those places? Uh, the commute I would have to do plus this, this, this and this, I need $3 more. Yeah. Um, like once you get really comfortable with that kind of negotiation and everything on behalf of someone else, it's slightly easier to apply to yourself. I still feel like I lowballed myself in a couple of interview processes, but that was also me being very desperate for my first job in tech. Uh, and me. But like, even then I was doing it based on like market research. Like you go to indeed you do plug in the job title, you plug in your location, and that gives you the average hourly rate or average salary for any job. Uh, it's on the indeed salary tool or whatever. And that's how we did estimating for the rates that we were putting out on our job descriptions for. Anytime that the client didn't set the rates. So like I knew how to find that kind of information to make myself a competitive candidate by low-balling myself, or just saying that, no, I'm not going to accept anything below this. And, uh, that ended up being my first job doubled my salary after seven months of unemployment.
Yeah, that's awesome. I'm sure that sounds like a nice, a bunch of information to have in your back pocket when you're going through this process. Um,
yeah. And like just a lot of stuff where like demystifies the whole hiring process, because they're all, I mean, I had a psych professor who would rant about this frequently. Like they're not trained. Like when I had to hire people for internal roles, they were just like, here I are interviewing, hire someone. They weren't like ask them these questions or here's what we're looking for. And my role was a little bit difficult because like, we couldn't even do KPIs, which are like, uh, Setting goals for people to meet so that you know, that they're performing well in their role, because it would be like, well, a lot of this is dependent on what comes in. So. I just asked the same questions and we hired a couple people and I failed miserably two out of three times. Like, and if I, someone with experience in a lot of interview processes, can't look at another human and be like, Yeah. you're definitely going to write it. In a timely manner, like how is someone else going to do that? So a lot of it, it turned it into me knowing that like a human is sitting on the other side of this call or whatever. Uh, and I'm convincing that human, but I will do whatever they want me to do for money. Hopefully I'll leave. And development related, but like that's a
set of skills.
exactly like that's a, that's a totally different approach than, and who's like, obviously this hiring manager knows everything there is to know about developing and I'm this beginner developer trying to convince them that I will also know everything about developing and that's not at all what you have to do. If, if I haven't very fully explained by process, which was one bullet point I apply. I don't know. I tell him, I study, I rant a lot. Sometimes I summarize the rent. Like the most, the most positive feedback I got was, wow. You're just, your enthusiasm is really there. Like you've got a passion for learning and that's what a lot of people want to see in these developer roles. And I was just, I was just like, I like coat. Here's a Sheba counter.
I really liked that last thing that you were talking about, about showing the enthusiasm, because I was talking about this with a couple of different people recently in how. When you're interviewing for a position, how your personality comes across, whether or not that affects, you know, decisions and whether or not people with stronger personalities kind of, um, get taken out of the interview process just because there are, um, I don't know that people just think of them in a certain way. Like, well, if they're responding in this way or, wow, that was really intense, you know, maybe this is not the person that we want to be working with when, um, you know, realistically you don't get a full picture of personality in the interview process, but do you think that that can be an issue when you're interviewing, like how you present your personnel?
So this, this goes back to my point that they're bias written humans. Like you have to find the human on the other side of the table, but like you can, you can jive with, because there were plenty of, there was I'm going to remove all identifiable aspects of this story, but I know someone that recently got a job with the company that they got a job for, because. And I quote, well, we've hired developers with strong accents before, and it's worked out totally fine. And genuinely, he's one of the smartest developers I know, and wasn't getting a job longer than the rest of us because he had a very thick accent. And that is a bias that a lot of interviewers have. And I've heard it from, I've heard a different version, which is like, this is offensive. I apologize. But like, That hiring manager was Asian. He's only going to hire Asian candidates. That's why I didn't get the job. And like, I can't speak to the reality of whatever that is in that industry or whatever, but yeah. There every human that you get on the other side of the table with is going to have some sort of bias. And like, like, I hate to phrase it this way, but like your goal is to be as vanilla and inoffensive as possible. So definitely don't go in and like curse out your interviewers.
But you want to be like vanilla with a little sprinkles, right. So they can remember you. So like how, how much is too much sprinkles?
