With each wave of recruitment, we receive dozens of CVs of candidates for our positions as developers in AKIL, from trainees, to juniors, to more experienced profiles.
For experienced profiles, it is quite easy to gauge candidates’ abilities since they have a professional background, but for trainee and junior profiles, it is much more difficult to gauge candidates’ abilities. Through our experiences, our interviews, some perspectives have come loose and the purpose of this article is to share some advice with those who want to successfully start a career in the field of computer technology and web development in particular. Keep in mind that the context of this discussion is the Tech ecosystem of which AKIL is of course part.
Your degree is worthless
Of course it’s hyperbole! A degree is always a good thing to have. It is a will and a confirmation of your determination and application to achieve a fixed goal. For most of us who haven’t done the big schools, or large institutes that open the doors to their fame, those I’ll be advancing make up the majority of the tech payroll, the degree is important, but doesn’t automatically constitute an entry ticket to a developer position.
We have found that many students who are looking for internships assume that just because they are in the final stages of their engineering or technician course, with the list of courses taken in support, we, as employers will be impressed by the course and ready to offer a position based on your academic curriculum. I’ll share with you a little secret:
As the CTO of a startup, with limited financial means, a lot of pressure from customers and delivery deadlines set for yesterday morning, I don’t care[un mot qui rime avec Kung Fu] about your degree! It’s your practical experience that interests me!
Once again, hyperbole, but based on a little truth of course. Let me explain: I represent a business and part of its needs, and my needs as a CTO are simple, I need strong arms and valid minds. There is a lot of work to be done, and once the tasks are defined, I need everyone to get on with their task(s) with as little supervision from me as possible. So when we recruit, we don’t recruit a degree, but rather a character. When you leave school, we know that you have little or no professional experience, but what makes you different from the hundreds of other people you’ve promoted? Even if you are at the age of majority in your class, you have all taken the same courses, made the same plans, taken the same exams, so from my point of view, you are all potentially the same. What I am looking for is what you have done beyond your academic curriculum, even outside of internships.
- Have you been so passionate about your studies that you have applied this knowledge to a personal project on your own initiative?
- Do you have a mobile/web application or a game to present to me?
- Have you participated in hackathons, or other events based on the practical aspects of the profession?
I understand that there is a gap between the academic training given by schools, and the practical needs of business in the community, this will be the subject of another article for another day, and this is not a problem specific to the Ivorian ecosystem, I had the same problems in the United States trying to recruit interns and juniors.
Whatever the case, Washington DC or Paris or Abidjan, there is always a candidate who will catch the attention of an employer, it is the one who through his or her CV and interview, even if he or she is not necessarily professionally experienced, shows a practical passion for the job and an ability to self-motivate and self-discipline to achieve a concrete objective.
The reason is simple: these 3 qualities are the necessary ingredients for a competent and efficient computer engineer in his or her everyday work. These traits are not necessarily related to practical professional experience but can be developed independently.
Learning and relearning
You won’t last long in the technology business if you don’t like to learn constantly. . Our profession is one in which learning is constant. Year after year, frameworks and techniques evolve, and not evolving with them in a constant manner is a sure way to not only harm your company but also seriously limit your professional options. If you don’t keep your skills up to date, you may find yourself one day:
- Dismissed with great difficulty finding a new job because your skills are outdated, or
- Stuck in a job doing the same thing every day until the company decides that your usefulness no longer justifies the cost of your salary, see Option 1.
It is important to understand this factor as a technology professional, whether you are a beginner or not. Today’s technologies are getting more complicated, and you need to stay constantly informed about what’s going on in the field.
In your area of expertise, find online publications that discuss the latest advances in your field, or follow them on social networks and read them every day. This is the only viable way to stay intelligently informed of the advances in your field and to be able to integrate them into your daily work over time and under the right circumstances.
Regarding this last advice, it is important to accompany it with another one: learn or increase your command of English . This is a must in our field. The best resources are in English and you seriously limit yourself if the majority of your learning comes from those that are only available in French.
Behind this pretentious title, since we don’t have a university as such, it’s just the idea to go beyond the subject of this article in a concrete way and give you a concrete way to improve yourself if you wish. We have developed an online self-study curriculum that covers the technologies, concepts and frameworks that we think every full-stack developer needs to know in practice these days. This training aims to bridge the gap between the academic and practical notions we were talking about earlier. We recommend this curriculum to all our unsuccessful candidates who want to upgrade their skills. It is a totally voluntary training, and we believe that those who have the strength to do it will not regret it because we believe it gives the apprentice at the end the skills needed to successfully integrate a structure as a full stack, front end or backend developer. We know that it’s not easy to self train, and that some concepts are difficult to understand on your own, and to help, we are available through our public Slack channel to help and mentor those who want to get started. In this way we hope to help more young people who are motivated to make themselves more employable.