Fresh Estrella, Barcelona

A guide to attending Ironhack: Part 3, afterwards

I had such an amazing time at the Ironhack Web Development Bootcamp in Barcelona in 2014; it was an invaluable experience for me and for my career. I’ve had loads of enquiries from prospective students regarding my thoughts on the application process, the interviews and of course the course itself.

This is the last in a series of posts about attending Ironhack and covers the topic of returning to the ‘real world’ after the intensity of the course. You can read all posts tagged Ironhack here.

How did Ironhack help with finding a job after you graduated?

During the course I made contact with several companies in the city I live in to see what positions were available. I interviewed with around 4 companies via Skype during the course and afterwards, I went to one follow-up interview in person. Within a week of returning home, I received one job offer (which I accepted!) and several other companies reached out to see if I was still looking. I had another offer from a company in a different city in Europe but it would have meant relocating, and was recommended at another company in Spain.

During the course, Ironhack regularly gave us access to their contacts (mostly Spanish-based) and sent us information about available positions that they knew about. In other cases (such as people like me who were looking for jobs in other countries) they went out of their way to make contacts and find job offers to pass on to us.

I’m interested in knowing how you were able to secure a job here in Europe as an Australian citizen. Did you have any issues with this?

Now, regarding working in Europe: first I have to stress that every person will have a different experience depending on many factors. These could include: your citizenship, the country you presently live in, the country you hope to live in, your background, whether you can be sponsored or if you will need a special visa. I can really only speak for my own experience, but if you have any specific questions then it is possible that I might know the answer or be able to point you in the right direction to find out the answers.

Briefly, two and a half years ago I moved to Germany with my boyfriend when the company I worked for offered me a secondment there. I am an Australian citizen, but my boyfriend has dual nationality in Britain so he was able to move without any difficulties. The company I worked for applied for my visa on my behalf and (just as importantly!) helped me handle my tax obligations and other local administrative issues. That visa was valid only as long as I was working for that company.

After about two years my boyfriend was offered a job in France and I decided to quit my job and do Ironhack. Without my visa, we weren’t sure if I would be able to find another sponsored job so we decided to elope to Denmark and get married. (Obviously, this is not an option for everybody!) This gives me all the rights of a European Union citizen to live and work in the EU. As a non-EU citizen there are many more administrative hurdles to get over to get residency, work permits and any other licences (e.g. convert your driving licence), but it’s do-able.

Now, since I don’t have the sponsorship of a big multinational company anymore, I have to do all the crazy paperwork here – and there is a lot – on my own. It’s not easy, especially when you are still learning the language, but it’s just one part of a bigger adventure.

Like I said, this is just my experience. If you you think you might be able to get dual citizenship of a European country, I seriously recommend looking into it as it will make you a more attractive candidate as well as making it easier to secure residency anywhere in the EU. Otherwise, you’ll have to find out the best visa for your situation and go through the process for that. If you’re not sure which visa is the most appropriate, call your embassy in the country you are looking at and ask them directly. The information online in forums is often out of date or simply wrong, so take anything you read on the internet with a healthy dose of salt.

Did you use the Ironhack network to find employment or other resources?

Definitely. Xavi Leal in particular (awesome Ironhack COO) spent some time identifying people or companies from his LinkedIn resources who fit the right profile and location for me to contact. I had several interviews via Skype with a few of these people during the course and was invited to come for an interview at one after the course was finished (see previous question!). The Ironhack network was invaluable to me in simply providing opportunities and filtering the best opportunities directly to me.

What aspect of the Ironhack bootcamp helped you prepare for the employment hunt?

Constantly being in contact with people who work at companies and are looking to hire was a really big help in boosting my confidence in interviews. Having these people come and chat with us informally was very beneficial as we could ask all sorts of questions and become more familiar with presenting ourselves back to them.

Regarding bureaucracy and the job-market in Europe

Oh boy, I could talk about the bureaucracy I have faced all day! All week too, probably. I realise that getting paperwork and visas and so forth is pretty much always a pain in the arse, but once you factor in language difficulties, the problems you might experience begin to multiply. If you speak the language of the country already, you are at a huge advantage.
My biggest recommendation is to apply for jobs at companies where they will assist you with all the administrative details (social security, health insurance, visas, residence permits). These are usually larger, more corporate companies as the smaller ones and startups can’t afford to provide these services.

That is what happened for me when my boyfriend and I moved to Germany – the company I worked for took care of all the administrative side and were available to me when I had questions about filling in my tax forms and so on. Then we moved to France and we’ve had to do pretty much everything ourselves without any assistance. Neither of us speak French and the local authorities refuse to speak English, so that’s been fun! But don’t worry, there are always people who can help you – after struggling for a few weeks and getting nowhere with my residence permit, we hired a consultant to help us navigate the craziness of the requirements. I highly recommend looking into this as navigating the bureaucracy on your own is a huge burden on your personal time and resources.

On jobs in Europe, I think tech is currently the biggest growth-industry in Europe. There are jobs available in all the biggest markets, but salaries and living costs vary wildly. For example, the highest salaries are probably in the UK but the cost of living is also very high there. In contrast, the salaries in France are quite low while the cost of living (rent, food, etc) is quite high. In Germany, the salaries are high, but the cost of living is pretty low (although there are exceptions, e.g Munich). In addition, there may be higher taxes than you are used to – there are benefits to this (healthcare! social security! clean cities!), but it may still come as a shock that your take-home pay is significantly different to your gross pay.

Ironhack organisers will able to give you the best advice on jobs within Spain in particular. For other countries you will have to find the local ‘job board’-type site for the tech industry. You might also get a pretty good idea of what’s available on the Stackoverflow careers site or even on LinkedIn.

Still have questions?

Fantastic! If you still have questions about applying to or attending Ironhack, check the Ironhack tag here for all posts in this series or contact me directly.

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