At the beginning of my college career, I did not have any coding background like my peers, so it took me a few no's to get a yes. I'll give you a quick run down of my technical background. I did start off with little to no experience, but I began to code in Java my second semester at LSU. Meanwhile, I got into web development, so I learned HTML & CSS on my own time. Once I knew Java and web languages, I was able to land a government job, where I picked up C#, SQL, & VB. Currently, I am working at my 3rd government job where I use all of the languages I have learned throughout the two years in college. This summer, I am proud to say I will be picking up another coding language, Python, at my summer internship.

Sounds so easy and straightforward, but it isn't. I have interviewed with top companies and received no's from them more than once. So where do you start? How do you land a job without experience? Here are a few tips that worked for me.

  1. Resume & Portfolio 
    • Please check out my post on how to develop and organize a college resume; I have a picture of what to include on your resume. You should let more than one person read over your resume. Your counselor or career center at your school are great resources. I recommend keeping your resume only one page long and hit on the highlights and leave the rest to explain if you get the interview. Also, it is critical to update your resume at least once every semester and always keep a copy on you. You never know when you will run across someone in the industry!
    • If you are in a field like CS or Art that may require you to have a portfolio to show off your skills, create one. Either bring it with you while networking or you can even put it on your personal website.
  2. Networking
    • LinkedIn- Making a LinkedIn account is the easiest way to get noticed by college recruiters, and it is FREE to create an account. Personally, I have been contacted by at least three companies in the past few months who offered me a position. Check out my LinkedIn page for a few tips on what information to display.
    • Conferences - Attending conferences in your field of study is an awesome way to get noticed; employers come to conferences just to find people like you! I received a scholarship and internship with the job that I landed at the Grace Hopper Women in Computing conference. A lady from the company walked up to me and asked for my resume. After reading my resume and talking to me, she offered me an interview. I interviewed that same day and received an offer a week later. The great thing about conferences is that the waiting process is short; it does not take long to know if you got the job.  Look on the Internet for conferences and career fairs in your field where companies will be offering jobs and internships.
      1. Elevator speech- WAIT! How do you approach an employer at a conference or job fair?  Always have an elevator speech ready. An elevator speech is a short ABOUT YOU opener that tells the company a little bit about you in a few seconds. It is a bit awkward walking up to someone and experiencing that weird silence where both of you don't know what to say, lol. But luckily, you will have an excellent pitch ready! Of course first, give a firm handshake and then give your best elevator speech. BTW, make your pitch seem as natural as possible, be COOL with it.
      2. Here is an example:
      3. Hi, my name is Jazmine Staten, and I am a junior at Louisiana State University. I am majoring in computer science with a minor in digital arts. I’ve had a couple of internships where I worked on several program applications. I enjoy front- end development and using my creativity to develop websites.  I am seeking internship opportunities that your company has to offer. Can you tell me how someone with my experience may fit into your organization?
    • Personal Website - Want to stand out??? Go ahead and check out my blog on how to code a Personal Site. You can put your site on your resume and even bring it up while networking if the employer wants to see your portfolio. Having a website with your work on it shows the recruiter that you are serious about what you do and will go the extra mile to get the job. Need help creating a website? Ask me and I would love to help and to brush up on my coding skills.
    • Business Cards - Forgot your resume on the printer? Yep, sounds like me, but wait I do have business cards in my purse! Yes, I do have business cards with my name, school, major, email, and LinkedIn printed on them that I keep in my purse. You never know when someone in the industry may be on the same plane as you. Why not give  them a business card? They are very inexpensive at Vistaprint.
  3. The Interview - So you have an A+ resume, gave your best pitch, and now you received the call for an interview! YAAYYYY. So how do you prepare for your interview?
    • Attire: Wearing a suit is your best bet. Ladies if you are wearing a skirt, make sure it is on your knees or past your knees and not fitted or too tight. Closed shoes are always professional and no large accessories. For women and men, please iron your clothes and tuck in your shirt. First impressions are everything and they first start when you walk through the door. Look nice & be 20-15 mins early.
    • STAR Method - Situation, Task, Action, Result - About 90% of my interviews have used the STAR method. This method is an easy way for interviewers to gather information about you and to see how you handle situations. Usually, the interviewer will ask you a situation based question, and it is up to you to state the case, what you had to do, what action did you take to get the job done, and what was the final result of the situation. NOT ALL events or situations that you went through always have a positive effect, and if they don't it is good to tell the employer ways that you could have made it better or what you plan to do next time to show that you learned from the situation. My first STAR interview was horrible! I made up things that did not happen and trust me the interviewer will know if you did. It is better to write down a few events that you experienced in your life and to go over them before your interview.
    • Sample Code- For my CS people, WHOOP WHOOP! CS interviews may require for you to write out some code or ask how you will go about solving the problem. Thankfully, I never had an interview like this, but a lot of my colleagues have. I recommend going on these websites to practice coding for the interview.
    • Ask Questions! - The interview is over, and the employer asks you if you have questions, you should always say YES! Ask questions that make you seem interested in the company and always research the company before the interview.
      1. What is the key to success in this job?
      2. What is a typical (day, week, month, or year) for a person or intern in this job?
      3. What is the biggest challenge someone in this job faces on a daily (or weekly or monthly) basis?
    • Always bring a copy of your resume to the interview and anything you have written down. Never be afraid to refer to your notes.

Good Luck and I hope this will help you land that dream job you always wanted!!

Published by Jazmine Staten