You did it. After months of hard work and no social life, you have graduated from a software engineering bootcamp! Congratulations. You should be proud of yourself.
But I’ve got some news for you: the work is not over. It has only just begun.
I think we all know that, even with all of the incredible skills and accomplishments we have acquired in the bootcamp process, that The job search process is not going to be easy. I agree wholeheartedly, but it might not be for the reason you think. Sure, the rejection is tough, but the actual hardest thing is this: creating your own schedule.
You’re on your own! Sleep until noon? Go for it. Boozy brunch with friends? Party time. Once you graduate, the structure is gone. There is no 9–6 keeping you accountable. The temptations to procrastinate and not be productive are everywhere.
Luckily, you’ve got me, type-A, organized to a “T” Blaire, who is going to show you some tips for success on managing your own time.
1. Pick your “work” hours, and stick to them.
Your first step to post-grad success and getting a job is to treat your job search like it is a job. Just because you are unemployed and job seeking doesn’t mean you should sleep until noon, watch 3 episodes of Game of Thrones and then maybe apply to a job or two.
Finding a job is not easy, even in an industry that is lucrative and in high demand. There are hundreds of other bootcamp grads just like you that are hungry for that first junior dev position, so this process is not going to be as simple as updating your resume and sending out a couple of applications.
If you are currently unemployed, I would suggest treating your job search process as a full time job. Set hours each day that you are working on different aspects of the job search process. If you’re up to it, I highly recommend sticking with the standard 9am-5pm…this will also help because when you do get that job, you are used to waking up early and being ready to work at 9am. If not then, at least be ready to block out a good amount of time in your day and keep it the same! Establishing a routine is crucial.
However, there are going to be some people that don’t have the luxury of dedicating all day to a full time job search. Maybe you have a part-time job you had to pick back up to take care of the bills, or a child to take care of, or a myriad of other responsibilities. This doesn’t mean that you can’t also have a successful job search! I am currently working full-time in another field, so I know. It is tough. My suggestion? Listen to yourself and figure out when your brain is most efficient and effective. I block off an hour every day before or after work, and at least 3 hours on my days off to work on my job search, mixing it up depending on what my brain can handle at that time.
2. Organize your time in hour long blocks.
So, you’ve set aside the time, you’ve created a routine. Excellent. But, what happens if you don’t have a plan? On my end, that usually means I end up noodling on my computer and going on some hour-long unproductive rabbit hole. My trick is this: organize your day in hour long time blocks. Here is an example of one I created on my Google Calendar:
To me, this is a short enough length of time to not get bored, but a long enough time to actually get some productive work done. How do you think I got this blog written? I’m in a “blog post writing” time block. I am the queen of procrastinating blog posts, so the only way I can really get one done is to block out the time, sit down, and just do it.
What I like to do is at the end of a day, sit down and block out my hours for the next day. That way when I wake up I already know exactly what I’m doing and can just get started! My best suggestion would be breaking up the time between more technical coding endeavors with job search and networking strategies, so you don’t get burnt out.
3. “Eat the frog.”
If you’re not familiar with this term, it basically means “do the thing that’s the most challenging to you first.” The “frog” is the thing on your to-do list that you are most likely to procrastinate on, and have very little motivation to do. Let’s say you excel in technical skills, but networking makes your skin crawl. You wake up in the morning and you start working on a project you’re excited about, telling yourself that you’re going to send those outreach emails “later.” Well, later comes along, and it’s 8pm and you haven’t sent out a single email. You’re SOL.
This is why I usually try to do the thing I’m least excited about FIRST. That way, it’s done! You’ve gotten it over with! You can spend the rest of your day getting the more manageable things done that you actually enjoy. I learned this based on my approach to going to the gym…I realized that if I waited to go to the gym until after work, I was usually pretty tired and more likely to talk myself into going straight home and plopping on the couch. But if I woke up early and got it done first thing in the morning, it was done! I was free as a bird!
4. Use your community to keep you accountable.
The job search is a solitary endeavor. It can be incredibly jarring after spending 40+ hours a week with a cohort of students that you bonded with and helped you to stay positive and motivated. However, just because you graduate doesn’t mean that community is gone!
Take the time to reach out to your former classmates and check in. My cohort is doing a mid-day scrum on Zoom 3 times a week to encourage each other and see where everyone is at. You would be surprised how motivating it is, and how much it helps you stay on track.
5. Give yourself some grace
Listen, nobody’s perfect. This is hard. Real life will get in the way sometimes, whether that is a full-time job, taking care of family, or a medical emergency. Do your best, and forget the rest. Some days might be super productive, and other days you might send out one email, get a rejection from the job you really wanted, and lay on the couch the rest of the day. Give yourself permission to rest and take time off sometimes! It’s all about finding a balance.
Hopefully, these little tips and tricks will help you along your path to success in the tech industry! And if you have any other suggestions, please send them my way…I’m right there grinding it out with you!