Doug Lu: Keep Your Job Search Options Open

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Doug Lu graduated from Flatiron School’s Data Science program with his heart set on working for a particular company. He soon learned the importance of keeping his options open.

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This article about Flatiron School graduate Doug Lu is part of the Coaching Collective series. The series features tips and expertise from Flatiron School Career Coaches. Every Flatiron School graduate is eligible to receive up to 180 days of 1:1 career coaching with one of our professional coaches. This series is a glimpse of the expertise you can access during career coaching at Flatiron School. 

Doug Lu, a September 2021 Data Science graduate from Flatiron School, began his job search with the goal of working at one specific company. But, over the course of his search, he found out why it’s important to always keep your options open. 

Single-Minded Focus Leads To A Stalled Job Search

Doug Lu began his career working in finance and wealth management. 

When he enrolled in Flatiron School’s Data Science program, he knew he could succeed with the technical skills he already had in Python, SQL, and Visualizations. And, upon his graduation 15 weeks later, Doug was confident that he would land a good job at the company of his choice. 

When Doug graduated, he had one particular company that he wanted to work at in the Financial Tech (FinTech) industry. He constantly checked the company’s web page for open roles and applied to very few openings at different companies. 

In an attempt to appeal as a strong candidate, he meticulously spent a lot of time reading the company’s blog to try to come up with a perfect project to showcase to the company. Fast forward a few months after graduation, and Doug had not had any interviews yet and despite many great project ideas, he had executed on putting together a demo to showcase.

After months of not making any progress and feeling like he would never land a position at the company of his dreams, Doug hit a low point in his search. 

Learning To Keep His Options Open

Frustrated after months of single-minded persistence, Doug needed a mindset shift. We evaluated his job search thus far and recommended that he consider other companies in the FinTech industry, not just his dream company.

With a reframed mindset and renewed motivation, Doug shifted to focus on the type of role he wanted to obtain, not just the company. He started networking with professionals already working in the industry, sharing that chatting with other Data Analyst and Data Science professionals informed what it was like to work in the industry, helped him to optimize his search better, and increased his chances of landing an interview and passing the technical round. 

“You can leverage past experience, know the role you want and chase down the role you want.”

Doug also shared that when he came out of the bootcamp he felt overwhelmed, thinking he had to try to show off his technical skills. It was only when he started networking  with other Data Scientists that he realized “the problems that start-ups and tech companies aim to solve revolve around creating structured insights to solve actual business problems, versus just showing technical expertise.”

Networking with various tech professionals ended up being key to Doug landing a job in the industry as each conversation helped him understand the fundamental challenges that FinTechs faced, with each conversation compounding his knowledge. 

While attending a FinTech virtual conference, he speed networked and met FinTech professionals. Finally, after 5 months of searching, and within 10 days after the FinTech conference, Doug obtained two offers and stood out from other candidates by having a deep understanding of how he could provide value to immediately solve business problems, which he learned from all the conversations he’s had with many FinTech professionals.

Reflecting On His Job Search Experience

Doug Lu ultimately accepted a role as Data Analyst at Self Financial. Looking back, he stressed the importance of networking with a purpose. 

“Time chatting with people uses up a lot of energy,” he explained. “It’s an investment of your time and at the end of the day, it only works when you have a good [process] as not every conversation will be helpful.” 

His advice for other job seekers is the lesson he had to learn for himself.

“Don’t be so tied to one company. A lot of factors are out of your hands, so it’s better to focus on competitors and not put all your eggs in one basket. The dream company may come later after you have some experience in the industry.”

About Laura Nicolaisen

Laura Nicolaisen is a Career Coach with Flatiron School. She has 15-plus years of experience as a career coach collaborating with recent graduates, professionals, and executives.  In addition, Laura has over 15 years of experience working in the university and bootcamp setting, in such areas as admissions, student advising, coaching, and as an executive team member.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of March 18, 2023. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ.

About Laura Nicolaisen

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