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Applying for your first programming job can be daunting. The competition is often intense for jobs that don’t require many years of experience, and the mental strength it takes to job search can seem extremely overwhelming.

To get started in programming or other tech roles, you often need to focus on networking, consider internships or freelance opportunities, and impress employers with a stellar portfolio.

Network, Network, Network

Networking doesn’t have to cost money, and it’s often one of the easiest ways to meet people who can help you get hired at an entry-level programming job. Start networking where you feel the most comfortable. Family, friends, and old colleagues or classmates may be able to help you build connections and set you up with job opportunities.

If you’ve recently graduated college, consider the expansive network your professors may have curated over the years. Most professors are thrilled to connect their hard working students with companies and businesses where they can see them thrive. If you don’t currently have an in-person relationship with a professor you admire, consider sending them a thoughtful email addressing your goals and how their network may be able to help you reach them.

Build a Portfolio

To land a great programming job, you’ll need a strong resume and portfolio that showcases your best work and gives potential employers an idea of what you’re capable of. Instead of just explaining your skills, you can create a website or software that visually shows employers what you’re made of.

A great portfolio can also give employers a better idea of who you are as a person. This valuable information can show employers how you might fit into their business or company. Your portfolio should be customized and unique to you, showing potential employers a sneak peek into who you are and how you might be an asset to their company.

When creating a portfolio, you should always include a little bit of information that dives deeper into who you are, how you got to the place you’re at in your career, and what your future goals may be. You’ll want to include and showcase your previous work and the projects you’re most proud of. Lastly, never forget to add your contact information so anyone interested in your work can contact you seamlessly.

Do an Internship or Two

An internship opportunity can be a solid way to build your resume and advance your career. An employer looking for an entry-level programmer will likely be more inclined to interview or hire someone who has a couple of internships under their belt. Internships show employers that you’re not only dedicated to your career, but also may be more skilled than other potential hires.

Internships are also one of the best ways to network. If you work hard and prove yourself while working at an internship, you may even be hired at the same company once the internship comes to a close. Working with other programmers and developers who are well versed in their fields can also give you better insight into what you might want to focus on or the career paths you want to take in the future.

Consider Freelance, Volunteer, Contract, or Part-Time Opportunities

Landing your first full time entry-level programming job isn’t an easy task. With hundreds or thousands of other programmers potentially looking to enter the same workforce, it may seem like every full time position is filled before you can even get a potential employer to review your resume. If you’re looking for full-time work and having trouble finding a position, consider other types of job options or positions.

Freelance gigs, contracted jobs, and part-time opportunities can all be great ways to jumpstart your career. Contract and part-time jobs often turn into full-time positions, while freelancing gives you the ability to take on as much or as little work as you require. These less traditional modes of work may prove to be the best way to further your career while continuing to network and grow as a programmer.

Remember, You Have to Start Somewhere (And You Can Move Up From There)

If you’re feeling anxious about taking an entry-level programming job that doesn’t perfectly fit what you’ve been hoping for, know that everyone has to start somewhere. Also remember that your first job is most often not the one that you’ll work for the rest of your career, so be open to entry-level positions that could potentially help you get an even better job down the line.

Often, entry-level jobs aren’t exactly what we’ve hoped for, but they can give us a starting point to build and compound skills over time. Your first post-graduation or post-career-change job can be the basis for the rest of your career. Focus on learning everything you can in that position and take those skills confidently to your next job.

Landing Your Entry-Level Programming Job

To get an entry-level programming job, you may need to do than just send out resumes and cover letters. Networking, creating a unique portfolio, applying for and taking internships, and considering alternative job opportunities such as part-time, contract, and freelance positions can all be great ways to help you advance your career. Having the confidence to think and work outside the box is an excellent way to land your ideal programming job, either now or later on.

Applying for jobs can often be time consuming and exhausting. If you’re looking for an entry-level position as a programmer, you may want to consider applying with a recruiting or staffing agency. An agency can help you learn about more job opportunities ahead of the competition and expand your network.

LG Resources is a staffing and recruiting firm that strives to connect great employers with qualified workers of all levels and positions. We pride ourselves on connecting excellent job candidates to companies all over the country. Apply with LG Resources today!