Making Your Own Job Opportunities

Story of the Week Jun 14, 2020 2 min read

📚 Story of the week #3

Many of your will be graduating into the slosh that is the current employment market. While the front doors to most companies are shut, the back doors are wide-open to those with the will to create their own opportunities rather than waiting for something to come-a-knocking.

So here is the tale of how I managed to get a Software Engineering job offer from a company I'd fallen in love with. I managed to pull this off without work experience, a computer science degree, or compromising myself with any unsavoury favours...

I was 21-years-old, fresh out of university, and hungry to nudge forward the causes I believe in. Starting my own business was a thought, but I felt being a soldier at someone else's company was the wiser path, as I didn't want my future team to have to pay for my inexperience. Next I had to decide if I wanted to be on Team Build or Team Sales. The victory went to Team Build, as I reasoned that understanding how technology is made would make me a more effective leader in the long-run, so I resolved I would go into software engineering.

I shortlisted Kano, an early stage startup that built a super compelling product: build it yourself computers that teach children how to code. The issue, however, was that all the Software Engineering roles required a degree in Computer Science and previous experience, so I did what any sane person wanting to work at a startup would do – I went to their offices, told a random member of staff I'm interested in a job, and then (to their credit) their CEO gave me an interview then and there.

Why did they humour me? When they saw me, didn't they think I was a deluded 21-year-old waltzing into their offices trying to bypass their hiring process? Well maybe, but they also saw someone who cared about their mission and had the drive to take on whatever challenges lay ahead.

You can't teach someone to care, but you can teach anyone a new skill. Make your superpower showing a company that you care, and then prove to them that you can add value and they should take a chance on you. Hiring someone can be a risk, so you need to show that you're not one.

And that's exactly what ended up happening. They gave me a challenge: take any aspect of our code, improve it, and if we accept your improvement you can have a job with us. Caring wasn't enough, but it gave me the opportunity to prove myself instead of being another CV in their inbox.

It took me 3 months, but I did it. I taught myself Python from scratch, watched a lot of computer science lectures (loved these ones, but feel free to message me for more materials), and overcame a swarm of computer bugs. Their CTO invited me back, tested me a bit more, and said I could start in a month.

I never did end up working for Kano, as fate had other plans. However, that's a story for another day.

❤️ Mindful Productivity Tip: Re-Sparking my love for email

I've fallen in love with my email again because of Spark. It's free, takes 2 minutes to setup, and Stephen Fry is a fan! I hope you find email-love too, and get to inbox zero. You can checkout their rockstar product video here.

Stay curious,



Jamie Miles

🌱 Building a media company to make sense of the 21st century 🍎 Sharing the best ideas along the way 🍵 Former @Airbnb @Onfido @UniofOxford

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