Graduated! Job Searched! HIRED!

So it’s been juuust a bit since my last update… In the words of Bill the Butcher:

billTheButcher

Life certainly happens.  I want to continue to document my progress and experiences so far, but I also want to put up all the little tidbits I learn along the way as well.  Before getting into that, here’s an update on where I am.

I finished my class at General Assembly!  It was a long and challenging 3 months, but it was also extremely rewarding and fulfilling.  I have plenty of thoughts on GA as a whole, which I’m happy to discuss if anyone has any questions.  There were parts I liked and parts that I was pretty turned off by.  Here’s a quick breakdown:

Things I enjoyed:
   – Lots and lots of learning.  Almost every day we walked away with a new skill.  It was truly an awesome and rewarding feeling. (These feelings were kept in check with frequent feelings of stress and inadequacy.)

  • During the class, good outcomes support(this is basically preparing for you the job search.)  They helped guide us in a variety of areas to better “sell ourselves.”  This included changing our resumes, updating LinkedIn, etc.
  • Cool environment to be a part of.  It’s pretty rare as an adult to be so committed and “all in” for something.   Everyone is in the same boat.  Most people in the class are attempting to completely alter their career and life trajectory, and so a unique bond is formed pretty quickly.

Things I think could use improvement:

  • Ensuring students all have a similar starting point.  It’s fine if people are further along skills wise, but there should be a minimum baseline skill level that people should have.  There was pre work that everyone was “encouraged” to complete, but no real test that you needed to pass to get in.  This meant some people were significantly behind the curve.  This in itself isn’t a problem, everyone comes in at different levels.  But it was tough at times during class when you get paired with someone for a lab or a project and they don’t have the basics down because they didn’t complete the pre work.  I think that needs to be looked at.
  • Very limited feedback on my code.  I was able to get stuff working and meet the requirements and made some pretty cool stuff (in my humble opinion of course), but for the most part I didn’t know if I was adhering to best practices, if I was writing sloppy code, whether or not someone would read my code and think “hey, this guy sucks! I can’t hire him!”  I wanted someone to tell me if what I was writing was good or not.
  • Feeling misled about the program in a few ways.  I can delve deeper into this if anyone is curious, but in short – they made it seem like we’d have frequent one on one’s for code review and feedback, that we’d have a dedicated homework reviewer, and a few other things.  These were all partially true, but definitely not as advertised which led to me feeling misled.
  • The makeup of our class’ teachers.  Don’t get me wrong, I really liked our teachers individually and thought they each had their own strengths, I just thought it was an odd pairing.  We had one teacher who went through bootcamp and had a dev job for a year before coming back to teach.  The more seasoned teacher was great, but was unable to be present all the time due to other teaching conflicts as a professor.  We also had a TA who was enthusiastic and wanted to be helpful, but again lacked teaching experience and dev experience.  Having a more senior teacher that was able to be present in that makeup would have been a much more productive learning environment.

Anyway, I’m done!  And then it was job search time!  And that process SUCKS.  There’s really no way around saying it other than that.  It’s truly a grind.  A full-time, 40+ hours a week grind, full of disappointment, silence, and if you’re lucky – rejection.  Truth is, most companies don’t even have the common courtesy to send you a “nah, we’re good” email.  I could write 2,000 words about the job search and advice, but I’ll hold off for now.  Maybe in the future…

Eventually, I landed a job!  I opted for looking for roles other than the jobs most of my peers searched for and ultimately landed – Web Developer, Software Developer, or Software Engineer.  I didn’t want to sit with my head down 40+ hours a week and code away.  I knew I’d miss the social aspect of the development world I experienced at bootcamp.  I loved learning collaboratively and working with and talking to others.  I wanted to not only keep learning new things, but teach others and get others enthusiastic about this cool stuff out there as well.  So I looked for different types of roles that combined both the development skills and social aspects.  After wondering if jobs like that existed and talking to many different developers, I learned that it does exist!  Enter my search for “Sales Engineer” roles!

I’m currently employed as a Sales Engineer with a fintech startup-turned-small-company called ChartIQ.  It’s an awesome company that focuses on one thing – making financial charting software.  Basically, we make charts that people use to analyze stock market data.  I knew literally nothing about the financial world before starting, so it’s been a cool experience in that regard.  Truth be told, I still know very little about the stock market world.  As a teacher, I never really had spare money to invest and watch it grow.  Poor teachers 😦  And I mean that in multiple ways.

As a Sales Engineer, I basically serve as a hybrid role of developer and co salesperson during the sales process.  What’s great is I don’t have to get involved in pricing or convincing anyone to buy anything necessarily, but rather answer any technical questions a prospective client may have and get them excited about our software.  It’s an awesome job that keeps me learning and smiling every day.  Yesterday I was on two sales demos video chatting with people in India and Europe, then I fixed a bunch of bugs in our library.  It’s a really fun mix of skills.  A few days earlier, I was in the Yahoo Finance office with our CEO talking to them about using our charts in their platform.  It’s been amazing being involved with some of the big companies ChartIQ works with.  Sometimes I still think to myself during these meetings, “How the hell did I end up in this room?”  But I’m extremely glad I am.

So that’s where I am now.  Gainfully employed and continuing to expand my knowledge.  I’ve been on General Assembly alumni panels to talk to other bootcampers about the process.  I’ve continued going to meetups and meeting other folks in the tech world.  The people of the development world are a fun and enthusiastic bunch, thirsty for new knowledge.  I’m excited to continue acting as a sponge and soaking in all that I can.

Until next time,

Sean

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