Ask an Instructor: How to Jumpstart Your Career in Tech

Hi! Welcome to the community :slight_smile:

  • like with fullstack web dev, there are a ton of different tools and techniques in data science. since you are already a fullstack dev, my suggestion would be to try to find ways to use that as an advantage. most people applying for DS roles don’t have that kind of experience, but there are lots of DS roles that might interact with web development and design. so you might be able to use your current proficiencies to your advantage!

  • working full time and transitioning careers is a lot of work. but, like i said above, you might be able to find ways to do more data work, or interact more with DS, in your current role. if so, pursue those opportunities to save some time.

  • try to learn at least a little DS each day. even if some days you don’t have a lot of time, slow and steady will get you there more reliably than trying to do everything all at once!

hope that helps! and good luck!


Hi Codecademy Team! Thanks for hosting this event.

I am making a career transition from product development in the fashion industry and am interested in going into Front-End development or UX Design. I completed a full stack bootcamp, am almost done with the Front-End Engineer path on Codecademy, and am working on a Google UX design certification.

My question:
Do you have any suggestions or tips as to how I should present myself/ my portfolio since I am interested in pursuing either a (junior) FEE position or UX Design role?


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Hey, that’s a fun question.

A question I was asked when I interviewed with Codecademy, which has stuck with me, was how I would improve the website and how learning happens on it. Ironically, my answer was that we should do more live events!

I liked the question because it showed that the company encouraged an open culture for people to share ideas for improvement. As a candidate, it is a way to show that you are interested in what the overall mission of the product or company is.


I aspire to become a full stack web developer which is why I’m currently learning the fundamentals. Why is it you feel frustrated and unmotivated in your work? Is it more of the company you work for or the job role its self.

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Hi, I’m Grace! I liked the example question of “Do completion certificates really matter?” I find that the market for courses, both free and paid, is so oversaturated these days that I wonder if certificates have lost their value. Should we only stick to reputable companies and organizations? What do recruiters consider when it comes to evaluating the value of a certificate?

To preface my next question, I’m trying to get into quant, which may be outside of the scope of this AMA (and if so and you are able to redirect me, that would be amazing). Do you know what projects would be suitable for building experience in quant? I was told to start with sports bets, but do you have any other ideas? I’ve been thinking about building my own HFT simulator, but I’m not sure what that entails. Any direction or spitballing would be much appreciated!

And lastly some questions about SWE: What is the best way to discover what web development stack/workflow works best for you? What are some high-priority or highly relevant technologies to explore and get a feel for in that process? Personally, I am familiar with MySQL, PostgreSQL, React.js, Node.js, and Express.js, and have started learning HTTP and CSS. I ask because I’d like to get more experience in web dev as a gateway to quant.

Thank you so much for your time and for hosting this AMA! Your expertise and knowledge are greatly appreciated.

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Hello! Thank you for organizing this event. I am currently enrolled in front-end-dev path in codecademy. I understand the importance of building connections in order to increase my chances of securing a job offer.

Could you share some insights on effective strategies for networking and establishing meaningful connections that have the potential to lead to job opportunities without being seen as opportunist/pushy??

Whom to reach and how to reach those individuals?

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From what I’ve heard. Junior developers are not supposed to be experienced and the employer knows that. So apart from having the basic knowledge to start in a company, what are the qualities companies look for when hiring junior developers?

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Hello! Thanks for your question. I think you are definitely on the right track with knowing HTML/CSS, JS, and React. Some other skills that would be super valuable in your toolbelt and really help you stand out are Redux, Git, and Test Driven Development. Back-end skills like Node, Express, and SQL or MongoDB are great if you want to become a more well rounded developer and be considered for back-end or full-stack roles. Technologies are changing all the time so I think the most important thing is to be agile and adaptable. You’ll develop deep proficiency in these technologies by building as much as you can. Remain flexible and always be willing to learn something new!

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Hi! Congrats on your new Bachelors program :slight_smile:

  • Focus on things that interest you! Your work will tend to be better when you are building something you would want to use yourself. I wouldn’t worry as much about building something super fancy or huge. Focus on making something that solves a problem, and demonstrating your development skills from start to finish (i.e. don’t just focus on the coding, but also the commenting, unit-testing ,etc.)

  • The great thing about a CS bachelors that differentiates it from only teaching yourself or online work is the access to (1) the theoretical underpinnings of the field, (2) other students! So I would make sure to get some of that theoretical grounding. Even if it doesn’t seem as practical, it will set you apart from other devs, and (imo) is fun! I’d also take advantage of group projects and teamwork to demonstrate that you don’t just know how to code, but also how to code on a team.

