28 years old, Underemployed, and Wish I Could FInd a Job Yesterday

I’ve been out of college for three years now, but I can never seem to move beyond where I am now. Living at home, working just barely above minimum wage. I hate that I chose Asian Studies as a major and didn’t do any concrete planning for a career while in college. I’m still mad at myself for thinking I could get a translator job with subpar Japanese.

I know I’m a decent coder, but I feel like most employers don’t even look my way because I don’t have a degree in Computer Science. One of my biggest regrets was switching from Computer Science to Asian Studies in college.

I just feel like I’m approaching 30 now, and my situation is no different than when I was 18. Meanwhile, people my age (including my younger brother), are in promising careers and getting married, and I’m just the loser in the bunch.

I just needed to get that out of my system.


1st Off … STOP beating yourself up for taking a chance on something that didn’t pan out. RULE OF LIFE: If you don’t try, you will never succeed, so don’t every stop trying and always remind yourself of that.

I’m in my 50’s now, and I’m starting over also. I got a BS in CS many years ago, started a career right out of college and within a year was derailed by the software industry to the point that I settled for teaching application software as a career path. My real interest was in software development, which I dabbled in over the years, but not enough to claim any real experience. Back then, women were extremely unwanted in the computing industry and many of us were “persuaded” into less technical positions. Unfortunate for sure, but it was what it was … crappy! (moving on …)

I never gave up the desire to write software, even though life went down many roads I did not expect. Finally my window of opportunity came up, and I’m now back in school and doing well. I’m certainly not there yet, but I’m getting closer to landing that 1st job! I’m competing with all the 20-30 year olds out there who ‘fit in’ better, so I have to shine in other ways. I have to be creative with setting myself apart, so I’m working as an intern and gaining experience through many different avenues both online and in person. I have a BS in CS already, but my experience doesn’t show it so it’s not worth much.

I’m trying to navigate this path also, while I slowly pursuing an MS in CS, and build my portfolio of projects more and more … that’s another area where FCC should help significantly!

I understand how you feel like your situation is no different than when you were 18 … me too! We both need to remember that we have maturity (hopefully) on our side. Yep, that does count for something now and again, so don’t forget to focus on your strengths. Every software developer out there started somewhere, they didn’t just show to their 1st day on the job “all knowing”. They all had mentors, and people around them who supported their learning curve as they gained experience. The same will happen for us, and I can’t wait!!!

Coming up with the fastest algorithm, or writing the most syntactically correct code, or solving a complex problem in a 1 hour interview is NOT the entire picture. Focus on your strengths, and let you strengths stand out and be noticed.

Move forward with your dreams, and focus every day on learning how best to improve your weaknesses. You’ll do it, I’ll do it, we just need to breathe and give it time.


Why do you feel this way? Of course, some employers prefer candidates with a computer science background, but it’s definitely not impossible to get a job without it. Have you actually heard from employers that you weren’t hired because of your degree?

For people like you and I, it’s important that we downplay our educational background when promoting ourselves to employers. Concentrate on your capacity as a developer, which means putting your portfolio front and center. I have a section on my resume that details the projects I’m most proud of, both personal and professional, and this section is near the top. My education is a much smaller section at the bottom, below my work history. I wouldn’t omit it entirely, though, as any degree shows that you’re capable of following through with your plans. Your cover letter shouldn’t even mention your degree, and instead focus on what you’ve accomplished as a developer (this is where FreeCodeCamp comes in). Harp on how much you love to learn and how excited you are every day you get to program. In the interview, be prepared to tackle the subject head on. This is an especially good topic for a question like “What is your greatest weakness?”, which you can answer with something like

“I would say my greatest weakness has been my lack of a formal computer science education, but I am highly driven to learn and have completed X amount of projects through FreeCodeCamp, and plan to take more courses in the near future”.

