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Sadie Jay - Technical Interviews for Bootcamp Grads

Season 6, Episode 4 | August 30, 2022

In today's episode, Dan and Bekah talk to Sadie about technical interviewing after bootcamp. She shares her tips for landing interviews, prepping, and interviewing your interviewers.


Sadie Jay

Sadie is a Front-end Developer and bootcamp alum. In 2016, Sadie started her journey into tech with web design courses. Along the way, she graduated with a Masters specializing in Web Design and Online Communication, taught yoga, searched for cheap flights at a travel startup, volunteered as a writer and proofreader for various non-profits, and contributed to a number of open source projects. Outside of coding and writing, Sadie can be found petting her cat Maxie, hanging out with her mom, or looking up the next vegan restaurant to check out.

Show Notes:

This week Bekah and Dan sat down with Sadie a frontend developer for a federal agency, to chat about her experience navigating the interview process and how she found success after giving tech a second shot. She shares tips on how to avoid burnout both during the interview process and while you're working in tech.

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Transcript:

Bekah:

Hello, and welcome to season six, episode four 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're here to share it with you here with me. Today is my cohost. Dan

Dan:

Wuddup, Bek? How's it going?

Bekah:

It it's going wonderfully.

Dan:

Excellent. Um, today we are talking with Sadie J who is a, uh, frontend developer with a federal agency. We talked about her long experience doing the interview process and yeah, and her experience working at a government agency as well.

Bekah:

Yeah, it was really interesting to hear how she kind of started in tech. She burnt out and left tech for a while and then decided to give it a second shot and she's back doing it again. And it sounds like she's really excited, but also like. Took those lessons that she learned from that burnout experience and brought them with her. So she doesn't get burnout again. And I think that's really, really useful because I see that happen to a lot of people.

Dan:

Yeah, totally. I, it was, it was interesting hearing her talk about, um, Her thought process, you know, when she was experiencing the burnout stuff and, um, and just taking a break like that, uh, you know, and dealing with it head on, uh, I think was, was really cool. And I think there's a lot of valuable stuff in there.

Bekah:

Yep. And we start every episode of the podcast. Like we start every Virtual Coffee. We introduce ourselves with our name, where we're from, what we do and a random check-in question. And we hope you enjoy this episode. Hi, I'm Bekah. I am a technical community builder from a small town in Ohio and an imaginary class that I wish was offered. I feel like this is hard because I'm not sure what would be practical for an imaginary class and maybe imaginary classes. Aren't practical. um,

Dan:

class teach imaginary things or is this like a chance to learn, you know,

Bekah:

oh, for sure it can teach imaginary things. Yeah, I think I would like to, um, definitely take a class that watches people have brain scans. And that's not an imaginary class. I'm kind of like neurobiology class. Um, but there's gotta be some kind of imaginary aspect to brain scans and people. really bad at this question. I was the one that chose it too. So it just like makes it worse. Um, I'm just gonna like look at people's brains and see what they do. That's it. It's not imaginary. It's wishful. That's what I wish I wish to watch people's brains.

Dan:

Less of a class and more of a profession you wish you had

Bekah:

Um, yes, I would love to be a neurobiologist that would. Fantastic. What? Okay. Maybe an imaginary class on like studying black holes by like actually physically exploring them cuz that's not possible. So is that better?

Dan:

I don't know. I don't know what to do with this question. Um, hi, I'm Dan. I do computer development things, uh, in Cleveland and, um, yeah, imaginary class. I have no, I mean, I don't really understand this question to tell truth I, uh, I don't know. Um, I guess I'm gonna go with, uh, um, like spaceship, flying yeah. but like not the boring ones that we have that are reality though, you know? Or like star

Bekah:

Star wars,

Dan:

like yeah. Yeah. Like teach me

Bekah:

good imaginary class.

Dan:

the Millennium Falcon or something, you know, that'd be cool.

Bekah:

Yeah,

Dan:

long as I actually got to fly it. All right. That's gonna be my answer.

Sadie:

Okay. Um, hi, I'm Sadie. Um, I'm from a small town in the panhandle of Florida. I am a front end developer for a federal agency and, uh, an imaginary class. I think I would take, I don't know. I, this makes me think of like when I was in elementary school and like super obsessed with like ESP and like being psychic and things like that. So I would probably. Some class that develops like your psychic abilities.

Bekah:

I

Dan:

I like

Bekah:

that is a good, an, an excellent answer. You have definitely won this round of intro questions.

Dan:

Yeah. My first answer was gonna be like, learn, you know, learn the Force, you know?

Bekah:

Mm,

Dan:

then I was thinking about spaceships would be fun too, so, and a little more practical. I was worried that I think that, uh, canonically. You have to like, have the, be able to use the force to learn. Like, it's not like everybody can learn it, you know, a bummer to sign up for that class and they get there and then find out you can't, can't. Right,

Bekah:

you can watch everybody else use the force, but you're stuck.