Good luck!


Hi! Thank you for hosting this event!
I am someone who is wanting to transition out of teaching and am currently working through the full-stack engineer career path. I appreciate the advice that has already been given and find it very helpful!
I was wondering, when I do feel I am able to start applying for jobs, what are some things to include on a resume, given that I would have no prior experience. Instead of experience would I highlight projects I have completed? Any other tips are appreciated :slight_smile:
Thank you!


I definitely agree that sticking to reputable companies is important. I’d also say that, in general, your portfolio is way more important than certificates. When it does come to certificates, ask yourself what the certificate demonstrates. Here at Codecademy, for example, we have completion certificates and professional certificates. Completion certificates demonstrate that you completed content, which may not demonstrate proficiency. Professional certificates come after passing exams, which may communicate a higher level of proficiency than just “I finished the content in this course.”

As far as quant goes – I worked in finance in systems analysis, and not as a quant, so definitely not an expert. But my recommendation is to learn as much probability and statistics as possible. That theoretical grounding will be super important when you go to implement things programmatically. I’d also say that machine learning is an interesting route now, as more and more quant work involves some form of machine learning. We have some fun prediction projects here – like our case study on using ML to model the NFL. But definitely not a quant expert here!

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Hi learning to become a full stack web developer is fun, the reason is I worked really hard and didn’t have a work life balance and some disappointments lead to this situation that I am dealing, but that won’t be your case!! It is not related to company that I work for. It is just that I am feeling burned out so trying transition to re-ignite the passion!!! My advice to not feel burned out is Always take breaks to refuel yourselves even though you think that work is more important than anything else!!!


Hello Fatima, you’re right that networking and building connections are a great way to get your foot in the door at different organizations.

There are two broad categories, online and in-person networking.

For online networking, I would say sit down and write a list off the top of your head of 5-10 companies who have a mission that you admire or would be interested in working for. Then, look up what the competitors of those companies are and add those to your list. That should give you a solid list of 30-40 companies to start with.

From there, look up those companies on Linkedin and look at titles that seem close enough to what you would want to do. Then send messages to those individuals asking if you could have an informational interview with them to learn about their career journey and what they do at the company. Make sure to say specifically why you would like to talk to that person in your reach-out message, that will raise the likelihood that they will reply. In terms of etiquette, it is bad form to ask for a referral from these conversations unless the person proactively offers to do so. What you can ask is if there is anyone else they they can think of that they could connect you with, this is how you rapidly expand your network.

In person, I would start by looking up professional meetups in your area. If you live in certain cities, this is a great place to make connections and get a sense of where to get started. When I was first leaving the classroom, I attended an edtech monthly meetup in NYC. It didn’t lead to a job, but I did get a much better sense of what kinds of jobs I was qualified for and how to best present myself in applications and interviews. If you can’t attend a live event, you could always look into virtual events. These have less opportunities for spontaneous connections, but can still be very informative.

I hope that helps!


Hello! Thank you for your question. AI is great for grunt work like automating tasks, more efficient debugging, and software testing, but human developers are still essential for defining exact specifications and optimizing code to meet a projects needs. AI will certainly shift the way software developers work but in a way that can be leveraged as a tool to make their jobs more efficient so that developers can focus on the more human aspects of coding like creativity, optimization, and ideating useful tools and software that will solve real-world problems.


Always good to see a realistic answer not based on “end of the world” assumptions. Thank you for clarifying that!


Thanks for your response!

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It depends on company, of course, but some things people look for in hiring are

  • ability to learn! this is difficult to demonstrate, but something to keep in mind, especially in interviews / coding challenges. Sometimes, if you don’t know something, it can be good to say “well, this is how I would figure out how to do this” to demonstrate that as a junior dev you’d be able to learn on the job.

  • ability to work on a team! also harder to demonstrate, but if you can produce portfolio projects with others, or contribute to open source projects, those are ways to demonstrate that you don’t only know how to code, but also how to give and receive reviews, collaborate, and be a team player.

good luck!


Thank you so much!

I have another question, please: I’m really interested in becoming a developer-designer so I can have more creative options in the field. What coursework would you recommend for this career? (I have taken HTML and CSS so far, and I plan to take JS in a few weeks).

Thanks again! This forum has been so great and helpful thus far.

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thanks for the reply much appreciated.

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Thank you so much for providing such valuable insights and guidance. I truly appreciate your time and your detailed response. It has given me a clearer direction to navigate the path.

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