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🎙 About the episode
Meet Luke Hovee 🇺🇸! After a career in the US Army, Luke didn't know what to do next. He was considering a career in construction, until he stumbled upon a bootcamp teaching army veterans how to code. Today, he's a full-time web developer with a passion for helping other aspiring web developers getting into tech. Currently, he's creating a software apprenticeship program so that he can help people at scale.
In this episode, you'll find out whether army is a good training for having to deal with product managers, why grit and determination are important, and what's the most important thing you should have to break into tech in today's job market. Luke and Alex also talk about LinkedIn, why getting your second job in tech is way easier than landing the first one, and the current state of the market for junior developers.
🔗 Connect with Luke
- How Luke stumbled upon coding by accident (02:11)
- Why Luke chose a career in the Army in the first place, and why he eventually retired (04:00)
- Why learning to code was challenging (06:19)
- On drive and (intrinsic) motivation (09:02)
- Were there any transferable skills that Luke gained in the Army? (12:11)
- Community break with Jan the Producer (14:11)
- How Luke got his first role in Tech (17:13)
- Job candidates lack attitude (19:02)
- Luke's first role was basically a learning opportunity (20:56)
- Why gettint your second developer job is easier (22:27)
- Quick-fire questions (23:05): Is Web3 dead?!
- Why LinkedIn is Luke's main platform, and why he helps aspiring developers (25:33)
- Luke's apprenticeship program (28:41)
- Job market's tough right now (33:34)
- Can you cultivate the right attitude? (36:11)
🧰 Resources mentioned
- Danny Thompson on YouTube
- Scrimba Podcast: How to become a successful Junior Developer, with Danny Thompson
- Scrimba Podcast: Freecodecamp Founder Quincy Larson: Why Learning To Code as an Adult Might Be Easier Than You Think
- David Roberts on YouTube
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You can also Tweet Alex from Scrimba at @bookercodes and tell them what lessons you learned from the episode so that he can thank you personally for tuning in 🙏 Or tell Jan he's butchered your name here.
Luke Hovee (00:00):
Just a couple of months ago, I interviewed 10 people who got hired after the big tech layoffs. There was only one or two things that they all had in common. They just had that attitude of like, "I'm going to make it. I'm going to get in."
Alex Booker (00:15):
Hello and welcome to The Scrimba Podcast where I interview recently hired developers as well as senior managers and hiring experts to help you learn to code and land your first role in tech. Today, my guest is Luke Hovee. After serving in the US Army, Luke didn't know what to do next. He was at a career crossroads, and this came with a lot of complex feelings about what to pursue and how to specifically go about doing it. That's around the time he discovered a coding bootcamp specifically for Army veterans, and even though it would be nice to say that he took to it like a duck to water, Luke definitely had some challenges learning to code and sometimes felt behind as he saw other members of his cohorts move on and get hired. But Luke had grit and dedication and he'd honed in on his purpose.
For Luke, coding wasn't just a skill, it was the key to the next chapter in his life. Through perseverance and the help of others, Luke got his first job in tech some years ago now. Today, he pays it forward on LinkedIn where he shares advice to help aspiring juniors get into software, and he also arranges a mentorship program, which you'll hear more about towards the end of the episode. In our conversation today, we talk about Luke's experience in the Army and how the chain of command in the Army compares to reporting to a product manager. Luke also shares his advice about if you should quit your job to focus on learning to code. He also explains the states of the job market for juniors as he sees it, plus his best advice on how to stand out in a competitive field. This episode is for anyone on the path learning to code, looking for an inspirational story, yes, who wants to unlock the same grit as Luke by following practical and proven advice. You are listening to The Scrimba Podcast with me, your host, Alex Booker. Let's get into it.
Luke Hovee (02:11):
Software wasn't on my radar at all. I've told other people going to space as an astronaut and being in software were two of the same unattainable... that's where it laid in my mind, just not an option. So I was in the Army and did that for four years, got out and didn't know what I was going to do in the civilian world. I thought construction probably, because I had done that in school and then in the Army. And it didn't work out, didn't get into construction, got a job doing something that I hated and I wasn't very good at it, tried hard, but then ultimately got fired from that job just because I wasn't doing really good. And so I'm in a tailspin, what do I do with my life? Lots of questions, some depression, and then found a guy at a veteran career fair who was training veterans in software.
Alex Booker (03:02):
Oh, no way.
