Formerly an electronic engineer from Venezuela, Julio came to Germany looking for new opportunities. Despite already having some development experience, the job hunt in Germany wasn’t easy. He decided to boost his skills and make himself more attractive in the coding job market—and the Full-Stack Web Development Program at CareerFoundry was the perfect solution.
With help from the Agentur für Arbeit, the German employment center, Julio was able to take the program for free, thanks to his eligibility for a free training voucher:
“I did some research online and found CareerFoundry. I spoke to a program advisor who told me I could get support from the German government, so I then contacted the Agentur für Arbeit.
The whole process was really easy. It was just one call and they basically just told me I could do it. It was really fast and really easy. Maybe the Covid-19 pandemic was one of the reasons why it was straightforward for me. This was a time when lots of people were at home re-thinking their career paths. I found that the Agentur für Arbeit were prepared for that and were happy to approve my application.”
Julio enjoyed the program, but, as he set out to look for a new role as a developer in Germany, found he was lacking in confidence when it came to the job search. Thankfully, by studying with CareerFoundry, Julio was able to work directly with a dedicated career specialist to help him tackle the job search.
As we’ve detailed in our complete guide to getting your first web developer job, making sure your application stands out from the rest of the pile is key. Together with his career specialist Alessandro, Julio crafted, polished, and personalized his web developer job application—and it worked wonders.
He eventually received three job opportunities for development roles, and is now working as a frontend developer for an e-learning platform in Germany. So how did he do it?
We recently held a live event with both Julio and Alessandro to dive into the details of how to create a high-performing web developer application. During the event, Julio explained some of the most important steps throughout the entire job search process—from setting up and managing an application pipeline, turning an application into a first interview, and overcoming the fear of technical questions in the technical interview.
You can watch the whole event in this video, or keep reading for some of the highlights and to learn more about Julio’s career change journey.
Before we learn how Julio landed his first job in the industry, let’s understand a bit more about his experience studying with CareerFoundry. Talking us through the highs and lows of the program, Julio praised the support from his mentor and tutor, and explained the complexities of some of the tasks he was faced with:
“Before I studied with CareerFoundry, I did a lot of self-studying, which involved a lot of guesswork from tutorials. When I started trying to do my own thing, I found myself wondering: ‘What if there is another way of doing this, and I’m doing it the wrong way?’
So having one-on-one support from a tutor and mentor at CareerFoundry—actual programmers with experience, was great. Having someone look at my code and say ‘Yes, it’s right’ gave me a huge feeling of relief, knowing that I was doing it right.
In terms of a big challenge, I would say the part that involved creating a serverless function to work with Amazon. That was very challenging, and it was a bit of a surprise for me! Having some experience before the program, I found some of the first tasks a bit easy at the beginning actually, but when I got to the exercises about the serverless function towards the end of the program, I didn’t expect it to be so complicated.”
Nevertheless, Julio powered through his studies and completed the program in five months. And then came the job search.
Before studying with CareerFoundry, he was looking for entry-level developer jobs on platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed, but he admits that he wasn’t very organized when it came to applying. What’s more, there were elements of the job search process he wasn’t familiar with in Germany—such as cover letters, which aren’t typically required in Venezuela. Initially, he began using a cover letter template, but without personalizing his applications Julio honestly admits that it didn’t go well.
Feeling a bit lost in his approach, Julio got stuck into the Job Preparation Course at CareerFoundry, and said it was the best decision he made. During this time, he dedicated himself to getting his application pack ready—preparing an elevator pitch, his mission statement, an updated resume, polished portfolio, and up-to-date LinkedIn profile.
After all this preparation, he turned his attention to various platforms for job hunting. He broke the search into stages; Monday morning was the time he spent looking for jobs to apply for, with a goal of applying to 4-5 jobs each week:
“The application process should be considered a project. That’s how I did it. I planned most of my tasks, I defined my goals, and I defined the steps to reach that goal.”
Using an Excel sheet, Julio would organize the job roles he wanted to apply for by priority. He would track the progress of each application—including the date the job was advertised, the date he applied, the job description links, and salary information. Consolidating all of that information in one place was the key to staying on track of all the varying applications.
Next came research. Julio chose quality over quantity, and really took the time to research the companies he was looking to work for:
“A good part of the process was researching the company—going to their website, looking at their culture, their needs, the work that they do. Every little detail I could use to connect with this company I would make note of. This also helped me figure out if it was the kind of company I wanted to work for.”
