Our Director of Career Services, Sophie, sat down with r29 grad Nico Martinucci to learn what strategies he found most effective in landing his first job just one month after graduation.
Sophie: Overall what was your experience with this job search?
I enjoyed it. The key for me was approaching it as an opportunity to get out and meet people. I put growing my network above grinding out hundreds of applications. My days were often filled with 30 minute calls with old colleagues or people I was put in touch with to hear about what they did, and tell them I am on the job hunt. It was really great to have that daily schedule that I promptly adjusted. Having a set understanding of what I am going to fall back on if I don’t have anything pressing that comes up. I treated my job search as a full time job that kept me focused and allowed me to move quickly.
Sophie: What was your process from the beginning? Did you start any new routines?
My approach was putting networking and meeting people first. Technical expertise is important but at the end of the day making a human connection with somebody is more important. Check the box of “Is this person (hiring manager/recruiter) thinking that they want to work with you?”. You can’t have this come through in the resume and cover letter. The most important was: Am I going to be a good human fit first, then demonstrate my technical abilities.
I maintained my routines which were pretty strong even before the beginning of the bootcamp. The key is to make a routing and stick by it. It should include things that help you unwind and relax and feel centered.
By virtue of focusing on meeting people and making connections, it was inherently an enriching experience. I came away from every conversation excited about the work, excited about the industry, and the next prospects. It was a highlight of my routine.
Sophie: How did you show up in these chats? What was your intention?
I had 3 questions that I could ask anybody:
- How did you get to where you are now?
- What are some of the trends that you are seeing in the industry?
- What is a piece of advice you want to give me?
I always did research on the person and the company to understand what it is they did and came with more questions specific to them. What were more specific projects or initiatives that they were working on? And tried to connect it with other things that I already knew. This is both genuine curiosity and serving the purpose of demonstrating that you know how to talk about these things.
There were times when I definitely used those chats to learn about other companies. I would ask: Have you worked with them? What do you know about them?
I always made sure to wrap up with a direct ask (if it did not come up organically): “Hey I am currently looking for work. If you have any job openings/mention a job directly, I would love to be considered for them.” The most successful was asking to be put in touch with other people in the industry. I was able to use that strategy to get 2 or 3 or 4 new connections from each conversation.
I don’t think I had any successful cold outreach. Everyone I was able to chat with was already connected to me directly or indirectly.
Sophie: How did you select the people you chose to reach out to?
To the extent that you can find people that you already know whose work or background is tech adjacent: colleagues who I knew had already worked with vendors or were sitting on committees or were working directly with some of these companies as my first point of contact. I think that takes a little bit of work to figure out what overlaps exist between a previous industry and tech. It’s one the biggest advantages of coming out of a bootcamp, it’s having that previous background. It’s a huge advantage to have these experiences and connections. Where does your previous industry overlap with the tech industry? Who is doing the work in that space? Am I already connected with these people on LinkedIn or can someone put me in touch with them?
Sophie: Was there anything challenging for you in the job hunt?
The uncertainty of it. Especially the level of effort that you are putting into this and it amounts to nothing until it amounts to something. The incremental progress is hidden. You don’t get 1% of a job each time you apply. Keeping up with the cohort helped a lot, our morning standups, having a network in place to support and share our experiences and get some feeling of progress.
Sophie: How did you get your job?
I came across the job about a month before the bootcamp ended. It was the perfect mix of my old background and software engineering. I had existing connections at the company. It was an entry level position. It was checking all the boxes. I very quickly reached out to the people I knew at the company. They put me in touch with the hiring manager. We had a great conversation and scheduled to reconnect at the end of the bootcamp.
I sent him my resume in the last week of the program. A week later I heard back from him and scheduled a first round interview. Then the following week I was invited for an onsite. I received the offer about a week and a half after that. But it all started with making a connection at the company, which is my big takeaway from the whole experience.
If something comes across your plate at any time during the bootcamp, don’t hesitate to reach out, especially if it’s checking enough boxes. Make these connections and talk to people. Save the proactive grind of the job search for after bootcamp, but don’t let opportunities pass you by that come up in the meantime.
The unexpected benefit of doing a very proactive job search was that I did a lot of the website and portfolio cleanup right after this opportunity came along. I had a bit more time during internship weeks so I could spend that time working on these improvements early enough. I’d recommend doing that so you don’t have to spend the first month or so of the job search cleaning up your portfolio.
Sophie: What is one thing you want to say to r30 students, who will be graduating soon?
De-emphasize the part of your job search that is applying to jobs and overemphasize the part of your job search that is making connections with old or new people. Being able to make a human connection matters way more than anything else.
Sitting at your computer and applying to hundreds of jobs is a recipe for burnout and is not a successful strategy in this market. What matters right now is figuring out what sets you apart from other entry level engineers who are applying for jobs, and that is unlikely to be your software engineering background or technical expertise. Our advantage is that we have a former occupations or interests and we should take advantage of our networks.
Sophie: Anything else?
Staying in touch with the cohort has been really helpful to not make this not feel like an overly isolating process. It would have been really hard to go from 16 weeks of a highly collaborative learning environment to an unknown length of being completely on your own and having no one to connect with. Do that!