Silicon Milkroundabout As A Wannabe Developer

I’m looking for my first junior front-end web developer role.

I read about Silicon Milkroundabout being a major tech jobs fair in London, and thought it would be a good idea to apply for a ticket – not really expecting to get one only having a half-finished portfolio at the time.

A ticket was duly issued. Panic duly ensued as I rushed to complete half a dozen websites and my portfolio. Weekends were sacrificed in full, evenings and early mornings consumed with code and come 10:30am on the morning, I had what I thought was a decent portfolio with 6 various websites, albeit a couple not quite 100% complete. But good enough to put on show.

The downside was that I didn’t have time to do any preparation as to the companies attending. Having squeezed on the train from Reading with 10 seconds to spare, and a roast dinner and two pints of cider in me, not to mention having soaked up some of the glorious sunshine, I was in a good mood.

Then I checked every company listed as attending on the Silicon Milkroundabout website and none of them were looking for junior front-end web developers. Ahh.

The event itself was held in The Truman Brewery on Brick Lane – an area of London I have fond memories of but that’s another story. My ticket was checked on 4 separate occasions before I entered, and tried to work out a plan.

At first it was a bit overwhelming – one fairly large hall and one medium-sized hall housed 165 companies looking for techies. I walked around in a large loop not knowing what to do, feeling a bit over-awed. I noted where the free bar was. I sat down (not in the bar) and tried to come up with a plan.

I failed to come up with a plan but when I went back into the medium-sized hall, the first company I spoke to were looking for a junior. We had a positive conversation – probably the best conversation I had in there.

I spoke to some very nice people, I spoke to some very interesting people too. I handed 20 CVs out and hopefully made a good impression, most were not currently looking for a junior front-end web developer but do employ juniors so I’d like to think at least a few will keep my details on file.

There were some people that as soon as I mentioned that I had no work-related experience, glazed over as if I had just announced that I’d discovered animated GIFs on Geocities.

There were a variety of organisations there, from huge multinationals to two young ladies running their own food-related start-up.

I spent a bit of time thinking about the design and UX of various stalls as I progressed – some companies seemed awfully quiet and had awfully plain installations with no obvious sign as to what they were looking for in terms of staff. Others were well-designed – and often much busier.

After a couple of free beers and talking to some randoms about their day in the bar, I wandered around a bit more but found by this point I’d spoken to most companies that were of interest, and became more interested in picking up some free jelly beans. At which point I realised that my mission was complete and it was time to go home.

It was a really good afternoon. At the least, I have spoken to people within the industry and taken my first steps towards finding a new job. I had some positive feedback about my actual CV – in particular, one person said I had a good level of experience for someone looking for their first role.

Even if I don’t get a job directly from it, and it is relatively unlikely that I will, I enjoyed it and felt at home with the surroundings and those I spoke to. I felt I belonged a lot more than I do in accounting!

Will I go to the next one in November? Hopefully not. I will be disappointed if I do not have my dream first coding role by then.

I wouldn’t especially recommend it for someone looking for their first role unless you have a super-strong CV and portfolio, with good knowledge of JavaScript, ideally Angular and/or React (one of the latter two being my next subject to learn).

I certainly would highly recommend it to anyone with 1-2 years of work-related coding experience. And at some point in the future, maybe I’ll be back. It really is a cracking event, with great people, very good organisation and a fantastic purpose.

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