4 Social Networks Every Student Developer Could Use- 7 mins
Sharing is one of the greatest abilities that the web affords us. It’s the cornerstone of the internet and the reason that it was created in the first place.
Throughout university it’s likely that the thought of a placement or graduate job will have crossed your mind. As a group of people who live in an increasingly digital world, it’s important to put our best foot forward online. One of the first things that a potential employer will do is look you up on social media alongside a cheeky Google of your name. This should be considered your pre-interview. If you don’t make the grade here, you won’t be getting the job.
By creating a consistent and mature online presence, whilst staying true to yourself, you can sail through this pre interview. If you attempt to create the aura of an expert but don’t have the goods to follow it up this will be apparent to anyone who interviews you. As much as an online presence is important, getting out there and mingling with people will always trump the perfect profile.
Here I outline the four social networks that I feel every student software developer can leverage to create the right impression.
Chances are you have a Facebook account. It’s a great way to share stuff with friends and family, but possibly not with an employer. Take a peek at your profile as it looks to the public. How much is on display. Is that funny (but slightly inappropriate) meme visible? How about that video your mates took on that occasion you were having a little bit too much of a good time outside a club? Not the best first impression eh?
First thing is to make everything on your timeline private. After that, scroll through your timeline and make a few posts visible. A few nice photos and couple of posts should suffice. It’s not that the majority of your content is necessarily offensive or in bad taste, but that your private life should be private amongst your friends.
Are your profile and header images suitable. If the profile picture is anything other than a photo of you (and only you) change it. The header photo should definitely not be a picture of you drunk with your fingers stuck up. I’ve seen this on a friend’s profile who’s actually a really nice and polite guy. I wasn’t surprised to find that he didn’t get a placement after numerous interviews.
Twitter is a great social network for connecting to people in the tech industry. At a recent conference I was hard pressed to find anyone without it. It’s killer feature, for me at least, is that it allows you to talk directly to the decision maker within an organisation. Its very open nature means you need to be mindful of how you use it. After all, you’re tweets are searchable and there for all to see for years to come.
Firstly, make sure your profile picture is the same one as everywhere else. For the description, simply stating “Software development student” will not cut it. It should tell the reader what you do, what you stand for and what you enjoy. I found the book Success in Programming by Frédéric Harper a great resource when thinking about my own description. Frédéric compared your Twitter bio with a business elevator pitch, a short, sharp description of an organisation that summarises everything needed to know what it is you do.
As for the content, you’re on your own. I’d would, however, suggest it be a mix of industry focused and your own interests. There’s a great web app called Buffer that allows posting to Twitter from a Chrome browser extension. If you stumble upon a good tutorial or a awesome blog post, with just one click, you can share it with the world.
This is the hardest network to sell to a student who hasn’t already go an account. I’ll admit it’s a bit confusing to use and can seem a bit stuffy at first. It’s vastly different to the other social networks you’re likely to use, but the point of this network is exactly that. This is an online representation of your professional self and network. You’re not going to need it for a while but it’s worth setting up now.
Once up and running, you’ll likely not use LinkedIn too much until after you graduate. However, now is the time to act. You spend a large part of your time at university with people who will become company owners, superstar developers and future millionaires. When they get there wouldn’t you like to be part of that network?
Create an account. Add your profile picture, job history, education history and a short 2 paragraph summary. This summary should highlight the direction you want to head in. Think of it as a really high level 5 year plan. Finally add your coursemates, lecturers, family and forget about it for now. Anytime you attend an industry event, connect with the people you really hit it off with.
If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself ‘I don’t use Git, I’m going to skip this’, there is a shock coming in the near future. Any software company worth it’s salt will use versioning of some sort or another. Don’t believe me? Check out this great post from David Crotty, a developer at Vualto. I echo the points David makes in that post. Every line of code I’ve written during my placement has been versioned controlled.
You might not agree with this, but hear me out. You should put everything of any quality on Github for all to see. Everything. I imagine you’re thinking your code is not worth sharing online. You may even think it’s a bit shite. You may be right, but my point still stands.
GitHub is the social network of software developers, having a profile can set you apart from those around you. Any software created as part of your course should be added as a repository for others to see. Don’t worry about people looking down at your code. Employers are not expecting you to be an awesome developer at this point and will have that in mind when viewing code. What matters is that it looks like code they could have written at some point in their career.
The objective of putting your code onto Github has nothing really to do with the quality of the code. Instead, it’s to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the basic concepts of version control. One of the comments I’ve heard the most when asking industry insiders is that students have very little experience of version control.
I’ve dived a little deeper into GitHub for students in a previous post. If you’re not convinced about the virtues of having a public Git profile I’d highly recommend you take a look at this article. I’ve had some great feedback from people in the industry about that specific post.
What do you think of my choice of networks. Are these the most important or have I missed off your favourite. Let me know by getting in touch via Twitter.