Easily Grow as a Developer After a Coding Bootcamp

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The catch-22 of getting into this industry is that you need a job to get experience, and you need experience to get a job. I was frustrated with following tutorials and making apps no one would care about or use. Volunteering got me access to real-world experience, with the code of conduct guidelines being the only bar for entry.

Code for Chicago” is a group of Software Developers, UX/UI Designers, Data Scientists, Project/Product Managers, and Content Writers who build projects for non-profits around the city. They describe themselves as “committed to fostering an inclusive space for civic technologists and community members to collaborate.” I’ve been volunteering for two weeks and I want to share my experience.

The Obvious Benefits

In addition to expanding my network, I now have an immediate answer to “What have you been working on since school?” A question many hiring managers will ask. My contribution activity on Github has that many more green squares.

The work Code for Chicago takes on builds tools for free, public use and focuses on underrepresented, poverty-stricken, or otherwise marginalized groups in the area. That alone can make it worthwhile. Who wouldn’t want to put some good into the world?

Learn Simple Best Practices Not Taught In School

I am glad I’m doing this in an environment that has no stakes other than disappointing my peers. When I am in a situation where I am getting paid I will feel more sure about what I’m doing.

Help Is Readily Available

The next evening someone else spent an hour of their free time helping me troubleshoot an error I was getting. She tagged the project lead to be sure we were on the right track and he apologized for not seeing our thread sooner.

If someone is already donating their time for a good cause, they are probably, at heart a good person and want to help you better your skills as a recent Bootcamp grad.

Unexpected Job Support

In the first meeting I attended there was a portion of time dedicated to discussing job interview questions, tech assessments, and general support for those who needed it.

It’s announced in slack when someone finds a job and they are congratulated. The group will be a great support system for finding work.

Volunteering Has Made Me Feel Better About Being Unemployed

Code for Chicago” is a brigade of “Code for America”. They likely have a Brigade near you. If you have an abundance of energy and time but no where to focus your passion, I recommend volunteering your skills to Code for America.

I am a software developer with an obsession to marry the rigid structure of programming into the boundless creativity of ideas and art.

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