June 16

First Paycheck

I got my first paycheck in over a year. It felt good to put it in the bank and know I had actually earned some money from coding.

I didn’t blog much about my job search. It’s hard to be looking for work. It’s hard to stay positive. And you worry that a potential employer is going to see something you wrote and decide not to hire you because of it… because you are complaining about the lack of entry level opportunities or because you like Android better than iOS. Any opinion seems dangerous to express.

It goes beyond blogging though and expands into cover letters and interviews. We all seem to want to be as generic and safe as possible. And you pound on door after door with nothing to distinguish yourself from a hundred other candidates.

Until one day, you just give up. You don’t care anymore. You quit believing there is a job out there with your name on it and you settle down to write some code. Not because the language is what they use at the company of the week, but because you really want to learn VR or AI.

You quit messing with those JavaScript frameworks and start building an app for the Play Store.

And then all of the sudden you become interesting. You aren’t like every other candidate. You talk about some side thing that barely made their list of “nice to haves” and the next thing you know you have a job offer…

Better, you have a job offer doing the thing you are really interested in.

At least that’s how it happened for me. (And how it seems to be happening for a number of my classmates from Epicodus.)

So my new job is with an agency called Media Mechanic. They make apps and stuff for the web. I’m working as a contractor, not an actual employee. But that’s okay. I get to work from home. I get paid per project instead of per hour – so on projects where I already understand how to do things it works out to a pretty nice hourly rate – and on others where I have a lot to learn it’s closer to minimum wage. But I’m getting paid to learn, so I don’t mind too much.

I’m on my second project which is an iOS version of the Android app I updated for the first project. I’m learning iOS while building it… several versions of iOS from the one it was originally build on (3?) to the current 10.  It’s a mess and there is a tight deadline. I’m loving the challenge and thinking this might be exactly the kind of job that suits me, even though I was trying to get a job with a big company that had a whole team of programmers and where I could get some mentoring and learn things like how Agile and TDD work in the “real world”. I kind of like this solo by the seat of your pants approach too.

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April 17

Have Fun Developing Your Styles With These CSS Games

CSS Diner

One of the best lessons we had at Epicodus was the afternoon they asked us to play with the CSS Diner. It’s a cute little game where you use CSS to fulfill “orders” and put the right kind of food on the right plate(s). It’s fun enough to feel like a waste of time. But that Friday when we were building portfolios it came in handy and helped me make my portfolio a lot more exciting.

The first few levels of the game are pretty easy. It uses the kind of CSS you see everyday. But it doesn’t take too many levels to get into the kind of operators that while I’ve skimmed over documentation for them – I really didn’t see how they could apply to my pages. That’s because when you are learning, you are designing the pages yourself, often based on what you know how to do. The more advanced CSS rules can help you make the photoshop images designers (who don’t know what’s possible and what’s not) give you.

css diner screenshot
Oops… even though I’ve done this before the ~ is not one of the CSS rules I remember! Maybe playing the game once is not enough…

Continue reading

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April 14

I Got a Callback!

I had a phone interview yesterday that went … okay. It sounds like a fantastic job – really can’t think of anything I want it doesn’t offer, unless it’s Android development. But I’ve found that I like both Android and web development, so it seems kind of minor at the moment. They have a large application, what sounds like a well-run team. They actually DO testing and scrum the way it was meant to be done. I feel like there is so much that I’ve learned only in theory that I would get to learn in practice there.

I didn’t “knock it out of the park” on the phone interview. At times, I could barely hear my interviewer and that never helps. Plus, it was an interview – and there isn’t there some law somewhere that says you will always be the lamest version of yourself at interviews? I try very hard not to break that law.

In spite of that, they called me back for an on-site interview next belief. I’m tossing back and forth between shocked disbelief and super nervous excitement. I want to study and prepare but don’t know whether I should be learning React better or rehearsing answers to “Tell us about yourself”. Continue reading

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April 9

Still Looking

We have been out of school officially for … it’s hard to know how long exactly. I’m going to say one month, from our Demo day, even though you could say 6 weeks from the official end of the internships just as easily. I know 2 people who have found tech jobs so far. There may be a few more. A couple stayed with their internships. But right now, out of a class of 80 I think we have less than 10% placement. Continue reading

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