Monday, 5 March 2018

Ultimate Job Hunting Guide for Makers Academy Graduates

Dear Makers Graduates,

First and foremost, congrats for completing the course! I'm sure it has been a whirlwind of emotions and no doubt it has been an amazing achievement. Just 16 weeks ago, you probably hadn't written much code at all, and now you can have any idea, and implement it in any language working collaboratively in a team!

However, this is only part one of your software developer career. Part two is job hunting, and part three is working in the job as a junior developer! All three parts are quite different, but I believe that in completing the Makers Academy course you have all the tools needed to advance upwards and onwards.


My background is that I spent a long studying various aspects of graphic design in uni, then after graduating stumbled into making money playing online poker for six years. Then at the end of 2016 I decided it was time to move on and decided that coding was what I wanted to do.

I'm telling you this because I did not have much experience in the workplace at all, and I know some of you grads will find it difficult to compete with those who had.

At Makers we always hear about students who got a job in weeks after graduating. Whilst that is impressive and totally deserving, it can be tough for others to experience especially if they lack confidence.

Well that was me. I had struggled for months, but each time round I got better and better, had more experience with the process, and in the end landed my favourite job of them all.

So if that person is you at the moment, hopefully this post can inspire.


This is something I want to address that I feel isn't talked about too much. Job hunting is super stressful. It is a roller coaster ride of emotions. You will most likely be competing against your fellow cohort members for the same jobs. When others gong you will be happy for them, but conversely it will also be tough on you to think about why you didn't get that job.

It seems that culturally we seem to have been taught to feel shameful or embarrassment about negative emotions. Then when we do feel those things we get angry at ourselves for feeling that, and then we spiral into an infinite loop of negativity which ends crashing your browser (sorry, bad coding joke).

Be emotionally aware, and never feel guilty about how you feel

Remember that these emotions are ok. If you have spent time to work with the amazing Dana on your wellbeing side, she will tell you to embrace your emotions and not feel bad about feeling bad. Be good to yourself.


With Makers when you finish, you are not really finished. There is a lot of help in hand, but its up to you to take the initiative to organise yourself. Now it will be up to you to decide what you spend your time on, if you decide to come in and work upstairs in the mezzinine, and ultimately to land that job.

On the Careers Coach (Becks) - She is there to help you with anything career related. She can give you feedback on your CV, your personal statements, job hunting strategies, interview practice, or just a general chat! She helped me a lot with my process of researching companies, and getting used to the more formalised language used in the business world.

On the Careers Team - These are the people that setup the Makers partners for the careers fair. They will give you the information and feedback for the interviews you get. It is super important that you use your slack channel to communicate which jobs you are really passionate about. Also let them know the work that you have been doing recently otherwise they will not know if you have done anything at all. They can use that information to put you through to interviews that have your interests in mind, eg front/backend or a particular language. With so many students they just cannot keep track of everyone.

On Careers Fair - This monthly networking event is a great way to get to know some of the Makers partners and get a feel for what they're about. It is ok to talk to everyone, but I end up focusing on making meaningful conversations with a handful that I chose.

Be careful not to talk to a partner if they are not in your criteria! A common one would be if they are not based in London, and you are not willing to move or commute, then its not worth your time.

Have some good questions prepared, check out their websites beforehand, maybe they'll have a blog or article that could be a good talking point. Questions based around their culture, what a junior would expect to experience, their tech, their current projects, or challenges would be good ones to name a few!

On The Hub Applications - Once careers fair is over, you will be filling in those applications on The Hub. Even though these are two simple questions, it's worth investing some time over them. This is your opportunity to tell the careers team why you want that job and why they should put you through.

Have a look at existing examples of hub applications and feel free to use Becks to check yours over before submitting it. This is great practice for your interviews to break down what you would say when asked those questions.

On Your Coaches and Wellbeing Coach Dana - One of the biggest misconceptions after you graduate is that you cannot ask for one to one's with your coaches or Dana. They're still around, so set them up! My coach Kay is always happy to look at my code and have a nostalgic chat, and Dana has been a great help with my emotional intelligence.

On Your Github CV - Make sure to get this reviewed. Use the template that Makers provided, and have a look at other existing CV's to help. Make sure your projects that it links to has good readme's, especially your final project. Writing out a more in depth account of your final project can be a good practice not just for readers, but also will help you talk about it when it comes to interviews.


Ok, wow yes that's a lot of information and it can be quite overwhelming! But as I'm sure you have been well trained especially during the last few weeks of the course, what do we do if something is overly complex? We break it down! Still feels too complicated? Break it down more!

Apply agile to all aspects of your work and life!

Break down what is important to you and work on that. You could write a list to help you roughly schedule your week. Edit and modify these lists accordingly. Work on these things but obviously if you have tech tests and/or interviews then put those on the back burner and reprioritise.

My agile way of breaking down this blog post!

You could finish up or improve some existing Makers work to gain some confidence. After the course I worked mostly on connecting my code to front end. Then after trying out some React.js, and then Vue.js I realised that I quite enjoyed Javascript. I gained confidence, pinned down my interest, and also added some new projects to my CV.