Dan:

right, right. I don't feel like everybody can use, uh, everybody could use, uh, or learn how to fly spaceships.

Bekah:

I feel like I want a class on communicating with aliens, but I feel like DARPA already has that or something like it's out there. We just don't know about it yet. um, well welcome Sadie. Thanks for being here with us today. We're very, very excited to have you, and we always like to start off with your tech origin story. So how did you get to this point in your tech?

Sadie:

Oh, wow. Yeah. That's um, a good question. I feel like it was a winding journey for sure. Um, Like, I, I didn't really grow up with a desire to be in tech. Uh, like my household computer was just the computer that let me get on cartoon network.com and play games. like, it wasn't much past that, but, um, I would say right after I graduated, um, with my bachelor's degree in psychology, I got into drawing and painting. Like, and this was just like a random desire that I had. I was like, ah, I just wanna learn painting. I'm just gonna take a class. So I did and like fell in love. And from that I wanted to like find a career that let me combine psychology and like drawing or visual arts. So I was like, okay, maybe web design somehow. Cuz that would also let me work remotely and give me some flexibility. So I went to a boot. Um, I went to skill crush and signed up for one of their courses. It was like a web design course or visual design course. This was back in like 2017, like several years ago, but I wanted to like test out the waters to see if that was something I would be interested and like, it, it seemed good enough. Like, I, I felt like I could do it. So then I signed up for my master, my master's, um, Specializing in web design and online communication. And in that program, like we did both web design and also web development. And I realized that like, actually web development was more my thing and not so much the web design. Um, so yeah, so that was like the, really the kickoff to my tech journey, for sure. But after I graduated, I, there was another pivot, like. Was completely burnt out on tech and anything tech related. Like I couldn't bear to think about like coding. And I remember like I applied to some internship and got elite code challenge, but at the time I didn't know what that was. So I was like, oh wow. I just graduated with this degree. And like, I can't even use it. Like, I don't know what, like how to do this thing with JavaScript that they want me to do. So it just completely like demoralize me and. Like crushed my confidence. So I became a yoga teacher. I was out in Brooklyn and doing that like yoga life and like meeting with cool people. And then I got into the travel industry and did that for a year, but all of that ended around 2020 when I left the job and then the pandemic started and all that. So it gave me time to reflect and. I had to move back home after being in Brooklyn for a few years. And I really thought, I was like, okay, what am I gonna do next? Cuz like, I don't want to be here like Florida, which is home for me. Like I don't wanna be here forever, but I do wanna take the time to like make sure that like I'm going in a direction that I feel good about and kind of came to the conclusion that like, I didn't really give tech a try. I, I let the burnout like kind of like take over. I don't know, I guess like my direction or just like, I dunno, just had me stop in my tracks. So I was like, you know what, I'm gonna give this a college try, like, I'm a, I'm gonna do this again. And this time I'm going to make sure I have community around me. And that's how I found. Y'all how I found virtual. So I restarted my boot camp, restarted school crush and did the front end developer intensive. But this time was very intentional about joining community, like being very active in Virtual Coffee, and I wanted to do the open source thing. So it would just so happen that, um, the kickoff for the October Fest, um, month was like a week or two away. So that's when I joined butcher coffee. I got to sit in and watch Dan do the, um, like how to contribute to open source and yeah. So it, it all just went from there. Uh, yeah, so I ended up like contributing to like five projects and like, I contributed to a couple of IBM projects. I got to do a demo day with them and then, um, side of the job search or in like February. And that was another beast of its own where it took like nine weeks. and just hundreds of applications to get this job that I have now. And yeah. That's how I got here. Yeah,

Bekah:

That's awesome. I love that story. I. There's just, um, I like that you have gone through a lot of different, like different journeys on this journey here. Right? Um, you've done a lot of different things, but also like coming back from burnout, I imagine that's gotta be kind of a hard decision to make what really kind of pushed you in that direction. Like, okay, fine. I'm gonna do this one more.

Sadie:

Right. That's that's a good question. I think one time time helped cuz I had graduated 2018 and then I felt like I could entertain the thought of tech again, like. Few years later. So 2021. So really it was just time and space that helped, I would say for the most part, but also, I don't know. I know, like I wanted flexibility in my job and like where I worked, like that was also the catalyst of going into the master's degree program. So like, I think that thread just continued and I was like, okay, I think I could do tech again. Because I've tried, like also tried writing on the side a little bit, but that didn't feel quite as a fit. So I think just, I dunno, the reflection and wanting to like challenge myself and see something to completion also helped.

Dan:

Can you talk a little bit about, um, your experience? Uh, so if I have this right, you did the bootcamp and then you went to a master's program after that. So that's like a lot of school, like in all together. Can you talk, I don't think I've actually, we've talked to anybody who is. Learn web design stuff or web development stuff in a master's program. Um, could you, would you mind sharing a little bit about what that was like? Um, and, and especially like, compared to, since you did it right after the bootcamp, maybe, maybe compared to what, what it was like, um, you know, the different approaches and everything.

