In this video, we get interview advice from engineer and YouTuber Amy Codes. I’ve been a fan of Amy (@theamycode) and her talks for a while. So, I knew I had to interview her for our new series, #TechTuesdays.
How did you get into tech?
“Freshman year of college, I majored in cellular biology and neuroscience. What a tongue twister and my intention was to do the premed route and then eventually apply to medical school.
During freshman year, I took classes like organic chemistry, fundamentals of biology and fundamentals of neuroscience and things like that.
Upon taking those classes, I sort of changed my mind about going to medical school, only because my classes, they involved a lot of things like rote memorization, which was something that I was neither good at nor too interested in.
Sophomore year rolled around. I was still in the fundamentals. I was still majoring in cellular biology and neuroscience. So I was also trying to figure out what I want to do next.
Something serendipitous happened and it’s super random. I don’t know if you all remember the online thing called Omegle. It’s an online chat roulette where you get like matched with random strangers that you pair and you’re just like – like type out and just chat online.
So I was paired with a random stranger and he actually suggested that I major in computer science. At that time, I was actually just about to sign up – it was like the week before. We had to sign up for classes. So I took his suggestion and I drag one of my friends along to major – to take the Introduction to Computer Science class along with me and the rest is history.
Everything has been pretty awesome after that and I’m so grateful that that happened. Actually something similar in terms of like serendipity happened, in terms of like where I sort of settled in the field that I am in, in the tech industry.
So I specifically work on infrastructure software and more specifically, it’s like containers and container appreciation type stuff. So again, I’m interested in committees, containers, Go, distributing systems, things like that.
At the time that I was job hunting, I was trying to get out of like web development type stuff because in my prior internships, I have done that and they were amazing internships. But I knew that I didn’t want to develop applications.
So my friend, she actually told me to follow someone on Twitter, and she was talking about containers and Go and all these amazing things and so I decided to check it out and I thought that they were super amazing. So three months before starting interviewing, I learned Go and then started applying to all these companies that did this sort of like infrastructure type things and again, the rest is history and I’m super excited in the area that I am in.”
What interview advice do you have for us?
“So the advice that I have for you all looking for jobs in the tech industry. So something that was really helpful for me actually was being comfortable asking for help.
So this has happened two times. One was when I was applying for jobs and fulltime jobs. The second time was when I was applying to be a speaker at conferences. So what I did was on my Twitter, I took a screenshot of my qualifications and like a little snippet of my resume that I thought was pertinent to people who were looking to hire.
I tweeted that out and I was telling people about what I was interested in targeting and a lot of people reached out to me with opportunities, or who were offering to give an introduction to different companies and things like that.
That is actually the reason why I got my first full-time job. That’s also the reason why I got my internship at Behance/Adobe because I like posting things that I was looking for a job and things like that.
I think just being comfortable asking for help is something that is really, really helpful for other parts of your career as well and social media is super helpful for that. I mean it was great for being able to go to tech conferences. Three months after starting my job, I started tweeting out that I was interested in going to tech conferences and here are the things that I would be able to talk about and people again reached out.
Let’s see. Another thing, aside from using social media for your job hunt, definitely use any connections that you might have. It’s always better to go in, having an introduction, than just cold calling or cold emailing someone. The recruiter will be able to prioritize your application and be more careful in terms of the placement of what you’re interested in.
So if it’s generic as like front or backend or maybe you want to go in a specific area of frontend or focus in a specific area in backend engineering and things like that. They will be more inclined to do that if you have an introduction and background of qualifications that you come in with.
In terms of the like email itself, what I did was is I had sort of this email template of all my qualifications and a lot of links to online things that I have done. So if this means class projects or if this means other side projects that I’ve done – I’m not saying side projects are necessary. But it helps to get people contacts, right? Or other things – like I do online community organizing or if I were doing speaking, I would link them to my YouTube channel and things like that.
Providing as much context as to who you are, what you’re interested in also helps not only the recruiter but the engineering hiring manager where they’re able to look at these things and to better place you and also gives them the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say if you do not as well on your interview, they can look at this content and be like, OK, this is just a bad day for them and we want to give them another chance and then maybe pass it through another interview.”
What about rejection?
“Let’s see. Another thing I would say just in terms of the interview process itself, don’t take rejections personally. Companies are looking for very specific things and it’s not a reflection of your ability at all. It’s just sort of – I always think that a lot of interviews are just sort of – you’re just sort of – it’s just sort of a shot in the dark, right? It’s like you don’t know what they’re looking for.
They could be looking for very specific technical things that you know, maybe specific community involvement things that you are a part of. Maybe they just need to have this one role fulfilled because they really need someone to do it.
You don’t know what they’re looking for. Don’t take it personally and just keep on going and keep on trying. Eventually one will stick.
I think that’s all the advice I have for now. Good luck to you if you are job hunting and if you are in the tech industry, I would love to connect once again on Twitter, @theamycode.”