You wanna know how to land your dream job?
Network your butt off.
Joe Warren, who's a Software Engineer at one of the leading financial services company in the U.S. is proof that this method works.
The tech industry like most industries is super competitive, but after spending time and energy learning about this space and perfecting his skills, Joe has been able to work with top companies like USAA, and now spends his time there as a Software Engineer II, working on UI and services features.
Recently we connected with Joe and learned more about him and his advice for other software engineers.
On getting into tech
I received my degree in business administration, with a focus in marketing, and a minor in music. Music was always my first love - I spent 14 years playing piano and doing other things in the music capacity. I got introduced to the world of code by playing a game that was focused on hacking. It sparked my curiosity and it made me really interested in how someone could build a career doing this.
From there I started researching about learning how to program, but didn’t really make a lot of moves in having a career in this space. About 3 years later, I still couldn’t shake off my interest in learning how to code so I literally googled “Coding Events in Dallas”, RSVP’d to every event I could find, and started going to events to be around people in the space and to increase my learning. I ended up getting introduced to the Free Code Camp meet up, and I went through their curriculum. I also went through Dev Mountain and learned more about coding and was able to work on several projects and apps. From there, I had a web developer internship at Call-Em-All, and then started working as a software engineer at USAA.
Joe's experience with the interview process
It was a little difficult for me to get into the tech industry. The interview process and the periods in between jobs was an experience on its own. Before I was job searching, I was really intentional about building up my visibility by writing articles or creating videos on LinkedIn. I also was a proponent for networking at meetups so that when it was time for me to look for work, people would already know me. This worked in my favor in the beginning of my job search because I was able to get in front of people for the interview.
I would do really well on the phone screen with recruiters and could easily talk about my passion and background. From there by the time I got to the last round of interviews, the interview would go really poorly because I was spending more time building my web development skills, but in the interview, they would ask me more textbook, computer science type of questions that I wasn’t as familiar with.
As more people are graduating college without studying computer science and are going through coding bootcamps, it’s important that companies are reevaluating how they interview developers or software engineers. It’s critical that they adapt to how the world is moving and interview more based on the developers skills and how they can apply it to day-to-day work.
Advice for software engineers
Network and raise your visibility. It’s important that you are networking with people that work in industries and at companies that you want to work with. Next, increase your visibility by doing things like speaking at events or writing articles. Be active on social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn - this is where a lot of recruiters hang out. This will help you present your market value to the public.
When it comes to increasing your knowledge, know that the internet is a gift and a curse. There are so many resources so you have to be careful with who you learn from. Free Code Camp is a great resource, and I listen to several podcasts as well that helps me from a technical level and others that are more advice-driven. CodeNewbie is a podcast that I often listen to.
Code-switching is a thing and I think people like us deal with it because we are often one of the only ones in the room. For me, initially, I'll get a feel of the room and unconsciously I think I may adjust how I speak, but then I throw that out the window and I’m just myself. I know that at the end of the day, I know what I have to offer and my skillset and personality is undeniable. While yes I’ll use slang and at times I'm visibly different from other people around me, I don't dwell on it because it’s what makes me ME. I love who I am, I’m confident, and I’m good at my job so I try to be intentional on not code-switching or altering my personality.
To connect with Joe, follow him on LinkedIn!