Luke Hovee (03:02):
Yeah, and it was like a bootcamp. It was self-paced, self-talk, all online, and he actually paid people some money to go through the program, so it was like 500 hours and if you completed all five levels, you got $1,500 or something like that. So I was like, "Well, I can hardly say no to..." The first level, was 20 hours and then it paid 200 bucks or something. So I was like, "How could I say no to that as an option?" And so I started doing the training while I kept looking for work, and then as I got through that first level, and then some of the second I was like, "This is attainable. I can learn this stuff," and it made it an actual possibility in my mind and so then I was like, "Well, maybe this is my plan A."
Alex Booker (03:51):
Was it front-end development you were learning?
Luke Hovee (03:54):
Alex Booker (04:00):
Wow. From the Army to coding, that's quite a transition. Do you mind if I ask how old were you when you enrolled in the Army and what made you want to go down that path in the first place?
Luke Hovee (04:11):
So I did college, a four-year degree. While I was in college, I joined the National Guard as part of an ROTC program, so I was probably 20, maybe 19 when I joined, and then when I was in the active duty Army, I was 21 I think.
Alex Booker (04:31):
Which is around the same age a lot of people are figuring out what they want to do with their life and what they're going to study in university and things like that. It's hard to design and architect your whole life at the beginning. You have to choose from the options presented to you.
Luke Hovee (04:45):
Yeah. We think we plan our lives, but really we're not in control of the things that happen as much as we think.
Alex Booker (04:53):
I guess with the Army, I don't know much about it and especially not in America, but is it the kind of thing you go into with the aspiration of making it your life's work and a long-term career, or is it the fact that many people start in the Army but then probably switch to something else after a period?
Luke Hovee (05:09):
You can go either way with it. I think people go into it with different mindsets. A lot of people who did what I did go through school are doing it to get school paid for, and so that was part of the reason I did it was like, "Hey, they're going to pay for my school. I'll graduate with no debt, do some time in the Army, which should be interesting, and then I'll do my obligation," which was eight years, so four active, four reserve, "and then I'll decide if I like it." And so I actually thought I was probably going to do it for 20 years and then retire, because I was enjoying it. I really liked working with the people and the work was interesting, and they pay you to work out in the morning, which I really liked. And then I met my wife and that wasn't going to work too well. She was not going to enjoy following me around the country every three years. That's why I got out. But yeah, you can go either way with it.
Alex Booker (05:59):
Well, it's like you say you think you have a plan, but then you meet a girl, or you want to do a different job, or something. And it's amazing you stumbled upon the opportunity to learn to code. Did you feel optimistic that you would take to it, because a lot of people, especially if they haven't done computer subjects in school, they find it a little bit daunting?
Luke Hovee (06:19):
So it was very challenging and I describe myself as not a very technical person and I still do today. My wife can use a computer better than I can, like if I lock myself out of something like my wife's going to probably help me.
Alex Booker (06:35):
I hope this isn't how you start your technical job interviews.
Luke Hovee (06:37):
No, I normally don't bring that up. If I did, I think they'd know what I was talking about probably. But yeah, so it was extremely challenging. Your brain has to rewire. I'd gone through school and I'd done some learning, but then when it comes to software, I had to learn how to learn. It's weird to me that going through school and training in the Army and that sort of stuff didn't do that for me. It felt like the very first time I was learning something and Googling is a skill. There's just so many things that I didn't have that I needed to work on in order to learn to code, and it went very slowly and it was very frustrating, but then when things would click or work, then it was super rewarding. It's like working out, chasing endorphins. I think it's like that, like you're chasing that feeling a little bit sometimes when you're coding.
Alex Booker (07:30):
It's like a natural high in a way. The thrill when you solve a problem you've been wrestling with for a while. Once you finished the bootcamp, I suppose, did you feel like there was more learning to do, or did you feel totally ready to start applying for jobs?
Luke Hovee (07:45):
The bootcamp was 500 hours, or that's how long they thought it was supposed to last. I did 650 hours and I never finished it. The final project was just beyond me. I couldn't do it, and I got help from friends, people to talk me through like, "Okay, this is what you should do," and I'd just be like, "I have no idea." So I felt very not ready, but I wanted to get into software, so I didn't let the fact that I didn't feel ready stop me from interviewing. So the bootcamp I went through lined up interviews for me so I didn't have to do any of that myself, which was amazing. When they started feeding the interviews before I was done with the program, I was surprised, but I definitely welcomed it.
I think it showed through that I didn't know what I was doing in those interviews, because I did five or six and each time I would get the same feedback of like, "Hey, he just doesn't have enough experience," which is a very common thing to happen for people trying to break into software. Lik, "Yeah, that's the problem. You don't have enough experience," but when I did get an offer, it was, I think them just giving me a chance. They could see I really was hungry, willing to do the work and learn, and I proved I had learned some things and so I think that's why I got an offer eventually.