If you haven’t already, then make sure you learn the basics of algorithmic analysis. This sounds a lot harder than it is, and you basically just need to be able to define and explain Big-O notation, and work out the Big-O of some simple code. Do a Google search for “JavaScript interview questions” and “web developer interview questions” to prepare yourself. HackerRank has a whole section for code interview questions, Cracking the Coding Interview. Check out the book by the same name (the same author wrote both the book and the course). If you’re not working, you should be sending out your resume and learning. The more you understand, the better, but remember that you don’t need to learn everything a person would learn in a CS program. I think most interviewers understand that nobody retains 100% of a course, so they’re just asking questions that test a general understanding. This means that learning a little bit can go a long way.

Lots of millennials are living with family. Rent is high and wages are low. That’s just the way things are. We can’t apply the same judgements from 20 years ago on people today. Don’t dwell too much on your situation.


I’m a Japanese who is living and trying to find a dev job in Germany. I used to work in the sales field and I realized that having sales skill does not help me to get prosperous jobs in Europe. So I decided to learn web development. I don’t get any job offer yet. But t I keep sending resumes and I had several job interviews ( I don’t have CS degree and working experience in Web development). I try to send my resume to company which does not mention ’ CS degree’.

Also if you speak Japanese, it is possible for you to work in Japan as a programmer. There is also big job market. I know some Japanese company which wants to hire engineers who speak both English and Japanese. I think there is demand with your skillset.


i dont know if u will read my comment or not but please stop looking at the past whatever happened wont change , most professional coders don’t have a degree or even attended a CS college.

you’re still young you can learn whatever you want and build ur career , dont give up.


Wow, I’m amazed at how similar our situations are! I’m only 3 years younger than you, living at home (though not uncommon where I live), and have been earning barely above minimum wage for only 2 months, before that I used to earn minimum wage.

I also tend to think the same way as you do. That people my age and younger have degrees and are in promising careers that they like, some are happily married (though getting married is not something I have in mind) while I’m still struggling to even get started with my life… etc. However, will I let this or the fact that I have no degree stand in my way? No, of course not! I’m determined to get a developer job and finally have a decent career that I not only like, but one that I love and which is my passion.

I’ll be honest, I also sometimes think I’m a loser, but the truth of the matter is that neither I nor you are losers. In fact, I don’t believe anyone is. You’re definitely not a loser for completing a degree, learning to code all by yourself, and much more I’m sure. How many people have the resolve to learn to code by themselves, and take it seriously to the point of striving to make it their career? Not many.

I’ve somehow learned to use my situation as motivation. I’ll admit, it’s not easy at all. I mean to cope with this situation while feeling really bad about it, while using it as motivation, while studying hard all at once. However, believe me that it can be a great source of motivation, even if you’re going through a difficult period because of it. You just don’t want to be there for even one more day, that’s the source of motivation I’m talking about.

I’d like to thank you for your post, as it’s good to know we’re not alone, and frankly, we seldom are. I think you’ll always find people in a similar situation to you, and honestly at least for me this makes me feel a bit better. I’m glad you made this post, as most people seem to hide this stuff and not talk about it, but I think it’s important to do so. Otherwise, how will you know there are others feeling the same way? :wink:

I hope I’ve helped in some way, and if not, I hope the mere fact that you’re not alone makes you feel better. Take care, and code on! :slight_smile:


Looking at other people’s success and feeling bad about yourself is a loser attitude. Don’t be a loser be a winner :wink: Other people’s achivements should be only an inspiration for you.


Same situation as you, 28 years old and don’t have a job or a degree in CS, but I will never give up, thinking the way you do will just slow down your progress, so just focus on your goals and forget the world.

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I am in a similarly complicated situation and trying to work through it. I am 31 years old and have a Masters in history, but am considering going in a radically different direction and stepping into coding.

In total I have lost about six years in employment due to chronic illness. Every time I recover it seems a greater challenge to work my way back into the job market, and it’s made even harder by lacking the physical ability to prove myself again on the bottom rung of the ladder.

I am considering coding as it’s a more in demand skill, will give me more versatility, and I can hopefully work around my illness. While true that I have few other options available, it is an area that I find fascinating.

I am still at the early stages of this course. I don’t take it lightly - I know I have to persevere for a long time for it to work. And I have to do this while raising a kid! It’s going to be hard, but if you don’t try you get nowhere. Happy to be embarking on this challenge!


