After a 4 years journey, I am now a professional developer!

In the spirit of paying it back to my humble beginning here on Free Code Camp, I have decided to write a post to highlight some of the things I’ve learned along the way. My story may not be the most impressive, but I do hope to inspire others who are still on their journey to becoming a professional developer. :star_struck:

I started learning how to code back in June of 2017 on a part-time basis. No CS degree, no bootcamp, just 100% self-taught. Throughout the process, I worked full time doing just about every gig job out there to pay the bills. I averaged about 20hr a week with coding. This was recorded in a personal blog that I still keep. Fortunately, I did not experience any major setback in my learning.

To be honest I was never in a rush to make this career change. I knew that if I was serious about it, I would eventually get there. Looking back at how far I have come, it has been one heck of a journey! :world_map:

The majority of my learning came from Udemy courses and collaboration cohorts. I did a few Chingu, but have heard great thing about The Collab Lab also. This was probably the most impactful to my learning.

USEFUL RESOURCES
Below are a few useful resources/strategies that have helped me along the way.

Community:

  • Join a dev community on Slack or Discord and engage with others. You are never in this alone! I probably got the most out of Code Buddies. :slightly_smiling_face:

Collaborate:

  • Join a learning cohort(see above) to level up your soft skills and learn the dynamics of working on a team

Pair programing :

  • Talking out loud about your approach and just having another set of eyes on your code will help greatly

Goals and systems:

  • Goals are beneficial in giving you actionable steps to achieve an objective. Unrealistic goals can lead to taking shortcuts and not producing quality work.
  • I was more focus on establishing systems and processes(habits) in my approach
  • When it came to learning new materials or applying for jobs, I did not set strict goals
  • When it came to project planning and building, I did have strict goals. Tools such as Trello was very useful.

MENTAL NOTES
Below are a few mental notes that have help me stay positive along the way

Trust the process:

  • Programming can be incredibly hard, get use to the feeling of frustration and confusion. This is part of the learning process and solving that one problem may be just around the corner. :wink:

Be resourceful:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Somebody probably already have been through what you are going through. They will be more than willing to help!
  • Be adaptable and change your approach if one way does not work. To quote Einstein, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different result.”

Never compare yourself:

  • You probably heard this a million already, but comparing yourself to others will be detrimental to your progress and self-esteem. Instead, engage with those “10X engineers”. Follow them on Twitter /LinkedIn and spark up a conversation.

Imposter Syndrome :

  • One of my biggest struggles with being self-taught was not pushing myself to learn more complex materials. This was due to the mindset of thinking I was not ready. The take-away here is you will never be fully ready. Just keep on pushing and leveling up! Finding someone or something that will keep you accountable will also.
  • #100DaysOfCode was a great way to publicly stay accountable and develop good habits

THE JOB HUNT
Below are areas that I focused on while pitching myself along with my job hunting experience.

LinkedIn

  • Structure your profile for SEO optimization by listing keywords relevant to your skillset
  • Focus on keywords counts in your headline, summary, post, etc. This will make you look/sound generic but it will feed the algos to bump you up in search results. When endless amount of recruiter start reaching out, you know the flood gates has open. :wink:
  • Do include things that makes you unique like your background story, blogs and side projects

Resume

  • Your resume is required in the first few steps such as applying for a job and and responding to recruiters
  • After you get pass the gate keepers, your resume will become less significance. Effective communication and assessment will be more important.
  • Do impress recruiter by exceeding exceptions with providing links to your portfolio or something cool you recently accomplished

Framing Lack of Experience

  • Perhaps the most discouraging and frustrating barrier in the job market for any junior developer. I had ZERO professional experience but did have personal projects.

  • I did declare myself as a Freelance Developer and included a Web Development project section in my profile as experience

  • Be honest and do not lie when asked about your experience and qualifications. Counter this by saying something along the lines of: “I believed my experience can be utilized in a profession environment” or “Although I do not know Y technology, I have worked with similar X technologies and would be excited to learn Y technologies.”

Job Hunt

  • As previously mentioned I was not in a rush to get a dev job. I started casually applying for software engineering related roles during May of 2019. Starting off my goals was just 1 application a day. However with a decent LinkedIn profile recruiters were messaging me multiple times a day.

For what’s its worth, here is a count of jobs I applied to over the years. As you can see this was pretty damn casual.

Job Tracking
Year Applied
2019 46
2020 57
2021(up to June) 77
Total 180

Interview Process

  • Initially applied for a FullStack position back in March with my current company
  • Did not get a response until 2 months later regarding another position
  • Recruiter was able to set up a technical interview with 2 managers
  • Was extended an offer the following week(OMG! :open_mouth:)
  • Still had more questions about role/company, so they were gracious enough to schedule another interview
  • After all was said and done, I ACCEPTED THE OFFER and my official start date was 7/7/2021!!! :raised_hands:

CLOSING REMARKS
With this post I hope to inspire and help motivate those who are still on their journey in becoming a developer. It took me 4 years to get here and I am okay with that. I know things will start moving 100mph now and there will be much more to learn. This pursuit is a lifelong journey, never stop learning and always be a student!!! :books: :rocket:

Here are links to my portfolio and socials if anyone have questions or just want to say hi. :wave:
simonxcode
LinkedIn
Twitter

8 Likes

Hi @simonxiong !

Congrats on getting your first job!

Thank you so much for sharing your story :grinning:

I know it will help a lot of people like me who are learning how to code and building up portfolios.

Best of luck on your future success.

1 Like

Congratulations man! It’s nice to see a story that seems real. All the hype of landing a web dev job in less that a year seems like a fantasy. I live in Texas and you will not get a programming job without a degree, I found that out the hard way. I’m in the middle of my 4th year of studying coding and starting my sophomore year of a Comp Sci degree this year. I’m actually doing summer classes this year and the remaining years so I can graduate early. THIS story is authentic and inspring, thanks for sharing your story!

2 Likes

My sincere congratulations for getting the Job. Certainly the journey is not easy, congratulations for having the necessary resilience in your process.

Your Job tracking was just Wow! Very good idea.
Congratulations again and keep advancing and learning.

2 Likes

Thank you @jwilkins.oboe for the kinds word and continued encouragement!

Thank @rico042002. My motivation is to let people know that it’s okay to take your time. Sounds you are definitely grinding it out. Keep it up and happy coding!

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Thanks @AndyG for the kind words. Yeah tracking is good, but one should not get obsesses just hitting numbers.

Thank you for sharing, and congratulations.

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