Alex Booker (09:02):
Can you talk a little bit about that drive and motivation? Because I think as you describe it sounds like a very maybe frustrating situation when you know that you have this many hours and you've gone over them. And maybe just through no fault of your own, it's just human nature, you might be comparing yourself with others, and of course at the same time you're doing these job interviews, and you're not quite where you want to be. What was your mindset and how did you stay motivated?
Luke Hovee (09:28):
I don't think motivation played into it too much. I think it was more like desperation, anxiety. I knew I want this to happen so bad, because I had no career. The Army had been great, but I couldn't go back there and I had nowhere to go or anything to do in the civilian world other than labor jobs, which I was doing part-time. I wanted it so bad. It was discouraging and that probably made me not interview very well, because I would go into those with just anxiety, and stress, and pressure up to here, but it worked out.
Alex Booker (10:02):
I can relate to this a little bit. My story very briefly is that as a teenager I didn't do very good at school. All my friends had gone to uni and I'd put a lot of my time and energy into learning to code. I'd actually put all my eggs into one basket, and the whole time I was teaching myself and definitely struggling along the way. I saw my old friends being successful, I saw job opportunities pop up, but I didn't feel confident to pursue them, and every day I would wake up feeling a bit anxious and that drove me to try and make a change and to really push through and do this. So I'm in two minds about whether I should give myself credit for the discipline, showing up every day, or if I was just anxious and letting that drive me.
Luke Hovee (10:43):
I tell people this sometimes when I'm talking to about the decision to pursue software. So people are thinking about software and they want to get coffee, or have a Zoom or something, and we talk about it. I think one thing that will keep you from getting into software is if you have a decent enough life without it. If you hate your life and software is the only option you see, then I think you have a much better shot of getting in.
Alex Booker (11:10):
When you're doing something uncomfortable, like learning a whole scale, breaking into a whole new industry, and you still have the safety net of something comfortable to go back to, yeah, it's got to be pretty alluring at times.
Luke Hovee (11:20):
I talked to a fair amount of people who have quit their jobs and are living on some nest egg that they've built up, or with their parents or something, and they have a certain amount of runway before they need to get into software. I don't think that's a great idea, even though a lot of people do it. I think ideally you get a part-time job that can pay your bills and you lower your expenses like bare bones, as low as you can get them, and you get a part-time job that you hate so that you still have the motivation, but you're not going to run out of the runway and then be homeless.
Alex Booker (11:55):
The thing you think about when you're doing something you don't want to do, that's normally the thing you should be doing. Right?
Luke Hovee (12:00):
I think I can remember being on the job site, because I got a construction laborer job just thinking about code, because you're doing something mindless and you're like, "Man, last night I was working on that thing," and like, "Oh, I could try this."
Alex Booker (12:11):
Were there any skills that you gained in the Army that helped you in software development? Probably not coding itself, but maybe there were soft skills or other things that translated in unexpected ways.
Luke Hovee (12:22):
I think one thing that's made me decently successful in software has been my ability to join a team and then be in that team and do well in that team. I'm a good follower, which is a skill I think, but then I also in processes, understanding processes and seeing the value in those. So I integrate into the Agile method really well, and so when work is being planned, I have good insights that I can share, and I know when to edit myself, and when to make a point about something like, "We could do this better." So yeah, I think it's all soft skill stuff, but I do think it's helped.
Alex Booker (13:03):
Is my perception of the Army at all correct? Very well could not be, because it's based on movies, which are often not accurate. But I understand that the chain of command is really important and also respecting the processes, because people have to depend on the step before them in order to do the step they have to do. And if one link in the chain isn't right, that can cause a big problem.
Luke Hovee (13:25):
So the chain of command thing, yeah, in the Army it's like the Bible. If you disrespect somebody with more authority than you, then it gets bad real quick. I think that has helped in that product owner, for instance. I consider them my boss and I try to help them understand so they make well-informed decisions so that they give me priorities that make sense.
Alex Booker (13:47):
Yeah. I guess the chain of command and in a tech company, talking to a PM for example, it probably seems a bit like child's play compared to the Army. At least, hopefully it's not as stressful.
Luke Hovee (13:58):
Yeah, well, being in software is always low stress until production is down and then it's high stress.
Alex Booker (14:03):
Until production, yeah, exactly. And God forbid on a Friday as a result of a last minute deployment.
Jan Arsenovic (14:11):
Coming up, why getting your second developer job is easier than getting your first.
