Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Why you should buy me lunch :-)

I received an email today from a guy in Winston Salem N.C.  who is learning how to code.

So what?

I loved his outside the box thinking!  He asked me if he could buy me lunch and "pick my brain".  Mind you he will have to drive 100 miles EACH WAY!!!  I've had this happen before, I had someone drive over 150 miles to buy me coffee at Starbucks :-)

Why do I tell you this...to brag?  no.

Coding bootcamps are churning out fresh new coders everyday, thousands and thousands of new coders every year.  Coding bootcamps are the solution to getting a job...except they're not.  Bootcamps are having a harder and harder time getting they're students hired, I receive many emails that tell a similar sad story.

Attend bootcamp >> land job >> 3 months later laid off

There are only so many junior level jobs on the market at any one time.  There is a glut of bootcamp grads these days.  Also the entry level skills required to land an entry level dev job are becoming harder thanks to Javascript usage growing everywhere.

I have some good news, there will always be jobs for people who know where to look, and who think outside the box.  What do I mean by this?

College was a great way to get a high paying job back in the 70's - 90's 
Bootcamps were an amazing way to get a junior dev job 2013 - early 2015

There is a new way to break into the tech field that I have touched on before, but the point is - there will always be jobs for people who don't follow what everyone else is doing.  If you wait until everyone is doing something you are too late.

The best way to predict your future is to create it! When I was shoeing horses for a living I used that to my advantage to stand out from the crowd with my unique story.  I needed help with coding but couldn't afford to go to a coding bootcamp, I met David Bock ( a very senior Rail developer ) for coffee, I had to drive 1 hour and 30 minutes to meet him.

Meeting with David helped me learn about the tech industry, and helped me meet people I didn't know. That relationship eventually helped me land my first tech job as a junior developer.  I am constantly emailed and asked by people to give them personalized private coaching for free.  Most of these people have not paid $10 for my book or course, they simply want my help for free with absolutely ZERO effort on there part.

That's what 90% of people ask who email me. 

Guess what I say when someone offers to drive 100 miles and buy me lunch???  YES!  I love helping people, I just can't personally help every single person do to the number of emails I receive.

I have 2 final thoughts:

Be different, think outside the box - don't do what everyone else is doing.
Buy me lunch :-)  Think about it $10 - $15 to hang out and get my personalized advice for 45 - 50 minutes is a deal.  It's the cheapest coaching program ever, if you ever are in the Raleigh area, feel free to reach out to me and I'll do my best to help you!


Sunday, December 11, 2016

How to automate everything - part 3

The world is changing faster than ever!  When I started learning how to code things were changing fast... now it's changing at warp speed!  Things I have told you as a fact in the past, I am now seeing changing.  You have to stay up to date or else get swept down the tech stream.  I always keep my eye on emerging technologies, but the most important source I keep my finger on is tech job apps.

When they change, I change.  If your goal is to stay employed you need to stay fresh with your tech skills.  In my opinion there has never been a better time to get into QA than right now, this article backs me up as well:


I found this article very interesting for anyone wanting to get into QA:


One thing that is awesome about the QA field is that it is changing over to to automation at a rapid rate!  What does that mean to you?  If you are just out of a coding bootcamp and find the junior dev field crowed by a lot of other coding bootcamp students, than think about the QA field.

Test automation is at least 50% writing code, 50% manual testing.  One of the best ways to learn more about testing and automation is to start listening to "test talks", I listen to them on the way to work everyday:

test talks podcast

What if you are a manual tester who can't write a single line of code ( many of QAs are in this boat )?I suggest you start writing automation, - doesn't matter what you automate,it  doesn't matter how crappy the code, just start writing!  Push all of your code up to Github so you can start building a little portfolio for potential employers to see.

As an example do what I did, while watching some Netflix in the evening with my wife, I wrote a basic script to automate the process of earning points youlikehits.com site.  I don't need the script, don't really care about the script.  The point is to practice writing code and slowly improving your automation skills over time.  Check out my script...laugh... cry, write better code than I did and send me a pull request :-)


I am learning to write my scripts more organically as of late.  I start writing the basics of what I want to the script to do, I start refactoring as the script starts to annoy me and starts getting painful to work with.

Instead of sitting and staring at a blank text editor and trying to write perfect code from the start, simply start writing and pay close attention to the "pay points".  NOTE: this is not good advice if you are a full blown developer.  I am speaking about people who are new to writing code.  When I follow my own advice I find myself feeling more free to actually just start and enjoy the process of writing code.

Isn't that the whole point?  I mean if you hate writing code and stress out every second you are working, why do it?  Let me know what you think of my script :-)  Next up,  I might try and write a script to automate a job on Fiverr!  Give me some ideas, tell me something that is painful for you.

Monday, November 7, 2016

How to automate everything - part 2

Want to be more productive at your job?  You don't have to learn how to code just yet to increase your productivity.  Remember we want to automate anything that we have to do 3 times, we don't necessarily have to write the code to do it.  If you use the internet in your day job and a web browser then listen up, I'm going to show you 2 tools / plugins that I use everyday.

Auto Text Expander - Chrome Addon.

