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Student Focus: Max Pollock

Written by James Adams

Tech Educators Graduate, Max Pollock

Having graduated on the 16th November, 2023. Max was leaving the Tech Educators software development coding bootcamp and the following week, starting his career in tech. We caught up with Max this week to find out about his experience and his tips to anyone on the course, or thinking of getting into the industry.

Can you share your overall experience during the 12-week coding bootcamp? What were the most challenging aspects, and how did you overcome them?

The Tech Educators Full-stack bootcamp was fast paced, supportive but most importantly, fun. In previous education, I found the classroom to be quite dull, lacking in energy and engagement, but the Tech Educators team made this the complete opposite. It was an incredibly memorable and enjoyable experience.

The biggest challenge throughout the bootcamp was being thrown into the deep-end with new technologies, and being expected to figure out problems independently. But what this did do, was create a classroom of efficient problem solvers.

Tell us about a specific project you worked on during the bootcamp. What technologies did you use, and what role did you play in the project's success?

Our final project was a mobile-first progressive web app to help beginner and experienced DnD players create and track their characters, and play-through journeys.

Using the MERN stack (Mongo, Express and React), we broke up our roles into front-end and back-end. I was focused on the front-end and I was able to improve the user experience by implementing third-party libraries and sleek functionality, as our app had over 65 individual form inputs.

Due to the complexity of the project and the short time frame from idea to deployment, we did a lot of mob and pair programming to get our app to a suitable standard for presenting - making it a true collaborative success.

Securing a job before completing the course is impressive. Can you walk us through your job search strategy? What platforms or methods did you find most effective in landing interviews?

I took a staged approach to this, with each stage having an approach, here's what I did.

Find the company:

Being able to use google and knowing what to search for made my job searching experience a million times more efficient and effective. For example, I was searching keywords in google to find local companies that hire developers and adding these to a spreadsheet to contact in the future. I made sure to not just use Indeed or LinkedIn to find companies and roles.

Contact the company:

Using the spreadsheet, I found contact details and wrote a speculative application expressing why I want to work there and what I could bring to the company. Whilst making sure to cite work that they have showcased on their website that I found interesting.

Accept rejection as an opportunity:

I would love to say that I heard back from lots of companies, but the truth is I didn’t. Out of all the interviews that I had, I got rejected. It’s a horrible feeling when that email comes through, but I made sure to remind myself that whilst I was rejected for the role, I was given an opportunity to meet people within the industry, increase my list of contacts and receive valuable feedback. Which is why it is really important to stay on top of your contact list. Just because you were rejected once, does not mean you will be rejected the next time. Inform them of your progression and keep in-touch.

How did the bootcamp contribute to the development of your technical skills? Were there specific languages, frameworks, or concepts that you found particularly valuable in your job search?

I had a good understanding of the foundations of HTML and CSS prior to starting the course so this allowed me to recap what I had already learnt which was incredibly valuable.

I had no experience of Javascript or any popular frameworks before starting the course, so approaching these in a classroom setting with mixed abilities was brilliant for my development.

Most notably, being able to say I have built a React web app provided me with lots of confidence when communicating with employers.

Networking is crucial in the tech industry. How did you leverage networking opportunities during the bootcamp, and how do you think it influenced your ability to secure a job early in your coding journey?

Prior to the bootcamp, I had started to build contacts within the industry to get an understanding of what it means to work in Tech. This allowed me to confidently discuss how I can fit into the industry and, more specifically, in a junior developer role.

I have continued building connections beyond the bootcamp and I have future plans to get myself involved with the local Norwich community as much as possible.

Facing challenges is common in the tech field. Can you share a specific challenge you encountered during the bootcamp or job search and explain how you addressed it?

The biggest challenge I faced during my journey to become a developer was rejection. On two occasions, I left the interview feeling on top of the world, feeling like I absolutely crushed it -having no doubts that I had the best chances at being offered the role.

When I received the rejection email, it was crushing and it did make me question whether it is the right path for me. Although the rejection was tough, it helped remind me that I wouldn’t be this upset about it if I didn’t care, so I turned that into motivation and continued to learn and grow as a new developer.

For individuals currently enrolled in coding bootcamps, what advice would you give them to make the most out of the experience and increase their chances of securing a job?

I think the the three key pieces of advice I can give are as follows:

  • Everyone wants you to succeed, and if they didn’t, their opinion shouldn’t matter to youanyway.
  • Putting yourself out there can be scary, especially when you are so new to the industry, but the growth you achieve from it is second to none.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff and focus on the bigger picture of improving your skill set and securing a role in Tech will come with time.

Reflecting on your interview experiences, what were some common questions or challenges you faced during technical interviews, and how did you prepare for them? Any tips for others going through the interview process?

Make sure you nail down the “why?” to what you are going through. The most common question I was asked was “why web development?” or “why Tech?”. It’s important to have a well thought-out and honest answer.

Honesty and authenticity is the biggest thing I could advise throughout the whole process. No matter who you are, if you have been invited to an interview, your experience is important and has enough value to be having that conversation with the interviewer. Allow yourself to express your quirks, let your guard down and become comfortable with talking about yourself - which is easier said than done.

Don’t make my mistake allowing yourself to feel defeated by the process when being rejected as you never know what is going to happen in the future. I was rejected and hired for the same role in the space of 5 months - so miracles do happen.

If you think a career in tech may be for you, why not sign up to one of our FREE taster sessions? You can join our software development bootcamp taster session or our Unity game development bootcamp taster session.

About the Author

James has 8 years with Fortune 200 US firm ITW, experience of managing projects in China, USA, and throughout Europe. James has worked with companies such as Tesco, Vauxhall, ITW, Serco, McDonalds. James has experience in supporting start-up and scale up companies such as Readingmate, Gorilla Juice and Harvest London. James completed his MBA at the University of East Anglia in 2018.

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