Luke Hovee (14:16):
It was only four and a half months of experience, but it helped me get that next job.
Alex Booker (14:20):
I'll be right back with Luke in just a moment, but first, Jan, the producer and I had a quick favor to ask from you.
Jan Arsenovic (14:26):
Hello. If you're enjoying the show and if you would like to support us so that we can keep making it, the best thing you can do is share it with someone, be it in person or on social media. If you do it on social media, you can also get a shout-out on the show. Our longtime listener, Vanessa, who was also a guest on the show a couple of weeks ago, shared our last week's episode titled, Listen to This If You're Working on Your LinkedIn Profile, on her LinkedIn and wrote, "The Scrimba Podcast delivers another episode at the right time. This past week I wrote about how I shared tips on how to improve your LinkedIn profile at the Women Who Code San Francisco hack night. Now you get to hear where I got some of the tips."
And then Vanessa shared timestamps for her favorite tips in the last week's Scrimba episode, and they are how to reverse engineer what recruiters are searching for, how to make the LinkedIn algorithm work for you, why you should consider writing your LinkedIn bio in third person, and what to do if you don't want to make content on LinkedIn. "Give it a listen, you'll see why I love the Scrimba podcast and where I got my resources and tips." Thanks for sharing Vanessa.
Over on Twitter, Trey Fleming has been sharing his progress through a hundred days of code. One particular tweet says, "I've been doing a course in Scrimba for the past few days and I really like it. I listen to their podcast pretty frequently and I wanted to try it. So far it's really good and I like how they start you off building things." Awesome, Trey, great to hear you like the podcast and I think you'll like the courses as well.
And to wrap this up, let's read a review from Apple Podcasts. The title says, "This podcast should be a requirement for your coding journey. I started learning to code in January of 2023 and have been listening to The Scrimba Podcast since March. It's my absolute favorite coding podcast and I found a handful that I like. The information Alex and his guests provide is priceless and truly inspiring. Alex asks great questions and always has excellent commentary. As a mom with a full-time job, this podcast keeps me motivated to continue my coding journey. I almost always end each podcast with a few bullet points to research and of course the podcast turned me onto the Scrimba front-end career path, so I'm working on that now as well. Thanks so much. Alex and Jan, signed Rox Learns Code." Oh, Rox learns code, I know you from Twitter. How's it going? Do you think you're going to be a guest on the podcast anytime soon?
If you'd like to join the conversation and get a chance to get a shout-out on the show, the only thing you need to do is to post about the podcast on LinkedIn or Twitter. If your post contains the words, Scrimba Podcast, we will find it and read it. And if you're feeling super supportive, you could also leave us a rating or review in your podcast app of choice. But for now, we're going back to the interview with Luke.
Alex Booker (17:13):
So how did you get your first role in tech? It sounds like through the bootcamp you did these interviews, not everyone panned out. Was it the case then that this company took a chance on you and you started working as a full-time developer right away?
Luke Hovee (17:28):
Yeah, so it was a privately owned, very small company, I guess you could call it a startup, and they were interviewing for a junior developer role. And so I interviewed, they looked at my projects, they had me do some coding challenges like FizzBuzz. I made it through that one. And then the second one was this piece of code is broken, try to fix it. And I didn't make it through that one, so I did all right. I didn't do great and I didn't do terrible. I didn't fall on my face, but I think probably I was not at the level that they wanted, but then as we were closing the interview, I said, "This is it. This is the one I want. If you guys make an offer, I will accept."
And I did that because, one, I was desperate, and two, I just had a feeling going in there that it felt good. And the people weren't overly nice or anything, the building was glass and steel and wood and stuff. I liked the architecture. I liked that it was downtown. I don't know, I just got a feel from being in there that I like this place.
Alex Booker (18:34):
You could see yourself working there for sure.
Luke Hovee (18:36):
And so it really was a great place to work. I loved it. I don't know that I was optimistic about getting the job or confident that I could. Closing like that with the interview was not something I'd ever done before, but I wanted to give myself the best opportunity to get that job. We had just had our first kid too, and so it was high stress. I wanted to get into software really bad. It was just being vulnerable, taking a chance.
Alex Booker (19:02):
I think a lot of the time when companies are extending offers, there's a lot of factors that go into it and obviously your technical proficiency is one of them, and that's a non-negotiable for more senior roles obviously. But I think when you're a junior, something that can make a really big difference is if you know what you want. A lot of candidates that just testing the field, they're not a hundred percent sure what kind of company they can see themselves working at, or what their particular goals are. But if you can clearly articulate that this is something that you want to do and that you would be keen to accept their offer, I think it can't do any harm really. It just shows that you know what you want and that you like the vibe and yeah, it's like the law of attraction at play a little bit, like you're vulnerable in putting your message out there, but clearly they reciprocated as they extended you an offer.