Sadie:

Yeah. So, okay. So I did the boot. And I, I don't even know if I completed the course. Um, like before I did the master's, like, it was just enough to be like, okay, this seems like something I could do. So I went into my master's program without any knowledge of code or anything, but that was the, um, like the setup for the degree. Like, you didn't have to have any prior knowledge. Um, but I don't know. I don't, I kind of don't know how. like give more details, cuz it was it like college, like you, um, like we had four classes a semester. That's what I signed up for. And like the very first class was like a web design principles and like it went into HTML and maybe a little bit of CSS and I don't even think we touched JavaScript that much in that first class. And then it built up from. Um, we learned like it was mostly do in manipulation, cuz it, it wasn't like a computer science class, so we didn't learn like algorithms or data structures or anything like that. But basically like how to create websites and like webpages with an I for design. Um, we also learn like Adobe suite and um, social media and like analytics for websites and things like. like the capstone project was to create a WordPress site for a local company. And our cohort was divided up into teams. And that was like, that was the, the peak, like the end of the program. But I say all that to say like, so I did that finished in 2018 and then went back into the boot camp 2021. And. I, I feel like I retained enough information, but it was enough to know that like, oh yeah, I remember learning that in school. So I felt like what I learned in the bootcamp and what I learned in school were comparable, but it was just that I had more time in school to learn the things and to like, kind of like dive into each thing that was taught, like each aspect of HTML or CSS or Javas. whereas the bootcamp was like basically the same topics, but just in a more condensed, um, time space, even though it was self-paced. So, yeah, it was really interesting.

Dan:

Yeah, I guess it makes sense.

Bekah:

The, so after you did the master's program, then you went into the bootcamp. Um, was there any interview prep that you did as part of the master's program or was that, did you do that in the.

Sadie:

No. Yeah, no for the master's program. Absolutely not. Um, and I feel like that's why, like, I was so blindsided by the lead code challenge, but yeah. What, um, the, the like real world, um, aspect of the bootcamp or not. The bootcamp of the master's degree was like a internship. So I did an internship at, um, American documentary POV, a media company. And I'm, I'm smiling because like, I don't y'all can't see me, but I'm smiling and I'm laughing because like, it was an internship. In the digital team, but it didn't have anything to do with like the website or anything. So I had to like shoehorn, like, Hey, I need to do something with WordPress. I need to do something. But what it ended up being was more like me working with the producers and doing like other cool stuff. But yeah, no, that was the extent of like the real world application for the, um, master's program. So I was like completely lost when I was job hunting and. Yeah,

Bekah:

I think most people are completely lost when they're job hunting. You know, it's just like, there's not a lot of preparation and job interviews are all over the place. So you just never know what to expect. And like having to prepare so much for each one of them makes it really, really hard. Did you do interview prep with skill crush?

Sadie:

I did. Yeah. So the front end developer intensive includes, um, a job hunting. Coach like a career coach that helps you, like prepare your resume and like prepare your cover letter and get your like one minute, like, uh, what's it called? Like a one minute, like spiel about yourself and I don't know, just interview, practice and how to answer questions. Exactly. Elevator pitch. Um, yeah, so crush had that and that really opened my eyes to like how to be strategic when job hunting. like, kind of like understand what to expect when interviewing in the tech field and yeah, without that, I, I really don't think I would've, uh, or it, it either would've taken me a lot longer to find my job or I would've stopped again. And probably would've said maybe text, just not for.

Bekah:

Yeah. And that's so unfortunate that there are so many people trying to break into tech and are just quitting before they get there, because the inter and the interview process is not reflective of most of the stuff that you're. To be doing.

Sadie:

And like, without that knowledge of like, oh, like I actually don't maybe need to know how to like, do this leak Cody thing. Like if you don't have that understanding, then. I feel like that's what feels like the, the tutorial loop where like, oh, I need to know how to do this weird niche thing. Or like, maybe I actually don't know enough, so I need to keep going. Like, I don't know. It, the interview process is so like demoralizing or it can be.

Bekah:

That's a really good word for, I even think like some of the best interview processes are still very exhausting and tough to get through. So why don't you, can you walk us through what it was like to prepare for an interview?

