The Road to WTIA’s Draft Day, June 25

WTIA_trainingday

The turnout at Training Day on June 15, was tremendous and we enjoyed meeting and helping all the enthusiastic candidates that participated. It was an afternoon that was rich with insight and information from caring industry mentors and professionals. The one-on-one sessions gave new dimensions to approaching a job search for attendees. And if that wasn’t enough, there was a pop-up photography studio on site! Everyone was provided with a professionally produced headshot to use in their social media professional network platform of choice! How cool is that?!

Learn more about the selection process.

Route_2_DraftDay

Application Process

  • Candidates must be nominated by a tech educator
  • Eligible tech educators: University, Community College or tech program instructors (ie, Code Fellows, Dev BootCamp, Coding Dojo, etc)
  • Job types: QAE, SDET, TPM, PM, Information Security Analyst

Tech Educators
{Each instructor may submit up to 10 nominees}

  1. Submit an online Draft Day Nomination Form to refer a former or current class participant
  2. Provide Nominee with the Candidate Application Essay form

Nominees Must Submit

  1. Draft Day Candidate Application form: provided by the nominating tech educator
  2. Resume (resumes must be submitted as a word doc. PDF’s will not be accepted)

HELP WTIA #LEVELTHEPLAYINGFIELD

Nominate a candidate
Volunteer
Recruit Candidates
Sponsor

Contact Heather Craig: hcraig@washingtontechnology.org

Getting a Job: Now & Later


Hey, here’s a neat article about what’s next for the Stanford class of 2014! Oh, what’s that? You’re part of the tiny demographic known as “People Who Didn’t Go To Stanford.” Weird! Well then, take a look at this New York Times article about Brooklyn College graduates. Didn’t go there either? Too bad! This is all you get!

Now, a lot of these numbers and stories can be depressing, but bear with me. The reason I’m posting this stuff is two-fold.

First, if you’re a recent college graduate who’s struggling to find a new job, YOU’RE NOT ALONE. Even graduates of a place like Stanford are having a hard time in this market. Does knowing that make the process easier for you? No. But hopefully it will bolster you to keep your spirits up, because if there’s one thing that really slows down a process like the job search, it’s self-doubt. So, take a look at these articles and rest assured, the problem isn’t you.

Second, if you’re not graduating college yet, start your job search now. Start seeing what you need to get the kind of first job you want. Look into internships. Volunteer. Don’t just put the whole process off until later. Do SOMETHING even if it’s just research… or daydreaming. Any amount of thought is better than no thought at all.

So, go ahead: read up, chin up, start up (early).

photo by Flickr user www.guigo.eu, used under a Creative Commons License.

Dream On!

A lot of time, we like to post articles with tips and advice on how to succeed, or at least survive, in the job search. But sometimes you don’t need concrete advice. Sometimes you need a good pep talk. And for that, we’ll turn to Andrew WK.

Yes, that Andrew WK. As it turns out, his talents reach far beyond head-banging, partying hard, and composing thrashy rock songs that are as intense as they are fun. Mr. WK is also an excellent motivational speaker… or, motivational writer, in this case.

Just look at this tasty nugget:

…Nothing can hurt more than giving up and living with the knowledge that you abandoned hope… None of the worst potential outcomes of following what you love could ever be more painful than the empty life lived by the quitter, the one who gave up and spent the rest of their life convincing themselves they had to.

Okay, I’ll be honest. This post is just much about talking to myself as it is about sharing something inspirational. I’m about to go to graduate school to focus more on my own writing. It’s something I’ve known for certain I would do for several months, and something that I’ve been thinking about for several years, but now, two days from packing up my car and driving halfway across the country, it’s finally hit me: I’m actually doing this.

In many ways, it’s not logical. I had a job that I liked in the field I wanted to be in. It was totally fine, and had I not gotten into grad school, I probably would have kept at it and been content. But you don’t dream of doing something that is just “fine.” You don’t dream of something that just makes you “content.” You dream of doing something special. You dream of doing something altogether your own. And for better or for worse, a lot of the time you dream of something impractical.