I use Auto Text Expander when I am writing test cases in Jira.  Some people keep track of old test cases and try to reuse them.  I find it easier to make common "snippets" and reuse them.  For example I like to be able to type: "red" and have Auto Text Expander instantly auto type: "{color:red} {color}".  This is a small example but there are many more examples that I use at work that are project specific.  The whole key to getting started with automation is learning to become more aware of things that you repeatedly do everyday.  If you are constantly typing the same long phrase, make a shortcut and have auto text expander do it for you!

Autofill - Chrome Addon.

If you have to create dummy accounts or fill out the same forms everyday, do yourself a favor and download Autofill.  I use Autofill to fill in my Test Executions in Jira among other things.

You may not think the above are actually automation, but they are.  Anything you do 3 times in a day you should try to automate.  Which leads me to my last tip:

Never sign emails again!

I hope you are already doing this, but if you aren't using your emails auto signature you need to now!  Don't just read this post, download the addons and START using them :-)

Monday, October 17, 2016

3 reasons why you're not hired.

You want to know why you aren't hired?  It's really simple actually, three things.  See if any one of these is your personal kryptonite.

Not studying 21 hours per week:

It doesn't matter if you are self studying, going through Free Code Camp, or an online boot camp.  If you are not on your computer every night for at least 3 hours, you will never have the technical skills required to land an entry level tech job.  This is the most common mistake I see with people who are trying to break into the tech scene.  Sitting on Twitter or coding chats for 3 hours, sharing "great resources" is not studying.  It's okay to do occasionally, but if that becomes your pattern, you won't get hired anytime soon.

Don't have good people skills:
Only 50% of getting hired for an entry level tech position is technical ability.  The other 50% is people skills and knowing how to market yourself.  The best birthday gift I ever receiveed was a used worn out copy of "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie.  My Aunt gave me the book and 1 stick of Wrigleys chewing gum for my 14th birthday.  I guess I was a rude bad breathed teenager :-)  That book changed my life, I always get compliments about my ability to connect with people.  How can you nail interviews if you can't connect with people or you come across as rude?  What's the sweetest sound to any person?  hint: it's in the book ( and no I don't get any kickbacks )

Don't know how to sell yourself:
I learned this skill from listening to an interview of Robert Kiyosaki.  He talked about how he wasn't a great writer, but he was a best selling author!  He made it very clear that he wasn't going to ever challenge the great works of fiction.  He talked about how important it is to understand selling, if you ever want to make serious money.  I am always shocked by how many technical people are way under payed.  I have worked with senior level architects for test automation that were just terrible, yet highly paid.  On the flip side I know many talented and skilled developers who make far below what they are worth.  If you don't learn to sell yourself and abilities, you won't be able to nail interviews or even get interviews in the first place.

There are obviously other things that are important to know, but the above 3 are the most common issues that I see.  It's not rocket science or magic to land a tech job.  People all over the U.S. landed tech jobs today, you can join the ranks by following the above list!  Don't give up, you can do this!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Why Free Code Camp is only for the elite 1%

Everyone loves Free Code Camp, why shouldn't they?  Quincy Larson basically devotes his life to keeping Free Code Camp up and running and constantly growing, for that he should be very proud.

However if you are currently going through Free Code Camp's curriculum, hoping to one day land a job.  You should stop as soon as possible.


Free Code Camp is a great free resource for people, but it is lousy at getting people jobs.  The entire Internet has too many free resources!  The fact is that if your goal is to land a junior dev job by taking Free Code Camp's curriculum, you have about a 1% chance of doing so.

If you look up Quincy Larson's profile on Quora he says over 300,000 learn to code and build projects for non profits.  According to their home page Free Code Camp has gotten 2,000 people developer jobs.  Let's do some basic math here:

That's a dismal 0.67% of people who start Free Code Camp actually get a paid dev job!

I also clicked on the link on Free Code Camp to read the camper's stories, maybe I am wrong, but many of those stories aren't actually hired as devs or even in a real "techy" job.  Click on the Linkedin profile and you will see things like "freelance developer".  The point is maybe these aren't the 2,000 they are referring too, but still if only 1% of people get hired that is really low!

Again I think it is a great collection of free resources, but I don't think it is a great way to go about getting a dev job.  Think about it, do you think you are the 1%???  Now of course if you want to devote the next 2 years of your life to the program instead of going to college, that's cool.

Quincy has a really good answer on Quora about this idea actually that I like:
Quincy's Answer

Literally your chances of getting hired with free code camp are slim to none. If you want to do Free Code Camp to get badges, and look cool, that's fine.  If however you have legit bills to pay or people you have to provide for financially then you are mainly wasting your time.  If you want to have a tech job actually making money, a company paying you in the shortest amount of time than you need a clear plan to make that happen.

Quincy is being honest with what he does, it clearly admits No one has ever finished Free Code Camp, as of January 2016

According to this answer by Quincy Larson on Quora:
How many people have finished Free Code Camp so far?

I just think that the average person who signs up for Free Code Camp really believes that if they do the course work they will land a job.  The truth is your chances are slim to none with Free Code Camp, you need to learn how to market yourself, not just write code.  Remember this:

"Only 50% of landing an entry level tech job is coding ability, the other 50% is people skills and knowing how to market yourself!"

Don't just do coding tutorials and think someone will see your cool computer stickers one day at Starbucks and offer you a job.  Figure out a way to be different, don't do what millions of other people are unsuccessfully doing.  You can learn to code and you can get hired, but you need to set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd by being remarkable and unique!