Sadie:

Oh, that's a good question. um, Hmm. That's a good question. I feel like. What I did would be to like, look at the job website and like, look at the people that I'm interviewing with and like kind of stock their Instagram or not Instagram they're LinkedIn. I dunno why I said Instagram, but, um, yeah, stock their LinkedIn a little bit and try to find like some sort of commonality that I may have with them and have the idea to bring it up, even though like I'm, uh, really shy and I probably won't ever bring up like, Hey, Looked at your LinkedIn. And I noticed like, I'm not that kind of person, but just having that like background behind that person that I'm gonna be interviewing, um, helped me feel a little more confident. Um, I would also try to gather a few questions. Um, uh, VC or Jennifer. I don't remember how to say her last name, but she has a list of questions to ask during an interview. Like to the interviewer to try and engage like your fit with the role in the company. And I would like, look, go back to that, um, to that page and like pick out questions for every single interview that I had to make sure that like, okay, this is what I need to know about this role and about the company to make sure that I'm going to fit with them. So in order to make it a process of like, I'm also interviewing the interview, Like, it's not just me. It's, it's a two way thing that I need to also be fit a fit and they need to be a fit with me.

Dan:

Yeah, I think that's, I think that's really important and it can get lost sometimes, especially.

Sadie:

Mm-hmm

Dan:

I don't know on long journeys on long, uh, you know, struggles. Uh, but I, so I was gonna ask them maybe think, um, did you run into any, you know, you said you were doing this for so long and how many did you say you did? How many interviews did you say? I can't remember how

Sadie:

at least

Dan:

right?

Sadie:

it was a lot of interviews for sure. It was like 250 applications and,

Dan:

Wow. And so like, where were. You don't have to like call them out or anything, but were there any times where you were, you got down the road a little bit and were like, oh, I don't know if this is actually a good fit for me, you know, on your side

Sadie:

Right. That's a good question. there's been a few times, I would say. But even when that happened, I would try to go into it thinking like, okay, this is interview practice. Or like, say I gotta take home or some like technical test, I would say, okay, this may be outta my wheelhouse, but I may, I'm still going to give X amount of time to it, just to see what I can learn from this, like take home or from this interview. From this interaction that I can then hopefully improve the next time I have an interview.

Dan:

I think that's an awesome attitude. I, you know, I've, I've, we've had several people suggest like taking interviews even when you're not actively looking, uh, for jobs, uh, sometimes to do that practice cuz, and it's just like, you both were saying it's, it's so hard and emotionally hard and also just like intellectually hard. And um, I feel, I mean, interviewing is absolutely a skill that is separate from everything else. Right. And, uh, like any skill, I think you can get better at it with practice. Um, but I, I love that attitude that you have. I mean, it's just like, okay, this might not be perfect or whatever, but I'm still gonna go through, and build up the skills or whatever. Uh, that's awesome.

Sadie:

mm-hmm

Bekah:

Yeah, it's really hard. Even that idea of like practicing an interview, you know, like going on practice interviews, I find to be incredibly. Overwhelming to. I have to mentally prepare myself and I'm trying to like, make that shift in mindset of, you know, what, there aren't stakes here. I'm not being judged. This is practice to learn something and, and try and flip it kind of like how you said where you're interviewing the company as well. Uh, because it's, it might not be a good fit. And I would say like, that's some of the most advice that I give to people who are interviewing for their first job, they're like, oh, well, what do you think about this? Like, That's a, that's a red flag. I wouldn't go through that. And I think maybe as I identify what red flags are, I will say the more I interview, the more I'm able to identify what flags are, because I put myself in situations where I'm like, this is great. And then I'm like, this is not great. And I should have been able to figure this out before I got into this position. Um, so at least like keeping track of that maybe feels like, all right, this is progress. I'm learning something. And. Next time. I'm never, never gonna interview for anything ever again. I've just, starting my own company next because I don't wanna have to go through that. But if, if, if in the off chance I do have to go through it, I, I really want to approach it with, uh, I'm interviewing you first. And, and that kind of like, um, changes the power dynamic in the situation. And I think kind of alleviates some of that stress that you get going into those interviews where it's like, somebody is staring at me right now. Well, like, Hey, I'm staring right back at you, buddy. So,

Sadie:

Right, right, exactly.

Bekah:

so how long did you prep for your, interviews?

Sadie:

Um, that's a good question. Uh, it would depend. Like I know when I was first starting out my job, my job hunting process, I would be really diligent about. Okay. I'm gonna like, make sure I have my list of questions. Ready. Make sure I like review the website, make sure I look at everybody and all this stuff, but the more I got like used to interviewing, I would say the less, I actually like sat down and prepped for the interviews. I don't know if I would recommend or not, but I don't know. I just, I guess I got just more comfortable, like being in that space of, okay, this is the thing that we're doing. Like we're both trying to gauge whether or not we're a fit and we'll see what happens from there. So if that makes sense.

Bekah:

Yeah, no, I love that. It shows that you're gaining confidence as you go forward and you've done these. So, um, you know, that, that's more, I think that, you know, that's also one of those issues where people who are continually interviewing are just pushing themselves so hard to do this prep over and over and over. And that also kind of leads to that situation of like you talked about like, Burning out in tech, there's definitely that burnout in the interview process. And so sometimes you have to take a break. And the other part of that is like, when you're interviewing so much, you don't have time to be working on personal projects or other things. It's like a full time job.

