Bloc is the world’s largest bootcamp, with over 75 professional developers in our network of mentors. We recently sat down with Ben Neely, a Ruby on Rails developer and mentor, to get his take on getting your first job as a Rails developer.
Ben is currently a software engineer at A10 Networks, a company that secures the data center applications and networks of thousands of the world’s largest enterprises such as Box, GoDaddy, and LinkedIn. Prior to that, Ben was a web developer for Uceem, Inc, a cloud-based Wi-Fi management service. Ben is not only an accomplished software engineer, but also one of Bloc’s 10 most experienced mentors, making him an ideal mentor for new developers.
Advice for Beginners
Given that you’ve mentored so many students at Bloc, what advice would you give to a beginner who wants to become a professional developer?
Dive in! Don’t be worried about messing up your computer, or doing things wrong, or learning the wrong thing, all that is going to happen no matter what! The most important thing is to find something interesting and engaging and start hacking away.
Don’t be afraid look for help, ask questions, seek advice, if you are struggling with something, there is a 100% certainty that other people have had the same question. Most importantly, find people to learn with and find a mentor. Knowing other people going through and learning the same things that you are helps so much. Having a mentor to go to for help and advice is like having a lifeline to sanity.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t stress trying to follow the “hottest” language or framework. Dive deep and become a master at whatever you’re working with and that will pay off down the road.
What’s your favorite technical interview question and what’s a good answer that you’ve heard?
My favorite question is “What is the last new thing you picked up on your own?”
Any answer describing something new the interviewee picked up, what they did to teach themselves, what resources they sought, and how the process went is win for me. I mostly want to know that they are eager and willing to take the initiative to learn new things.
Advice for Bootcamp Grads
What would you advise a recent bootcamp grad who is pursuing a job in software development?
Keep focusing on the code while you’re on the job hunt. Every new skill you add, every concept you tackle, every app you build gives you an extra edge. That is just as important as getting your resume out and getting into interviews.
What would you say to those who think bootcamp grads lack the necessary experience to get a job?
A good deal of development isn’t background experience, it’s passion and willingness to learn. These are things that can be learned and picked up through bootcamps. I would gladly work with a passionate and engaged inexperienced developer over an experience, but burnout and disengaged developer.
There’s a lot of talk about the skills gap – the idea that there are too many new software development jobs being created, and too few computer science grads to fill them. As someone who has watched this industry evolve, what do you believe is the solution?
I think the solution is going to come from many directions. Increasing the number of computer sciences grads will help, but so will making the industry be more accepting of people from non-cs, non-conventional backgrounds. Some of the most talented people I know in development come from non-traditional backgrounds. The industry needs to be more open to passionate, engaged developers, no matter their academic background.
The Life of a Developer
What’s an average day like for a junior developer at your company?
Get in work around 9 or 10, hangout in slack while working on your tasks, getting quick help from mids and seniors, with the occasional meme diversion or python vs ruby argument. Go to lunch with the team around noon. Come back to the office for the afternoon, drink a beer, pop, or eat a snack when you feel like it. Stay later if you feel like joining a game of Team Fortress.
A10 is Hiring
A10’s operation system enables everyone from Web giants to government organizations to accelerate, secure, and optimize the performance of their data center applications and networks. They are hiring for a huge range of positions in cities such as Dallas, Beijing, San Jose, and Seattle.
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Interested in enrolling with Ben? Check out his Bloc mentor profile.
For more information on our Full Stack bootcamp check out the course page and download a syllabus.