Episode 46: The after life for a Maker. Is it hell or heaven?

When I was studying at Makers, at Week 3, I thought all the seniors who graduate disappear after finding jobs on the other side.

At Week 6, I realise that not all of them do but they all disappear to the mystical fourth floor given they would pop out from the blue.

At Week 7, I started making this joke that once seniors graduate, that we all be closer to heaven in getting jobs by going up to that floor.

At Week 9, I checked out the fourth heavenly floor for the first time and thought it was a pretty cool spot to get some work done and everyone was closer to their dreams.

It’s been a week since I graduated and having been on this heavenly floor for a few times, it’s not the heaven that I thought it was. In fact, I would describe it as a queue to try get into the VIP club. Depending on the way you dress, speak and ‘network with the bouncers’ determines whether you get in (i.e a job) or not. It sounds depressing but the great news is that the bouncers change every time. This means that even if you get rejected inside the club or outside the gate, there are always second chances to come back more prepared.

I don’t think it’s weird to be an alumni for Makers given that when a journey begins, a journey must end. However, it’s definitely weird to be an alumni for the 13th week of Makers Academy given it’s the first week adapting to alumni and that it’s also a very intense week.

Yes, there are in fact not 12 but 13 weeks of Makers Academy. Yeah, yeah I know the curriculum has changed but just add another extra week. This is because senior graduates of Makers Academy have begun their season and the 13th week is a very sped up process of the season.

That’s right. I’m talking about job-hunting season, and yes the blog title hints at what the debate of job-hunting is going to be.

Before I start my rant, it’s good to be doing something other that networking and sending messages on LinkedIn. It’s good to back writing after a week of intensity and recovery since graduation. To those who have been keeping up with my episodes, thank you for your support and still being here. I know its obvious that my plan to document my final project hit a few bumps but I promise a few blogs on the final project are on its way.

Job-hunting Season — is it heaven or hell?

Let’s go through the process from graduating to where I sit now, and outline the hellish and heavenly facts of the season.

On the last day of Week 12, or the last day as a senior, the whole morning is taken up by what it’s called the Career’s Fair.

The Career’s Fair…

is where a selected amount of companies come to talk to you about what they do, what they offer and why you should work for them. It’s also a time where you make the attempt to ‘start conversations’ with these companies and get them to ‘remember you.’ In short, the Career’s fair is a networking event.

However, unlike any networking event, why is this networking event more crucial? It’s because your opportunities to work for these companies is a unique way in. The Careers Team who supports you in getting a job has been selling you and gaining trust with these companies. Thus, when these companies are coming to see you, they already have a good impression that the people they are selling themselves to, are great people.

I would say that the opportunity is heavenly but the process is hellish, which is why I would suggest to anyone to not take it for granted for two reasons.

The first is that it can be extremely draining to talk and listen to people for four hours straight. For someone who is highly energetic and has an amount of energy even when she is most tired, even I needed a full hour break and full bowl of pho that day to recuperate.

The second is that given these companies are already partly interested in hiring you or ‘some of you’, you should be just as interested to find out about them. The best things you could for a Career’s Fair is to research about the company and ask questions. There’s always a question you could ask and simply by asking a question not only shows a company that you are interested but also puts you on a higher level compared to people who haven’t.

Plus, as a wise speaker which I will mention later said, job-hunting is not about asking a company for a job, it’s about asking them questions to figure out whether the job is right for you.

When the season begins:

The day you are recovering from your hang-over given you celebrated way too much with your cohort after your presentation is when the job-hunting season begins. If you are applying for jobs from companies who were at the Career’s Fair, I would say you have a day to recover and then get on with the applications.

You have to write why you want the job and why the company should hire you , and then choose your preferences by the two-three day deadline. If you then get told by the career’s team that you got the interview, then you probably have one or two days to prepare for that interview. Putting that aside, you are also experiencing a strange week with your cohort considering that you are competing with them for jobs from these companies as well.

If I would debate, yeah I would say the week I experienced was quite hellish as it was a rollercoaster of having to be available and anxious all the time. However, the opportunities you get a heavenly for a developer who has only had three months of experience. I suppose such heavenly opportunities that come will never be a a piece of cake served on a silver platter.

However, there’s more to this 13th week right?

It’s also the time beyond that till you succeed at getting a job. The season will continue until one hunts the job and in many people’s eyes is quite hellish because…

As a Maker graduate, you will never be sure what companies are specifically looking for and what is the “skill-par” level that companies expect you to have.

It’s not the end of the world considering Makers Academy is well-known network and that you have a whole team supporting you. However, it’s daunting to never be sure of something so crucial and it can really fester inside one’s soul when job-hunting. In moments like this, is when you have to empower optimism in yourself to be proactive as that’s a weight that can pull you down very quickly.

If I could put an analogy to what this situation is like, is like the first time when you go to Disneyland. Going to Disneyland is exciting, its an adventure, it’s all good times when you think of all the fun things that are coming your way. However, then you get bogged down slightly realising that your friends only paid for a few days and you may not cover all the rides on your vacation.

How would one know which rides are the most important to experience and which will be more worth it to make this a heavenly experience?