Sadie:

exactly. Exactly. Yeah. That was one of the tips that I got, um, while job hunting and with the career coach was that like, you can like stop trying to keep up with personal projects. Like this is what you need to be doing. Like once you secure your job, then you can start your personal projects back up and be like getting paid for it. But yeah, like the idea was that like, you could do both, but like you're probably better off, not so you can completely focus on like your time and energy on interviewing. And then when you're not interviewing, you can like be off and like live your life. So, yeah.

Bekah:

Yeah. I like the idea too, of like giving yourself permission. You can have permission. It's okay to not be working on these personal projects. And I even think that it's okay to take a break from interviewing, you know, I know that people feel like they're losing momentum or they're not ever going to be able to find the next interview if they're not doing it all the time, but you know, if you're burning yourself out before you start, then you're gonna start burnt out too. And that's not where you wanna.

Sadie:

very true.

Bekah:

So as you were looking for a job, uh, what was your method of applying? Were you applying? Were you reaching out to people personally? What kind of was the right direction for you?

Sadie:

Oh, that's a great question. Um, first I started off just applying. So I, I think I started off using like LinkedIn and maybe just LinkedIn at first, but then I started getting more plugged into like the different job sites, like remote and like different. Job boards cuz I knew I wanted to be remote. Um, then the further along I got into my like application groove, I started reaching out to hiring managers on LinkedIn and even like other engineers that were at companies that I saw were either hiring or that I thought would be interesting to work at. And from there I would try to make a connection and be like, Like I'm looking for engineering roles or I see that you have, um, like a software engineer role open, um, who should I talk to basically? And so sometimes I wouldn't get a response, which is fine, but when I did get a response, it would, um, usually I would get an interview and like be able to put a name to a face and like start a convers. So that, that was also another thing that I learned that I feel like I would probably do more of would be to actually reach out to people on LinkedIn and like have a conversation as opposed to just applying or even not even apply. Cuz I found that like sometimes I would play to a job and like have the conversation with the hiring manager and then. They would say, okay, maybe you're not so much of a fit for this role per se, but we have something coming down the pipeline that you may be a better fit for. And it just kind of opened my eyes of like, oh, like, wait a minute. Like, I just need to talk to people like this is, I feel like I unlocked a key, like, I didn't know this before, but yeah. Yeah, I would, yeah, that was very eye opening.

Dan:

So the people you were reaching out to

Sadie:

Mm.

Dan:

wait, explain to me again, like how you were choosing who to reach out to,

Sadie:

So I would okay. Say I would find a role that was interesting. So I would then go into LinkedIn and search the company name and then like quote, hiring or manager or director or. Something like some higher up or someone that's gonna be in the, um, like hiring panel or something. And then I'd pick someone whose title matched and then reach out to them. Yeah.

Dan:

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So you'd find a, you'd find a job opening on a, on a board or something like that, and then update, you'd do some homework yeah, that's really cool. I love that. Uh, that's a great, um, that's a great tip. I mean, and I think that's like a, I mean, Aside from the sneakiness of it seems like a really good, you know, like connecting with people is, uh, almost always a good thing, you know what I mean? And, and like, as long as I assume, you're, I'm sure you are doing it sort of respectfully and with some knowledge, you know, uh, and not just blasting out the same thing to everybody's, you know, whatever, uh, a million different people. Um, yeah, that's great. I love, I love that.

Sadie:

Yeah. Yeah.

Bekah:

It, it personalizes it, right? Because before you're a name on a sheet of a paper or an internet form or whatever, but now there's more, there's a face to it. There's a voice to who they're looking at and then hiring managers or whoever can make that connection, like, oh, okay. I know this person, you know, even if you haven't had an in depth conversation, there's something about like, oh, I do, there is already a connection there. Makes it you're, you're already a half, a step above in front of everybody else in that pile and that, you know, that can make the difference, you know? So is that the job that you're currently at, did that start with you reaching out to somebody.

Sadie:

no, it's funny. I, I saw that job in like a. Like an email list. It's called words of mouth, I believe. And they post like all these cool jobs, but, so I saw that one and then I was about to reach out to someone when someone in my bootcamp at school crush was like, Hey, you should apply to this job. Like we've been talking and they think that you might be a great fit. So I was like, okay, like, sweet. Like I just saw this job. So yeah, like it was again like that community connection of. Hey, like yeah. The community connection. Mm-hmm

Dan:

That's cool. they had already heard of you before you even had nice. Isn't funny, that the way that works out, lots of times where you've done so many applications and stuff, and then this, this one that actually it's like came about in some, some strange connection in some other way.

Sadie:

exactly. Exactly.

Bekah:

One of my favorite things is when people reach out to me and they're like, Hey, do you know anybody that would be good for this job? And then like, can like, yes, I do. You know, I think like I'm about to maybe submit my fifth referral to somebody somebody at DRA. I just like. Eventually somebody's gonna be a good fit and I'm gonna help them find it, you know?