I don't know, cause I would take notes and then write a thank you note with interesting details from our interview in it and send that to the interviewer. So I asked every interviewer, uh, how did you get your first tech role and got some really fun answers and would work that into my thank you note. So like you want it's you want to be able to show that you are someone who could come into a corporate environment or whatever it is like the standards and tech interviews are so much lower than they were in injury engineering. I had interviews show up, showing up in like a baseball hat and a t-shirt and I was like, what is happening? So like present yourself. Well, like get up, get an interview outfit. It doesn't have to be a full blown suit. I don't think. And for tech interviews, but like, you know, present yourself as you want to be presented. It's like, bring your best self, uh, Again, curse out your interviewers. Like I say, this it's happened and, uh, answered the questions to the best of your ability and really show that like you're dedicated and passionate about doing the thing that you're trying to do. Uh, like if you're trying to learn something new, so that you'll be better at ramping up or anything like that, like, those are the things that you want to talk about. And then you want to answer every question, like as positively as possible. And then if you're not. You're going to have to elaborate a little bit on what you mean by strong personality, because like I only think about engineers yelling at each other,
I don't even think, you know, there, there are people that come into a room. Right. And they kind of just, they, they automatically take over the room or I'm trying to think of an example with out, like
using a name of a person. Um, but, but something, somebody that comes in and they're ready to talk and they're there. Um,
like you Keep going You keep going too fast and you like, talk over people and it's a lot of.
yeah. Or I don't know, Dan, come on. Help me out. I know that
um, I'm wondering, I I'm actually not sure what, which way you're going here, but like, are you, are you saying, are you like worried that, uh, strong personalities and negative.
oh, for sure. Right? Like, oh, I'm not sure I can work with this person because they've got, they're really
mean, my advice for this is it's hard. It's, it's hard for me to nail this down because I think that, um, where you are in your sort of journey and also like, depending on, you know, your, your specific like privileges and stuff, like, like we were talking about before, where like where you are in life and what's going on, um,
lot of the things that I ended up talking about were like, uh, getting back into the workforce after being a stay-at-home parent,
right. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So, but my, my point is, um, my advice is usually to present yourself how you are, um, because if, if they're not going to like you like that, um, they're not going to have a good time. Like if you, if you, um, sort of act like a different person and they hire you and then. Like you can't just act like that forever. Um, that's not to say that. That's not to say that like,
Well, well, sure. I mean, yes. I mean maybe I guess, I mean, and this is where my point is like as a junior developer, it might be more important to get the first job regardless of it. I like, and this is where I get wishy-washy my on advice. You know what I mean? Because that first job interview is not interview. I'm sorry, but the first job, like the first actual job is like such a big step and, and your second job, like the interview process. He's probably still going to do interviews and all of that stuff, but I like coming from a place of experiences is, uh, I imagine the experience is much different. Right. Um, but like me personally, and also I'm just, I I've been a developer for a long time. Uh, you know, so I don't, I'm not really worried. I'm also, you know, in a spot where I am not desperate for a job or I'm not, you know, I don't need one. My, if I lost my job or, you know, whatever, for every, all of my paying work went away, um, my wife also works, you know? And so it's so like, I'm like in the spot of privilege where I don't have to, um, I dunno, but like, we're, we're, I don't like, there's some things that I know specifically that I don't have to worry about, but I, if I'm meeting somebody or doing an interview, stuff like that, I'm probably not going to, uh, maybe I'll, uh, you know, like dull some edges a little bit, but, um, I'm just going to try to be myself because that's who I am. Right. And like, I I've, I'm starting a relationship with somebody. I don't like, I'm not gonna, I don't know, fake it, but.
your point, your point. And, uh, and first I'm going to phrase it a little bit, a little bit differently. Uh, so it's like, it's like meeting your partner's parents for the first time. Like you want to be on your best behavior. You want to look nice. You don't want to be too drastically away from your regular personality, but you still want to be like, you know, a little more palatable than you would be like with your friends out in the backyard or something like that. And then not every interviewer has to, like you like. There is someone out there that will be like, Yeah. I can find a spot for you on my team. And your chances of, if you have a strong personality and you're finding that your interviewing is not going especially well because of your strong personality, then it's time to start networking and find someone that you can get like a rapport with and understands that you're not like a hundred percent, this person that you are when you're nervous and your interview. And then they can start taking you through an interview process because like we see time and time again, through networking through Twitter, through whatever. Like if someone likes you and they find an opening and they have enough say in the interview process, so you're going to get much further than you would have if you're just coming in and no one's watching for you and you have this mysterious, strong personality that you wouldn't want to show to your partner's parents.