Luke Hovee (19:51):
I think what a lot of people lack is just attitude. So feeling like they have something to give. I think when you go into interviews doubting yourself and not being able to communicate your value and you're just nervous, all those things make sense, but it doesn't leave a really good impression or make people want to buy. So I think if you can communicate your value, even if you have imposter syndrome or whatever, if you can know about yourself like, "Hey, if you give me a shot, I'm going to outwork all the people in here from day one." You can have confidence in your ability to do that. So I think attitude does keep a lot of people from getting the job.
Alex Booker (20:35):
I like that a lot, man. You should be confident in the value you can bring to the table even if you're newer. It could be those soft skills, it could be that you are just a very dependable person to work within the team, and just a great positive attitude. People want to work with people they like, and who are positive, and that's very important in a junior.
Luke Hovee (20:52):
Yeah, people hire people, and people want to work with people they like.
Alex Booker (20:56):
How did you get on in the role then?
Luke Hovee (20:57):
So it was still pretty high stress, high anxiety, because I felt very much, and not that this was the way the company was framing it to me, but I felt like if I don't do well in the first three months, then I'm not going to be retained. And it was like, I don't think they called it an apprenticeship, but it was very much a trial period.
Alex Booker (21:17):
Like probation period or something.
Luke Hovee (21:19):
Yeah. I was making $10 an hour or something, not a full-time employee. Whereas everybody else was a full-time employee and so maybe they were framing it as like, "Hey, you either do it or you don't." And I had a lot of gaps like media queries for instance, I was a front-end developer. I didn't know what a media query was when I went there, and so I learned a lot of stuff very quickly because I had a lot of gaps. But at the end of three months, the owner brought me in his office and said, "We're happy with the work you're doing. We see the growth and you can be a full-time employee," but they started paying me beans.
I think the starting amount was like 30,000 and he was like, "This is what I can afford to give you now, and then in a couple of months I'll bump it to 40, which was more in line with what I was hoping." It was like, "Cool, great." And then a month and a half later I got laid off with five other people. It was a small company, cashflow issues, and so I was the most junior developer so it made sense. It was crushing, but it was enough to get my foot in the door. It was only four and a half months of experience, but it helped me get that next job.
Alex Booker (22:27):
Is it true what they say that getting your first ever role in tech is very, very, very hard, but then getting your second role in tech is just hard?
Luke Hovee (22:35):
That sounds right.
Alex Booker (22:35):
Yeah. Something about having a bit of a track record and if someone else has taken a chance on you and you've been successful, it makes you less of a risk or something.
Luke Hovee (22:43):
When you're a fresh hire, your first job in software, they're losing money on you for at least the first three months. If the next company can hire you after three months, then they don't have to lose that money on you. You can start earning them money a lot faster. And so yeah, I think getting the second job in software is easier for sure.
Alex Booker (23:05):
All right, Luke, I'm super excited to learn a bit more about how you are now helping other junior developers break into tech, but what do you say to break the interview up a little bit? We do a round of quickfire questions.
Luke Hovee (23:18):
I say let's do it, that sounds great.
Alex Booker (23:22):
What was one learning resource that has been the most impactful in your journey learning to code?
Luke Hovee (23:27):
Alex Booker (23:29):
Oh, hell yeah.
Luke Hovee (23:30):
That was like 90% of the curriculum I went through when I was going through that bootcamp. It's great. I love it. When you finish a challenge it pops up a modal and it's like, "Thundercats ho," and little sparkles go off and I loved it. It was great.
Alex Booker (23:44):
Yeah, we love freeCodeCamp at Scrimba, and Quincy Larson's been on the podcast in the past as well and he was a fantastic sport.
Luke Hovee (23:50):
I'm a big fan.
Alex Booker (23:51):
What technology do you use at the moment that you're really enjoying?
Luke Hovee (23:55):
UJS has always, for a long time, has been the language that I enjoy the most and that's what I'm using right now and I like it.
Alex Booker (24:02):
Is there a technology on your radar that you'd like to learn next?
Luke Hovee (24:05):
Python has been top of my list for three years now, so I'm just never going to learn it, but I want to learn it.
Alex Booker (24:12):
Yeah, it's hard fragmenting between front-end and back-end. I get that totally. What kind of music do you like to code to or maybe you like to code in silence?
Luke Hovee (24:20):
Alex Booker (24:21):
Emo music. Yes.
