4 Tips to Find a Programming Job

Programming Job I often get asked by programmers and aspiring programmers if I know of any good job opportunities currently available. I always offer to keep my ears open for anything and am happy to do what I can to help.

To non-developers, they only hear about the large paydays at Google, Facebook, etc. that recent college grads snag and incorrectly assume that programming jobs must fall into the lap of every programmer. That’s just not the case.

For anyone looking for work, it’s always smart to work your extended professional network to find jobs, and that’s true of programmers. I typically see that many roles are not filled through online job postings nor the traditional application & interview process. Instead, many roles are filled through networking and 3rd party services (recruiters).

To take advantage of these non-traditional job channels, developers can do the following:

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Lessons Learned Starting and Selling my First Business

In the Spring 2011, I found myself at a crossroads. I had recently closed the doors on a 4 month part-time mobile app project; our team decided to go our separate ways. I had caught the entrepreneurial bug, but had no clear path to take next.

I was determined to start my own company and I set the following criteria:

  • I would continue working with early-stage technology companies
  • rely on my existing skills
  • Be the sole owner

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How Codecademy Will Make Money

Codecademy is a service that lets people take free online coding classes, and has received $12.5M in institutional capital. It’s an awesome idea, but how will it make money if it’s billed as free (emphasis added)?

Learn to code interactively, for free.


I became fascinated with code later in life than your typical self-taught developer. Part of my journey included using CodeYear and Codecademy to kick off my programming.

While, I didn’t continue on with CodeYear, it wasn’t because of a lack of interesting in programming or Codeacdemy material. In fact, I became more and more interested in learning web development. Codecademy was great material to kickoff my process, which sent me down a path of continued learning and interest. Codecademy appears to be committed to creating a great, engaging product first and then worry about developing Revenue Models later. However, I’m sure it’s on their (and their Investors) minds.

Here are the options, in decreasing likelihood:

1. VERY LIKELY – Digital Advertising/Sponsorship

The site has great traffic, visitor time on the site, and user engagement. Plus, the target audience is very niche, interested in Technology and Computer Programming. The team will have to be careful to deliver ads in a manner which won’t dilute the learning experience.

2. LIKELY – Affiliated Products/Services

All these new programmers are going to need the latest and greatest web development tools. Codecademy would be able to highlight products geared towards the lessons and could even create lessons or projects which interact directly with the software/tools for sale. What better to attract a lifelong user of your internet product then when they are first learning?

3. POSSIBLE – Freemium Content Model

While it is possible the team will sell additional content, such as lessons or products, it doesn’t seem to their advantage to place any barrier in front of an already interested participant. Most users who gain the basic knowledge, when faced with a pay model, would likely jump ship and find another source online to fulfill their needs.

4. UNLIKELY – Job Board

A job board would make for a great PR story. Imagine it now “Total noob acquires all knowledge from Codecademy and lands dream developer job at Google” or some other great company. But, the reality is that the typical user’s skills are going to be light years behind actual professional development talent. It’s difficult to believe the site would ever generate critical mass of qualified developers to justify a job board.

Codecademy will continue to grab the attention of those looking to dip their toes into programming. How do you think they will leverage the product to make money?

Are Developer Bootcamps Worth It?

Developer Bootcamps, an intensive 8-14 week program, allow someone with very little to no experience to immediately jump into the path of becoming a developer. With increasing rates of unemployment, underemployment, and falling wages, these programs have popped up to fill a need – tech companies are in need of developers and people are always looking for means to jump start their career and quickly make more money.

DevBootcamp, General Assembly, and App Academy are a few well known names in quickly growing and crowded list of options. Each program is slightly different, but the cost associated for you to participate is typically north of $10,000. While there is a shortage of developers, are these programs really the answer? More importantly, are they the right solution for you?

When I began my journey to learn to code, I investigated these programs, including in classroom and virtual options. Ultimately for me, charting my own course was my best option. For others, a more structured, group environment may be the best option. But, spending that kind of cash requires some serious thought and research into your potential return on investment.

Developer Bootcamp Data

A scarce amount of hard facts and data exist on graduate outcomes. I’d love to see these organization voluntarily share the raw data on graduates’ hiring rates and financial gains. Unfortunately, you’ll usually only find anecdotal results or headline-grabbing “88% Have Offers At Average Of $79K” declarations. I want the raw data and stats, and think anyone considering these options deserves it.

In an absence of empirical evidence, there are resources trying to provide guidance. You can turn to active Quora Discussions and Technedo.co is trying to grade developer bootcamps. But, the “grade” is based on sentiment reviews by existing participants, who are inherently biased.

Success Stories

There are certainly success stories available to verify that you can achieve your goals by completing a dev bootcamp. You could potentially double your salary, nab a salary of more than $80K, or successful begin your own successful startup.

