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.

Copyright 2017. Karen Freeman-Smith. All rights reserved.

Posted June 16, 2017 by Karen Freeman-Smith in category "Career Change