Luke Hovee (24:22):
I love emo.
Alex Booker (24:23):
Are we talking Slipknot and Paramore and that thing or is it...
Luke Hovee (24:26):
Yeah, Hawthorne Heights, Blink-182. All the stuff from high school that I just can't let go, that's my jam. I love that stuff.
Alex Booker (24:34):
Such a good genre or era of music. I've not thought about coding to it though, so I might give that a go.
Luke Hovee (24:39):
Listen to it way too loud. That's the only way.
Alex Booker (24:41):
Do you look up to or follow anyone in the tech community that maybe we should know about?
Luke Hovee (24:46):
Danny Thompson on LinkedIn is my favorite.
Alex Booker (24:49):
Yeah, we love Danny as well.
Luke Hovee (24:51):
Yeah, his energy is just fantastic. I just today found a guy, I started following him because it was very interesting stuff. David Roberts, he's like a career coach for helping people get into software and I watched a YouTube video of his that somebody shared and it was just very insightful.
Alex Booker (25:07):
We'll link everybody you mentioned and freeCodeCamp in the show notes for people to check out if they're interested. Last question for you Luke. I know you've been a full-time dev since around 2016. Are there any trends you've seen come and go so far?
Luke Hovee (25:20):
I was talking with somebody else about this not too long ago, but it feels like Web3's gone, right?
Alex Booker (25:26):
Yeah, a little bit.
Luke Hovee (25:27):
But it was huge when I was here and I've had people tell me that it's not dead, it's still there. Maybe that's true.
Alex Booker (25:33):
Yeah, I think Web3 was probably a bit conflicting for new developers, because there was a lot of opportunity there, and it is tempting to go down that path and get a quick win, but in the long term, focusing on the craft I think is a better thing to do. Luke, thank you so much for playing along with these quick fire questions. That was a good round. All right man. So maybe we can talk a little bit about the stuff you're doing on LinkedIn because I know that you've been very keen basically to pay it forward in helping other new developers. Is it fair to say LinkedIn is your main platform and that's where you're creating the most content and getting in touch with new developers? What took you there and how are things going?
Luke Hovee (26:09):
Yes. LinkedIn is the platform I use. I wanted to give back for a long time and so I would get coffee with people, was my way of giving back if they were thinking about getting into software. I would do that pretty regularly, maybe once every couple months, but I felt like I wanted to give back more. So instead of just the time I could do with people one-on-one, industrialize it, how can I help more people? I was working a job last year, I think it was 2022 and they started a program where they wanted their employees to be very active on LinkedIn to drive traffic to their page and to be seen as hiring industry experts. And so they were going to pay people in the company employees 250 bucks if they posted every day for a month. And so I did that, made the 250 bucks and then-
Alex Booker (27:00):
That's a cool initiative.
Luke Hovee (27:01):
Yeah, it was very cool. But then they created a beast because then I was just on LinkedIn every day.
Alex Booker (27:06):
Instead of doing your actual job.
Luke Hovee (27:07):
Yeah, I can't stop.
Alex Booker (27:09):
How'd you decide what to post on the platform? I see you've got about 9K followers now, which is really impressive.
Luke Hovee (27:14):
Sometimes it's like shower thoughts kind of things. I'm thinking about it and I'll have a realization, or an idea, and then I'll be like, "Okay, I'm going to save that for LinkedIn and I'll post it the next day." And then sometimes I just sit in front of LinkedIn and wait for a thought to come like, "Oh, what could I post about?" And so I have seen people say I don't like posting every day on LinkedIn because then I feel like I'm repeating myself, or I say things that [inaudible 00:27:43] saying. And I think I can say honestly that I don't feel that way whenever I post. I never feel like I'm saying nothing or repeating myself. Sometimes I'm talking about something I've talked about before but I almost never feel like I'm repeating myself or saying something not worth saying.
Alex Booker (28:00):
Do you ever have a coffee chat with someone and maybe see that they're having a particular problem and then maybe you've got a great answer for them, but per what you said about helping people at scale, maybe that leads to a great LinkedIn post or yeah, you give a really nice answer to something you're like, "Oh yeah, that's a good for, maybe I should share that on LinkedIn." And then you can go and post it on the platform to help another new developer.
Luke Hovee (28:22):
Yeah, that actually happens a lot too, as long as I think the person's okay with it. A lot of times I'll say this post was inspired by a conversation with this person and tag them.
Alex Booker (28:31):
And it looks like you're launching a apprenticeship program. I don't know much about it. So I was hoping you could tell us all what it's about and what inspired you to do it.
