Dispelling Myths About Tech Job Searches for Bootcamp Grads

May 15, 2024
Jessica Grande

At Nashville Software School, we provide our students and graduates who are still on the search for their first job in tech with opportunities to dive deeper and continue their education while on the job hunt. These graduates are referred to as Seekers. 

Real-life stories and Insider Tips with Rich Rader and Thomas Kuhlman of MRO

If you’re a recent bootcamp graduate, landing a job in the current market can feel like navigating a labyrinth of myths and conflicting advice. In a Seekers meeting at Nashville Software School (NSS), Rich Rader, Lead Principal Software Engineer at MRO, and Thomas Kuhlman, Senior Manager Engineering at MRO shed light on these myths and shared some insider tips and strategies for cracking the code (pun intended!) of the tech job market for recent graduates. 

🤔 Myth #1: The Job Market is Oversaturated 

A common myth circulating among coding bootcamp graduates is the belief that the job market is oversaturated with junior developers, making it challenging to land a job. While employers are hiring fewer junior developers right now, the reality is far more nuanced. 

“I often hear that folks are applying for a lot of jobs, and right now it's taking a few months to find a job,” Rich shares. “A lot of this has to do with the fact that so many people [went] remote [during the pandemic], so what used to be a Nashville focus for NSS grads has become almost a global [opportunity].” The growth in remote and hybrid (mix of remote, and in-office) jobs over the last 4 years has opened the pool of opportunities even wider for bootcamp graduates, but it also can mean applying for more jobs. 

“[The growth in remote jobs has] done a funny thing. People have gone from applying to the 20 or 30 different spots within Nashville to applying to hundreds of different places across the world,” Rich explains. “It's quite an interesting morale hit for someone to apply to over 100 jobs and get maybe a few interviews. Now there are so many places that you can now apply to, so many more places that are allowing people to go remote, that number of places where you're applying has jumped dramatically. But the number of interviews has kind of stayed the same.” 

When applying for remote jobs at companies that are not based in Nashville or Tennessee, you’re likely to have more competition. If you’ve applied to a hundred jobs and your classmates have applied to 100 jobs each and other bootcamp graduates or CS degree graduates have applied to 100 jobs each, you can quickly see why the market seems so saturated.

“Not every town and every place that has remote positions knows what NSS graduates have to offer.” Rich points out that while Nashville employers have become good at hiring graduates from NSS over the last 12 years, other cities, particularly outside of Tennessee, don’t have the full picture of what an NSS grad can do, but as more alumni and recent graduates land remote jobs, more companies are being introduced to NSS and the skills its graduates have.

“It's something that we're all kind of learning as an industry. [From my perspective,] the quality of NSS graduates just gets better and better and better every year. You would be very surprised to see where some NSS grads are today,” Rich says. “Lots of folks who are VP's at leading companies, working for Amazon, or working at all these awesome spots [graduated from NSS], but it really came down to a significant effort in finding that first job.”

💡 TIP: Tap your NSS Resources on the Job Hunt

Before applying to a job, check to see if there are any NSS alumni that work there or may have recently worked there. Reach out to them to learn about the company and ask if they have any tips for getting your foot in the door. It may lead to a referral which can boost your chances of being interviewed.

🤔 Myth #2: Immediate Job Placement is the Norm

Another popular myth Rich and Thomas addressed in their talk was the expectation of immediate job placement upon completing a coding bootcamp. While success stories of students landing a job before graduation do exist, they are the exception rather than the rule. Securing a job right after graduation often requires a combination of factors, including networking, relevant experience, and sometimes sheer luck. It's crucial not to compare your journey to those who land positions quickly, as everyone's path is unique.   

💡 TIP: The Power of Persistence

Rich and Thomas highlight the value of persistence in the job search. While success stories of landing a job right away might seem enticing, it's essential to remember that they're the exception rather than the norm. Many tech professionals, including Rich and Thomas themselves, had to put in significant effort and time before securing their first positions.

“That seems to be a consistent thing. It's taking significant effort,” Rich shares.
It took significant effort for me back in 2008 when I got my first job. I spent a few months trying to find a job, and I had a CS degree.” As Rich continued to reflect on his own job search in tech, he shared that the odds are better for graduates now then when he was searching.

“Back in 2018, it was actually pretty common for folks to be getting jobs before they graduated from their cohort,” Rich tells our Seekers about stories he’d heard of early job placements. “But it is a matter of sometimes just certain things lining up perfectly, [such as] past experience, or someone has a network, or has already built some sort of relationship, because that is the only thing that really helps facilitate someone getting a job right away. In almost every case, the relationship already existed [to land the job].”

You shouldn't judge yourself against the initial success of another person.” Rich Rader, Lead Principal Software Engineer at MRO

💡 TIP: Build Your Network

Rich and Thomas emphasized the importance of building relationships in the tech industry. They shared personal anecdotes of how they connected at a meetup in Nashville, which eventually led to them becoming colleagues. Networking isn't just about exchanging business cards; it's about forming genuine connections and learning from others' experiences. 

“We actually met at a meetup around Nashville,” Thomas says of his and Rich’s first encounter. “We never worked together and never knew each other before that. That's actually how we initially started becoming colleagues.” 

As NSS grads, you have a robust network.” - Thomas Kuhlman, Senior Manager Engineering at MRO  


🤔 Myth #3: Previous Experience Isn't Valuable

It is common for some coding bootcamp graduates to downplay the significance of their prior experiences, believing they're irrelevant to their tech careers. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Previous experiences, whether in a different industry or role, bring valuable skills and perspectives to the table.

Employers value diverse backgrounds and experiences, as they contribute to a well-rounded team dynamic. Skills such as leadership, problem-solving, and project management gained from past roles are highly transferable and can set you apart in a competitive job market.

💡 TIP: Showcase Your Skills

Highlighting previous experience and having visible personal projects can make a significant difference in the job application process. Rich emphasized the value of showcasing diverse experiences, whether it's managing a small business or leading a team at a fast-food chain. These real-world experiences provide valuable insights and decision-making skills that are highly sought after in the tech industry. 

“If I could describe the best junior developer, it's a developer who basically knows some React and some back-end and has done something serious in terms of a business beforehand,” Rich reassures career changers. “Literally being a manager at Jimmy John's, those are real life examples of people who've come through that we've hired, and have actually been wonderful, particularly because of their previous experience.” 

“I think a lot of folks fall into the [trap] of [thinking], ‘hey, my previous experience isn't applicable’, it is 100% not true,” Thomas adds. “[Your experiences are] foundational to who you are as a professional in your career journey.”

You've got a story to tell. You’ve got a narrative.” - Thomas Kuhlman, Senior Manager Engineering at MRO  


From building meaningful connections to showcasing your skills effectively, attendees gained practical advice to enhance their job search strategies. By leveraging these insights and embracing persistence, tech professionals can navigate the ever-changing job market with confidence. 

Thanks to Rich and Thomas for hanging out with our Seekers and giving this insightful talk!

If you’ve got a topic that you believe would be helpful to our Seekers at NSS and would like to take the time to invest in our graduates, visit our website to learn about all of our volunteer opportunities at NSS! 

Topics: Learning, Community, Analytics + Data Science, Web Development, Software Engineering