Finding your first job after college can be daunting. You’re navigating a maze of advisors, career fairs, companies, peers, and interviews – all while in many cases still working through your regular course load. While the job hunting process can be overwhelming across all industries, the following are a few key areas to keep in mind for computer science majors preparing to enter the workforce.
1) Show off your skills
You are applying for a position in a field that expects and looks for certain skill sets. Make sure that your resume clearly outlines the courses, projects, concepts, tools, and languages applicable to the position. If available, take a look at which technologies are required of the job and be prepared to speak to them. Immediately post college, you may not have much work experience aside from a few internships. One way to differentiate yourself from competing job seekers is through hobby software projects (e.g. contributing to open source, posting on Github). A hiring manager will take notice because it provides you with a portfolio of work that differentiates your application.
2) Be prepared for the interview
Do your research. Familiarize yourself with the company: get to know its products, internal values and if possible, the interview panel (you can ask the recruiter for the list of interviewers). If you’re interviewing for a particular team, see what you can learn about their project. Your research could impress an interviewer. When it comes to the interview itself, make sure you are comfortable discussing anything on your resume. Interviewers may not have a lot of time to thoroughly review your resume in advance, but if they pick out a concept, tool or language they are familiar with – they may focus on it during your conversation. If you don’t know the answer, it’ll be apparent.
Also be prepared to do some coding, either on the whiteboard or with a tool. Technical Interview teams will want to check out your skills in person before making a hiring decision. In addition to your technical aptitude, interviewers will want to assess how you have done in the past to determine how you would perform at their company. Behavioral questions may focus on softer skills (teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, handling adversity); and keep in mind some questions may map back to the company’s internal values. Prepare a few examples of how your work style fits with the company’s ahead of your interview.
3) Be a team player
Software development is increasingly becoming a team sport. Agile teams will form into small scrums or squads and meet daily to go over tasks and review each other’s code. Ever-more an important trait of a successful developer is being a strong team player, so be sure to point to any past experiences working with teams in your application materials and interview. Having played a team sport is a good bellwether, as it shows teamsmanship and aligning towards a common goal.
4) Use your networks
Referral networks are one of the strongest ways companies grow. Generally people will recommend job candidates they know to be competent and will fit well with the organization. Keep in touch with all of your friends at companies you’d like to work for, and ask regularly if there’s an opening that may be interesting to you. Don’t forget about classmates who are already in the workforce as you may be able to tap your college connections. Many times companies have referral bonuses for their employees so your friends will be incented to help. A win-win for everyone!
Also, attend career fairs. A lot of companies scout talent and find potential candidates during these events, so be sure to stop by and introduce yourself. (Hint: It’s always helpful to carry a few copies of resume with you when attending career fairs.)
Wrapping it up
While the job hunting process can take time, now is a good time to have a degree in computer science. Use these tips as you navigate your way through the job search process and remember to build out your portfolio and your network.
Careers in data science and data engineering are in high demand as more companies try to work through Big Data problems. Data engineer and machine learning engineer are two specific roles also gaining steam due to recent technological advancements and market demand. No matter what company you choose to work for or position you pursue, the computer science field is an exciting place to work where you can grow your skills and build a rewarding career.
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