On the hunt

I thought it would be useful to write a little bit about what has happened since the course ended and about our interaction with GA and potential employers since then.

Right after the course I went off to Estonia for a week for some much needed family time and relaxation. It was an awesome trip and the first I have done with all the women in my family (grandma, mother, sister and me). We ate much too well, which was great after 3 months of lunches and dinners from the Sainsbury’s below GA.

A week after the course, those remaining in London came into GA to do the employers Meet & Greet. Out of the 15 course grads, two returned to America, one to Bahrain, one to Italy, and one to Scotland, and 10 of us remain in London. The Meet & Greet was essentially like a science fair, where we all stood around the room at our respective tables and spoke to employers who worked the room about the work we had done throughout the course, what we had learned, and what we were now looking for. I think there were about 40 employers signed up, and 21 turned up on the day.

Of the 10, 8 of us were looking for developer jobs, while the other two wanted more CTO/tech-business oriented roles. The meet and greet went really well and I had a constant stream of people to speak to. If nothing else, it was really interesting to meet a number of different employers and hear about what their companies do and why they are interested in getting such junior people involved. I found it a little difficult to handle the sort of queue that formed around my table, but I would have rather had that than no one to speak with!

The session lasted around 2 hours and then we moved onto the pub afterwards, as is customary with our alcohol inclined group. It was really nice to see everyone again as even after only a week apart it was sad not seeing everyone on a daily basis.

Post-meet and greet I had scheduled quite a few interviews and a day later was already at it. This was really for the full-time position seekers, though in my case there were also a few companies in the mix considering doing the apprenticeship program.This is an alternative option that GA encourages employers to run, paying £1800 a month for 3 months with all the money going directly to the candidate.

So how did I do? The meet and greet was on September 17th, and in the last 15 days I have been invited in for over 10 interviews. I went in to 5 of them, have had 2 offers of apprenticeship, and 2 offers of a full time position.

One offer was with Glow, for a front-end javascript role at a marketing software company that is a strategic partner with Facebook, a really exciting prospect. However, yesterday I decided to accept the other full time offer and will be starting on Monday at Front Digital, a small, young agency that builds websites and already boasts clients like HSBC and the Conservative Party. I will be working there with another grad, Adam, who also received an offer and is one of my closest friends from the course, which is very exciting.

We will be the only 2 devs inhouse, working with the managing director (who has a design background) and another designer. It is definitely the riskier option as a junior to take a role where you aren’t surrounded by other, better devs. However, we can work with some external freelancers and are excited about the prospects of being on the frontier of the company, setting everything up and choosing languages and technologies to use. It will likely have some back-end work to it, but I expect we will settle into mainly front end work once we’ve set things up, 3-6 months down the line.

We are also going to continue learning on Friday afternoons at General Assembly with some workshops that have been set up for us, to keep our skills fresh and to have someone there to teach us new things that we are having difficulty learning on our own, which I’m sure will be super useful.

So this has been my experience, which has been seriously positive. I remember looking for work in the heritage industry and I would have 3 interviews over 3 months. It is definitely a much healthier hiring environment in the tech industry at the moment as devs are in much higher demand.

In terms of my classmates, here is the run down at the moment. Of the 10 who remained in London, as I said, 2 weren’t looking for dev jobs. One of us, Julien, has remained at GA for the next 3 months as the TA for the new intake of WDI students, who just began on Monday. Of the 7 that remain, Adam and I are both going to Front Digital,  James has taken a job at Playfair Capital as a sort of roaming developer with the companies they fund (sounds pretty awesome!) and CJ, who was much better than the rest of us (he is really more mid-level) has had a ton of offers at a higher salary mark, but again, his experience is uncommon.

At the moment, the other 3 of us in London are still looking for work but all interviewing actively. I believe 2 of them have offers on the table but are still exploring their options. Regardless, they are all excellent candidates and I have no doubt they will all find work over the next week or two once they find the place that is a good fit.

In terms of the 5 people who went back abroad, I know for sure that one guy in America secured a job right off the bat, in a mixed dev/business role. I don’t know about the other 4 at the moment, or about the other 2 here in London who didn’t want dev jobs, but I’m confident they will all be settled into something in the next few weeks, if they’re not already.

The salary offers that I have heard have ranged from £20k up to £30k (an outlier), but most fall somewhere in the middle.

So really, 3 weeks out from the course, with 3 months of learning code and that’s not so bad. I’m really excited about my new job and really looking forward to working with Adam, and with the 2 guys already on board as they are both super nice and incredible designers from whom I have a lot to learn.

In terms of keeping skills fresh, we have all been trying to pursue our own projects independently and learn a few things here and there in between interviews. Things that I really want to learn on my own now are some js frameworks like Backbone, Angular and Node, brushing up on testing like Jasmine and Rspec, and maybe messing around with a few new languages like python/django and php. CJ and I may be working on an independent paid project over the next few months, and I know I already have other requests from friends that will be added to the long list of things to do when I’m not at work. I will also be creating my personal website over the next few weeks as well, so will post that when it’s complete.

Finally, I can’t be kept from GA and I’ve actually enrolled on a new long-form course, the 12 week User Experience Design class. It only runs on Sundays for 4.5 hours, which is time consuming, but no where near as demanding as WDI. It will be interesting to learn more about this process of who we’re building websites for before just building them as we see fit. I need to come up with a final project idea though, which I’m struggling to do, but I’ll get there. We’ve only had one class so far, so 11 to go!

Not a bad send-off from GA. After such an intense 3 months, it is only fitting that the month following has been equally so. I’m optimistic about my prospects and looking forward to my first official role as a web developer!

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