I'm struggling to find my first role as a Jr front end

Hi there,

I’m Sebastian and I’m from London,UK.

I started learning web development almost 2 years ago and since then I struggle a lot to find any company that would give me the chance to work with them.

I’m feeling frustrated as I always hear stories about how people landed their dream job within 1 year and I feel like a failure. I don’t know what to do anymore, to appear a good fit for a Jr front-end role and I would really appreciate any feedback/tips on what to do to get an opportunity.

This is my online portfolio : www.sebastianmariani.com

Please feel free to give me feedback on the portfolio :slight_smile:

Thanks a lot!

People love to push these stories, but personally I think they create unrealistic goals. You are competing for jobs with graduates of 4 yr universities. You need to show that you have equivalent knowledge to what they learned over 4 years, and that is hard to do in 1 yr of self study.

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I’m feeling frustrated as I always hear stories about how people landed their dream job

First of all, everyone has a different story. And different places have different job markets, needs, and expectations.

I guess I landed my “dream job”, only in the sense that my dream was to get any job. But it took me closer to 2 years. #ymmv

But in any case, getting the first job is insanely difficult, no matter where you are. The people that get them are the ones that work hard, learn as much as they can, build projects, and keep building more complex projects, keep learning, polish up their resume, etc, and don’t give up.

At the risk of more shameless self-promotion, I once wrote a doc with my thoughts/advice on getting a first job.

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To add to this,

I believe you also want to show your as work ready as possible. Its a risk to hire someone, hence why companies have strict requirements on candidates. Your goal isn’t to be the perfect candidate, just better than the competition. Your portfolio states your a front-end developer, and has 5 front-end projects. This is all you have against you and the competition, and this might not be enough.

Ultimately what “is enough” is completely situational, as getting a job is dependent on a lot of factors, which is why it can take months to find a job. This means you want to find a way to stand out from the competition.

If what your offering looks to much like who your applying with, you will have a tougher time, as there are a lot of candidates looking for front-end jr roles and companies can only pick 1 candidate for a given position, and have potentially hundreds of applicants.

Another consideration is front-end only jobs are also impacted by products like Wix and wordpress, which allow anyone to build client-side applications, with basic back-end integrations using drag and drop. This means client-side only work usually is along the lines of complexity that is beyond what those platforms can do.

You should aim to “oversell yourself”. IE apply for jr front-end roles, but show off technical skills above a jr level. Since your front-end only, everything front-end should be as professional as possible, as there isn’t much wiggle room outside of that one niche.

One possibility is picking up some back-end, and adding more full-stack level projects.

Another possibility is to expand on your existing projects. Its one thing to have a student-level project to show off some HTML skills, its another to have a full product online you own. This of course requires a heck of a lot more work, but all that work = experience that can help you stand out from the crowd.

Your designs are clean, but might be too minimalistic. For example, your portfolio lacks a top navigation bar, personal logo, your name, or contact form. The “about me” text could be updated to talk more about you as a person, rather than focusing on just technical skills. One possible angle of selling yourself, and standing out is providing some background on what you as a person can provide, rather than just technical skills.

At a glance it appears your portfiolio only has 5 projects of similar complexity, which again might not help stand out from the competition. It would also appear the actual functionality of most of the applications is either faked or not working due to missing a back-end, or is just incomplete.

Keep learning, keep building, and keep looking into job applications to see what companies are looking for. Whatever they are asking for you should meet, and then some. Today’s job market is tough, its always been tough. You’ve gotten this far, so I’m sure you can continue to grind it out, just keep improving :+1:

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He is in London. Baccalaureate degrees typically take three years there. I do agree that he should get a degree to be a shoe in in this industry.

I didn’t say that a degree is needed. I recommend a degree if it is possible, but you can become a developer without a degree. But you need to demonstrate that you have equivalent knowledge.

I’m feeling frustrated as I always hear stories about how people landed their dream job within 1 year and I feel like a failure.

Be very critical of statements about people landing their dream job in tech within 1 year of starting on the path to get it. Some possibilities that spring to mind when I come across tales like this are:

  • The person isn’t being honest about what their dream job is, or had some superficial goal of wanting to have their official job title be ‘developer’, or ‘engineer’; titles which can arbitrarily be given.
  • The person’s dream job was to design and code static web pages. Web designers are awesome and make the lives of front-end software engineers much better. And, it is feasible to get a good first job as a web designer within a year, but there’s a big jump from designer to engineer in terms of the fundamentals that need to be learned to be job-ready.
  • The person has a YouTube learning channel or other learning resources they want to promote. The trend toward more people becoming self-taught web developers seems to have propagated an Amway-like learning culture where people learn how to do software development, but don’t actually ever do any software development because they can somehow derive an income by teaching others how to do it. Don’t get me wrong, we need teachers; but the best teachers, in my experience, aren’t spending a lot of time trying to convince you that, you too, can become a software engineer in less than 12 short months.
  • The person actually had the cognitive capacity and the motivation to learn enough to do meaningful software development in a short period of time. In my experience, people like this don’t go around talking about how they landed their dream job in a short period of time, unless they’re trying to cash in on their story.

YMMV.

I went through the freeCodeCamp certifications from Responsive web design to full-stack (legacy certification now) in 4 months. I applied to a few companies, and the only one that offered me a job was a web design studio, and they wanted me as a web designer/front-end developer for far less money than I was making as a teacher. 8 months later, I got offered a front-end role and took it. It was far (faaaaar) from being my dream job, but I stuck with it to improve my resume. 18 months after starting that job, I got what I considered to be a ‘good’ job as a ‘software engineer.’ So 2 and a half years to get a ‘good’ job. I haven’t landed my ‘dream’ job yet.