Committing to doing something impractical feels weird. Right now, I’m thinking about how I won’t have as much money coming in, and not just while in school, but after probably too. I’m taking an index of the things I like that cost money – coffee, going out for drinks, meals, music, books, etc. – and realizing that I won’t be able to enjoy them as freely as before. But that’s okay, because as Mr. WK implies, a nice espresso drink or a good sandwich can’t possibly make up for the dissatisfaction I’d feel knowing that I’m not doing what I really want to be doing in life.

Still, the practical path’s undertow is strong. It pulls us at all times. It’s pulling me now, and it also pulled me when I got my first job out of college. I felt unhappy with where I was, and I started to think about what else I could do. I thought about teaching, about working in residential life at a college, things I had enjoyed when I did them during school or in the summer. But neither was my true passion. So, I kept at it. I worked my day job and when I got home, I wrote. I built up a little list of publications that I managed to parlay into a job as a copywriter.

And honestly, I thought that was my dream for a while. I thought making a living by writing in any way would be enough to sustain me while I worked on my own stuff on the side. But it wasn’t, so I’m going a step further. And that’s another important thing to know about dreams: they change. You realize things about yourself, you realize things about the world, and your focus shifts. Because of this, it’s important to check in with yourself at every turn. You need to know the difference between finding a new set of interests and settling for something because you’re scared of being impractical.

But look, I can go on and on and on and on about this, but I won’t (not more than I already have, at least). Just read Andrew WK’s post and get inspired to get what you want.

STEM: It’s Where It’$ At

The college I went to didn’t have any required coursework. Sure, some classes had pre-requisites, some classes required a writing sample, and each student had a committee of faculty members who gently guided him or her towards studying certain things, but for the most part, it was open season. Knowing that, you might be surprised to learn that I, a creative writing student, voluntarily took several math classes. Why? Because they were fun.

That’s right, fun. After all the touchy-feely stuff, it gave me a certain thrill to learn formulas and solve equations. They were like puzzles. I didn’t have to create anything out of thin air. The answers were out there; I just had to use my brain to figure them out.

And you know what, I’m glad I did. And not just because it provided a nice foil to my other coursework. As it turns out, those classes are going to make me FILTHY RICH. Just kidding. But seriously, according to this article on Quartz, STEM classes (meaning classes in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) help build skills you need to succeed in just about any career field.

Now, the article talks a bit about majoring in STEM, but for many of you, that might not be an option you can or want to pursue. Still, if you at least still have a chance to take classes in a STEM field, DO IT. It’ll help your brain and show prospective employers your willingness to embrace some of the most cerebral problem-solving methods there are.

And if you are a majoring in a STEM field, congratulations. You’re going to be a billionaire! Just remember the little people who got you there… like us. You can make the check out to 2:25AM. Thanks!

A little too forward there? Sorry. Anyway, give the article a read and give STEM some consideration next time you’re signing up for classes!

(photo by Flickr user Dustin Moore used under a Creative Commons License.)

Be Your Boss… Eventually

If you want the job done right, you do it yourself.

Sure, that’s a line mostly used by hokey on-screen mobsters, but there’s some truth in it. You know yourself better than you know anyone. If you have an idea for something, you don’t need to explain it to yourself because it’s all in YOUR head. Therefore, if you want to see your idea executed effectively, you shouldn’t leave it to other people. You need to be in charge.

You’ll find that this desire – to strike out on your own, to do your own thing, to make your own way in the world – only grows stronger when you’re stuck in front of a computer all day, clicking radio buttons and filling out spreadsheets. Every poor move your employer makes, every time you need to compromise your values, all of these things get filed away as evidence that you need to be your own boss.

But perhaps you don’t. Not yet, at least.

Being an entrepreneur is complicated. If you don’t believe me, just look at this article over on the Undercover Recruiter. Now, wanna know the bad news? What author Ken Sundheim presents there is really just the Cliff’s notes version. In reality, there could be a book about each subject he presents. That’s because having a great idea is one thing. Actually building a viable company is another thing entirely. After all, as the article points out: you can’t only look at things from an emotional prospective. You need to use logic, as well.

So don’t write your crummy job off just yet. Instead, learn from it. Watch what your company does. Look for the things you would improve and admit the things you’d do just the same. This is how you get the knowledge you need to become an entrepreneur. Without this, you’re putting your vision in danger; if you get too idealistic, you run the risk of hitting a wall and compromising just as much you might when you’re working for someone else. The only difference? This time there’s no one to blame but yourself.

