How To Impress A Potential Employer When You Have No Professional Coding Experience
Leave a lasting impression and show off your tech skills with these four tips.
Read Time: 4 Mins
Developers are in high demand, but it can be very challenging to get your first programming job. When you have no professional experience to show, the key to landing your first job is to prove that you can code and have the necessary skills for the job. Showing a potential employer concrete examples of your work is a lot more powerful than just telling them that you can do the things you listed on your CV.
Create side projects
Having a portfolio of projects is the best way to showcase your coding ability. A portfolio of apps not only demonstrates your proficiency, but it also gives your employer a sneak peek into the type of programmer that you are. Experienced programmers can make a lot of inferences based on the code that you have written. Do you write tests? Is your code clean and readable? What was your approach to the solution?
You will want to show off the best of your abilities in these projects. If you're applying for a role that uses a specific technology, build an app that uses it and highlight that project on your CV.
Creating a handful of apps in one go can be very daunting, so I recommend building small projects gradually as you are learning. Always push your work to an online repository like GitHub where other people can view it. Once you have gained enough skills to create more complex apps, flaunt your abilities by building an entire application from start to finish. Make sure that you deploy a demo that other people can play around with. GitHub allows you to do this using GitHub Pages.
Improve your Github profile
Your Github profile can also act as an online portfolio for your work. Many software developers are judged by their Github profile because it shows what projects they have committed code to, how often they commit, and how popular their code is. Make sure to include readmes on your projects so that viewers can easily understand what your app is about and how to run it. A lot of technical interviewers look up an applicant’s GitHub profile during the selection process. Make sure that yours represent you well.
Contribute to open source
Contributing to open source is the best way to show that you have a good grasp of Git , and more importantly, that you can collaborate with other developers. As a bonus, you will also learn a lot from other experienced developers. Contributing to open source teaches you how to understand and extend existing code, open a pull request, communicate with others, and merge branches to master which are all skills used by professional developers daily. If you're still too intimidated to commit code, you can start by improving the project's documentation. Try fixing small things first, then work your way up. High-profile open source projects may be too big and complicated for a beginner, so try to find a smaller and easier to understand one that you are genuinely interested in. CodeTriage can help you get started by selecting a handful of open issues that are available to be worked on.
Give a tech talk
Another way of proving your skills is to give a tech talk on the topic. Speaking about a topic forces you to research the subject thoroughly. It requires you to think about how to explain it to the audience, its pros and cons, and your experiences with it. You will come away from giving the talk with a deeper understanding of the topic and an increased confidence in public speaking. Don't worry about the audience knowing more about the subject than you do. There will always be a handful of people who'll find your talk very informative.
Having professional experience isn't necessary to demonstrate your skills. The actions cited above certainly take time and effort. Fortunately, most employers appreciate that, and it proves that you have what it takes to do the job and the motivation to get it.
Jam Creencia is a freelance front-end developer currently based in London. She worked in Australia as a nurse before realising that coding is her true passion. Not long after, she quit nursing, attended a coding bootcamp and secured a role as a software developer. She hasn't looked back since. After working with ThoughtWorks Australia, she sought new challenges in London to work in startups and travel Europe. Having gone through a career change herself, she aspires to help other women that are keen to get into the tech industry.
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