Some unsolicited advice:

  • Build a couple of ‘real-world’ apps that provide some kinds of business solutions, even if they’re functionally the same as other apps out there on the market, and put these on your portfolio. Practice talking about these apps with others, maybe friends and family (or even to yourself) - and I mean talking about what makes them useful, how you designed them, how you chose the tech you used, and what difficulties you had along the way. I built a full-stack Trello-like project management app with Python and Django and a ‘serverless’ cryptocurrency information app with React and D3. Both of those, along with my experience (the far-from-ideal job), helped me secure my first ‘good’ job.
  • Build a nice Linked In profile and curate it. There’s a lot of great info out there on how to use Linked In to get a good job as a developer. I got my first ‘good’ job with Linked In. I’ve used Linked In in both Japan and the US.

Anyway, make your main ‘project’ getting a job. Maybe even build an app that helps you do this and put it on your portfolio, killing two birds with one stone effectively.

It’s not enough to have the skills; you have to be able to use those skills to build features that improve a ‘real-world’ app’s usefulness (or build a ‘real-world’ app from scratch if you’re truly motivated), and you have to be able to communicate to potential employers that you can do this. The term ‘real-world’ is ambiguous, but think of it in a business sense. A simple to-do app won’t likely cut the mustard.

Good luck.

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Two scenarios:

I have a degree in Comp Sci. I apply for a job. I get hired. Then I get 6 months training as I have no practical experience.

Or

I don’t have a degree. I have to take several seriously difficult assessments, if I ever get called back, prior to being considered.

Which one is true?

Both.

I’m not exactly sure what you are trying to say?

As I said above, I do recommend getting a degree. But that isn’t an option for everyone and it is possible to become a developer without a degree.

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I’ve said this before on FCC but I’m going to reiterate it, because it’s nowhere near mentioned enough.

In general, the people who lands jobs the fastest & easiest are the ones with strong “soft skills” (i.e. people/social skills), and not necessarily also with good or strong “hard skills” (the technical stuff that you learn). We all know people with strong soft skills - they know how to talk in any situation, sell themselves for anything, and in general they have lots of charisma.

You can learn all the things that you need to in order to become a developer, but if you don’t have the proper soft skills, you’ll never get past an interview for someone to hire you. It’s somewhat of a hard truth that no matter what type of work you’re in, you still need to know soft skills and how to interview.

To an extent soft skills are innate, but they can also be learned too, and only you can decide if that’s something you need to do.

Hypothetically you could have the worst portfolio in the world, but if you know how to present yourself, you could still probably persuade someone to hire you regardless. The people with soft skills know how to do this, that’s why they always land jobs so easily and quickly.

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I’m also going to add my input on your website and LinkedIn profile:

  • You need to properly proof-read all of the text on your website and on your LinkedIn profile. Because to me, it honestly reads like either English is your second language, or you were just really lazy when you wrote everything. You have so many grammar & spelling mistakes, and considering that you don’t have that much text either, it’s not exactly a good look.

  • Related to the above point, you should also capitalize all appropriate technologies and acronyms. For example, outside of a package.json file, you should write “Vue Router” and not “Vue-router”. “HTML”, “CSS”, and “JS” are all proper acronyms that should always be capitalized too.

  • Don’t call anything “work” on your website unless you got paid for it in some way. Use “projects” instead wherever that makes sense.

  • It seems like out of your current projects, none of them are quite ambitious enough and really demonstrate that you could hit the ground running in a real-world job. It seems like that you know how to create a basic SPA with both Vue and React, but these SPAs are missing some real-world functions, like user registration/login & checkout, persistence, etc. I’d strongly urge you to build a project that emulates and solves a business problem - i.e. something like an e-commerce system like Amazon’s. You can use Firebase for your back-end needs too, which will minimize the back-end work that you have to do.

  • You have a course from Harvard University mentioned on your LinkedIn profile?! It’s unclear what this is. I’m going to be blunt though: unless you have a 4-year Bachelor’s Degree (or better) from Harvard, you need to delete this. It’s extremely misleading to say that you have an education from Harvard if you actually don’t.

  • You also don’t seem to have any professional experience listed on your LinkedIn profile, but you have more than 500 connections? This doesn’t compute at all. It’s extremely unclear how you have so many connections, and could send the wrong message to people who see your LinkedIn profile (i.e. recruiters and HR).

  • The two “certificate” entries under your Education are also unclear what they are. What does that mean? You need to either clarify what these are, or delete them.

  • You have too many meaningless Codecademy certifications listed as well. If you want to keep anything, I’d recommend limiting that to the React and Vue ones, and deleting the others.

  • What are you currently doing for work? This information is also missing and could be a potential factor for rejections.

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First time, you should struggle but after doing a few projects it will be much easier for you to get some projects.

Thanks @JeremyLT for the comment. Absolutely, it makes sense that I need to prove to be up for the task and I guess I need more time and more knowledge still. :slight_smile:

@bradtaniguchi Thanks a lot! very in depth suggestion! I will need to look into all the tips you gave me on how to optimize my portfolio! Thanks a lot again for the support and help! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Thanks @kevinSmith , I really appreciate the support! I’ll definitely look into the doc that you wrote and thanks a lot to share it with me! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

@willjw3 Thanks a lot! You really helped me to find the right direction for my path. :ok_hand:t3:

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Thanks a lot @astv99 ! You’re right, english isn’t my first language. Thanks for all the amazing tips and advice you gave me. I’ll look into all of them!

Grind Fiverr, Upwork and Freelancer and you’ll make more money than any job could pay you.

That’s nice. I’m also trying to find something like this.