Developing a technical web presence
by Randy Gingeleski
6 minutes to read
One of my relatives is going into computer science after just graduating high school. This advice is written with him in mind, but applies to all technical majors...
Develop a web presence.
In this field, that at least means a Github and LinkedIn. I also like Crunchbase.
The best time to start on these is your first semester. Your Github can then represent your whole history of learning to program. Plus the longer pages are up, the better they do with Google rankings.
Myself as an example
Since last August, when I started this site, the Google results for “randy gingeleski” have changed immensely.
Now search results turn up this site, then Crunchbase, plus a bunch of images so people know what I look like, then LinkedIn and so on.
Technical interviewers always ask about stuff from my Github or posts I’ve written here.
And (humble brag) every interview I’ve done has yielded an offer. Part of it is prepping heavily for each, part of it’s making a good impression before you even step in the door.
Intro to Git and Github
Git is a type of version control software. At St. John’s, they didn’t touch on version control until my second-to-last programming course.
You should learn about it in your very first programming course. It’s not hard to understand, and will help you immensely.
Image credit - Daniel Strunk
What’s version control? It’s like a ”save” in a video game. If you get lost, you can reload from the last save point.
Every “save” in version control is called a “commit”. You can “push” those commits somewhere to back them up.
And Github is a place to back up work you’ve committed with Git. To an extent, it’s also a social place for programmers.
When applying for a programming job or internship, someone from that firm will (1) try to see if you have a Github profile and (2) look through what code is there to get a sense for your skills.
Git + Github setup
- Sign up for Github.
- If you’re a student and have a .edu email address, grab the Github Student Developer Pack.
- Learn Git from the command line (tutorial). There’s a desktop app, but eventually you’d have to learn command line version control anyway.
- As you do your programming lab work, back it up to public Github repositories.
Preferably making commits between separate features, and trying not to commit things that don’t work.
Make a LinkedIn profile, then go into your settings and play with them.
When people who aren’t connected to you see your page, I suggest just showing them a summary and little else.
- Never use “Student at Blahblah University” as your headline. That’s downplaying yourself.
- Or “Aspiring Entrepreneur” if you’ve never started or failed at a business. That’s something you’re not.
- Or something long and stupid like “Master of sales, lover of people | CISSP, ACE, WTF”.
- Just keep it short and sweet.
And the summary should be abrupt too. Everybody in the world will see this.
Here’s one that’s questionable:
For jobs? Things that are relevant to what you’re doing now. Or your most recent job.
I keep my time at Turning Stone on there because I’m still involved with internet gaming.
I’m working as a software engineer. You’ll see my affiliations with NYCM and Lockheed Martin.
My roles with the shady Jet Set Events, IgetCOMPED, and EventWizler don’t make an appearance.
Don’t be like this long job list that’s going nowhere fast:
For your picture, make it appropriate to your industry. Tech is mostly casual dress now. You can get away with something like I have.
If you’re trying to sell insurance, you probably need a picture in a tie.
Try not to look like a dweeb.
For connections, mine are people I would help and who I believe could help me. Otherwise they’re ignored / deleted.
A: My cohort Evan Saez knows half the universe. Sometimes random people reach out to me because I’m easy to reach. We introduce each other to people.
B: A stranger from Binghamton connected with me. He designs casino games. If he hadn’t turned out to be a lunatic, we could’ve gone to lunch and helped each other.
I don’t have a lot either. Quality over quantity.
Skill endorsements and personal endorsements mean next to nothing.
What’s Crunchbase? It’s information on all the firms and players in the tech industry.
Make a page if you want to be a player too.
Like Wikipedia, it’s curated freely by users and gets a lot of link juice from Google.
Mine has a short info blurb, links to my other web profiles, a bunch of pictures, and some press one of my projects received.
It takes just a few minutes and helps establish you professionally.
If any of your social media profiles aren’t helpful to your image, make them private. Like if you’re binge drinking or using explicit language.
My Facebook is private. There’s nothing bad per se, but it’s a lot of old pictures and family stuff. That doesn’t have to be public.
My Twitter? Blank. Just a parked page.
Instagram? Travel and whatever. I feel like it’s more intimate than my blog, which might come off as cold or intense at times.
If you have a common name like ‘John Smith’, use a different one. Make it ‘JK Smith’ or ‘John Harold Smith’ or whatever.
Luckily I only compete for ‘Randy Gingeleski’ with my dad.
You’re a computer science student. You’re expected to be proficient with computers.
When you’re applying for jobs or internships, they will Google your name. It’s not even a question.
Demonstrate computer proficiency by tightly controlling your Google results. Like I’ve written here, Github and LinkedIn are a good start.
Good CS principle - strong documentation makes for code everyone can understand. Not just you.
Everything that pops up should make you look good. Someone who would be a pleasure to work with and deserves a lot of money.
Image credit - Pinterest
I wrote about Edge before and now it’s free. Great content on there.