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From demoralized to 1st IT job - Mustafa Baker

How we helped Mustafa go from demoralized by dead-end job hunting, to landing a well paid & remote-first job at Investorweb – with DIGGIT's full-stack job simulation.

Happy female developer doing a Job Simulation

You do a challenge. If you do well enough you get to go to many interviews and you don't need to spend time applying. There are many many advantages in my opinion in this approach.

I got a job so that was a very tangible result. It couldn't be better. The goal of the entire thing was to get a job and I got a job offer. I don't know what more I can say..

Simen: Hi, I'm here with Mustafa today. Mustafa is one of the top performers in our job simulations. He recently got a job at Investorweb. So welcome Mustafa.

Mustafa: Thank you, it's a pleasure to be here.

Simen: Awesome, let's jump right in.

What's your role now & what do you do?

TL;DRFront-End developer at Investorweb.

Mustafa: I'm a front-end developer at Investorweb. I work with Next.js, Zustand and other libraries to build an investor relation management platform. I'm really pleased with the job and like the technologies that we use.

Simen: That's awesome to hear, quite a tech sack there. I'm wondering:

What situation were you in before DIGGIT?

TL;DRAfter graduating from a front-end degree, I faced challenges in job applications. Many applications were automatically declined, with no useful feedback, which was demoralizing given the effort I invested.

Mustafa: I had recently graduated from a two-year degree at a private school. I'm not going to try to explain what the degree is, but it was a front-end developer degree (specifically). I started applying to jobs just before.

Simen: Can you describe the situation maybe a little bit more? How was the experience of job hunting? How did you feel along the way?

Mustafa: It was a bit demoralizing in my opinion because I spent a lot of time on each application and on most applications there was an automatic declination. I was declined automatically from a bot. I spent a lot of time on my application so I didn't feel it was fair to me.

Simen: I think this is something that many people experience. They send out a bunch of applications. It takes a long time to read through all the job ads. It takes a long time to send out the applications and then sometimes you get ghosted and other times you get a short generic rejection email.

Mustafa: Especially if you craft each application for each job then you're spending a lot of time. You deserve more than two minutes or whatever they spend on your application. Especially if you're qualified for the job.

Simen: Yeah absolutely. It's quite ridiculous. Let's dive maybe a little bit more into the approaches that you were using.

What approaches did you try before?

TL;DRTraditional job hunting, using 'finn.no'.

Mustafa: Mainly just keeping track of the jobs that I felt qualified for on 'finn.no'. I didn't do anything special. That's the thing.

SImen: So, the kind of standard Norwegian job board and then just following the process. Yeah. Makes sense. Regarding that kind of process..

What was the main pain/frustration/challenge with this?

TL;DRIt's hard to find relevant info in job ads and to find entry-level positions. Many job ads require experience, which is ofc missing for new grads. Confidence was also a major issue; I questioned if I knew enough or was skilled enough.

Mustafa: Having to find what's interesting in each job posting. They write a lot of not very important stuff on there. Not very relevant stuff and you have to like sift through it and see what is this job for me or not.

Simen: It's a lot of sales terms as well. It gets a bit confusing.

Mustafa: Yeah I just want to know especially how much experience do you want someone to have first of all. That's the first thing I look up for. Because when you're a new grad, if it says like three years or something like that, I don't want to apply. So I want that information as soon as possible.

Simen: Yeah like be able to filter quickly.

Mustafa: Yeah and also what kind of position, what technology are you going to work at or what technologies do they prefer. That's very important to me. So that's something I try to find. But it's usually jumbled within a lot of other stuff so you have to.

Simen: Yeah it's like this wall of text that hates you and then you're like kind of looking for these specific things but can't really find them easily.

Mustafa: Yeah and often the job title is not related to what you actually do. That is also a bit problematic but it depends on the company. Some are good, easy to sift through. It really depends on who's crafting the job posts.

