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1 Jul

Getting a New Grad Software Engineering Job: Myths vs. Reality

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Are you a new grad with a freshly minted computer science degree? Or maybe, like many aspiring software engineers today, you have a degree in a related field—mathematics, electrical engineering, cognitive science, linguistics, or biology. First of all, congratulations!

At this point, you might be in the middle of searching for a new grad developer job. As you prepare, look out for myths about the hiring and interview process. We’re here to share the reality of what actually goes on in the world of tech hiring today, so you don’t waste any time landing the software engineering role of your dreams. 

🚫 Myth: Your resume is everything. 

Reality: More and more companies are moving to skills-based screening instead of resumes.

Does thinking about what’s on your resume—or more importantly, what’s not on it—give you a sense of mild panic? That’s normal. Society teaches us that resumes are all that matter in order to land your first interview. 

The good news is many companies, including some of the largest tech companies like Uber, Meta, Zoom, and Robinhood, have wisened up to the fact that the top software engineering talent doesn’t all come from the same “Big 5” engineering schools. They’re using skills-based assessments to complement, and in many cases replace, their resume screen for new grad developers. The idea is: why should your resume matter if you can write high-quality code?

So, instead of spending a lot of time crafting the perfect resume, it’s a good idea to practice solving coding challenges in a realistic development environment. It may take some effort, but at least it’s work that will actually pay off on the job.

🚫 Myth: Getting a “yes” is all about luck. 

Reality: Software engineering interviews should be structured and predictable. 

If you look online, there’s a lot of chatter about how interviewing for software engineering is basically like rolling the dice. You have to line up the perfect combination of questions you know the answers to and interviewers you connect with. Then, keep trying and trying to maximize your chances. 

It’s true: persistence is important. But from a hiring perspective, companies that care about hiring the best people don’t want you to have to be lucky. If they do, that means their processes for new grads aren’t very consistent, and they aren’t getting a strong signal from their interviews. Furthermore, needing to be lucky is also usually a sign that their hiring process is biased. 

If you’re interviewing for a new grad software engineering job, the process should be consistent and structured. You can and should ask what this process entails, who you’ll be speaking to, and what kinds of questions you should prepare for. You should ask about the coding interview platform that they’re using, and what you can do to practice beforehand. For example, you can practice questions on CodeSignal’s platform here.

🚫 Myth: If you aren’t super confident in your coding skills, you probably aren’t cut out for software engineering. 

Reality: If you have the fundamentals, the rest can be taught. 

As you prepare to interview for new grad software engineering jobs, you might be feeling some imposter syndrome. You could be worried that you have to be a “wizard” or “ninja” to get a job—when you’re more like a normal human who constantly looks things up on Stack Overflow. 

This fear tends to be amplified for candidates from underrepresented backgrounds who may not have seen many others in the field who look like them or share their experiences. They may have less exposure to software engineering as a career than their new grad peers. 

But as long as you have some computer science fundamentals, you can and will grow your skills on the job. One of the things that’s exciting about a career in software engineering is that the learning is nearly endless because the pace of change in the industry is so high. Hiring teams don’t care as much about what you know right now—they care about whether you will be curious, collaborative, and eager to learn.

🚫 Myth: You’re on your own and the competition is cutthroat. 

Reality: Other engineers out there care about helping you find a job. 

In school, it can sometimes feel like you’re competing against your classmates, trying to stay ahead of the curve. Then, you go straight to competing for a new grad software engineering job. You might feel like it’s you against the world, which is a lonely place to be.

In reality, software engineering is a very collaborative discipline. Just look at the open source community, or all the blogs and forums where engineers spend time sharing solutions to technical problems. Interviews are really no different: everyone you speak with is hoping that you’ll succeed. Logically, they want to find someone for the role and they don’t want to have to spend more time interviewing. Thinking about interviews this way—as an environment where everyone is rooting for you—can be a powerful mental shift. 

This also means that you shouldn’t be afraid to look for help, such as asking a fellow developer to give you a practice interview. There are also nonprofit organizations that you should investigate, such as ColorStack, which helps Black and Latinx grads get the support they need to have fulfilling careers in tech. 

We hope this article helped you feel more prepared to get your first new grad software engineering job. Want more advice? Check out our tips for virtual coding interviews and this coding assessment checklist.

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