A collection of advice for new developers, especially those from a non-traditional background like mine. Based on a talk I regularly give at Flatiron School and notes from a panel of managers hiring new developers at RubyConf 2021.
Act as though you will work with (or report to) everyone you meet. You probably will.
One page is plenty.
Use measurements when possible, even if they’re course-grained. (10,000 requests per minute, $2 million budget)
Most companies use these to make sure you did what your resume says you did.
The phone screen is often the same regardless of the level of the position.
For new developers, they are trying to see if you can do the job at all.
Enthusiasm goes a long way.
Demonstrate a desire to learn.
Fail by not knowing anything about the company you’re talking to.
Fail by talking negatively about previous jobs and colleagues.
Fail by being a jerk to the people you talk to.
Ask them how they make money.
If you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification.
Describe things you did, not what your team did.
Talk about times you organized people or projects. It doesn’t have to be technical work.
Talk about how you’ve handled ambiguity, such as figuring out the needs of a customer.
The worst thing you can do is answer a question you don’t have the answer to.
State your assumptions.
Play the meta game. Ask the interviewer what they are looking for. Ask them for the rubric.
Don’t be too clever. For Rails developers, do it the Rails way.
Document steps needed to run the code you write.
If (and when) your take-home is incomplete, explain why.
Take-homes can have deliberate mistakes, hidden aspects, and things meant to prompt questions from you.
Your PR description matters as much as your code.
Ask them about their last vacation.
Ask if they have Slack on their phone.
Ask them what their retention rates are. By gender.
Send them an email on a Friday night, and hope you don’t get a response before Monday.
Evaluating job opportunities
Quality of experience is more significant than quantity. I got five years’ worth of experience in two years of work as a consultant.
Options and stock in startups can be worth something but are nearly always worth nothing. They will seldom make up for the decreased salary you’ll take in exchange.
Run, don’t walk away from jobs where you’ll be the only developer or where the only devs are new to the field as well.