Taylor Sturtz was working as a Graphic Designer for 5 years before making the full career-change into Web Development. He initially began designing for the web as well as learning HTML and CSS along the way. With every bit he learned, he wanted to learn more and decided to enroll in part-time courses. Eventually, he searched far-and-wide for the perfect Full-Immersion Program and came to the conclusion that LearningFuze was the perfect fit.
We sat down with Taylor to talk about his experience in the Full-Immersion Program, job prep/search tips, and advice to fellow students and alumni.
What steps did you take during the Full-Immersion to get the most out of it?
Worked. My. Butt. Off. I spent on average about 16 hours every day including weekends learning to code. I got at least 6 hours of sleep every day. It generally doesn’t make sense to get almost no sleep to get an extra couple of hours of work done if you’re going to be 50% as productive the entire following day. I made friends; team-work makes the dream work. I arrived early and/or stayed late. I learned to let go of my pride and ask for help and admit when I didn’t understand something even if it was a very basic concept.
What project were you most proud of and why?
A draw between hackathon winning www.meetup-map.com, (shout out to my meetup-map crew!) which I actually use for finding upcoming meetups near me, and my angular material to-do app that I built after graduation. I really enjoyed most of the projects I worked on, but I gave these two lots of extra attention. I have a passion for UI/UX and I am very proud of how the interface and experience in these apps turned out.
How much time did you spend on building your portfolio?
I consistently worked on my portfolio until I felt confident and “job ready.” After about one month, I felt pretty good about my portfolio and all the projects that my portfolio was showcasing, but after the second month I felt super duper confident; that confidence helped a ton in interviews.
What are the steps you took for job prep after completing the Full-Immersion?
I worked on completing and expanding upon all of the apps I had built at LearningFuze along with building my portfolio site. This period immediately after graduation was when everything I had learned started to truly make sense and fit together; I felt unstoppable.
I also made sure to take time once a week or so to go to networking events to make connections for use when I was ready to apply to jobs, full-force. When I had finished and gotten the LearningFuze seal of approval on my portfolio, I ramped up the networking even more and I actually started getting interviews. ALL of my interviews came from some form of networking.
The LearningFuze staff were extremely helpful in landing the job I have now.
Students: make sure to finish your portfolios, clean up your code, and get that approval. LearningFuze will help you find a job and it helps to get that critical feedback for your own benefit.
How would you structure your day between coding and looking for jobs?
- 10% of my waking post-bootcamp time was spent relaxing (video games, spending time with family, etc).
- 10% was spent doing some form of exercise (important to relieve stress and build confidence for interviews)
- 10% was spent researching companies, writing cover letters, and submitting resumes.
- 20% was spent networking: attending as many meetups as I could and making connections on linkedin or angellist.
- 20% was spent doing tutorials (codecademy, scotch.io, team treehouse, etc), coding prototypes of a new concept I was learning, or watching educational videos (udemy or youtube mostly).
- 30% was spent doing algorithmic challenges (toy problems) on InterviewCake, CodeWars, or various other places I found them. There’s a good repo of them starred on my github.
How did you go about networking?
Meetups mostly and lots of them (a few every week). I spoke to as many random people as I could though and talked to anyone remotely techy about development, to make inroads (you never know who has a great professional connection).
Knowing what you know now, is there anything you wish you knew before the job search?
Yeah. As a junior developer interviewing for a job, it’s how you behave around other people, how you display your ability to figure things out, and (this is huge) how you display an ENTHUSIASM to learn things that you don’t know, that will in most cases be far more important than showing the interviewer how much of a badass code ninja you currently are.
How would you prepare for the technical and behavioral interview?
I psyched myself up as much as possible right before all my interviews: we’re talking staring-into-the-mirror pep-talks, reciting Frank Herbert’s Dune quote “Fear is the mind-killer…”, blasting slayer on the drive to the interview, etc. The ridiculousness of those things took away some of the anxiety about the interview for me. As far as clothes, I wore business casual clothes that made me feel confident and comfortable (comfort is important; you’ll want to counteract some of the discomfort you’re feeling as a natural result of being interviewed). Also, there are some good resources starred on my github I can share that have a lot of potential developer questions to be prepared for and questions to ask the employer. Hit me up on the LFZ slack and I’ll send links to those repos if anyone wants.
Any advice to the alumni on interviews tips?
There are a million reasons an employer could deny you a job offer at any point in the interview process, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re striking out on interviews or not getting call backs. Seriously, there are so many potential reasons that have nothing to do with how much a company likes you. They might just decide that they can’t afford or simply don’t need to hire anyone for the position even though you were the top candidate–that happened to me after one of my interviews that went extremely well.
My advice during the job search is to be persistent and not let anything bring you down, which is obviously easier said than done. It can be super depressing when you get turned down or you’re not getting any responses to your resume, so do whatever helps you stay motivated and strong. Maybe that’s staring into the depths of your soul and letting it know that you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it people like you.
Any resources you recommend to fellow students or alumni (i.e. podcasts, websites, books, etc.)?
This is a great question and one that I was asked in more than one interview (they asked which resources I follow for development).
Developer podcasts are helpful to hear of experiences and technologies you wouldn’t otherwise. Some good ones are CodePen Radio, Codenewbie, Security Now & TWiT (anything with Leo LePorte although they’re more about general tech, not just web development).
As far as developer websites – scotch.io, SitePoint, CSS Tricks are great resources that I can think of off-hand. Also, this guy’s site is great: tholman.com.
Taylor is a great example of how one can achieve a successful career change with dedication, commitment, and hard work. By courageously forging ahead through LearningFuze’s Full-Immersion Program, Taylor overcame adversity and came out with a solid foundation of in-demand coding languages that enabled him to change his destiny.
Congrats Taylor on your successful career launch as a Web Developer at Ytel!