However, for every success story there are a dozen participants with unfulfilled dreams and empty pocketbooks. My company is currently hiring developers in Los Angeles, and we’ve witnessed firsthand the hardships of graduates. The trend we’ve experienced in recruiting two graduating classes of local bootcamp is that companies compete to hire the select few top tier talent, while the majority of alums continue to freelance or are hired directly by the organization to teach the next cohort or help run operations.

Yes, my experience is very unscientific. But, my gut tells me the success stories are the exception and not the norm. All developer bootcamps are not bad. Your participation and success should depend on several factors:

1. What is your end goal?

When you’re thinking about learning to code and before considering plopping down big bucks for a developer bootcamp, you’ve got to first understand your own end goal. Is it more money? It is better technical expertise to help at your existing job? Do you want to boost your resume? Know the destination before you lay down the path.

2. How have other people in my situation performed?

Without the raw data to know actual results, you’ve got to find a previous graduate with your similar makeup in order to best approximate what to expect. Ask the organization to set you up with an alumnus with similar professional, personal, and education backend as yourself? Take that person to coffee or jump on skype and politely grill them with questions. What’s their learn style? What did they like about the program? dislike? How were they viewed by employers? Use these data points to map out your own potential outcome. And ask them to be your mentor.

3. What are your resources? And how would you evaluate your potential outcomes?

Obviously if you spend the ~$10K and score an $80K job, your resources were put to good use – amazing ROI! But, you need to evaluate other potential results, how that will impact you both professionally and financially, and determine if the risk/reward pays off. If you end up freelancing for 12 months after you graduate, will you be happy? What about if you work 2-3 low-wage internship/apprentice jobs after graduating, will you be fulfilled? Evaluate the 3-4 most likely outcomes and then decide if should move forward.

Do you think developer bootcamps are worth the investment for a beginning developer?

4 Tips to Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions

With the start of the new year, my mind is on resolutions and how to best achieve these changes I’d like to accomplish throughout the year. I try to bea better person towards others, to live a healthier lifestyle, and to progress my career.

I certainly don’t achieve all my resolutions, but I’ve got an high success rate; the following tips have greatly helped me and they can do the same for you:

#1 Make it Specific

Far too many people make the mistake of creating resolutions that are vague. Vague aspirations make it extremely difficult to truly understand what you want to achieve and therefore even harder to make meaningful strides. For example:

Vague: Improve my health.
Specific: Track my daily calorie intake and exercise at least 329 days in a year (90%).
Vague: Improve my writing.
Specific: Publish weekly posts (52 total) on andrewkkirk.com blog.

Want to know if your goals are specific? Here’s a quick test – can you measure your results?

#2 Make it Measurable

Having goals are meaningless without any frame to reference progress. Tracking your results serves several purposes.

First, measurements give you data to quantify results. Without measurement to keep us honest, it’s too easy to rely on judgement alone. As the resolution creator and judge, we’re biased. Measuring removes judgement from the results.

Second, analytically data will drive your sense of purpose. It’s too easy to lose focus with unspecific, unmeasurable goals. Abstraction is the enemy of your goals.

Tracking data points allows us to be binary. At the end of each week, I will have either completed or not completed an average of one new blog post. By constantly updating progress, we’re provided instant feedback which allows for adjustments. By measuring progress, there are no surprise results – you always know your status. If you’re looking for easy tool for tracking, Lift App is my favorite tool for tracking daily habits.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Tweet This

#3 Write it Down

You need to write down your goals. You certainly don’t want to forget your goals, but the implications are deeper. The physical act of documenting your desired results has psychological implications. You create a pact with yourself.

My process involves writing my goals down with pen and paper, then capturing it electronically to be stored in an ever-growing file stored in Evernote. Keep each year stored together and you’ll be happy to see the log over a few years time. I’m already excited for the joy I’ll have when I stumble back upon my current list in 20 or 30 years from now.

#4 Make it Realistic

It’s a new year. Hope and optimism is overflowing. It’s an exciting time, and the excitement can impair our acuity. I’m not talking about giving yourself softball lobs (ever tried to hit a softball? – not as easy as this metaphor implies). Anything too easy will have no meaning or impact.

But, the converse is true. You’ll lose hope and will abandon incredibly difficult or unattainable goals. We don’t change easily, so think realistically. Only you can determine what lies just beyond your current comfort zone.

Bonus: #5 Share Your Goals

Follow #1-4 and you’ll be in a great spot. And if you want to take the process to the next level, tell your goals with others. In addition to your own drive, you’ll have added desire to stick to what you’ve shared.

Share it with your partner, close friends, or on Facebook. In all cases, a positive social pressure will give you an extra boost of motivation.

What are your resolutions and what tricks do you use to be successful?