Congratulations! You just completed your education in programming. I am sure many are ready for that job and feel perhaps overwhelmed on what you should be doing. After working in the field and conducting numerous interviews, I have compiled a list of 5 things you should be focusing on during your job search that I believe will put you ahead while you are interviewing.

1. Master your language of choice.

It’s incredible to think that after spending so much time learning about programming, that we know everything about the language we have used. Sadly, this is not the case. Often, we talk about the base details about being a programmer, but we overlook the aspects of being a skilled software engineer. For example, JavaScript is a universal language taught in boot camps. Can you write regular expressions effectively? Can you explain in detail how JavaScript handles asynchronous behavior under the hood? Do you understand all the methods you can do on a string (Hint: It’s a lot!).

These questions are not meant to discourage you on your education. You have the tools to understand all of these things! You can then become an expert in your language, which will undoubtedly increase your performance in solving problems in the interview.

2. Know what’s out there in your expertise.

After a bootcamp, you can say things like, “I am a MEAN stack developer!” However, there is more to the world than the MEAN stack. JavaScript has many frontend frameworks and libraries, with Angular, React, Vue, Backbone, and jQuery among the most popular. There’s also Knockout, Preact, Ember, and far more. Look at the State of JavaScript. Instead of Bootstrap, look at Materialize, Bulma, Skeleton, and so on. The advice here is not to learn all these frameworks and libraries but to take an examination of what’s available to you with some pros and cons. Knowing this increases your expertise and also gives you the “insight” of assessing the right tool for the job.

3. Explore APIs.

Part of your experience has been using APIs to build some fascinating projects. Take a chance to explore what’s out there! APIs simplify your workload by taking care of incredibly complex tasks, and most of them include a free plan. Be inspired by what’s out there.

Here’s some cool APIs to track.

  • Watson Tone Analyzer — get a sense of how your users are communicating.
  • — Build Natural Language Bots
  • Twilio — Explore the ability to handle text messages and phone calls
  • Stripe — easy payments
  • Wolfram Alpha — Computational Engine at your fingertips

4. Keep Building!

While we’re talking about projects, don’t stop now! Getting back on track with your skills takes time. Use the APIs above to inspire a new task. Need a project idea? Recreate an application with a much smaller target audience. For example, create Yelp for vegans, Meetup for dog owners, or Goodreads for Fantasy Readers. The projects will come out very different, and you can even integrate the APIs for a seamless connection!

5. Go to Meetups and network.

In the end, you are looking for a job. You are mastering your language, learning about what’s out there in your field, exploring new APIs and building new projects. Now, it’s time to share it all with the public! Any of the above make great conversations to have with random strangers in networking. Meetups are one of the best ways to share your knowledge and get your foot in the door. Check out meetups in your local area and join them!

Now that you have finished school, it is time to share your knowledge and sell yourself to potential employers. In this case, it’s important to declare yourself as a master in your practice. Accomplishing some of the tasks above are the first step to become more confident in your work and get that job you want.

Not sure where to begin? Have any other advice to share? Let us know in the comments below!