Getting hired as a junior developer during the COVID-19 pandemic
During the Spring 2020 lockdown, Solene and Simon participated in our first remote web development bootcamp in Montréal. After graduating from the intensive course, they successfully changed careers in spite of the unique challenges the pandemic created.
Solene Duprat, a former dog trainer, got a full-stack developer job at Webistry, while Simon Leiva, a trader coach who had studied finance, started working as a freelance web developer.
During our conversation together, they shared valuable advice on how to pursue remote learning and job hunt during these uncertain times.
You attended the bootcamp remotely — what did you learn from this experience?
Solene: I learned that you have to treat each day as an important one, even if you’re not meeting anyone in person. This means getting up and getting ready every day as if you’re going out to meet your classmates. Every little effort counts; self-managing and self-motivating yourself may be hard at first, but once you get into the habit, you build momentum and it gets a lot easier. Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out!
Simon: I learned a lot about discipline and self-motivation during this period. Doing the bootcamp remotely made me reconsider my home office. Don’t underestimate the importance of having a good setup! Be creative about it and make sure it’s comfortable. I made sure to get a few more monitors and thought about other ways to improve my home.
Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out
How did this experience help you handle challenges you might be facing now?
Solene: My job is remote, so building the habits I did during the bootcamp, the ones I talked about earlier, helped me stick to a productive routine every day.
Simon: The remote bootcamp gave me a lot of experience with remote communication like calls and web conferences, so whenever I network for my freelancing projects, I feel comfortable jumping from one call to another regardless of the platform. I feel like I’ve adapted to the situation quickly.
Also, I decided to learn to code because I wanted to create software for my trading team and algorithms to integrate into my trading operations while keeping track of my data. I created a web app to do this while at Le Wagon and that’s been very helpful because my team still uses it every day.
What was your strategy for finding a job or paid projects after the bootcamp?
Simon:Find people in your network with business or startup ideas. Propose projects to them at a fair price, just to get going. Deliver above and beyond what was expected to your first clients. That’s how I started increasing my fee and improving my portfolio. I know it’s not easy, so pitch yourself to a lot of people, and don’t be afraid of rejection.
Solene: At the end of the bootcamp, we had a career week that included the opportunity to meet with representatives from many different companies for 15-minute online “coffee” meetings. This was a great opportunity as it gave us the chance to experience many short interviews with companies looking to hire. The team at Le Wagon provided us with resources to help build our portfolios and resumes, which I spent a lot of time on over the weekend before career week. My strategy was to just be myself and let companies see me for who I am. Most companies will want to hire people they can trust and can easily communicate with.
What tips would you give other junior developers looking for opportunities right now?
Solene: Be yourself. Most companies will want to know who you are and build a relationship with you, so try not to act like a robot telling them the things you think they want to hear. Stand out by being yourself, and don't be afraid to ask questions; every company loves people who are motivated to learn things! Reach out to as many companies as you can, and don't be discouraged if they say no — just keep looking! I was rejected by so many companies, but I kept going until I got the opportunity to do a freelance job with my current employer. They ended up hiring me 3 months later!
Stand out by being yourself, and don't be afraid to ask questions; every company loves people who are motivated to learn things!
Simon: You need to keep practicing and not get discouraged. Accept the fact that it takes time but it will happen if you don’t quit.
What advice would you give to people who want to change careers as you did?
Solene: Whatever you choose to do in life, keep trying your hardest. Find something that motivates you, and make it the reason why you want to keep trying your best! For me, my “why” is the people I love, the life I want to have in the future, and my dog. Also, learn to manage your time; work reasonable hours to not get burned out, but when you are working, make every minute count!
Simon: There are a lot of opportunities in tech. It’s never too late to join the tech world, you just need to get the required skills. Learning how to code is always a good decision. If you search hard and make the effort, you’ll find something.