Maybe you could explore something you have always wanted to do, like check out a trending language, or make a chatbot, or explore cryptocurrency. Maybe you could ask another alumni to pair on a project together. Pairing is motivationally inspiring and is a also great topic to talk about in your interviews.

Remember to keep using Github in all your work after the course. It is really important to document everything so that employers can see it. Even if you are following a tutorial I would say it is worth using Github to upload your code. You gain practice and confidence of using it, and you can show off your good coding practices of making small commits with great descriptions.

Commit your tests first before writing the code. This may seem rather long winded but doing it this way proves that you are testing first, and that could be very important to an employer.

Lots of green squares on your Github is a great way to document your hard work.


Have a strategy when job hunting. If you don't know how to formulate one then your careers coach is there to help you make one! Here are a few that I found helpful to me;

Join LinkedIn - This site is a great networking tool for professionals. Join it, update your profile and start adding people. Add alumni makers, add companies you like, you could even add employers from the company you are interviewing for. You can message people and ask for advice, but of course keep it professional.

I was actually headhunted from LinkedIn starting out with a message which led to a phone interview, and then I visited them for a live one. The employer was impressed by me, but ultimately the timing wasn't quite right and insisted he wanted to offer me a job in a few months time. It was disappointing, but I gained a lot of confidence from that interview process which came simply because he scouted me on LinkedIn.

Look Outside Makers - There are many places that you can find job listings, especially job boards. It can be worth exploring especially if you know it might fit your criteria. A bunch of my fellow Makers did not really like London that much, and in turn were open minded enough to take jobs abroad in Portugal and Berlin!

Networking Events - The job hunters and careers ideas slack channels are a great way to keep up to date with opportunities and talks that are going on. Makers talks are great to go to not just for the interesting subjects that are presented, but a lot of the time those speakers' companies will be hiring, so it's a good chance to network and possibly create new opportunities.

There are also various meetups that you can go to. There are a lot, so choose ones that interest you, check them out, see if you like them. Opportunities can crop up from these networking events too, but it's best not to be so forward that your job hunting, and instead be genuinely interested in the topics at hand. can be a great place to check out some great networking events

Talk to other Makers! For a while I visited my fellow employed cohort members on their lunch breaks and asked them about their experiences and any tips they could give me. It was great to see them again and gave me quite a motivational boost.

Adjusting to Feedback - Ok, so you've had a few interviews and received some feedback. Let's work on those things! On one of my interviews I was told my TDD wasn't good. So I added to my list to aim to  complete a Codewars everyday using testing first. Another feedback received was weak company research. I worked with Becks to improve that. The more you do this the more proficient and well rounded you will be at your next interview.

On Taking a Break - When I started the course, I already knew I would be going to Asia for three weeks once it finished. It wasn't a break for me per se, and I used a lot of that time to continue coding and improving things I wasn't so confident in. But what it meant was that I would miss a careers fair, which is missing out on one wave of potential interviews and tech test experiences.

It is discouraged to take a break straight away after the course, because Makers want you to carry on your momentum of the final projects and the work you've done to the employers. They've seen it happen multiple times before with students taking a break and found it hard to get a job afterwards, so lets trust them with their experience and knowledge on this!

However, if you really do want to take a break I think it can be ok as long as you make sure do these things;

  • After your break you have to make sure you can keep up the intensity and motivation you had before it and continue where you left off...
  • Be prepared to see your fellow cohort members get jobs, and as time goes by less familiar faces being around. It will be mentally tough and hard not to think all the obvious cliches in your head, but remember it's ok to feel bad.
  • I would say try and do *some* coding during your break if possible. Maybe do some Codewars or tutorials. Keep your mind fresh and still in the game.
  • If your gonna take a break, commit to it! Do something with your break, like a holiday. Being at home choosing to do nothing just isn't worth it and you might as well spend that time continuing the job hunt instead.


At first it was difficult in even knowing what I wanted. Becks asked me to answer these two questions to help me pin down what I felt was important to me;
  1. Why did you choose to become a developer?
  2. How has Makers helped you in becoming a better developer?
My job hunting experience gave me a great insight into knowing myself better. During the process I learned what I valued, my capabilities and how I handled certain situations. In the end I realised that I just was not able to fake interest and passion, which meant jobs that I had strategically chosen to give myself the best chance of landing would fail as they could see that about me.

  • Do I get any job or only go for the jobs I want?
I've heard points from both sides here, and they both have strong arguments.

Getting any job (within reason) means getting your foot in the door, getting that one year's experience and then being very employable afterwards so then you can go for the one you love.

The other side has said to me that right now there are tons of jobs for juniors, so don't feel like you should take any job, you can choose.

The conclusion I have come to after this process is that the answer is that it is different for everyone.

For myself the latter was true, and getting any job was hard for me since I found it difficult to express interest in something that I just didn't find interesting. That is not to say that this is black and white, some parts of a job you may find interesting and others not. But this is what I realised about myself, and so was excited to switch up my strategy and see what was to come.

I hope there is some great advice in here for you guys. Feel free to comment or message me on slack @Puyan_Wei with questions and I'd be happy to help. Good luck, you can do it!