Finding A Software Engineering Job In LA as a Canadian.


I thought life would be easier as a graduate the web development program taught by Bitmaker Labs in downtown Toronto. Many of the coding bootcamps boast a 95% of their graduates get jobs within the first 3 months of graduating and that these jobs are near the 100k mark on average. This seems too good to be true, and it is.

My Story

I studied ruby on rails at Bitmaker Labs from August to the end of October 2016. I was near the top of the class and thought I did pretty well. I was really excited to get started and make money. I actually got my first freelance client right upon graduating. It only paid $500, but it was a good start. I was on the track to success… or so I thought.

I believed I could work anywhere in the world with my newfound skill and promptly moved to Los angeles to take advantage of higher wages and increased demand. I noticed that programmers were getting paid significantly higher in LA and San Fransisco (starting at around 60-70k US) as compared to the 40-45k Toronto wage for the same job. I decided to go looking for these jobs.

When I arrived in Los Angeles, I immediately sent out hundreds of resumes. I was really excited to interview with companies in the area and after about a week of applying for jobs I still didn’t have a single lead. How could that be? I was told that everyone was looking for software developers, and that as long as you knew what a variable was, you would do fine!

This was the start of a long and hopeless job search in California. I applied for another two months while I worked on side projects, and actually managed to get a few interview. Although I am Canadian – I wrote on my resume that I was “Based in Los Angeles” just to make sure that I wasn’t being rejected because of my nationality. The interviews that I did get all said that I didn’t have enough experience or that they wanted me to come back to Toronto.

After two months of searching, I decided to move back to Toronto and continue my search from there. Upon arriving in Canada I had 4 job offers within my first two weeks of being back and a whole slew of companies trying to interview me. I couldn’t believe it. How was the demand for developers so much higher in Toronto then in LA? Why were salaries so much higher in LA and why couldn’t I get a job there?

I have been racking my brains to try and figure out the answer to those questions and I believe that it comes down to a few key reasons:

Reasons why finding a development position was so difficult:

  1. Los angeles is one of the worst cities for finding a job in California.
    Check out this article, which shows Los angeles to be the 247th best city to find a job out of 250 in California. Although I was targeting cities all over California, I was primarily target Los Angeles which could of been one of the reasons why finding a position was difficult.
  2. Rails is Dead.
    We have heard it a million times and we will probably hear it a million more time – Rails is Dead. It seemed that many of the start ups are looking developers to have experience with a complete javascript stack – with node and angular. Since startup’s are more likely to hire junior developers, it would be a good bet to learn node.js and stop learning ruby. I found that many established companies still use ruby, but they are hiring mid-senior level rails developers, and junior positions were hard to come by. Although I did interview for one junior rails position, I was told I didn’t have enough experience, and that they were looking for 2 years experience minimum.
  3.  Higher costs of living mean higher wages, which means they need to higher more experience developers. I found that many companies just want to hire THE BEST developers and pay them a lot of money, rather then hire an average developer and pay an average wage. If your looking for a company who’s headquarters are on the beach, you should expect them to pay you more to cover the cost of living. This means they are going to have to hire the most experienced person for the job to justify that wage.




I believe that the market has been flooded with new graduates all hoping to line up a job in the tech industry. If your hoping to get a job as soon as you graduate, don’t expect to earn anywhere near the 100k mark that the bootcamps promise. I know many people who got a job as soon as they graduated, and none of them are earning that kind of money.

Additionally everything changes in the tech industry so quickly, so make sure what your learning is relevant and in demand where you are job searching. If I were to go through everything again, I would of applied to jobs before I went through the coding bootcamp so that I could see the kind of jobs I would be getting by learning the skills in the coding bootcamp.