Yeah. And you mentioned something in there about, um, uh, you know, being anxious, uh, during an interview and that affecting your personality and, and that's sort of something different, right? Like, uh, If you have an I do, if you struggle with like anxiety and, um, the especially anxiety around performance and stuff like that, then that's something that's a little different than like your true personality, right? That's like, that's like your anxiety or other issues affecting. The actual, like the actual presentation of your, to yourself. Right. Um, and getting away and getting in the way of that even. Um, so if you have a habit of when you're anxious over-talking, or, or, or doing things like that, um, that is something to just, I would say to practice on, you know, um, and do like Abby was saying, uh, lots of practice, I think helps and probably there's other things to help too. I, you know, um, and
My interviews would have gotten so much worse if I had to drive to the place at a certain time. Oh my God. Like all of my interviews are on zoom. And at first I was like, this sucks. And then I was like, wait, this is amazing.
Yeah, no, I, and I love that. I was thinking about this the other day with coming out of the pandemic. Um, there are actually things about zoom that. Like, and prefer, um, with regards to anxiety and performance issues and stuff like that. I don't have to, when I'm on zoom, I don't have to worry about what I'm doing with my hands or my feet or my body really, you know? Um, and. Let's actually think about this with masks and now like our daycare, you don't have to wear masks anymore if you were vaccinated. And, uh, I was walking around. I'm like, what, what do I do with my face?
You know? But like all that is to say, like the, um, it's just my, you know, I, I said be your true self, um, before, and I was specifically. Not that doesn't mean, you know, like there aren't, if your true self is like, you lose control of some things because of anxiety and thinking like that's something, you know, that is definitely can be worked on and you can practice it and probably get better. Um, have an easier time. Um,
And I want to be clear. I was a puddle of sweat after pretty much all of my interviews. yeah. Uh, like I. Recently, remember the desperation, the anxiety, the everything being like my one chance. And I'm ruining it again in February. It was a really dark time for me. And, uh, like there were, there were things where like my husband would have to. Could you be good at algorithms? Could you just study the algorithms alone?
There's so anxiety written at this point and he was like, could they be less anxiety ridden if you practice them? And then I was doing 30 days of algorithms on Twitter and like, people were interacting with that. And you know, you see things all the time that are people like, oh, you're still looking for a job. So like the building in public is also the practicing.
I would also say that. I think it's fair, to be honest with your person you're interfering with, if, you know, especially if you have, um, Well really about anything, but, you know, if you're like, I'm very nervous and because of this interview and I very much want this job. Um, so I apologize because sometimes I talk too fast when I'm nervous or something like that. Um, I think that would go a long way to, um, to,
Yeah. I've been like, can you give me a second to formulate my answers so that it's slightly less panicky and Franti. And they were like, oh Yeah. please. Like, and, uh, when I was honest about like, Oh, I like, I can't take this role cause I'll just be wanting to move on immediately. Thank you for your honesty. I really appreciate that. Let me see if I have anyone that has a developer role for you like that. That's the kind of feedback you get from being honest and open about all this kind of stuff. And if you do that and I'm proven wrong, please give me their names so I can yell at them personally. Like
you can find a, my handle is sorry. Go ahead.
as you say, it's been great to have you here. You talked about so many great things and there are so many great tips here. It's like trying to highlight as we went along. All of the things that I could say were great about this episode, but there, then I just quit. Cause like there were too many of them. So thank you so much for being here. It's been great hearing you talk through this.
Of course, I'm like the one thing that I really wanted to highlight is I got into this because I was good at making things pretty. Like if you are the person that's like, I don't know, like if I'm cut out for this. or whatever, See, just try, like, uh, I did not expect to have a popular blog or be a great full-stack, uh, person, but that's how it happened. And it's just because I was like, well, I know about pictures and colors and let's do this. So thank you guys for having me.
and there's the awkward by part. Okay. Bye.
Thank you for listening to this episode of the Virtual Coffee Podcast. This episode was produced by Dan Ott and Bekah Hawrot Weigel and edited by Dan Ott. If you have questions or comments, you can hit us up on Twitter at VirtualCoffeeIO, or you can email us at email@example.com. You can find the show notes, plus you can sign up for our newsletter to find out what Virtual Coffee's been up to on our website at virtualcoffee.io.
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The Virtual Coffee Podcast is produced by Dan Ott and Bekah Hawrot Weigel and edited by Dan Ott.