I hope you’ve got your resumes ready, because Codeup’s bi-annual Tech Job Fair is coming back this Fall! For most people, this is an exciting event, full of opportunity and new beginnings. While for some, the words “Job Fair” provoke anxiety and a deep-seated fear of proper handshaking.
To help a few of you entry-level folks out there, I sat down with my boss Fred Tawil – President of Swipetrack Solutions – and asked him if he had some advice for anyone attending the Job Fair in September.
Interview With the Boss
How did you get into tech?
I taught myself how to program years and years ago. When I graduated as a political science major, I needed something to do. My dad owned bingo halls and he needed a player tracking system, so I figured okay, I’ll make a player tracking system. I taught myself how to program, I built the kiosk and built the software to run the player tracking.
As someone who didn’t formally study something like CS, what has been the most difficult thing about managing a bunch of programmers?
I don’t know. Everybody has their own method of programming and development. It’s that balancing act between getting something done quick and getting it done right. It’s figuring out how much time we can spend making it reliable versus getting it deployed.
That’s true. There’s always something new coming out in this industry.
Yeah, it’s always good to keep an eye out on what’s coming up, that way you’re not stuck when something gets depreciated or reaches its end-of-life.
When you’re hiring, do you typically read everyone’s resumes?
It depends. We typically glance at them. I understand that a lot of Codeup grads weren’t in tech and are trying to move into it. That’s actually good for us, especially as a small company. We like to see previous work history so we can hire someone with multiple skills.
Back when you were conducting the interviews yourself, what are some things that would make a candidate stand out to you?
Most of the time when we’re hiring, we get a lot of competent coders that come to see us, and we see lots and lots of resumes. But an important thing for us now is, will this person fit in with the environment and will they like working here? When it comes down to the interview, you can be a competent coder, but what we want to know is if you’ll mesh with the group of people here and if you’re someone we can work with day to day.
How important would you say it is for someone to have a personal website and to have recent commits on GitHub?
I can tell you we looked at everyone’s personal website if their resume looked good. GitHub accounts not so much, because a lot of the time when someone is coming from a coding bootcamp they’re all the same. A lot of the websites also looked similar, but if there was a way that you set yours apart, we saw those and those were pretty interesting.
For us it’s not so much what you did while you were at Codeup, it’s what else you did. Show me that you really enjoy programming and that you do it in your free time, as opposed to just looking for a higher paycheck. Do you have any apps in the App store, or a web application you made? Did you actually spend time on your website? I can tell you we do look at the source code and make sure if we’re hiring somebody that they didn’t just use a theme they bought on the internet and are pretending they built it. It’s very easy to tell.
Do you have any advice for anyone who is nervous about going to their first Tech Job Fair?
It might be different, but I think it’s more laid-back. I would say to just relax. The three or four times we did it, we enjoyed talking to people and finding those whose personalities stood out. So be relaxed, enjoy it, and just talk.
From Personal Experience
I clearly remember attending my first Tech Job Fair back in 2017, only because I was extremely anxious every day leading up to the event. I would go to Geekdom after class and had late nights to make sure that my website and online profiles were ready to go. Once the day came and I got there, my first thought was to run back to the car.
Three Easy Steps
Whether you’re planning to attend the Tech Job Fair to find employment or to network, it’s completely normal to be a little worried about it. So here’s my advice:
- Do Your Research
I can vouch for the importance of doing a little research before attending. Make sure to look at the list of companies who will be there and make a mental note of those that really interest you. You’ll be better off and more prepared to ask all the right questions.
- Introduce Yourself
If you’re not quite sure how, “Hello, my name is…” goes a long way.
- Follow Up
This is the step that most people forget. If you find a place that you fall in love with, you need to follow up. Why wouldn’t you? That would be like falling head over heels for someone on the first date and forgetting to call. There are plenty of fish in the sea and a simple email thanking them for their time could be the reason they remember your name.
Pro Tip: If you’re currently in Codeup, you can even invite them to Demo Day and have another shot at impressing them with your new skills.
Most importantly, STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF. Getting hired into a new company is a lot like entering a new relationship. Companies want to hire someone they can get along with everyday – someone who values their work and the company culture. Ultimately, you want to be hired by people who “get” you. It’s usually easy to tell when someone is not being genuine, so avoid pretending to be someone you’re not. Put yourself out there, smile and most of all, bring some hand-sanitizer because you’re going to be shaking a lot of hands.