Getting a Software Engineering Job, v2

Informational Interviews

Jerome Hardaway

Jerome Hardaway

Vets Who Code
Getting a Software Engineering Job, v2

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The "Informational Interviews" Lesson is part of the full, Getting a Software Engineering Job, v2 course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Jerome explains that networking is a powerful tool for building connections, gaining knowledge, and advancing your career. It's a skill that helps establish relationships with mentors, find job opportunities, and stay up-to-date on industry trends.


Transcript from the "Informational Interviews" Lesson

>> So we're at the end of the last leg, and for me, this is one of the most important ones, I guess because of the community that I'm in is veterans. Veterans have the worst ability of being able to ask for help. I have never seen a culture that's so ingrained on suffering in silence as veterans, I mean, I'm a veteran, right?

So I'm part of the guilty party, right? But once I teach them how to network and let them know it's okay to ask for help, and it's okay to talk to people about a thing you're doing and your work doesn't have to be perfect to be out in the wild.

And sucking at something is the first step of being sort of good at it. Hashtag adventure time for those of y'all don't see. You knew, come here, man. That's what I'm talking about. Somebody grew up watching Cartoon Network. So like are we okay, school? Parents do not love you.

It's okay. [LAUGH]
>> Sometimes very wise.
>> Yes, Jake the Dog was though. He had it, he was a goat. So, we're gonna talk about this, this networking, and we're gonna talk about in the manner that makes it impactful. I've never been one of those people that wanna go to the meetups of the bunch people and pass out cards and stuff.

I've never been that guy. I've always been a intentional networker with a focus on making sure that I met the right people at the right time. Even when I went to conferences, I'm known for being at the conference but not being at the conference because my goal with a conference is, always have three things.

Learn something, meet at least one person, and then make sure I get a resource that showcases that I've been there like a picture or something with someone, right? Those are always the three things I'm trying to get me one intentional connection. Get learn one good, learn, get one talk that's intentional that was good.

And also get a little piece of media that showcases, I was here and stuff like that then I'm like I'm out I'm like bye, see you all later I don't even want to be here no more, smoke pop, smoke I'm gone. So I that's what I want to talk to you about.

So you all are new to the tech industry and it could be networking is powerful, super powerful tool, right, just like not even here where you're networking with each other, getting resources, learn with each other, learning new things. Helping each other with your career focus stuff like that, very important.

Skill again establish relationships with mentors find opportunities and stay up to date. I would say that the whole like in my own career, networking has helped me get to the point where the last two jobs I did not have to apply for, I was actually requested to apply for, right?

And that's where you want to get. As you as your career progressed, you want to go from having to do these code interviews to being recommended for these interviews to being asked to interview, all right? That's the natural progression, if you're doing it right, right? If you're doing it right and you're networking well, that's a natural progression.

You go from, hey, I wanna talk to you about my project and that person becomes the person that you're talking to you about your work, to a person that is mentoring you, to the person that is sponsoring you and champion you when you're not in the room, right?

That's what we all aspire to have and we all aspire to become one day for someone else, right? So first, let's begin with what I feel like if you go to the networking MD repo. What I feel like is the most powerful and most impactful form of networking.

The informational interview, that is where I am identifying someone that I have found something interesting on or find something that I wanna mimic in my own career or even if it's a company I wanna work at. And I request or find someone I request and can I have an informational interview with them so I can pick their brain and ask them questions, right?

So this is not like hey, them interviewing me for a role this is more me interviewing them asking them about the roles or ask them about something that they've done, a great example in my career I'm Paul Ford. He used to work at postflight. And he now he has a

He wrote an article the turtle into the entire, What Is Code? First interactive article that Bloomberg ever did. If you go there, it's an amazing article, Paul for What Is Code, I highly recommend it. It's so cool so many easter eggs. It's the dopest article I've ever seen in my life.

And of course me being into writing, I asked him I was like, hey, I would really like to pick your brain about this article. I absolutely love this article. So he was like sure, what you pick my brain, so I got an informational interview with him. Because I looked up to like this level of eloquence or writing and also this admission of having a brain that was code reluctant and still forcing himself to learn how to code and still getting to the path where he was a good coder.

Even though he didn't take to it naturally and things like that I was, I feel like I'm in this right here because I was young at the time I was, okay, there's so much to learn. Maybe I'm like him. And just going through this and we kept having these conversations back and forth.

One day I was like hey, you wanna join my board for vets who code? Cuz we're working on trying to get to the next level. He was like, I have a lot of my plate right now, no. Okay, I was like giant drat, but then I remember the first lesson, success is an a no does not mean never, a no means not right now, right?

So I continue networking with him and he continued networking with me and he started recommending me for opportunities to talk, opportunities to write. And then until one day I asked him again, get about me on a board and he was like, you know what? Yeah, sure. And then, I was hey, I need a serious mentor to help me get to the next level of my career.

That happened about two years ago. And he was, all right, how do you wanna do this? I was, so once a month, I wanna meet up with you, I wanna have these action items and things like that. He was wow, you've really thought about this. And I was yeah, I have, I'm sorry.

And so that happened, and for about two years. Once a month, we met up, met the action items, he would give me to-dos to the point where he was like, I don't have anything else to tell you what to do cuz you've done them. And I'm hoping that I at least helped you some way cuz it's very rare to be in this type of situations where people do what you tell them to do, right?

Which is how what you should do when you're networking and you're meeting mentors and stuff when they give you advice, execute on it immediately. And let them know that you executed on it because when you do that that makes them wanna tell you and give you more advice on opportunities, right?

And it makes them wanna champion you in the rooms that you're not in because that's what makes them wanna sponsor you. Because that you you're building that feedback loop of trust when you're doing things, right? Like that's what you want to do. You wanna keep building that feedback loop of trust, but hey, dude, if you do this to be better, hey, I did that.

This was my metrics. This is what happened and they're like it took you a week to do that. Well yeah, it was only one of my to dues and I was like, I made it mandatory. Like that's super cool. You put what I said in front of your to do list and you knocked it out, right?

Informationals. That's how our relationship started with the informational interview. I have many troops that we have what we call slack side chats or used to call them that, but now we call it drill, which is like very famous technologists come and talk to my veterans. And I always ensure that sometimes that I connect one of them to one of my veterans so they can have informational interviews.

So that over the course of years of building these relationships they will have these people who can mentor and sponsor as well. But that is how the information interviews work. You see you're asking about advice, guidance from an experienced individual to provide valuable insights to their career path, industry in the trends or job market dynamics and that becomes something bigger over time if you're doing this right.

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