Before we begin, lets be reasonable. As a hiring manager, or a startup founder, why would I hire you without experience? That seems like a pretty crazy way to run in a business to me. So when I see blog posts with the title, “How to Land a Rails Job with No Experience“, my bullshit alarm goes off the meter.
Now, we need to be reasonable of course. At one time, none of us had any experience. We were all once green in some way or another. So how many of you went out and paid $699 – $1500 for somebody to tell you how to get experience? (and no, I’m not talking about college) I’m going to guess the answer is pretty low.
I’m going to give you a lesson on how to get experience for free. No, I won’t charge you even one dime. I’m going to give you a free lesson, because I don’t think this type of knowledge has a dollar amount.
So where do we begin?
Step 1. Find a real problem. Make sure this problem is either something you are genuinely interested in, or something you wouldn’t mind finding a solution for. If you can’t find a problem, maybe you should go back to Step 0, and evaluate if you are really looking for some experience to further your career and life goals, or are you just looking for a quick buck?
Step 2. Dedicate some time in figuring out what a solution your problem would look like without involving any specific programming technology. For instance, if you want figure out how to do a drop down list using AJAX, work on understanding the semantics of the interaction before looking up any documentation on how to do it with Rails.
Step 3. Iterate on your solution until you have something that satisfies you.
Now take a look back at these three steps. You’ve identified a problem, you did some research, and then you created a solution. Isn’t that what most businesses do? So technically, what you just did qualifies as experience, correct? Well of course it does, but some might not consider that real experience. Here is a life lesson: You don’t want to work at any job, where they won’t take this type of experience. Just take it as a warning, and run away before you get burnt.
Now you’ve piqued some potential employer’s interest, what do you do now? I’m sure they’ll want some sort of resume, and I’m sure you’ll have sort of interview. If you don’t have a resume already, now is the time to make one. In my opinion there are no secrets to this, all a resume does it get you seen, so you can potentially get an interview. There are plenty of free books at your local library that tell you how to do this, so any who charges for this is just trying to take your money.
As for the interview itself, there are no real secrets. Your job as the interviewee is to gauge (in the first 5 minutes or less), the people you will be interviewing against. Of course this is easier in person, than on the phone. If you have a phone interview, make sure to ask everyone what they do from day-to-day before you start, so you can get some tidbits on things you can say that’ll make them look or feel good. And truthfully from what I can tell, from my experience in interviewing for technical jobs, involve some person who was most like bullied around at some point in their earlier life trying to trip you up by asking you questions about situations you most likely won’t occur in real life. The easiest way to get around this situation is to get the interviewers to focus on themselves and their egos.
Now, how can I help you get a job? Here are all the things I can help you with over skype for free, if you take the time to work with my schedule.
- I can help you review your code. No, I won’t write anything for you of course, but I’m sure I can give you some advice that will help you along your way.
- I can review your resume. I’ve seen a bunch of crappy ones in the past, so at the minimum, I can at least offer you some advice.
- I can give you a few strategies for getting through interviews. Or, if you’ve had a particular bad situation, I can be your cheerleader, to help you get back on track.
- I can help you to start learning how to do test driven development.
So, what does Bryan get out of all this? Well, you might not believe, but I enjoy helping people progress their lives and careers. I also get the experience that may potentially help me become a better teacher in the future. Also, helping others is part of my 5 steps to live. Keep in mind, I’m a family man, and I have kids, but I do have free time here and there. If you are interested in some free help, I’m on skype and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule some time.