Hey fellow campers
Every now and then I return to this forum and browse around. I’ve seen a couple of posts discussing the challenges of getting a job and just thought I’d share my story to help motivate those who might need it.
This post ended up being way longer than I intended, so my apologies for that.
A little over a year ago I was a struggling artist/ student in Chicago. I was a classical double bassist hustling my way to get a job in a symphony orchestra. I went to school full time, had a part time orchestra job, and a part time dog walking job that I would do in between classes, cycling from house to house (about 20 miles a day) for two years including two brutal ass winters. Even though I could live, I was in a really crappy place. I remember a number of times where after I paid all my study and living bills, I would have around $3 left in my bank account, and would have to borrow money from friends to buy groceries, or take my girlfriend out for a meal. On top of that, I was an international student, so half of my income was made under the table, and without studying there was no way I could afford any other visa to stay in the US. I had dropped out of college before because of a similar situation, and for some reason convinced myself that I had to finish up my studies in order to progress in life.
At some point I had a conversation with a high school friend who is a coder. He was doing super well and worked for himself, building apps for clients around the world. He got me thinking, actually, he got me obsessed about the idea to learn how to code.
I browsed everywhere online to find some way to learn how to code, and for someone who was dead broke, FCC seemed like the best resource for me, I loved the curriculum after researching the stack it taught and enrolled. Long story short, two weeks into the HTML section I announced to my community that I would stagnate my studies and become a coder. My plan was to move to California and become a developer. My girlfriend’s parents reluctantly agreed to let me stay with them in LA on the condition that I propose, and even though they weren’t happy with the situation they let me stay with them and study full time. I was 27 and keep in mind that I barely had a dollar, had university debt, dropped out of college for the second time, and am at this point an illegal ‘alien’ resident without a drivers license, any kind of insurance and living in LA (where you really need a car).
Getting the job I never thought I’d get
I’ve been at this job for four months now and am the only React Native developer in a company consisting mostly of native developers. Our company invests in promising companies and help them grow and make exits. Usually building out the entire or most of the tech infrastructure from the ground up. So it’s incredibly rewarding to work with talented engineers on one side, and motivated entrepreneurs on the other.
My first interview was with the president and CTO of the company. No BS and we talked about my interests, goals and aspirations, followed by a coding challenge where I had to build a Node/ Express API with endpoints that performed calculations with certain parameters, like calculating the radius of two distances. I had an hour to do that. The following interview was discussing a React Native app I had worked on, talking about how I went about incorporating things. The next coding challenge was a take home project. They sent me an outline of the app I needed to build and invited me to an empty repo on Bitbucket. I had three days to complete it. For both challenges I tried to demonstrate two things, quality and speed. I finished the second challenge in two days and the API challenge in about 40 mins. With that said I was really prepared.
Me a year later
Looking back, things weren’t easy but making the decision to become a coder was the best decision I’ve ever made, (aside from asking my girlfriend to marry me ). If I didn’t, I would have probably still been in Chicago with even more debt and frustration. I spent a total of $400 to learn how to code and now make more money than I thought was possible for myself not very long ago. I’m also building a company in my spare time, which allows me to make new connections and keep the drive to code and learn more every day. I think what is possible in tech is incredible, and I’m super grateful to be a part of it.
Why you shouldn’t be afraid to apply for jobs that you think are out of your reach
I applied to all kinds of jobs. I think I applied to between 90 - 100 and heard back from about 4. Got two interviews and probably had two phone interviews. The part I want to emphasize though is that the job I ended up getting had a job description similar this (no exaggeration ):
_“React Native developer, at least 5 years of mobile dev experience required, 7 years of web dev experience required, strong knowledge of Node.js and maintaining high traffic applications, testing.” blah blah blah
I never let that convince me I couldn’t do the job so I applied to them all and ended getting that job. SO, just go for it and see what happens. Ultimately you need to be a fast learner and have a great attitude, thats definitely the most important.
Just do you, and don’t give up, and if you’re struggling to find a job, just try new things you haven’t tried yet. Don’t let things get you down and stay focused, even if you’re out partying, party whilst thinking about the problem you’re trying to solve . Pick some language and just stick to it and go for it until you get it. In interviews, have confidence in your knowledge, but be humble in the way you present it.
Lastly, I want to thank @QuincyLarson for this awesome platform. It was my first exposure to coding and FCC is what got me hooked on it. So thanks!
Would love to connect!
Good luck to all