Luke Hovee (28:41):
It's very much a work in progress. Last month is when I think I got the idea, but the reason I did it was because it is tough to get into software right now. It is tough out there and so getting your first job in software is harder this year, right now, than it was 18 months ago. A year ago is when it started tightening up things started big tech layoffs, that sort of stuff, but now it is just tough. So that's reality. I want to help people get into software and then also I had this LinkedIn following that I didn't know how to monetize, and I have a lot of feelings around charging people that I'm helping get in this offer. I got help for free, I want to give help for free. Those things were rolling around in my mind and I was like, "What could I do?"
And so the idea I came up with was this apprenticeship program where I don't train people, I'm just creating a community where people can train with some direction from me, but they train themselves in small teams and they have a support network, a community, it keeps them from quitting and it helps them have some direction with their growth. And then eventually the idea is to monetize by charging companies a subscription to view the apprentices. So if they want to hire apprentices, they pay a subscription, then they get a refined list of candidates to choose from. And so that piece I think is a long way down the road, but then if that ball gets rolling, it provides monetization but then also provides a lot more value to the people in the program. So that's the dream.
Alex Booker (30:18):
That sounds awesome man. How does it work exactly? Say you're a new developer or someone learning and you sign up to this program, is it like an application, or do you get a guaranteed place? And what kind of things do you work on? Are the projects determined already or is it more of as a group of people, as a group of aspiring developers that are now connected through the community you can work together on something if you have an idea?
Luke Hovee (30:42):
I was going down the road of having an application process and so I was going to build something that then people would apply to and then students who are already in the program would go interview them and then give me a yes or no, let them in the program, font. But something I'm trying right now is instead of all that, avoiding all that work and just making it, if you get a pull request merged into one of the software apprenticeships open source projects, then you get invited to join the program.
Alex Booker (31:12):
Well there you have it, I was asking in part in case somebody listening wants to come and check it out. We'll link it in the show notes and now people know that's how you get started. And by the way, you call them apprenticeships and I'm sure that's deliberate. How are they different from internships for example?
Luke Hovee (31:27):
So companies do apprenticeship programs too and internship programs. When I think of an internship program I think is at a company, so it can either be paid or unpaid, but you're working for a company and then they decide if they want to hire you. Or it's a summer internship and it's understood you're not going to get hired. Whereas this, obviously not associated with the company, it's just like the apprenticeship by itself and the idea is to grow instead of with the goal being getting hired. Obviously that's the point of the apprenticeship program is to try to get you hired.
Alex Booker (32:02):
I like the word apprenticeship because back in medieval times say there were apprenticeships for armorers and other artisanal type things like bakers or something, it speaks a little bit to the craft. If you're an apprentice software developer, it speaks a volume I think to the fact that you're treating it like a craft. And what I was trying to find is I'm sure there is a way of describing the progression. Don't you go from an apprentice, to a journeyman, to an expert, to a craftsman or something. I think that's an interesting way of framing it as you describe it, because less about being tied to a job and it's more about your individual journey and the progression you make.
Luke Hovee (32:41):
I like that. I looked into carpentry trade school and I think they had that same thing. So I've just been saying level one, level two, level three right now inside the program. But I think I'm going to change that.
Alex Booker (32:51):
That'd be cool. And if you [inaudible 00:32:51] to do carpentry and stuff, it'd be like a nice homage to the career in construction and physical things you were looking at before as well. I did want to circle back to just one thing really, when you said that the job market has been tough in recent months, maybe up to the last year and a half, and you touched on the fact that it's correlated a little bit with the layoffs in tech and that certainly caused a ripple through the industry. I just wanted to hear based on the coffees you've been having with people and the conversations you've been having in your community and on LinkedIn, are there any sort of anecdotal things about the job market that make you think it's tougher now than it was before?
Luke Hovee (33:34):
Why I think the market is real tough right now is I had been talking to my target audience, which is people trying to get into software for some time, and I just noticed conversations change around that time and it started to become apparent that it is getting harder, and then you start to see a lot more people in that boat of having graduated a bootcamp, or have taught themselves for a comparable amount of time and are struggling to find that first job. And so that pool of people I think has ballooned. Another couple pieces of evidence for me, thinking the job market's got tougher is recruiters I've talked to have said, "Yeah, companies have stopped using us because they're not hiring." It's just been confirmed to me by several of those kinds of avenues that yeah, the market's tough.
