How do I become a more hirable programmer? I go to a good, but not top 10, CS university and I get good grades. I’m a junior applying for internships this summer, but I haven’t had much success. Who should I talk to? What can I learn/do on my own?

How do I become a more hirable programmer? By getting more hirable experience!

How do you get the real world experience to make you hirable if nobody will hire you without experience in the first place?

Master this 3 step guide that will make you a more hirable and fun programmer in half the time others usually take.

Being a great learner with a CS degree is great, but you will be hired to so some work. It is that work that you need to prove you have done before or you are capable of doing.

1. Make friends

This is another way of saying - network!

Most developers find it a little harder to get started after learning the basics because nobody important actually knew them.

You can be known by a bunch of guys but for these relationships to turn helpful to your career, they have to be relevant.

Now that you are out of college, you need to touch base with you colleagues so that you keep yourself in their radar for anything cookie. Get to connect with them on LinkedIn as well.

Then your next stop with a lower barrier to entry is you local tech meetup groups, check yours here Meetup . The good thing about this is that you will most likely find your age mates as well as more senior developers/programmers who are directly relevant to your career.

Make connections with these people somehow.

It is from here that you can find

  • a developer who knows someone who is hiring, or
  • programmer who will connect you with a startup that needs an intern, or
  • a buddy who would be willing to have you work with them on their project as you learn and gain experience.

Don’t try to fight this battle alone, all by yourself, because there are people who are willing to help you and make your life easier.

If you have the right connection, you might succeed to get a job as a junior developer with a company that is willing to pay you to learn on the job hence making your troubles easier to chew.

2. Build a portfolio

Without the relevant experience under your belt, please don’t start looking for a programming job.

You are technically a spammer, spamming people’s inboxes around the city in the name of looking for a job.

You might even hurt your chances of success when you later have the right experience.

Someone might tell to just try you luck, you might be the luck one. No, stop it.

You won’t be the luck one. This is actually a time bomb that is about to explode right on your face. This is a recipe for frustration, anger, disappointment and a huge ego killer.

How could you possibly send out 400+ job applications and nobody responded to you and then still maintain your cheer? It will just make your life appear harder than it should be.

So how do I build my portfolio really, and you’ve told me to keep of the job boards?

Here are 4 ways to get started building your portfolio:

i). Take freelance projects

You need any project to get stated.

A company might be more critical of your lack of experience. So, seek to build something for your friends or family. Depending on your expertise, this could be a mobile app, desktop app or web app.

It is from these projects that you will be able to ask for recommendations to include in your profile that will make you look credible.

Many a time you might have to do a few projects for FREE. Don’t do more than 3 projects for free or you risk tainting your reputation.

After this, or if your family or friends are not a viable option, approach local businesses in your town.

Begin with startups, the ones who claim to have low budgets, they will be more receptive. They are less likely to reject you.

Seek a way you could automate their business with an app or website and pitch them with the idea, and let them by your idea. The pay might be low, but don’t sweat - it won’t be that forever. Once you have the experience, you can ask for industry rates.

ii). Contribute to open source projects

Taking on freelance development projects might not be the best way to go in all situations.

Sometimes your locality, personality or legal restrictions might prove a wrote match.

Take on open source projects in your programming language of choice or expertise.

Remember contributing to open source projects doesn’t necessarily mean you have to code. There are a couple of things you might do like

  • write/edit the documentation
  • translate the documentation to another language you are good in
  • perform test cases and report bugs

But if you are seeking to build credibility as a coder then lean more on the side or coding tasks.

GitHub contributions makes you look more credible and therefore more hirable as a programmer.

iii). Volunteer for an NGO

This might be a long range shot depending on your current situation, but it’s another great way to put yourself in front of potential employers without appearing intrusive.

You are not applying for a job. You would like to offer free services in appreciation of the cause they care about. In exchange you learn and get free publicity.

If you learnt to code through it is easy to get placed for a coding project for an NGO, that might later turn into a full time job.

iv). Seek to be an intern

Yes, I have put this point here again even though you’ve mentioned that you already applied for internships without success.

How are you applying for internships?

Well, I think you checkout a company website online and think they are a great fit and fire your CV.

That hasn’t worked. Embrace plan B.

Ask for intern opportunities from your friends, family and connections that are relevant. You might not exactly get internship as a coder/programmer but anything related to IT will be a great way to get your foot at the door.

If the company hires programmers, then you are sure you could be able to shift departments from within than from without.

You will look hirable as a programmer if you already worked with them somehow and they liked your work ethic.

3. Ask for a job

Ask and it shall be given unto you.

You worked hard to garner all the portfolio I mentioned above, with the right and relevant connections and think that they should now approach you with offers and you select your best.

This might not be the case.

Approach them and ask for possible leads for an internship or job.

Asking someone directly for a job is off putting, so don’t directly as “Please give me a job!

Approach this more soberly by stating clearly what you are looking for and then asking for their recommendations, ideas or possible leads.

That way you will keep the friendship warm as you look, otherwise you might make you connections to start avoiding you.

Happy coding!

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