Persevering In Your Job Search - Matt Kelly, Web Development Cohort 25

May 25, 2021
Mandy Arola
Matt Kelly of Web Development Cohort 25“We’ve all had to persevere through things in life, your job search is no different. You have to be mentally tough, especially as your classmates get jobs. You have to own your job search.”

Matt Kelly of Web Development Cohort 25 recently met with a group of Seekers, Nashville Software School (NSS) graduates that are still searching for their first job, to share how he persevered through his eight-month-long job search in 2018-2019. Now we’re sharing his encouragement and advice with you.

Matt had no tech experience prior to attending Nashville Software School. In fact, he had never even owned a laptop! Working at a liquor store, Matt continued to see other people being successful and knew he wanted more in a career. He started to learn to code on his phone and was able to start learning JavaScript when a friend loaned him a MacBook Air. He loved it and decided to pursue development as a career.

As he reflects on the past three years, Matt encourages Seekers to remember all that they have already accomplished, like getting into NSS and graduating! The job search is just the next mountain to climb.

If you got through NSS, don’t give up on your job search. 0% of students get a job if they give up.

When facing a prolonged job search, it can be easy to give up on your goals. Matt stresses that the job search takes effort and you have to maintain a positive attitude. He also encourages Seekers to be flexible, stating, “Do whatever it takes, [even if that means eating] rice and beans” and going to a meetup you would rather skip.

During his job search, Matt worked full time at the liquor store to pay the bills. But he didn’t let that slow down his job search and cautions Seekers not to take a break from their job search, explaining, “you won’t come back.” In eight months, Matt applied for over 400 positions, did lots of networking, something he acknowledged is more of a challenge now during the pandemic, and spoke at two meetups. “Meetups are struggling [to find] people to talk,” he shares. “I’ll talk about anything!”

Matt divided his job search into four key areas and shares several tips to Seekers persevere during their job search.

Applying for jobs

  • Make a plan/schedule and stick to it.
  • Have a good way of keeping up with your job search. Document what jobs you’ve applied for.
  • Research what’s around you.
  • Apply to lots of jobs.
  • Windows of opportunity close quickly. If you see a job you might be interested in, apply for it right away.
  • Be flexible with technologies. NSS taught you how to learn, you’ll be able to learn a new tech stack.


  • Think outside the box.
  • Find ways to connect other than code. Explore meetups that align with other passions. Some of the best connections are not through tech meetups.
  • Connect with non-developers too. They may have other developers in their network.


  • Keep coding during your job search.
  • Don’t try to learn everything.
  • Learn SQL! It’s everywhere.
  • Deploy a simple project to display your skills.
  • Build from tutorials, don’t just do them.


  • Be confident!
  • Be able to explain your resume.
  • Don’t blow code smoke!

There’s no doubt that a prolonged job search requires mental toughness. Matt challenges Seekers to be excited for the journey and to own their job search. He also encourages them to “accept help and advice. Don’t be offended by it.” Having a positive attitude will rub off on your classmates and help you all stay motivated. Perhaps the most important step to staying positive during a long job search, Matt shares, “Don’t compare yourself to others. The order that you get hired doesn’t matter.”

When I got my job, I was a bit disappointed [that] the ride was over.

Connect with Matt on his LinkedIn profile

Topics: Alumni, Analytics + Data Science, Web Development