Sadie:

yes. Yeah. You never know, like, yeah. I, I can only imagine, or like, even in being in that position of like someone having referred. Like the gratitude, like is immeasurable. So yeah, you're doing amazing work. Bekah.

Bekah:

Oh, thank you. I, I also like, well, I just wanna say too, when people reach out to me from the community and they're like, Hey, I wanna apply to this job. Would you mind like sending a DM on my behalf? Cuz I know you're connected with this person. And most times I do, sometimes there are people that I'm like, I've never. Been in a room with you or had a conversation with you prior to this point. So I don't feel comfortable with that. But, um, if I know somebody, if I've even, I would say there have been people that I probably haven't been in the same breakout room with, but would still recommend because I see how they interact with other people in slack, or I've heard them talk to other people on a luncheon during a luncheon learner, something like that. And I'm like, yeah, that person. Is awesome. Like they're really patient or they're really knowledgeable or they're really great at teaching. And so I feel comfortable being able to pass that along. And so if somebody is looking and you do have a connection to a community member that has a connection, then, then it's okay to reach out to them and ask them for a recommendation. And I've even had people in the past. When I was a teacher say, I need a recommendation. Do you, I wrote it already. Would you send this? So like, alright, I'm gonna change it up a little bit to put it in my voice, but I agree with everything you've said and it makes it easier on me, so sure. You know,

Sadie:

Yes,

Bekah:

I don't think that's cheating. I think it's just making it a little bit easier. And if the person feels comfortable sending it than they,

Sadie:

exactly. And like, you can say what you wanna hype up about yourself and then have someone co-sign that. So yeah, absolutely.

Bekah:

Mm-hmm. Dan, you were gonna say something and I interrupted you.

Dan:

Yeah. What do you think it was? Um, it was, oh, no, I was just gonna talk like harp about how networking, you know, like having a network of people that, you know, and could trust is, is so important with all this stuff, you know, cuz it's like that you found that reference and I've had people both. Knew they were hiring and, and asked me, you know, Hey, are you looking for like, whatever you look for a job or the same way as Bekah like, do you know anybody that would fit this role? Like we're, we're, we're looking to hire somebody. Um, it's the same kind of thing, you know, and if I, um, I love being able to help people, but also, like, I know, like I have just having a network, you know, I have this like large safety net almost, you know, of, if something fell, fell apart or whatever, you know, I, I know I have a bunch of people that I can. Lean on for helping support and stuff, uh, in the future. So I dunno. It's, it's cool. It's good stuff.

Sadie:

Mm-hmm

Bekah:

Yeah.

Dan:

I, all of my job all sorry. So I'm, uh, independent, but all of my, like clients I've ever worked for are all word of mouth, you know, um, like connections of connections, stuff like that. And it's always the, you know, and I, I work, I have, I have a network of people that do my kind of work and, um, It's always, this it's always the, those clients and are always the ones that are like the best clients. You know what I mean? As opposed to like the cold call ones or like where there's no connection at all before, and that's not to say it can never work obviously, but, um, and those, those like word of mouth connections are only come from, you know, building a, like I hate using, I don't know the word network is like, it's got like a bunch of weird connotations, you know? Um, cuz there's like a lot of bad ways to. Do networking, you know, like I've never like actively been like, I'm gonna go network now, you know? Uh, but that's what you end up with, you know, at different communities and, and things that they really are in network. It's, it's a good word that has been poisoned by, uh, I don't know, connotations other things. Yeah. I don't know. But, uh, anyway, that's all just to say, um, I don't know what it's just to say, other than the community is important. to the Virtual Coffee podcast.

Bekah:

Well, and community is a great way to gain experience too, along with connections, you know, I know there's a bunch of people that put Virtual Coffee experience on their resume. I, um, actually interviewed for a job a couple of years ago. And while I was interviewing, they were like, oh yeah, somebody else from Virtual Coffee is interviewing too. We talked about in the interview, I still don't know who that person is. Um, but I was like, huh, that's really interesting. I love it though. You know, it's great. Like everybody is giving back to the community in some way. And like, if, if the, their experience doing the support that they do at Virtual Coffee leads to a job, I love it. I am 100% here for that.

Sadie:

Mm.

Bekah:

No. Okay. So you've gone on all these interviews, you've done all these things. And I, we, we talked about how tough the interview scene is in tech, but are there any like good interview stories that you have or experiences that you're like? Well, I wouldn't mind having that one again.

