Podcast: Getting your first Python job Part 2

Last month I was part of a roundtable discussion on getting your first Python job. It was the first of a two part series where people who recently got their first job spoke about that experience. I did a write up on my favorite pieces of advice from the other panelists.

Talk Python to Me just released Part Two and today we hear from people on the hiring side of the table. I decided to round out the series by listing my favorite advice from each person on the second panel.

Each panelist emphasized that first time job seekers should focus on Open Source contributions and side projects. They all had different reasons why it’s something they look for. I wanted to specifically highlight this as universal advice from the panel.

As before, all of the points are from the panelists on the latest Talk Python to Me episode, but sometimes I am paraphrasing or condensing the advice.

Roy Rapoport

– Things I look for in a candidate:

  • Focus on building things well the first time
  • Productive laziness
  • Long term view

– Take home exercises are a valuable part of the Netflix recruitment process

– I would rather see a candidate who can solve real world problems that one who gets good grades

Mahmoud Hashemi

– Things I look for most in a candidate:

  • Environmental fluidity
  • Learning ability

– It’s rare to see a new job seeker with anything interesting in their github, bitbucket, or even a blog. This is disheartening as software is increasingly portfolio driven. Therefore, it’s one of the first things I look at when I see a new candidate.

– You can cram for an interview, but you can’t fake a commit timeline. This shows commitment and interest in your craft.

Greg Langston

– Things I look for in a candidate:

  • Familiarity with the library and programming environment. I want someone who knows how to use the tools at hand and won’t reinvent the wheel.
  • Know how to set up a virtualenv to isolate dependencies
  • Good practices around logging, unit testing, security, and exception handling

– We prefer to see at least 1 to 2 years of formal education in a candidate. Students pick up good habits during a formal education process.

– Submitting unit tests along with code samples is part of our recruitment process

Lorena Mesa

– Things I look for in a candidate:

  • Demonstrates continued learning
  • Seems active and engaged in the community (ex: mentoring, user groups, conference speaking, open source)
  • Willingness to write and improve documentation

– Knowledge about fundamentals is non-negotiable

– It can be exciting to hire and work with people from diverse academic and vocational backgrounds because they come at problems from different vantage points.

Adylzhan Khashtamov

– Things I look for in a candidate:

  • Responsibility
  • Maturity

– Many people have a misconception that programming is an antisocial activity. In reality, when done well, it’s highly collaborative.

– You should know how to write clearly and concisely about your craft.

Shawn Milochik

– Things I look for in a candidate:

  • Curiosity
  • I want to see something you’ve coded that’s not for school or work. I want to know that you code because it’s a part of who you are

– Sometimes it’s good to get involved with side projects not directly related to the things you work on at school/work. You might learn something that adds a new perspective to your team.

– Everyone on a good team will have something to learn from everyone else on the team.

Thanks to everyone on the panel this week for sharing their expertise. All of them have a lot more to say. Be sure to check out the full podcast.

If you liked this episode keep up with Talk Python to Me for other great episodes about the Python language and community. I recommend Episode #15: Python at Spotify, PSF, and PyLadies to get started.