Becoming a Web Dev: Follow Up on Code Fellows

Billy Shih, a graduate of our second Ruby on Rails 8-week program, shared about his time at Code Fellows and the job search afterwards.

Big news: I am officially a full-time web developer! It’s been a long journey and it’s not over yet, but I am really happy to have made it to this milestone.

In the spirit of giving back to the community that helped me get to where I am today, I am going to write two posts with some advice on transitioning from a non-technical career into software development. Since I get emails about Code Fellows every week, I’m going to address some common questions that I didn’t answer previously in this post. In a future post, I will cover general advice on becoming a developer.

Did you get a job? Are you happy?

Yes, I got three job offers in the middle of August and took a role at Full Circle. I am extremely happy.

During Code Fellows, we talked about how there are three things that most developers want from a job:

  1. Great people
  2. Interesting technology
  3. Exciting product

The lesson from this being that you should find a job that fulfills at least two of these since you’re just starting out. Once you get good, you can be picky and find one that fulfills all three. I’m really lucky to have found a place that fits all three of those requirements.

Do you think Code Fellows was worth it still?

My last two posts (1, 2) are still accurate overall. I must emphasize that it’s not easy to get a job though, even with the help of Code Fellows.

Did you get a job because of Code Fellows or because of your own hard work?

Both. I turned down an iOS dev job offer before joining Code Fellows, so knew I could get a dev job, however, because of Code Fellows, I got a job that fit me better.

These are the big things Code Fellows did for me:

  • Gave me a great foundation of Rails and overall web development, thus allowing me to also apply to web dev and iOS roles
  • Introduced me to people who made me into a great candidate
  • Confirmed that I am passionate about web development
  • Pushed me to meet other developers and network
  • Gave me a huge morale boost and the confidence to call myself a developer

All of these things made Code Fellows more than worth the time and money I spent. Was any of this required for me to get a job as a developer? No. Am I much happier having gone through Code Fellows? Yes.

I may have been able to get most of this value on my own, but going through Code Fellows made it easier and faster.

Over time, I can only see Code Fellows becoming more and more valuable as well. Their classes will improve and the network will grow both in students and businesses interested in hiring from Code Fellows. I bet we’ll see alumni hiring each other eventually.

How many of your classmates have found jobs?

I haven’t kept track, but of the people I’ve talked to in the past few weeks [as of September 2013], many of them are still job hunting. I strongly believe all my classmates are ready for entry level web development and should get a job in the next few months.

Since we’re all entry-level candidates, it’ll take longer to find a job than someone who has a lot of experience, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t roles out there.

How did Code Fellows help you get interviews?

They sent our resumes to companies interested in hiring us. My first offer was from one of these companies.

Also, some of the speakers we had were hiring and they invited companies to come to our presentations. I got a couple interviews this way but otherwise it was just good for general networking.

Code Fellows is at Founder’s Co-op/Tech Stars Seattle and is co-founded by Andy Sack, so it naturally is ingrained into the start-up/tech community. They are doing more marketing now and getting the word out about what Code Fellows is all about.

What would you do to prep for Code Fellows or applying to Code Fellows?

I would ask Code Fellows about this directly. Otherwise, I would just apply/prep as if you were going to a job interview. Take it seriously!

What are the downsides to joining Code Fellows?

The biggest downside is the investment in time and money. Since they’ve only run through a few classes, Code Fellows still is figuring out the best way to get students job-ready. They will ask you often for your feedback, so don’t hold back.

While more a reality than a downside, it’s worth mentioning that it is still a lot of work to become a developer even with paying Code Fellows to help you. Doing the bare minimum will not get you a job and even working really hard won’t mean you get a job right away.

More Resources

Here are some other posts about Code Fellows from students that I’ve found. If anyone knows of more, please share and I’ll add them here.

There’s a new bootcamp called CodingDojo in Bellevue. I don’t know specifics about their program, it’s another option to consider.

Last words

Code Fellows is one option of becoming a developer, not the only option. If you are dedicated, you can make Code Fellows a successful part of your transition, but realize that Code Fellows isn’t a requirement to success or a guarantee.

If you can’t afford it, then don’t give up on your dream. On the flip side, if you just think this is an easy way out of your current career, then this probably isn’t the right path for you either.

Becoming a developer requires a lot of work, but it’s not impossible. Dig in and get working.

Let me know if this was helpful or not at or @tobillys. Otherwise, look out for my next post on general tips on making the transition to become a developer.

Check out the original post and more resources on Billy’s blog.

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