Craft By Zen

8 min read

🔖essay   🔖blog   🔖post

The Job Search and Updates

A few months ago, I emailed my cohort from Dev Bootcamp about my recent success on landing a job. I wanted to post that letter after fellow DBC grad, @StephanieChou92, posted her success story to her cohort. Also, I have a few updates since this letter that I wanted to add now that I’ve helped a few of my other cohort mates.

Sent on October 25th, 2014 (some edits were made to make it more legible with less inside jokes):

Hi Salamaniacs,

I haven’t heard much job announcing in this thread. I wanted to share my story because it kind of goes through a rough patch, and it may talk to some folks who may be having similar issues right now.

I got an offer to join Reverb Technologies in greater SF area for a UI Developer, i.e. front-end developer, position to start next week. I’m going to take it because of the company culture, the team, and the technology I get to work with. My coding challenge was to make an AngularJS application, something I didn’t learn at DBC, but after two days of tutorials, the challenge was much more approachable. I would advise anyone pursuing front-end development work to play with some Javascript frameworks like Angular, Ember, or Backbone. Message me if you want some ideas for JS frameworks and libraries, or JS projects to play around with. Don’t be afraid to play with other technologies you didn’t learn at DBC.

This said, I have some interviews with other companies next week. I have been advised to still do them and not try to blow them off. Right now, I’m leaning towards doing the interviews because I get a choice in a few months whether I would like to stay with the company or move somewhere else since the position is contract. It’s true what they say: don’t burn your bridges. The developer community is small in any local area, even Silicon Valley.

Let me back up and talk about the journey to this point. I took about three weeks off of the job search to do a road trip back home as well as a detour to South Korea for personal business. I was really wiped out when I got back and I thought I was far behind everyone else in our cohort. I started working on the resume and LinkedIn, although it would be another two and a half weeks until I actually sent my first application out. During that period, I slacked off a bit. This is ill-advised, but the worst got to me. I panicked, allowing perfectionism to get to me for these applications to the point I wanted to delay sending it in. I had a cold email sitting in my inbox for at least two weeks before I sent one thinking this is just a creepy email. Coincidentally, I got a reply within 24 hours, but I didn’t take that opportunity to continue to converse. Here’s my advice for a month ago Jeremy and anyone finding themselves with a bit of lost hope right now, “Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Yoda Founder Quote
Yoda Founder Quote

In addition to these blunders, I was talking to Jonathan at the time and we were talking about his interviews at Groupon and his subsequent offer. I felt the pressure to succeed soon, but I feel I wasn’t progressing fast enough. My runway also isn’t that long; I had until the end of November to find something because December is often seen as a no-hire month.

It wasn’t all bad though. I participated in my first hackathon at Github HQ, I started a coding club with some of us in the cohort where the goal is to just read code, and I started getting back into shape since I didn’t do much during that month of travel. I send my first application out three weeks ago, send out about three or four cold emails and got replies from two of them, one is to the CTO of the company I’m taking the offer with and the other is a DBC SF alumni. The DBC alum and I had lunch the following week and offered to push through an application for me if I applied to Hipmunk. Also during this time, I checked out DBC SF and Lia introduced me by email with Marie @SF who does what I think is equivalent to Lia’s role. Interestingly enough, Marie helped me today at a hackathon she helped organize at the SETI institute because she found me teammates. It shows that this community is small and you’re bound to run into each other at some point.

After talking on the phone with the CTO of Reverb, he got me in touch with the head of engineering who found a position for me that I talked about in the beginning. It lead to a coding challenge, as mentioned before, and a three and a half hour interview process with six of their engineering staff. The questions varied from technical to behavioral. The technical questions were very direct and included whiteboarding, general questions, and doing a code review with my coding challenge. My advice here is if you don’t know something, don’t be a wise ass and think you know it. I definitely said I don’t know to a few questions. Within four hours after the interview, I got a call with an offer. What I really liked was that I get to work with a mentor, everyone on the team can work together well, the company has re-focused to what’s important and understands the needs of its employees. It is engineering driven and I will get to work on a lot. At the same time, it’s a mainly 9 to 5 job where most people don’t work very late, and rarely weekends, something I actually want because of some previous work blunders at the last company I worked at. Also, it doesn’t really have that bro-grammer culture lots of people associate with start-ups out here.

I did do some networking at a conference in SF, a conference at SAP, and at a meet-up or two. Really, don’t think networking as this laborious thing. As mentioned before, it involves the willingness to learn and have a conversation with other people, not about the hungry dog that won’t stop barking “gimme a job, gimme a job.” It takes a few times to get into the groove of talking with strangers because this skill withers when I don’t do it often enough. If you want to schedule a talk with someone, there’s a new service called Start-up Travels that will let you meet with entrepreneurs in your area. Disclaimer: I haven’t tried the service but will sometime soon. You may need to go outside of your comfort zone; I practiced this by singing loudly in my car en route to one of these events because there are most likely other people in cars or on the street staring at you funny. Let them stare and be proud.

Cheers and happy hunting,



  1. My contract position is up soon, and I’m in talks to becoming full-time. I will let you all know as soon I know more.
  2. Start-Up Travels is actually a great service. I’ve used it once back in November when the lovely @YrjaOftedahl from Norway contacted me and we met for coffee. I found out I can use it for my local area as well to find entrepreneurs or others working at start-ups. And the service is from a team in Denmark and is relatively new, so jump on this bandwagon.
  3. I’ve gotten comments from some friends and family that I got this job in a snap. But the truth is, it was painful not getting a paycheck for months. I had to cut back on everything I could a month leading up to getting this job, including getting a loan from a friend. Now that I have this job, I’m slowly paying my debt off.
  4. I thought I would stop meeting people after I got this job, but quite the contrary. I’m scheduled to meet up with more people this month — developers, entrepreneurs, designers, scientists. It helps to also write part-time for myself, which you should all check out.
  5. Coding Club has ended. We had a run of 10 meet-ups in 2014, and I plan on doing something different in 2015. I was unorganized with this hour long session every Sunday, and the successes and failures of the club can be the topic of another blog post.
  6. I get to code every weekday, and I love it. DBC was the starting point. Now it’s up to me to continue my education, and boy do I have a lot to learn.