You’re done with your design bootcamp! Here’s what to do next (Part I)

You’ve just graduated from your design bootcamp (or you’re about to). You’ve invested several months and a chunk of change to get to this…

You’ve just graduated from your design bootcamp (or you’re about to). You’ve invested several months and a chunk of change to get to this point, and you might be thinking, “Now what? How do I hunt for a job? If I get an interview, how can I show off what I’ve learned?”

Although it may take some time, effort, and elbow grease, here are some steps you can take to get your job search rolling and prep for interviews.

On the job hunt

Step 1: Network

To get your name out there, find companies who need design talent (yes, that means you!), and push your application past a screening algorithm, you need to build your network and make connections.

When asked “What is the most important thing for design bootcamp graduates to know?” Addy Mendoza, Direct of People Ops at Pico, says “The power of network and referral!”

She explains that a lot of great internships and fellowship opportunities are at larger companies, but these roles often have the highest number of applicants. Having someone, even if they can’t speak to your work, at the company give you a referral can ensure your application goes to the top of the pile and give it the visibility it needs.

The word “networking” often sends thrills of dread down people’s spines. It’s seen as time-consuming and exhausting, but there are some strategies you can employ to make it a little less daunting.

  • Events & Conferences
  • Check out conferences in your industry — attendees are there to learn and connect with others
  • Attend school alumni events — you’ll at least have something in common with people!
  • Use a site like Eventbrite to find events near you — even in the pandemic, there’s always a virtual event you can attend.
  • Community groups: Groups like Out in Tech and Ladies Get Paid. Tech companies will often have partnerships with these groups, so it’s a great way to connect with companies that are on the market for new designers.
  • Mentorship and networking platforms: Platforms like Merit, where you can connect with leaders in UI/UX design and begin building meaningful connections with people in your space.

When networking, make sure to share key information about yourself:

  • Your motivations and goals: What drove you to pursue a career in design? What are you hoping to achieve?
  • What you’re looking for: What kinds of opportunities are you pursuing? Internships? Fellowships? Full-time jobs?

Step 2: Polish and build out your portfolio

When you graduate, you and your classmates may have similar portfolios thanks to the curriculum you all learned together. To stand out, think about adding a personal spin on your work or adding one to two additional projects.

Because you probably had a career before going to a bootcamp, think about tailoring your portfolio based on your unique background and experiences.

“Link up with someone who can help curate and tailor your portfolio for your particular set of skills.”
  • Collin Boyer, Senior Product Designer at Vise

Step 3: Apply, apply, apply (and organize!)

Applying to jobs should be something you do daily. You’ll be applying to many positions, so keep your search organized. Track each application’s status:

  • Applied
  • Responded
  • Interview
  • Rejection
  • Offer

Even though you might be applying for multiple roles each day and not hearing back, keep trying. It may take 100 applications before you can start to get a feel for which companies respond, which ones are interested in an interview, and which might just ghost.

Bonus points: Add detail and keywords to your LinkedIn profile

Recruiters spend a lot of time trawling through LinkedIn to find potential candidates. One way they do this is by searching by keyword, so make sure you write about the projects you did in bootcamp and any side projects you might have completed.

“Put descriptions on projects of what you’ve worked on, all the languages you used, all the technologies you used in that project….like SEO but for your LinkedIn!”
  • Addy Mendoza, Director of People Ops at Pico and former recruiter at Facebook

When adding keywords to your LinkedIn, remember that more isn’t always better and highlight those skills that you feel most confident in.

If this all seems like a lot (and it is!), sign up for Merit and talk to senior designers who can provide feedback on your portfolio, tips for your resume, and suggestions for conferences and events to attend.

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