So again, read the article from The Undercover Recruiter and ask yourself: how can you learn how to be your own boss by working for your boss?

The (nearly) Perfect Resume

Limit Your Resume to one pageTo follow up on our post from last week, and the one from the week before that, guess what we’re talking about today? That’s right: resumes again! This time, we’re looking at Phil Marks’s post on LinkedIn, How To Write The Nearly Perfect Resume.

So what’s different about his take that it warrants its own post? It’s specific, that’s what. The other two posts we shared, while very helpful, we’re a bit on the touchy-feely side. Marks, meanwhile, provides more pointed advice, going so far, in fact, as to give word counts for a variety of key resume sections.

Of course, you need to take all of this with a grain of salt. There are no hard and fast rules to resume writing. Marks himself acknowledges this, pointing out that the title is “how to write the nearly perfect resume,” not just, “how to write the perfect resume.” Depending on what position you apply to, you might need to break a few rules or adhere to others that aren’t written here.

But sometimes, when you’re not sure where to start, specific instructions can help you do just that. Also, if you’re not having any luck with the resume you’re using, Marks’s post provides something to check your work against. Maybe you’re being too long-winded, or maybe you’re not being long-winded enough.

So take a look at what he has to say and get started crafting your own almost perfect resume today!

Bad Habits, Inefficient Processes: You Just Gotta Ask

thought_cloud
Two years in a row, I worked at a boarding school summer program teaching middle school kids creative writing and journalism. What does middle school journalism entail? Some hard hitting articles about foreign policy? An opinion piece about the laziness of modern art? In depth interviews with professional athletes? No. Mostly, the students wrote silly little articles about activities, profiled teachers, and took pictures. It was really fun.

As the teacher, I was in charge of readying their work for publication (i.e. – printing it out on one of the computer lab printers). One time, during this process, I opened a document to find one of the students had written her article in two columns. Seeing as the paper printed in a double-column format, she probably thought she was doing me a favor. But he wasn’t. Instead of setting the document up as a two column document, she had simply done it all with the space bar, so each line had words from each column. In other words I had to copy each line individually to paste it into the master doc instead of just selecting the whole thing.

Did she get in trouble for this? No. Of course not. But you might, if you made a similar mistake at your first job.

Now, this is just an illustrative example. I imagine if you’ve been through college, you have at least a vague understanding about how word processors work. But the danger of forming bad habits is still there.

What do I mean by “bad habit”? I mean a way of doing something that will later require undoing. Bad habits occur most often because of eagerness and pride. You get an assignment and you want to look competent so you go and do what you think you need to do, even though you’re not sure how. It’s the work equivalent of putting together exercise equipment based solely on the picture from the box, or guessing how to get somewhere because you see the building you’re trying to get to off in the distance. Does it feel good when you get it right? Sure. But it’s not worth the risk of getting it wrong.

Luckily there’s an easy way to avoid bad habits: asking questions. If someone gives you a project to work on, double-check to make sure you know how to do it. Don’t want to sound like you don’t know what you’re doing? That’s simple. Just be confident with your questions: no apologies, no vagueness, keep it specific. In other words, don’t say, “Wait, what? Sorry, how do I do that again?” Say instead, “Just so we’re clear, I do that by doing x, right?” You could also try and get your supervisor to show you how he or she does things, or better yet, have him or her to watch you do the first couple of steps yourself to make sure you’re on the right track.

This is the best way to do it: front-load your questions. You can also make a go at it and get your supervisor to check in somewhere along the way where it’s not to late to back-track a little if you’re doing something wrong. But while this might show more confidence, it presents a new danger: inefficient processes. Not as bad as a bad habit, an inefficient process gets the job done and gets it done right, but maybe isn’t the best, easiest way to do things. And to make matters worse, a supervisor who’s just looking at what you’ve done, not seeing how you’ve done, will have no idea, so you could end up doing things the “wrong” way for a while before you realize. Seeking feedback and advice when you’re just getting started on a project helps you avoid this.

So go ahead: ask questions. Ask them early, and ask them often. That might initially seem annoying, but trust me, it’s better than putting a lot of work into something that someone else needs to put a lot of work into fixing.