  • You look what entices you on the map
  • you ask people about what rides are the best
  • you look online for reviews about the rides
  • you carry on trying to find out what’s the most important rides to experience or things to do to figure it out for you.

I know I side-tracked on the analogy but you get my point.

As a Maker who has only trained for three months, we’re entering an exciting world that is our oyster. It’s in demand for software developers and there is so much out there we could grab. Plus, we don’t want to turn into a grumpy pants when we figure out we can’t ride all rides at Disneyland because we want it to be a fun memory with our friends or family right!

So, as the adults as we are and in moments where we want to prevent hitting the point of being desperate and forgetting our values for a job, this is my choice of actions on what can make you proactive in job-hunting, and thus make job-hunting like going to Disneyland.

Ways to be pro-active whilst job-hunting to make it a heavenly experience rather than a hellish one.

I would say that if you can aim for the balance to get at least three of these things done everyday, that is already good progress. It’s definitely not easy to discipline yourself to do a bit of everything everyday but feeling guilty that you didn’t network enough and kept building stuff, visa-versa is not a nice feeling to have. Hence, I suppose these are here to encourage you to do something in your job-hunting process if you are currently feeling stuck.

[A big note here, all of these things might not be right for you and don’t take all of it to heart since these are the results I’ve come out with after experiencing the hunt for one week ]

Networking

I went for an hour’s talk by the COO of Makers, Ruben Kostucki (shoutout to him) to get his insights of ways to apply for a job. Hearing the approaches from a very street-smart guy definitely puts networking on the beneficial highlight of keeping pro-active with job-hunting.

The best way to find out what role suits you best, what working in a tech company is like and getting opportunities is talking to people. Yes. Surprise surprise, it’s not clicking the “Apply” button on websites!

The reason why networking is so important, is because to start a conversation is a pivotal way for you to get recognised and interested by a company. Now, a conversation isn’t always about putting yourself out there and your work. For instance, a conversation start by you trying out their stuff on the company’s Github repo, asking for coffee to get advice on working for a tech world or showing someone how to use a coffee machine.

There are many creative ways to start a conversation, and learning that game takes effort and practice to get it right. However, for its results of getting the company interested in you rather than a paper application is worth it so start going to events and making LinkedIn your new Facebook.

Research & Questions

Which brings me to the next points. What if you are on LinkedIn trying to connect with someone and wondering “what do I even say?” Well, a good way to show interest in a company or working in tech world, is having good questions after you have researched the company well.

When job-hunting, it’s always good to have a basis of what the company does and what else you would like to know about them. It’s a great conversation starter and people in the tech community are willing to help you considering you are a developer who’s only begun their journey as developers.

In fact, it’s better to research and come up with questions for 3 companies a week than applying for 10 companies. Plus, showing your curiosity to work for the tech business doesn’t hurt either.

Side-Projects

I had a phase where I got dreaded with researching and connecting with people immensely and wanted to do something else.

Uh, I have a great one! Side Projects! Not only are they fun to build, but they can be anything you want and they can be beyond silly. It’s a great way to cement your knowledge about a language, familiarise yourself with a previous technology, get to know a new technology and work collaboratively! Perhaps, there’s a developer (whether better or different) that you always wanted to work with, and hey, that’s killing two birds with one stone. Networking and Side-Projects whoa!

If anything is more therapeutic and supporting to aid in the job-hunt, it’s Side Projects. Trust me, I did for one day and it felt so good to actually feel like a growing developer than a growing networker.

Self-Promotion

Now, all of us can’t lie in this situation but we all do like to show ourselves off just a bit. Well, part of the job-hunting game is to do that which gives you the permission to do so.

Get all your social media out, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and just promote yourself. Tell the world that you finished this amazing course and that you are looking for a job. Play the endorsement game with your cohort to show your support for others and show others how skilful you are. Write a blog post about an event you went to, your final project and say how it all went! Although that’s currently a small part of the reason why I’m blogging now, it helps because it puts your voice out there to other growing developers or other scouting developers.

I believe blogs are a very therapeutic way to get your stress and emotions out, and talk about your viewpoints on tech topics. It’s also a good way to show what you learnt and reflect on the journey you are going on every day as well. Ahh, working hard and taking care of yourself…hard?

Giving things a Go

Last but not least, I would say whether they are opportunities or events to give them a go. One of the ways you are going to be more knowledgable about what you want to work on in the tech industry is just by experience.

You may not know what will happen, you may not know what they expect and you may not know what you are about to experience, but giving things a go could do all the above for you in one moment of time and will make your decisions more solid than they were yesterday.

I went to my first coding event yesterday and I did a small side projects, networked with some Makers and found out more about working in different companies like the V&A and how there are technologies focused on “functional programming.” All in the span of four hours I tell you, and it came with free lunch.

On that note, I shall end it there given how I’m still recovering and excuse me whilst…

Fun fact of the Day:

Speaking about the COO of Makers, Ruben, his talk and job-hunting overall, I shall leave us with a helpful, quirky and inspiring quote from him to help us all in the hunt.

“Ask for a job, you’ll get advice.
Ask for advice, you’ll get a job.”