Arthur Tkachenko

@arthurtkachenko

How I Built My Startup Team with Interns

Part One

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

I think that many people have been in similar situations: You want to increase the number of your team members. A friend or family member asks you to help and hire a cousin/child who wants to code but have limited commercial experience. And you get a warning light in your mind:

Should I do it? Should I help?

This could pose a problem and the first thought in your mind is: Am I willing to lose a friend or fall out of favor with a family member? No… to both questions

In my case, I don’t have to make that choice. I’m building my project without funding and I only have two options:

  • I could code myself and probably go insane
  • Form a team around me
  • The third option would be to get a job, but …)
  • The fourth option is to get funding, but …)
I can form a team of interns, who WANT TO LEARN and I’m ready to teach. Later, when they are able to work on small tasks, I’ll assign these tasks to them and move my project forward, and this is the way these interns give back.

This was my assumption, back to Oct 2017….My story is about how I tried to find interns in bulk can be easily followed in various websites. And a few times (around 80%) I was banned.

[AngelList]

I wrote and sent a bunch of similar messages to a different number of people. I have hinted that maybe … I was reported by my fellow countryman. I think there is a 50% probability because he was angry with me due to my “stupid sales” technique and follow-up messages. And I got reported. Support didn’t remove me completely from a platform. I work hard and have a good profile with a nice number of connections. But they froze me, and I couldn’t add any new connections to my network. I could only follow new people.
Job sections however still worked well. And I still got new applicants.

[Treehouse]

I was there too and got good help from support. They advised me to write in their forum. But in order to get access to it — I should be registered and paying customer fees for their courses.

[Freebootcamp]

It was a strange situation. I think that my messages there would be relative because it’s a website where students learn how to code and where they can seek jobs. It has an active forum, where people share their job-seeking experience in Tech, but I couldn’t write there too. Or maybe I needed to be smarter. I created a long post with a detailed explanation of what I was looking for. And I immediately got “locked” because of the violation of their terms. I also think that sometimes people, working as admins and moderators are getting personal. But rules are rules.

[Github]

At some point in the summer of 2018, I figured out one lifehack.

I’m an active GitHub user too, and there a lot of students.

Students keep their code at repositories. Usually, a tech student who learns to code via online courses stores his homework code publicly. And usually they keep titles or keywords up-to-date, so it’s easy to find someone by tech stack, the name of the e-learning platform or the famous course name. A lot of recruiters search at Github, so there is nothing new.

I decided to write to these students without any hesitation. I created a task, with the title — “Let’s collaborate” and promoted my work in basic sentences. Maybe I should have been smarter ( once again ).

Do you know that you can find an email of a person who keeps their code publicly? Read about it here:
* https://github.com/paulirish/github-email
* https://www.sourcecon.com/how-to-find-almost-any-github-users-email-address-2-0/

I don’t think that this is a good idea and I hope that Github will close this loophole. If I had used this “trick”, I don’t think I would have been banned.

I send a message/create new similar issues at repositories of 100–200 people. And after that, I got banned for 1,5 months. I was upset. All my work right now stored there. And support has a fun way to teach me. They hide all created issues by me.

In order to be unblocked — I should remove that spammy title and replace issue content with “.”. For all of that “spam”-issues. And I really work hard in order to clean up that mess. But I also have some rest. Whole work was paralyzed. So few weeks I was just laying down reading the Harry Potter series.

I think you understand at this point of the reading article, that I don’t want to be tied up to some platforms.

Each project has its rules and it’s hard to not broke them or didn’t violate something.

They grow, they change their terms and you actually didn’t owe anything.
At any second that you violate terms and you’ll be punished. And it’s hard to adapt right now. Maybe this will change in the future.

So don’t use one major source(don’t keep all eggs in one basket). But, to be honest, in a long run, it can work. I was limited and cannot actively network at AngelList from June, but I still receive inquiries from a new people, that want to apply. But I’m slow-rolling anyone right now.

This is why I want to have my own separated source of new interns. Each project has its rules.

Some numbers
I didn’t count it precisely from the summer, but from the beginning, I send about 2500 requests to students. A lot of them was interested. Active was 200–230. I set up about 120 interviews and about 60 join me and start to help me with my project.

Students learn using the same courses/tutorials that I find and use or made myself. People that didn’t leave in the middle of working on these courses — they became ready to work with real tasks. And start to code with me on my project. If they didn’t give up quickly, then after touching/collide with “real world” development tasks, in a few months they will start to use that knowledge.

It will increase their self-confidence. After this period they start to attend interviews again and with upgraded confidence in their skills and maybe with my experience certificate -> they quickly land a real full-time in-office job with a salary.

And I’m happy about it. I’m blessed to have an ability to help them and clean up my karma.

Please Clap if this was interesting to read. Ask questions, if you want.
The next article will contain some advice, observations, conclusions, that I made during the last year, working with interns.
Btw, One of my next ideas was about creating an education project. It will be focused on mastering skills. Not just give students to “eat” tutorials, that will be buried in their GitHub accounts, but helping them with facing a real-time experience. Educate students to code in a practical way
So if this idea worth exploring for you -> buzz me. I will be happy to chat or get any help or advice.
Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

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