Mentorship and the job search for software engineers

I had a rough initial job search, I went from studying business to wanting to do software development, then, I found myself in SF at a bootcamp that no longer I finally, had to get a job. We're in rough times right now, but it doesn't have to be. You might be looking for work, throwing your resume off into the abyss of online application portals and not hearing anything back. You might be thinking theres no hope and you're not good enough for the job you're applying for.


If you keep doing the same thing over and over and its not yielding a different result WTF are you doing?

First things first, what do we need? People on our side. How do we get that? Networking. Now, Im not talking about the going to a Meetup, sitting in the corner drinking the free beer and eating dumplings whilst talking about some new Javascript-framework-that's-going-to-be-the-next-React kind of networking! Im talking about the kind of networking that you can call someone at 3am on the corner of Hammered and Hungry needing a ride home. We want people on our side that will vouch for us at their current company or companies they've worked at before.


Because some hotshot Manager put in a good word for you magically moving you to the top of the list of job applicants. Is this fair? No probably not, but neither is life. Bye bye abyss.

How do we do this?

Right now it's a bit tricky but not impossible, I promise. Find people on Twitter, Instagram, Medium, Angel List, whosever work you really like. Im not talking 2020 double click like, Im talking REALLY LIKE. Send them a nice thoughtful email asking them for some time to chat about something specific at a specific time.

Something to the effects of:

"Hey Mr. Javascript Wizard, I really admire your work and contributions to open source. This last pull request you submitted really inspired me to learn about Abstract Syntax Tree algorithms (include a link). I was wondering if we could schedule a coffee chat this Friday at 2pm to learn how you got into open source."

Maybe they respond, maybe they dont. Dan Abramov still hasnt responded to my twitter message 😦 its ok though, he's a busy guy (Loved your decade in review and just javascript btw). Life moves on.

But maybe, just maybe you'll hit it off with them. Both of you will actually enjoy each others company or maybe they become your mentor.


Woah woah woah not so fast, lets talk about the coffee chat itself.

Its important to recognize that you want this persons time, treat it as such. Yagetit? No? Let me make myself crystal clear. Do your best to not waste their time. Come prepared, do your research, and have thoughtful questions. This is not an interview! Use the questions you came prepared with as a guide, not as a script. They'll be expecting you to be prepared, you reached out to them after all. Dont forget, make it casual, make it fun, and smile!

I'll let you in on a little secret. Keep a notepad with you so if they bring something up you want to mention later without derailing the whole fucking conversation, you can write it down and talk about it at a more appropriate time. Remember, this relationship youre cultivating can either be a really cool friendship, mentorship, or someone you will go to for advice in the future. Or in one of my cases, going from contract work, to interview prep guidance, to attending their bachelor party...... 😃

I have done this multiple times and it has hands down changed my career for the better. I've met so many awesome and influential people that have been there for me when looking for career, business, or personal advice. But they're not going to find you, you have to find them.

Lot's of rejections later, still learning and still meeting people. I am thankful to the mentors and people that have responded to my emails and cold messages. Because without them, I wouldn't be where I would be today. At a great company, loving my job.

# Action item for the reader

Reach out to people you admire, schedule a chat with them. If you do this, please share it with me so I can post about your success story!

Thanks for reading