Simen: Yeah absolutely it's like some are quite good and others are like quite horrible and there's a lot of in-between.

Mustafa: And also the lack of jobs for new grads was something that I was very worried about. I have been worried about since I started my journey. It's very difficult to find a position for a new grad. I was always worried about is it possible to get into the field without experience when almost every job requires experience.

Simen: Yeah I think a lot of people feel like that actually. Especially as the kind of competition gets a bit steeper and the main way to filter people becomes then years of experience as well as kind of the proxy that companies use. It becomes like unreasonably difficult for developers that don't have that experience yet. Even though they're really good, many of them.

Mustafa: I think there is other ways that they recruit for these positions, new grads. Not on "finn.no". I know that I'm not aware of or I was not aware of.

Simen: Yeah kind of the hidden market.

Mustafa: Yeah because otherwise it would have been too many unemployed new grads. Yeah of course, they must find a way somehow. But yeah it was it is really difficult as a new grad to find any positions to apply to. That does not feel like way over your qualifications.

Simen: Yeah I think a lot of people feel like that and especially when you have this like huge long list of skills and tools. Some people have said it feels like they're hiring an IT department, like a single developer at times.

Mustafa: Yeah and I tried to double down on it, tried to learn everything but it's not possible. I have come to realize now that it's better.

Simen: But I mean you've done pretty well though, like you learned a lot of these things that they put on these like wish lists.

Mustafa: Yeah but not everything and I was still like not confident when I was applying to jobs.

Simen: Right, not confident in what way?

Mustafa: In my abilities. If I was good enough, if I had enough, knew enough, didn't know enough technologies, a lot of stuff. I was not confident. Yeah not very confident at least.

Simen: Yeah I think that's actually something that many people struggle with. There's this like a term imposter syndrome. I think a lot of people that are very new and don't have a lot of reference points easily fall into that. And it's understandable because you're worried. What if I'm not enough? Ok, we can jump a little bit forward then. So..

How did you find DIGGIT?

TL;DRA year before graduating, I found DIGGIT via a job posting from Innovation Norway. I connected with Jørgen from DIGGIT on Discord.

Mustafa: I found it through a job posting that you collaborated with. I think it was Innovation Norway that I saw that it was in collaboration with you and I looked at your website and found it interesting so I contacted or I went into the Discord channel and spoke a little bit with one of your colleagues. We ended up meeting and speaking together.

Simen: Yeah that's great. I think a lot of people found us through Innovation Norway. That was a really wonderful collaboration that we had and we're very very grateful for the support that we got from them and got to develop our product together with them and it's really nice to hear that we reached out to people like you and found people like you. But you were a little bit early, right? You were still studying at that time?

Mustafa: Yeah it was one year before I was going to graduate and I met with your colleague Jørgen. We spoke a little bit. He wanted me to do one of the challenges but I was not confident in myself at the time and also we had a lot to do in school so I wanted to wait after graduation. So immediately after graduation I did the full-stack challenge.

Simen: Awesome. So were you already convinced at this point in time, like one year before you ended up taking the job simulation? Were you already convinced that this is what I'm gonna do or was it a moment in time where you figured out "Okay, yeah I'm gonna take it a shot"?

What made you decide to give DIGGIT a shot?

TL;DRMy initial commitment to Jørgen plus DIGGIT's value proposition: a single, reusable job simulation I could use to apply many times. These were the biggest factors to me.

Mustafa: No I had already promised Jørgen that I would do it and so I had to do it. Integrity, huh? Yeah and also for me it was a good value proposition. Because I hate interviews and technical interviews and stuff like that. I wasn't one where I had a brain meltdown and they thought like I was a horrible developer. But the thing is I was so nervous that I couldn't do anything. My brain wouldn't function. So it was ideal for me to do one technical challenge and have it apply to many positions. It was like a win-win situation for me at least. I looked at that a win-win situation. You do a challenge. If you do well enough you get to go to many interviews and you don't need to spend time applying. There are many many advantages in my opinion in this approach.