With this approach, he started to look at the job market differently—he was able to look at open positions and think ’What kind of company do I want to join?’
Having already crafted a personal mission statement proved invaluable too—it helped him define what he really wanted in a job, and meant he didn’t feel the need to apply to every opening he saw in the job market:
“You need to do some research to get to know the market and also know what you’re looking for. That will make you focus on what you want, because there might be a thousand positions advertised for web developers and at first you’d just want to apply to all of them.
But your mission statement will help you realize why you want or don’t want to work somewhere. For example, maybe they don’t have the team environment you’re looking for, maybe it’s a freelance role which you don’t want to do.”
Defining a mission statement is one of the first tasks students take on in the Job Preparation Course. It involves constructing 10 or so lines to define yourself; it’s a guiding star for your application process and something not to be overlooked. Julio had a solid understanding of what he was looking for, so putting his mission statement together was pretty swift:
“In my mission statement, I was very clear on what I wanted. I wanted to work in a tech company where I could grow professionally, so I was actively looking at companies that supported professional growth. I love studying, so I also added that I wanted to work for a company that could offer courses or spaces to study and grow.
I also wanted to work in a team oriented company. That was important to me because even though I had some experience, a lot of my learning and coding was self-taught, so having the support of a team was very important for me. All of that pretty much summed up what I wanted to do, or the place I wanted to be.”
With his mission statement in place, Julio was able to start work on his cover letter. Attendees at the live event got an in-depth look at Julio’s cover letter, and the techniques he used to craft it.
Mission, vocation, truth, and authenticity—these are elements that Alessandro reiterated should be captured in the tone of your cover letter:When it comes to doing that, Alessandro recommends matching elements in the job description with your cover letter as you customize it. Displaying your strengths and skillset side-by-side with the job requirements will help you include as much relevant information as possible in your letter, to ensure you portray yourself as a good fit for the role and the company.
Looking at other areas of the hiring process, Julio shared some valuable tips about how to approach the technical interview:
Fear will always be there. I was always nervous for my technical interviews, and that’s normal.”
Researching typical interview questions for the types of technologies or languages you know will be required in the role will help a lot too:
“I used to Google ‘Possible technical interview questions for React’, for example. Looking at that information, I would focus on what I didn’t know in order to get ready for those questions.
Usually after the coding challenge the next step is to talk about what you did, how you approached the problem, and how you solved it, so it’s important to prepare for that too.”
As I’ve already alluded to, all of this hard work, research, and attention to detail in the job search process paid off for Julio.
Using his tracking sheet for the 13 applications he submitted, Julio noted that seven opportunities turned into first-stage interviews, six into second or further rounds, and finally three job offers.
Julio is now working as a frontend developer at an e-learning platform, sofatutor, and is enjoying all the opportunities coming his way:
“The environment is amazing, and my colleagues are very nice. The team is very international, very open-minded, and has exactly the kind of culture I talked about in my mission statement.
Plus, if you find a webinar or a workshop online that you would like to attend, there is support for that. The company will pay for you to attend in order to support your professional growth.”
The positive impact of sofatutor is another motivator for Julio. Speaking about the most rewarding element of his new career, Julio says:
“The whole platform is an e-learning tool for kids to learn a language, or practice any school subject. So, to know that I’m working on a product that helps people is very rewarding. It was also a part of my mission statement that I wanted to work in a place where we are making an impact, and I feel like we are doing that at sofatutor.”
While it’s hopefully clear by now that the job search can be a long process with a lot of hard work required, Julio is proof that it’s possible—and that the reward at the end of the journey can be so sweet. Since studying with CareerFoundry, Julio admits his life has changed a lot:
“I’ve gone from a place of not being very confident in myself—despite having some experience in the industry—to feeling like a very confident professional and in a position that I love.”
And his hopes for the future?
We have no doubt Julio has a bright future ahead of him, and wish him all the best in his future career. We’ll leave you with some final words of wisdom from his career specialist Alessandro, to cement the important of preparation as you navigate a career change:
“When you look back at [Julio’s] story, knowing he works at an amazing company now as a developer, it all goes back to how he commenced his job search. You have to do the steps and put in the work. It’s not about begging people, sending loads of applications, but it’s knowing the market and knowing what you want.”
Are you curious about a career in development? If you want to know if it’s a good fit for you, try this free introductory short course.