Daniel Kmak

@danielkmak

How I used Stack Overflow & GitHub to get dream job before 19 without degree

Hey, my name’s Daniel, I’m 18. I have no degree in IT. I’ve just written my mature exams. I have two dream, very well paid jobs. I’m full-time front-end developer and part-time remote Ember.js consultant.

No doubt, I got my two jobs thanks to Stack Overflow and GitHub. Here’s how I used these great sites to get:

  • reputation employers would respect
  • attention necessary to be invited to 10–15 video-call interviews by interested companies, mostly remote oriented
  • part-time remote Ember.js consultant job
  • full-time front-end developer job

GitHub

GitHub helped me to get not one, but two jobs! I’ve used GitHub as my advantage when I was on technical interview about my skills for part-time consultant job. Also, when I was considered for full-time front-end position I hold now, I was asked to give link to my GitHub account.

You need something to hold in your hand when you face employer. They require from you knowledge of specific language, framework, but also it’s very important for them to see that the only thing you and spaghetti have in common is your diet.

See Spaghetti code.

GitHub is a place where you can show your code. For example, when you learn new technology, go create a repository with some small proof of concept how to leverage that technology and upload it to GitHub. This approach has four benefits:

  • You can use it as proof that you know technology, language, framework
  • People see you write good code, you can structure it, you know OOP, you write SOLID, clean code. Recruiters can show that to the team and they can decide if they want to interview you (first technical)
  • You have at least basics of Git — you maintain repositories on GitHub
  • Recruiters send mails to you, using some automation, based on in which languages you have repositories on GitHub. I have received about 10 mails this way. So, if you have C# repository then it’s possible you will receive offer for C# position. Of course, email from recruiter isn’t anything big, but can get talks going. And you’re in position where they’ve reached out to you, not vice versa. Trust me it’s easier.

I’ve done that. I’ve received these offers. I didn’t follow this with all of my projects — some of them were created privately on GitLab. I had hopes for selling them in future, but didn’t manage to finish it. However now I regret it it’s not public. If I will release it as open source with small documentation how it works and screenshots, then it will start to work for me as my portfolio.

My repositories on GitHub.

I have also contributed to various, mostly Ember related repositories. Sometimes it was documentation, sometimes it was code. It’s useful to tell that you’ve contributed to something big on interview. But in my case it were minor improvements.

My commits to Ember.js repository.

Stack Overflow

Few years ago I’ve believed that Stack Overflow is the most reliable way to get me job without university. I was right.

How did I know? I’m all hype about open source. I’ve read that employers measure your skills by looking at Stack Overflow account. It’s not that easy. But, when I was in talks with my current company, for full-time job, almost 10k reputation (back then in June), combined with my age, was enough for this wow-effect on employer’s face. They’ve decided to try me. Thank you, Stack Overflow!

Stack Overflow account overview, August 2016.

I’ve created things with all kinds of languages and frameworks. Game server list in ASP.NET & Mono, tower defense desktop game with XNA, Java server, C# WPF client etc. The only thing that links my interests is probably using web to get or send data.

My best card in the deck is Ember.js. I’ve started learning it when I was 16 (in 2013), after I’ve watched this truly outstanding video by Yehuda Katz from San Francisco HTML5 conference. So I had my goal, learn Ember, I needed more motivation and determination. Quote from this video was in my head since I’ve heard it for first time.

Whatever you do, be passionate about it.

True. Back to Stack Overflow. First, when I was learning, I was looking for answers there. Then I started answering them — to get reputation. I had my tab open with new questions appearing and I was trying to be the fastest gun in the west and answer them first — when it comes to more popular topics — such as JavaScript. In Ember it was easier. I had lots of time to write my answers and analyse complex problems. There are less people answering questions in this tag.

After some time I was top 1 in last 30 days. I had attention, I had mails with job opportunities. One of them was part-time remote Ember.js consultant position. I’ve received offer because I helped a person on Stack Overflow in Ember tag. True story. Here’s proof.

Fragment of email.

Later I had technical interview about my understanding of Ember. I passed. I’m Ember.js consultant for Techolution since November 2015.

It’s also very important that you create Stack Overflow careers profile. Two reasons here:

  • You get cool CV with your achievements from Stack Overflow included like amount of your answers
  • Employers can find you and message you there, so far 2 employers have reached out to me on that website, but both were very serious and direct offers
My Stack Overflow CV.

Conclusion

Believe in yourself, work hard. Document your skills on GitHub and Stack Overflow. Contribute to open source repositories, create your own. Get people to know you. Show them you’re living somewhere and you’re capable of doing awesome things. Show them you have passion. In IT, recruiters work hard each day to find people like you. Make their lives easier.

Thanks for reading. Please recommend it if you like it. :) If you have different opinions or maybe great stories to share please comment! I’m happy with all the feedback!

Would you like to read more? Be the first to see other stories at danielkmak.com/blog!

If you would like to talk go ahead and drop me email: contact@danielkmak.com. ☺

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