Simen: That's really great to hear. I'm really sorry about that experience you had.

Mustafa: No it's normal. It was my first interview and they called me five minutes after I applied. We would like to speak to you tomorrow. So I had no time to prepare and I had not coded for a while since I was burned out after school. I had studied so much. So I took a small break. No it's normal. It was my own fault. They specifically had a challenge where there was something I had not done in a year. So my brain went into full meltdown mode. It's a good learning experience and it helped me prepare for the next interview also.

Simen: It's good that you could take away some growth from it. I think that's a good mindset to have. I think a lot of people experience this actually. It's unreasonably stressful. It's an extremely high stake time. We know biologically that we react to that in different ways and especially if you have a lot of stress that you already had with school and stuff on top of all of that. That's horrible. Potentially it's your future at stake when you're at interviews. So what you're saying is true. Okay so that's kind of the background. I think we have pretty good clarity on that and the events that led up to you trying out DIGGIT. I'm just wondering..

What was the first positive moment you had with DIGGIT? When was it?

TL;DRMeeting Jørgen was the first positive experience. His humility assured me that DIGGIT was value-driven.

Mustafa: It was when I met Jørgen and he was very humble and easy to speak to. So I really like that. I believe that people should be humble. That's my opinion. Not everyone likes that but yeah. So I felt that the people behind DIGGIT had good values when I met him and that was a very positive experience for me.

Simen: Yeah, Jørgen is just such an amazing character. He has such an aura of positivity around him and yeah I mean I'm super happy to hear that this was the impression that you got from meeting him. All right so that's the first positive moment. Super nice. And then next..

What tangible results have you gotten from using DIGGIT?

TL;DRI landed a job! The main goal was achieved.

Mustafa: I got a job so that was a very tangible result. It couldn't be better. The goal of the entire thing was to get a job and I got a job offer. I don't know what more I can say.

Simen: No, no that's great. I mean job is that's life-changing. A life-changing moment right there. So awesome and we are of course super happy for you when it happened. Like we're totally celebrating internally as well. Okay so...

What would you say to others reading/watching this right now, who are currently in the same situation you were in?

TL;DRBe creative in your job hunt. Try services like DIGGIT. Being likable also matters a lot. Try to be calm and authentic in interviews.

Mustafa: I would say that you are good enough and you just need to persevere if you're in that situation. I don't know everyone is different but you need to be a little bit... don't do like go the hard route like I did with applying to a lot of jobs. Try to be creative with the way you find jobs. Like using a service like DIGGIT or yeah some other way of creative job hunting. And try to stand out a little bit.

Simen: Yeah I think that's great advice. Like there's this whole hidden market of opportunities that people usually don't know about and the standard approach can be really freaking tough; especially right now. The state of hiring right now is crazy. All right.

Mustafa: Also I have noticed one thing. If you are qualified to do the job, in my opinion it matters most how much the people that are interviewing you likes you. More than how much more qualified you are than the other person. So it really depends on how good your soft skills are also. You need to sharpen those. Be able to not be too nervous on interviews and get to know people and really show who you are.

Simen: So don't just focus on your hard skills. Focus on those key soft skills that are going to matter as well.

Mustafa: Yeah because in a real-life job like 95% of what you do, at least to me now, is like things that are routine tasks. And maybe let's say between somewhere between 10 and 20 percent. Let's say 80 to 90 percent is that is a difficult task where you have to really really think. Especially after a while when you get used to it. So you don't need to be the absolute best performer at the test or at school or anything to do the job.

Simen: I think that's actually really good advice and something that people should really take to heart and explore. Mustafa, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.

Mustafa: Thank you, it was a pleasure.

Simen: Yeah I wish you a great day and we'll stay in touch.

Mustafa: You too. Have a nice day.

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