The feeling of being qualified and ready to earn can be really exciting but at the same time job search process can be really confusing and overwhelming for a fresher. Especially, in India where most of the BE/B Tech coursework does not offer much choices in terms of courses. I realized this the other day I was talking to my sister, a recent graduate in computer science, back home in India.
A lot has changed in last five years since the widespread use of smart phones, tablets. The trends in technology are changing everyday and it is very important to keep up with the pace. As a fresher, the real challenge is where to start. Luckily, there are tons of tools/resources out there (most of them free) to help you keep yourself updated not only while launching new career but also reshaping the existing one.
Here, I would like to present the list of resources which I found extremely helpful to stay on top of technology/business trends. Most of the resources in this list are relevant technology area, especially software (as that’s where I belong).
LinkedIn is a great way to build a strong professional network. It is almost a MUST to have an up to date LinkedIn profile. Prospective employers pay attention to LinkedIn profile in addition to traditional Resumes and Cover Letters. Good thing is, LinkedIn is always being improved to make it relevant for your job search. The recommendations and endorsements section can be extremely helpful when starting a job search.
You should review your LinkedIn profile at least once every three months. Pay particular attention to profile summary, skills and recommendations. New skills acquired through current work projects, personal projects, courses, trainings, should be added to the skill set. Major personal/class projects should be added to Projects list and share a link to source control repository if available.
If there is major event like changing job, getting promoted to a new role or title, make sure it is reflected on LinkedIn withing first couple of weeks. Ask for recommendations and endorsements from your colleagues whenever possible.
For me, Twitter is the source of most amazing ideas and some really cool stuff these days! I found links to some of the great blogs through Twitter. I also use Twitter to follow accounts of the technologies I am working on or are interested to work on which helps to stay on top of new releases, changes etc.
Whenever you read an interesting article or listen to Ted talks, be sure to check out author’s Twitter account. Here, is a list of Smart people to follow on twitter, which is a great starting point. Also, try and keep the twitter timeline diverse. Most of the times, tweets contain links to other content, in which case it is better to skim through these items, and bookmark them for reading later.
3. Programming blogs
Programmer or not, it is extremely important to have a well maintained blog. Buying a domain under your name is recommended. Try and post at least once a week on your blog. If you have tried out any new technologies be sure to right a brief review on your blog. I have experienced that writing a blog article requires some level of research and critical thinking on the topic, which enhances your own knowledge and skills. In addition make sure you subscribe to some great blogs and try to catchup with the content at least once a day.
4.Technology sections in newspapers and magazines
Business and technology sections in newspapers are important to observe changing trends. I would suggest to use an app like Flipboard and try to read them regularly.
Not all articles are to be read in every detail. But you should at least stay on top latest in news. I am trying to master the art of skimming through the articles, focusing only on those pieces relevant to my area of interest or of general excitement. If I find insightful articles I save them to use as a reference in my blog posts.
I spend an hour each month to browse through courses on some awesome course websites like Coursera. Depending on my work schedule I sign up to these classes. If you are a programmer, Pluralsight is an amazing website to start learning absolutely anything. However, it requires a paid subscription. You can find some free ones out there which are equally good.
6. Meetups, Hacker schools, Hackathons
The general idea is to build a strong network around your areas of interests and have some focused discussions or projects. I would suggest to create/join such groups and be a regular participant. It will also help you hear interesting problems people faced and how they go about resolutions. A more natural outcome is to practice good communication skills and get your own voice.
7. Books, Books and more Books
Reading books is absolutely necessary. If you have a fixed downtime in the day like commute time, be sure to take a book along with you. Goodreads is really simple and powerful site to keep track of all the books you read. Just like tweets, make sure your reading list is diverse. Furthermore, don’t just read a book and forget, take notes, add your own thoughts/opinions below them, read your notes again and digest the content as much as possible.
8. Find your purpose
As my favorite author Nilofer Merchant says:
“Purpose is better motivator than money. Money, while necessary, motivates neither the best of people nor the best in people. Purpose does” – From the book 11 rules for creating value in Social Era.
This holds true when choosing/pursuing a career as well. Through your reading and research, find the purpose (s) that appeals to you the most. Then find jobs that are relevant to this purpose. If you are lucky and land in such a job, trust me it will be your dream job!
9. Find mentor(s)
Lot of times you will come across situations: professionally, personally or mix; when you would want to have an unbiased and honest opinions about your decisions. Such opinions can seldom come from family members. At other times you will need someone to motivate and back your decisions. Specially someone who understands and have worked in that specific domain. It is therefore, almost essential to surround yourself with awesome mentor(s).
My suggestion is to find at least one mentor, be sure to convey your ideas and notions along with your background. Try and meet with them once every month, personally if possible, or on video call if they are remotely located. Make sure you build a strong bond with them and have open and honest conversations about your situations.
10. Source control repository
This last one is for developers. For every personal project you code, however large or small, be sure to maintain a source control repository and check it in. I have found Github helpful in this regard. Also, for your benefit maintain a brief wiki about the project. Think of it like a programming portfolio and always try to enhance it.
Finally, observe that, this list is not fully exhaustive. I will be making several additions to it in coming months. However, I believe it should set you on a right thinking path. I hope my fresher friends will find it helpful in their career pursuit and I would like to hear your feedback.
Happy job hunting 🙂