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Ytel Spotlight: Taylor Sturtz, Dev Extraordinaire

Taylor Sturtz, Ytel |  
Taylor Sturtz, a recent hybrid hire to Ytel's development/ marketing teams, attended LearningFuze's Full-Immersion program to perfect his web development skills, as his previous career path focused primarily on graphic design. Taylor initially began designing for the web as well as learning HTML and CSS along the way, before taking the full plunge into web development. Taylor was recently featured on Learning Fuze's site for his leap of faith into a totally different career path, and we're sharing the article here!

Taylor was recently featured on Learning Fuze's site for his leap of faith into a totally different career path, and we're sharing the article here!

What steps did you take during the Full-Immersion to get the most out of it?

Worked. My. Butt. Off. I spent on average about 16 hours every day including weekends learning to code. I got at least 6 hours of sleep every day. It generally doesn’t make sense to get almost no sleep to get an extra couple of hours of work done if you’re going to be 50% as productive the entire following day. I made friends; team-work makes the dream work. I arrived early and/or stayed late. I learned to let go of my pride and ask for help and admit when I didn’t understand something even if it was a very basic concept.

How much time did you spend working on your portfolio? 

I consistently worked on my portfolio until I felt confident and “job ready.” After about one month, I felt pretty good about my portfolio and all the projects that my portfolio was showcasing, but after the second month I felt super duper confident; that confidence helped a ton in interviews.

What are the steps you took for job prep after completing the Full-Immersion?

I worked on completing and expanding upon all of the apps I had built at LearningFuze along with building my portfolio site. This period immediately after graduation was when everything I had learned started to truly make sense and fit together; I felt unstoppable.

I also made sure to take time once a week or so to go to networking events to make connections for use when I was ready to apply to jobs, full-force. When I had finished and gotten the LearningFuze seal of approval on my portfolio, I ramped up the networking even more and I actually started getting interviews. ALL of my interviews came from some form of networking.

The LearningFuze staff were extremely helpful in landing the job I have now.

Students: make sure to finish your portfolios, clean up your code, and get that approval. LearningFuze will help you find a job and it helps to get that critical feedback for your own benefit.

How would you structure your day between coding and looking for jobs?

  • 10% of my waking hours post-bootcamp time was spent relaxing (video games, spending time with family, etc).
  • 10% was spent doing some form of exercise (it's so important to relieve stress and build confidence for interviews)
  • 10% was spent researching companies, writing cover letters, and submitting resumes.
  • 20% was spent networking: attending as many meetups as I could and making connections on linkedin or angellist.
  • 20% was spent doing tutorials (codecademy, scotch.io, team treehouse, etc), coding prototypes of a new concept I was learning, or watching educational videos (udemy or youtube mostly).
  • 30% was spent doing algorithmic challenges (toy problems) on InterviewCake, CodeWars, or various other places I found them. There’s a good repo of them starred on my github.

How would you say you successfully put yourself out there?

Meetups mostly and lots of them (a few every week). I spoke to as many random people as I could though and talked to anyone remotely techy about development, to make inroads (you never know who has a great professional connection).

Knowing what you know now, is there anything you wish you knew before the job search?

Yeah. As a junior developer interviewing for a job, it’s how you behave around other people, how you display your ability to figure things out, and (this is huge) how you display an ENTHUSIASM to learn things that you don’t know, that will in most cases be far more important than showing the interviewer how much of a badass code ninja you currently are.

How would you prepare for the technical and behavioral interview?

I psyched myself up as much as possible right before all my interviews: we’re talking staring-into-the-mirror pep-talks, reciting Frank Herbert’s Dune quote “Fear is the mind-killer…”, blasting slayer on the drive to the interview, etc. The ridiculousness of those things took away some of the anxiety about the interview for me.

As far as clothes, I wore business casual clothes that made me feel confident and comfortable. Comfort is important; you’ll want to counteract some of the discomfort you’re feeling as a natural result of being interviewed. Download our free interview questionnaire here. 

Any advice or interviews tips?

There are a million reasons an employer could deny you a job offer at any point in the interview process, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re striking out on interviews or not getting call backs. Seriously, there are so many potential reasons that have nothing to do with how much a company likes you. They might just decide that they can’t afford or simply don’t need to hire anyone for the position even though you were the top candidate– that happened to me after one of my interviews that went extremely well.

My advice during the job search is to be persistent and not let anything bring you down, which is obviously easier said than done. It can be super depressing when you get turned down or you’re not getting any responses to your resume, so do whatever helps you stay motivated and strong. Maybe that’s staring into the depths of your soul and letting it know that you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it; people like you!

Any resources you recommend (i.e. podcasts, websites, books, etc.)?

This is a great question and one that I was asked in more than one interview (they asked which resources I follow for development).

Developer podcasts are helpful to hear of experiences and technologies you wouldn’t otherwise. Some good ones are CodePen Radio, Codenewbie, Security Now & TWiT (anything with Leo LePorte although they’re more about general tech, not just web development).

Video content – Udemy is usually high quality content. YouTube is a great free resource but it’s kind of like a thrift store–some gems but a lot of garbage. Anthony Alicea’s, “JavaScript the weird parts” and his other videos are FANTASTIC. You can find the beginning of them on YouTube, and the full version on Udemy ($10 when they’re on sale). TheNetNinja is also a good video content creator.

I always learned a ton from watching people code and actually setting up the files and start building things that way. Even if you’re just copying someone else’s project, at least you’re typing it out and understanding why you code each part the way you do and how the files interact with each other. I’ve used Team Treehouse, codecademy, laracasts, Khan Academy and various others for interactive tutorials as well.

As far as developer websites – scotch.io, SitePoint, CSS Tricks are great resources that I can think of off-hand. Also, this guy’s site is great: tholman.com.

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On the Ytel side, Taylor has been a key addition to our dev team, where he's been contributing to a unified design front-end framework (a custom Semantic UI build) for all of our software products, along with improvements to the current Beacon UI. For our marketing team, Taylor has been instrumental with the current website redesign and launch, led our company-wide server migration, and providing day to day technical support, and general creative feedback, among many other things. 

This post was originally shared by Learning Fuze and was modified to fit the AskYtel blog.

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About The Author

Taylor Sturtz, Ytel

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As a UI/UX developer and gif all-star at Ytel, Taylor works to craft intuitive user experiences in various marketing and software projects. He has a B.A. in Art History, over five years of design experience, and enjoys keeping up with new design paradigms and development trends.


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