Alex Booker (34:29):
Yeah, I think that's a good point about recruiters, because if you think it's tough to get a job as a developer, it's also quite tough to get a job as a recruiter lately, or so I hear, just because hiring slowed down and I guess you can put one-on-one together in that sense. It's an interesting perspective in a tough job market, there is still the possibility of success and I do see people getting hired every week. There are great opportunities out there, but it's obviously important you do what you can to maximize your chance of success. I was wondering, Luke, if you've seen people doing anything in particular that's helping them improve their chances of getting hired?
Luke Hovee (35:07):
Just a couple of months ago, I interviewed 10 people who got hired after the big tech layoffs, and I think all the people I interviewed actually got jobs in 2023. So when I was putting out the call like, "Hey, I want to interview people who got hired after the big tech layoffs," I was saying November of 2022 when the Meta and Twitter layoffs happened. I think those two were both in November or October, maybe.
Alex Booker (35:36):
There was a bit of a slaughter around then. I think it was a few companies.
Luke Hovee (35:40):
So that's when I was like, "Okay, anything after this, after the big tech layoffs, and when the market was tough." So I interviewed those 10 people and what I got out of those interviews, there was only one or two things that they all had in common. They just had that attitude of like, "I'm going to make it, I'm going to get in." Honestly, it sounds disappointing for that to be my answer, but I do think that that is the determining factor on if you make it into software or not, is if you're going to let yourself give up or not.
Alex Booker (36:11):
Is that a innate attribute or is it something that can be harnessed?
Luke Hovee (36:16):
That's a great question. Don't know.
Alex Booker (36:19):
That's a good answer.
Luke Hovee (36:19):
What do you think, Alex?
Alex Booker (36:20):
I think that it can be harnessed if you have a strong enough reason why. So say you get into coding and your only motivation is salary, or maybe you think it's prestigious, it is a prestigious job, or maybe you're following a trend or a crowd and you think that because someone did it, you should do it. Or maybe you're just not clear on your motivation. Maybe you like computers and you think therefore coding would be good, but it's actually not coding you like, but design or something. If your intrinsic motivation is a bit short term, I don't think the candle's going to burn long enough for you to be successful and to withstand the pressure of a challenging situation where maybe you're going to face rejection. But if you have a very strong, pure, intrinsic motivation, I think that can burn longer and that flame is more resilient to challenges.
I think it'll burn for longer. So for example, if you can really answer your reason, [inaudible 00:37:12] your reason why you want to make this change, maybe you're making a change for your family, maybe you really identify with this idea that you only have one life and it's yours to waste. And if you can somehow find a career that lets you work remotely, that pays well, well that can help you in every other area of your life as you get to travel the world or achieve financial freedom. I think another really great motivation and a great attribute I see among successful developers is that they genuinely really like problem solving. They actually like coding. That feeling we were speaking about at the beginning, Luke, where you get genuine endorphins and joy from it if that's the kind of person you are and you really identify with solving these problems. Yeah, the idea of getting paid to do the thing you'd love to do anyway, I think that's also a thing that can make you very resilient.
So I think it's about harnessing it in a way, because with the benefit of hindsight and many years can articulate my motivation and why I like coding, why I like this industry, but when I was getting started, I was just stumbling along. I definitely didn't have that clarity. So I think for anybody struggling or looking to harness that attitude, it's really a case of reflecting and figuring out the reasons why you started and why you're going to keep going. And if you can do that, I think you'll be much more likely to have that great can-do positive attitude.
And yeah, some people just need a little bit of help bringing that to the surface because what you think, how you feel, your opinions and things like that and your attitude and your values, a lot of people might have them, but they don't present them very well. So I think a great low hanging fruit and a huge way you can have impact in interviews is by getting a bit of clarity about the things that you have, and you genuinely have for that the interviewer wants to see and presenting those in a true and enthusiastic way. So when I think about harnessing it, I think about those things, really tuning into what motivates you, what you want to surface, and practicing and feeling confident presenting those things during interviews.
Luke Hovee (39:07):
Well said. Everything you said rang true for me.
Alex Booker (39:10):
I get really excited talking about these things and it's been a lot of fun talking with you today. I really appreciate you taking the time. Luke Hovee, thank you so much for joining me on The Scrimba Podcast. It's been a pleasure my friend.
Luke Hovee (39:20):
Glad to be here, man. Appreciate you.
Jan Arsenovic (39:22):
That was The Scrimba Podcast. Can you believe this is the episode number 132? That basically means if you're just discovering the show, there's a lot of good things in our back catalog for you to listen to while you're waiting for the next episode. This is a weekly show, so subscribe. There's going to be a new episode in your feed every Tuesday. Check out the show notes if you would like to connect with Luke, or if you'd like to find Alex and me on Twitter. I've been Jan the producer and we'll be back with you next week.