Sadie:

Right. Yeah. Ooh. I think one that stood out to me was, I think it was a two part. Like the first interview was like me gathering a whole bunch questions. The space was set up that like, this is your time to ask us any questions that you have And so I was super excited about the role on the team. So I had like a whole list of like 40 questions and put it it's really embarrassing now, but I really, I, I put it up on GitHub and like, Created a repo of questions and shared it with them. And they're like, oh, this is so cool. And like little intimidated now. Cause you have all these questions prepared but it worked out cuz I, I passed to the next round and that next round was to present a project that I had been working on in kinda like talk to them about like the features or like why I built it and have a discussion on like maybe how it could be improved and things like that. So I thought, like it was super, um, collaborative and like, I don't wanna say low stakes, but it changed the ni dynamic, cuz it wasn't like me getting a take home. And then I had to get familiar with one of the directions that they want me to follow. And then also think of like, okay, how would I do this? And like, it's not that, but it was a project that I had made and like was excited about and wanted to talk to other people about. I had an opportunity to see how they would collaborate with me on projects and like how they would give feedback. And I don't know, it just felt like a, a more like big picture view of the interviewer or of me. And so, yeah, I would totally do that again. Like if all interviews could be like that,

Dan:

That's really cool. So they were, so it was to present some, just any random project that you had been working on personally. Yeah. That's love that idea cause gives you, yeah, it takes all the pressure off of the, um, like learning some unfamiliar thing and, but you can still see having to present it like that. Lets you. Sort of show off how, you know, much, you know, or what, like the kinds of things you think about that your thinking process is, which is the kind of stuff that you really wanna know when you're interviewing anyway, as like an interviewer you don't wanna know. I mean, I've personally like, it's like, okay, there's like different skill levels. People might, like, nobody knows everything. People might have holes in their knowledge. But the thing that you're always looking for is, uh, is like, uh, the ability to like think through problems and, you know, um, sort of. Be able to constructively like talk about things, right. And if you're talking about your own work, then you don't have to, you know, then you don't have to have the whole step of like, learning what it was and trying to guess what they were thinking or all Right. You know, you know what you were thinking right. Or like maybe, you know, but maybe you remember what you were thinking, but I like, that's a great idea. I like, I like that. I, uh, I don't think I'm ever gonna hire anybody, but I, I always like I love what I hear about things like that that are like a little bit different than everybody, you know, than, than the usual thing. Um, and try to take notes of 'em, but, um, yeah, that's nice. That's a cool one. Okay. So you said I'm gonna jump all the way to the now times you said you work for a federal agency and you do front end development. That I think that's really interesting. So are there, um, I guess my question is like, can you, are you able to talk a little bit about what that's like, like working in a government agency, especially doing front end stuff? I mean, I. That makes me think of like, uh, rules and, you know, oh, you have to like a bunch of regulations you have to follow or something like that. And maybe that's not the case, but like I, or yeah, or Bekah is gonna gonna call DARPA and, you know, get the aliens coming. Uh, but I just like, would like to hear about it. I'm just curious.

Sadie:

Yeah. That's that's yeah. Yeah. Um, so I just started in April, so I'm still trying to wrap up, like, what can I do and what can I do? But from my understanding that all federal websites need to follow a set of standards called the us web design standard. And. something that's created by, I believe by 18F they are like another, like, um, kind of like agency, not like agency, like big agency, but like they create the standards for websites across federal agencies if I understand correctly. But anyways, the us web design. It's kind of like, um, kind of like bootstrap where you put your classes into the HTML to make sure that the website is accessible. So like button sizes and like screen sizes and media queries and things like that are all sort of set by these standards and you just kind of drop it into the HTML. Um, yeah, I'm still trying to learn that, but yeah, outside of that, like, I, I. played too much outside of that. And like tried to really customize the website per se, because I inherited this, um, this website and the properties for the, for the agency. And so I don't have the really built out too much, like by hand. which is, um, good and bad

Dan:

Well, I mean like over time you'll yeah.

Sadie:

yeah, yeah, yeah. It'll take some time, but yeah, that, that's what I'm finding most interesting. Um, it seems like, uh, Jekyll is very favored and also, uh, all of, not all, but a lot of the websites are on GitHub, so you can actually see like how these sites are built. And if you want to like poke around, like it's all. Yeah.

Dan:

Nice. That's cool.

Sadie:

Yeah, yeah, yeah,

Dan:

Um,

Bekah:

using a lot of Jekyll. Is that what you said?

Sadie:

yeah. It's Jekyll yeah.

Bekah:

That's

Sadie:

yeah.

Bekah:

Both of my blogs are using Jekyll because I'm not really even sure that's the direction I went when I first started. And so I just kept going with it I feel like Jekyll this is Jekyll tangent. I love using Jekyll, but I feel like their documentation is terrible. And I keep hearing people that love Jekyll they're like, but their community is great. So you can ask lots of questions and they'll get. But I, I just want to read it in the documentation, just explain this to me, but also I've never like contributed to their documentation. So that's also something I should probably do instead of complaining about

Sadie:

I hear that. Yeah. I feel that.

Dan:

complain once in a while.

Bekah:

I'm done my rant. Sorry.

