Demo stands for "demonstration". Demo day is essentially a reverse take on the traditional job fair. Instead of employers setting up booths for students to visit, the students each have a station where they demonstrate an independent programming project to hiring companies. A substantial number of our students attain their first job through this event!
Some of the companies at the demo day will be hiring immediately; some will be looking a little further ahead; and some are always interested in hiring if they meet the right candidate. Even if you think your internship is going to turn into a longer-term situation, you should still attend demo day. That way, you've got backup options in case anything falls through, and you'll also make some great contacts that could turn into a job down the road.
The specific date, time and details of Demo Day will be provided to you as it nears. Below is a general outline of Demo Day, its requirements, and suggested preparation.
You are expected to attend the first Demo Day that occurs after completing your internship. This ensures presenting graduates have time to finish their projects, do not miss time at their internship, and are ready to take any job offers.
You will be asked to register for the event 6-8 weeks in advance. You will provide information about the project you're demoing, including your app's name, a link to where it's hosted, the language(s) used to construct it, and the location of your GitHub profile. We use this information to assemble materials for attending companies, and arrange the room according to language. Additionally, projects are collected so that we may create a virtual version of the event for employers unable to attend in person, but still interested in viewing projects and potentially hiring students. If you think you may change projects, or your project is not ready to be live, that’s okay. Go ahead and fill out what you have. There will be time to make any necessary edits closer to the event.
The project you present must be developed individually. Employers would like to see examples of your own individual work. Some employers may also ask about group project experiences (after all, most programming jobs involve working on a team!) But in order to best showcase your specific skillset, the project you demo must be developed individually. The independent capstone project completed in level 3 courses is a fantastic candidate for this.
The application should be hosted live, if at all possible, and you should have the code up and available to view on GitHub and/or whichever text editor or IDE your language generally programs in. Again, we create a virtual copy of the event for employers unable to attend in person, and it's much easier for them to view a live-hosted project than to clone, install, configure, and launch your code from GitHub.
Dress as if you were attending a job interview. Again, companies attend Demo Day because they're actively looking to hire new developers. This is essentially a preliminary job interview. Dress the part!
Have a pitch ready. Create and practice a professional pitch for both the application you're demonstrating, and yourself. Write it. Fine-tune it. Practice delivering it. This is your time to shine, and catch the attention of hiring employers. Highlight the technologies used. Be prepared to explain your approach, and your development process. It may help to anticipate any potential questions employers may have, and brainstorm answers.
Don’t expect that you will talk to every employer. Much like any other networking event, you may talk to a number of employers or just a few. Some employers talk to every presenting student, whereas others are looking for very specific skills/languages, and may only talk to a few. We find successful outcomes for Demo Days are more dependent on making meaningful connections and following up than they are on the number of companies a student talks to.
Success at Demo Day doesn’t necessarily mean an immediate job. The goal of Demo Day is to facilitate making connections between companies and students. Sometimes companies attend Demo Day before they’re ready to hire, and refer back to the students they made connections with later. Sometimes an attendee's company is not immediately hiring, but they later recommend a student for a job at a friend's company. Students who treat this as an opportunity to build relationships with companies, and network with their attending employees are hands-down the most successful.
Demo Day occurs every 10 weeks. You'll be invited to present at the first Demo Day event after your internship completion. The specific date and time of this Demo Day will be provided to you ahead of time.
If you plan to present your Independent Capstone Project completed in your Level 3 class (this is recommended!) you will have no less than 8 weeks to prepare your project. (The final week of your level 3 course, the two weeks between your level 3 course and internship, and at a minimum the five weeks you'll spend at your internship). That's a minimum of 56 days! Make the most of this time; don't put off your Demo Day project until the last minute!
During your Level 3 class, you will have a mock Demo Day to prepare you for the event. Epicodus staff will look at your project and give feedback on your pitch.
Keep your LinkedIn page up at your computer. This is a really easy way to make sure you don’t miss an opportunity to follow up with a connection after the event.
Some students choose to create business cards or paper resumes to hand out to interested employers. This is not required, but you are absolutely welcome to bring additional materials for your demo day booth. Epicodus will also assemble a program with all student portfolios to provide employers.
Consider having other projects prepared, too. While you're only officially demonstrating one project, you may find yourself chatting with a prospective employer about another language you've learned, or a group project experience you had. You may find it beneficial to select additional repos that highlight other skills you may want to demonstrate when/if opportunity arises.
After the demo day, follow up by email with anyone you met and who shared their information with you. It can be a simple “Thank you, I hope we stay in touch” or “Thank you, I plan on applying as soon as possible to the position we discussed”.
For those companies that are hiring immediately, apply to all of the companies you're interested in as soon as possible, preferably the weekend after. Don't hesitate to reach out to Epicodus' career counselor for help with your applications.
Lesson 2 of 16
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