Learning to become a junior developer at NSS and starting your career after graduation can be both exciting and intimidating. Recently, a few NSS web development grads stopped by the virtual classroom of C64 with some advice to help calm their nerves and offer words of encouragement to help navigate their way through their full-time Web Development bootcamp to their first job. Check out what they had to say!
FIRST, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
You DO Have What it Takes to be a Developer. Maegan Phan of C60 believes that it's important to believe in yourself. “You wouldn't have gotten into NSS if you didn't have what it takes to be a developer.”
KEEP YOUR WORK/LIFE-BALANCE IN-CHECK
Your brain grows while you're resting.” Jes Meeker, Web Development Cohort 60
Several students were curious to learn how much time their predecessors actually spent on coding outside of class. Jes stressed the importance of taking time for yourself and not spending all your time doing course work outside of class.
In addition to giving your brain time to rest, Nathan Malone of C58 and Jes agree that junior devs should do what makes them a healthy person, whether that's exercising, hanging out with friends, or pursuing their hobbies. “I only put in time outside of class when I wanted to,” Nathan shares. Jes adds that “[My] capstone [project] was the one exception where I put time into working outside of class.”
James Scott of C58 found himself limiting his extra curricular activities while in his web development bootcamp. “I would prioritize exercise and hanging out with friends. When you get concerned about not spending enough time learning, be easy on yourself. It’s going to be hard. But it should be fun,” he shares.
I would talk negatively to myself. It was unhealthy. My own head would get in the way. As soon as you start to feel that, talk to your instructor, your teammates, or anyone at NSS.” - James Scott of Web Development Cohort 58
Lorin Jones of C58 advises students to push through the course work and avoid burnout by discussing what you learn with your classmates. “NSS is a job-readiness and career development program. You learn just as much about what it takes to be on a professional development team as you learn about coding.”
Russ Pelton of C58 adds that learning at NSS is an “interactive process.” What you put into your time at NSS is what you get out of it, just like code!
LEARN TO THINK DIFFERENTLY
When asked by a student in C64 if they think differently than they did before their time at NSS, James and Maegan both agreed that coding has changed the way they think.
Maegan realized that coding is about patterns and problem-solving rather than math. “I felt like from the beginning, I had to change the way I thought,” she shares. “I had my own stereotypes about coding and who it was for. You don’t need to be good at math. You’re not going to know everything…ever. You’re going to get it wrong a lot.” So become comfortable with getting it wrong.
James found that algorithmic thinking used to learn code helped him also become a better teacher! “I came from a background in music,” he explains. “I was great at thinking in the abstract and not as great with logic. It’s fundamentally changed a lot of things. It’s made me a better teacher. I found myself enjoying the algorithmic thinking.” Though he found it hard at first, James shares that he grew to enjoy this new way of thinking the more he practiced. “It actually made me a better musician. Everything sort of locked together faster. The logic and hierarchy helped things click.”
Your brain will be different in a good way.” Maegan Phan, Web Development Cohort 60
LEAN ON YOUR TEAMMATES
Russ Pelton encourages students to “lean on [their] teammates”. Working on a team can be challenging, but remember, you are not alone. Your classmates and instructors can help you, and it's important to ask for their guidance when you need it!
Lorin and Russ recommend not wasting more than 30 minutes on a blocker. After 30 minutes, start by talking through the blocker with your teammates by explaining the blocker and what you’ve tried. Then, if you’re still stuck, bring it to an instructor.
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF NETWORKING
Nathan shared that even though networking is a difficult task for an introvert like himself, it’s worth the time and effort! He encourages the students to “just get out there and do it. I’ve met so many people outside of NSS.”
Jonathan Woodard of C58 agrees. “Set a goal to attend networking events regularly,” he urges the students. “Don’t let yourself find excuses not to go. The more I’ve done it, the easier it has become.”
Making connections on LinkedIn can also be helpful! Jes explains that she was able to make a lot of connections by posting about her journey at NSS and the things she loves about development! “I was a hold out to get on LinkedIn for a long time. Mid-cohort I started making updates to how I post, who I talk to. I made a lot of connections. I connected with someone months ago and now they're referring me to a position!”
Not sure what to post? Try sharing about your #NSSJourney, what you’re learning in class, and what you love about development. “Start this [LinkedIn] journey early,” Jes advises. “It makes you a person and approachable!”
STAY DILIGENT IN YOUR JOB SEARCH
Jonathan also shares how important it is to set goals and be consistent with your job search post-graduation! “Make sure you are diligent with your applications, reach out to people at the companies you want to work for, and ask for feedback on your resume and cover letters.” Jonathan graduated in January of 2023 and started a software engineering apprenticeship at Airbnb in April of 2023.
Like we said, learning to become a junior developer can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be! Try out some of this advice from these NSS graduates and navigate your way through your #NSSJourney, to your first job after graduation, and beyond! And remember, NSS is here for you every step of the way on your journey towards a new career in tech!
Are you ready to try your hand at Web Development, Software Engineering or Data Analytics? Check out one of our upcoming, 3 week introductory Jumpstart courses and begin your journey towards discovering a new passion for tech today!