Dan:

Oh man. I, I just, that's very interesting. I mean, I've done, I've concentrated on the front end for, you know, my whole career. And so, but I've never worked with anything, you know, that have any external standards that anybody's looking at in any of the code. You know what I mean? Yeah. We try to like be as like accessible as possible and you know, all that stuff, but it's always just me. That's doing those and enforcing it on myself or whatever, you know, or, or any teammates that I'm working with, but it it's never coming down from above, you know what I mean? Um, and so that's, that's like gotta be in a really interesting experience, uh, to be in that role. Um, you know, and that's awesome that they're, uh, that they are doing to open source stuff. That's really cool. Um,

Sadie:

Yeah. There's a lot of open source of projects from the government.

Dan:

That's awesome. Yeah, that, that makes me like wonder. Yeah, just now you know, I always just assume that it's all like locked down and it's all, uh, whatever, super custom, you know, DARPA, DARPA static sites. Uh, but no, they're just open source season That's

Sadie:

exactly.

Dan:

So, yeah, that's cool. Thank you for sharing about that, that I find that really interest.

Bekah:

What do you like best about your job?

Sadie:

Oh, that's a good question. I don't know. I feel like I'm gonna get kind of meta, but that I am at a federal agency. um, it feels like it completes like a cycle or something because my grandmother and my grandfather were both in the army and my uncles were. In like the army and Marines. My mom retired military, like retired air force. And so I grew up in the military family and always like, had that like, Ooh, am I gonna join the military or not? Or am I gonna be like, a contractor or something? And I always felt like, nah, that's not for me. Nah, that's not, that's not what I'm gonna do. And I'm here. Like I'm a contractor now. So it's just like, oh wow. Like familiar cycles are, are a thing.

Bekah:

That's such a great story. that.

Sadie:

yeah. Yeah. It's so funny. Yeah. Like, um, yeah. My mom retired like two months out from my 18th. So like, it's like the military and like that connection is just like a part of my identity. And like, I feel like that's something that, like, not too many people know, it's like, I like I'm, I'm like looking around right now. You can't see this, but like where I am right now, I grew up actually on the military base. Like that's probably like five miles away from my house. And I don't know, it was just a lot of like, wow, like, Like, I've always been aware of contractors and like, just that relationship, but just now being on the other side and saying like, oh, like, huh, this is how, this is how it works. And like, I can also see like how intense it is to be in the military and like the, the sort of like expectations you have to fulfill that role. Like, like I came into. this job thinking like, oh, like now I can't like, be late for my job. Or I can't like take, take off work because that's what I saw my mom, like having to like, um, I guess fulfill or like be secure in her job, but that's, it's not like that at all. Like, I, I have a wonderful team that like respects work life balance and. people have kids and like, they understand like, you know, today's not the day, like just come back tomorrow and it'll be okay. Like that sort of thing. So yeah, it it's a, it's really deep, but yeah, that's my answer.

Bekah:

I like that. I mean, there's, there's familiarity there. Right. And then there's comfort that comes with that. And when you're talking about taking on a new job, it's really nice to be able to have something like that, where you can feel comfortable in some aspect of what you're doing.

Sadie:

Right. Exactly. Exactly.

Bekah:

Well, we're at just about time here is, is there any last piece of advice you have for our listeners who are prepping for interviews or leaving boot camps and about to discover the next stage of their journey? Uh,

Sadie:

Oh, that's uh, okay. I could say so much, but I hate to say like something trite, but like also like one trusted process and then two, you know, more than you think. Like, for example, I didn't know Jack at all, when I was interviewing for this job. One, I reached out to my community. So if you need a community, find your community, VC's here, but there's also others. And then two, like do what you can explain what you, what you did and like your thought processes. And if it's not the fit, it's not a fit, but you will find your job and you can do it.

Dan:

All of that. Trust the process.

Sadie:

Mm-hmm

Bekah:

Yeah, I love that. Thanks so much, Sadie, for being here with us today, we've grabbed all the links for the stuff that you dropped, including your, um, blog post on technical tests, preparation advice. And we'll put those in the show notes. And so thanks for being here.

Sadie:

Yay. Thank you. Thank you all. Thank you.

Dan:

Thank you for listening to this episode of the Virtual Coffee Podcast. This episode was produced by Dan Ott and Bekah Hawrot Weigel. If you have questions or comments you can hit us up on Twitter at VirtualCoffeeIO, or email us at podcast@virtualcoffee.io. You can find the show notes, sign up for the newsletter, check out any of our other resources on our website VirtualCoffee.io. If you're interested in sponsoring Virtual Coffee you can find out more information on our website at VirtualCoffee.io/sponsorship. Please subscribe to our podcast and be sure to leave us a review. Thanks for listening and we'll see you next week!


The Virtual Coffee Podcast is produced by Dan Ott and Bekah Hawrot Weigel and edited by Dan Ott.