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The "What to Do with No Experience" Lesson is part of the full, Interviewing for Front-End Engineers course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Jem addresses the problem many people face when starting out in their career: not having experience in the field one is trying to get hired into, and emphasizes the importance of starting wherever you can, getting experience building towards the coveted role, and pairing that with networking.


Transcript from the "What to Do with No Experience" Lesson

>> So this is a question I get a lot. I get a ton on Twitter or people talking about and happy hour. They say what do I do if I have little to no experience? Now, what would you recommend? We all started somewhere. That is one thing we all share.

We all started somewhere. How did you get your foot in the door at the first job? Anybody, this is an open question. Yeah?
>> I applied to a QA position. And then I kind of worked my way into more of a development position. That worked for me.
>> That's a great path.

I didn't even think of that, yeah. If you have no experience in UI, is someone gonna you as a UI engineer? Maybe, maybe. But is another way of just applying for a different role and then working your way into that? That's a very effective role. I've seen people do it themselves.

Move from office manager to sales to QA to engineer. Why not? The easiest way to get a new job is to stay at your same company, just keep moving sideways, or move up or down, wherever you want. That's a great tip. Yes?
>> In the early days, I just knew everybody was gonna take advantage of me, so I just built a bunch of sites for local businesses and just like for way under cost.

But then, the future people didn't know how much those people paid. So I would charge them a more fair price and every time getting money for the next project.
>> That's a good-
>> I started with just getting taken advantage of.
>> [LAUGH]
>> But then, eventually just charged higher and higher prices until I was getting really good pay.

>> You two have suggestions I didn't even think of yet. Yes, start out freelancing on the side. Charge low rates, someone will hire you. I'll say a warning about freelancing. It's not as glamorous as you may think. You're like I do cool code and I get to build something new every day and people pay me for that.

No, as anybody who has freelanced will tell you, it's not necessarily that pleasant. But if you find the right person, the right client, you can really work together. And if they say this person's a good engineer, you're like well, I'm looking for steady work. You're hired. We don't have to interview you cuz we've seen the work you have done.

That's a great path to getting in if you don't have that much professional experience.
>> It's s mostly a means to an end.
>> Yeah, that's a great example. Any any other suggestions? These are good. These are questions that I get all the time. So these are really helpful.

I know a lot of people say you should have a robust GitHub with a ton of examples. Yeah, you should. But that's not gonna help you get noticed by anybody. You may think people are constantly trolling GitHub for wow, this person's so smart, look at this algorithm they implemented, or this is a really cool UI.

Probably not as much. What I recommend is, yeah, have a GitHub, have something on there that shows you can code, and shows your style of coding. And then, join Twitter. Post out some of the things you do. Post it in a code pen and say here's this animation of me doing cool stuff.

I can't guarantee you that's gonna land you a job, but it'll get you noticed. Another thing I'd say is what you absolutely have to do is you have to network. I know. When I was in college, I'm like, I'm so smart, I got a CS degree, everybody's gonna hire me.

And then nothing. Because who was I? I was just another college graduate. But what I did was, I made friends. I got my first job via my roommate because he had a position at the startup he was at. And he's like hey, they're looking for a junior part-time person.

And were they taking advantage of me with very low pay? Probably. But did I care? No, it got me experience, it got me in the door, and it got something on my resume that I can tell people about. And that's another Jim tip. Don't swing for the fences on the first job.

You have no experiences. You may have heard people at Google or LinkedIn or FrontendMasters getting paid $200,000 a year or something as front end engineers. That's not gonna be your first time out. Unless you are truly exceptional and get really, really, really lucky. You're probably gonna take a pretty low pay when you start off.

That's just the nature of having no experience. But make sure you take advantage of the people around you. Leverage the time to learn. Leverage all the knowledge and things you can get out of this job. Yes?
>> Online, there's a few suggestions. Personal projects, contributing to open source, and volunteering coding for an NGO.

>> Yeah, those are all solid, too. My only issue with people saying yeah, have a GitHub, contribute to open source, and all these things, is you have to leverage that into a job somehow. Otherwise you're kind of doing work. The strongest one I always recommend is networking. Network, network, network.

It's unpleasant, they don't teach it to you in college, they should. But you have to know people who know people. And just make friends. It just shows you the type person they wanna work with. How I got my job at Netflix was I was working at a start up and I applied to a conference, and I got in.

And then, I gave a talk on React, EX6, and doesn't really matter. But it turns out, my future boss was there at the conference. Like hey, I wanna talk to this guy. He seems like a personable person. You can tell my personality by how I give talks. And then, that turned into an application, and that turned into a job eventually.

So go to conferences, go to meetups, talk to people. And network, network, network, network. In fact, real story, and I have plenty of real stories. Part of the preparation for this workshop is I applied for jobs at places. I didn't get reached out from recruiters. I just tried to, with my resume and the things I've done, and my talks and workshops and all that, I applied for jobs.

Do you know how many people responded to me? Zero, nobody. I applied for a job at Amazon. They never got back to me. And I'm not saying I'm the world's greatest engineer. Probably not even saying the world's second greatest engineer. Third? Maybe, no. The fact is they get thousands and thousands of people.

And if you don't match whatever their algorithm or criteria is, you're probably just gonna get passed over. So the real way to do it is to make friends or just follow someone who works at Amazon on Twitter. And then eventually you have a interaction. And I don't mean this to be manipulative, but establish a genuine interaction with people.

And then, say hey, you got me open rules, I'm looking? And almost everybody will help you out. Anybody that's ever asked for a referral to Netflix, I've never not helped them out. It's not really gonna help you [LAUGH] that's not the way we work. But I will always help you out.

I think most people will in the community. We're all generally good people. We understand what it's like to try to find a new job. So I'll say that again. Network, network, meet-ups, and talks. Yes, that's what you should do if you have no experience. And also have a web page.

I need to know what you can do. And this last piece of advice is a bit distasteful for me, cuz I'm not a fan. But I talk to a lot of hiring managers, and they said you need to have a LinkedIn profile. And it should list where you've worked and what are your skills.

You have to. That's one of the primary ways they find people is LinkedIn. This is my personal opinion, I'm not too wild about it, the interface is kind of clunky. But these are things we have to do as professionals. So have a LinkedIn profile, have a webpage, and network.

>> So maybe, I guess it's a question what do you do with experience that you have that's not CS related? Is there a way to work it into your application?
>> Yes, and that's-
>> Or do you just ignore it completely?
>> No, no, that's a great question.

What I put, and you can see it even on my resume, is I have a lot of experience from my previous life before being a software engineer. So I list my professional experience there. So that means it's not it's not entirely encompassing of everything I've ever done. But when you sit down with someone and you say hey, do you have experience managing people, you're like yes, I did.

I managed people at a theme park through college for a couple of years. So work it in there. But on your LinkedIn, probably leave out the less relevant experience unless you really feel it's critical.

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