Sorry for the late replies

You see, the thing is, I’d definitely would like a developer’s job right away, but that may possibly not be too viable until I build my portfolio more. However, what I do want is to get out of the job I’m currently in. I’m a college graduate working at a grocery as a cashier AND a stocker. This is unacceptable. I feel like ANYTHING would be better at this point. 3 years being underemployed with a college degree is long enough.

I’ve asked this question on reddit before with little response, but is there any other job I could work (NOTE: It does not have to be a Developer role. Literally, anything that would be appropriate for a college graduate and pay me enough to possibly move out of my parents’ house is fine. Please read that again if you don’t understand). What I’m saying is that I absolutely abhor my current job and anything else would be better than this. Please give me ideas. There must be SOMETHING that will take any college graduate

It seems even people with just a BA have managed to get a generic office job. How do I do that?

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You’re being too hard on yourself. Being in a job you hate sucks, but being in a situation you don’t like is reality for many people. Suck it up and push forward. Accept some struggle now, work on writing good code/build stuff and time will take care of things.

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Why not approach some temp agencies (staffing offices), and they can place you to work in temp office jobs. If you’re good with that, the client company may even hire you directly from the temp agency. That will get you out of the grocery job, even though it may not be permanent job… but who knows, that could turn into a permanent job.

Try customer rep jobs too, answering phones, customer support, etc. Data encoder (i don’t know if these kind of jobs are still around though).


But my situation isn’t sustainable. At least some people make a decent wage. I only make like $9 an hour. Surely, for a college graduate, there’s something better out there

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Thanks! I’ll take a look into it

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Anyway, I’m sorry if this topic was whiny or seemed entitled at all. I’m mostly just frustrated with my situation, and the attitudes of some coworkers and customers I have to deal with (though, I guess that would probably be true anywhere). I hate being negative and bringing other people down, so I’ll leave it at that.

Right now, I’ve been working on some reddit.com/r/dailyprogrammer challenges (and creating a git repo for them), as well as going through this guide https://github.com/P1xt/p1xt-guides/blob/master/job-ready.md


I know it may not be a popular way of thinking, but it is what motivates me…

Need something to motivate yourself? Think about how awful your current situation is and get mad about it. I have an indescribable disdain for my current job, so I channel my rage into constructive things. Not saying I don’t have my moments where I go into a slump (or a new game gets released that I want to play >.>), but it’s what’s working for me right now.

o7 Hang in there, brother.

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Again, I totally get where you’re coming from. Well, look at the bright side, you have a degree. I’m not sure I can say I’m underemployed as I don’t have a degree, so maybe I’m properly employed (not saying I’m happy with my job). I work as a shift manager in fast food, before that used to be just a regular employee. Would you believe me if I tell you the promotion was not worth it, and now I even want to quit more than ever?

Yes, it’s depressing. It’s very depressing. I won’t lie to you or any other members here by saying our situations are “fine” or something. Your post is not whiny, but I think most people for some reason don’t like reading this stuff, maybe it affects them or maybe they can relate somehow but can’t admit it, I don’t know. It’s your right to feel bad about a certain situation you’re in, and it’s also your right not to agree with it. In all honesty this stuff can make you so depressed that life starts feeling worthless, which is exactly what’s been happening to me.

The only advice I have for you is to not let it get you down. Continue learning and building your portfolio. The only thing worse than feeling bad about your situation, is feeling bad about it and not doing anything to try to change, and I personally did this for years myself. It doesn’t matter how bad you feel about it. Stopping and obsessing over it will do you no good whatsoever.

I hope both our situations will change soon, because it’s our right.


Not to make it sound dramatic, but for guys like us who have lower wage employment, getting a developer job is almost like a life or death thing. We could end up making 5 or 7 times what we’re making now (at least what I make). I think it makes us want the job all the more.

Anyway, I hope you can get out of your situation very soon as well

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This may sound drastic, but have you ever considered quitting your job and devoting full time to getting a developer job?

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I would love to do that, but the only issues are:

  1. I like having some disposable income, and I can at least use some of my savings to go visit friends from out of state

  2. If I don’t have a job, my parents will kick me out of the house. Even if I’m devoting myself productively, they’re very traditional when it comes to working

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