After ~ 4 months on the job search and a about 16 months into teaching myself to develop I accepted a job offer last night for $50,000 which is actually 5k over what I was asking!
- Have been working the same restaurant job since I was 14 (19 years)
- Took a couple of programming courses in CC about a decade ago
- Started a family 3 years ago and decided some things needed to change
- Decided the best way for me to gain the financial security, work life balance, and professional fulfillment I was seeking was to teach myself to program.
- 01/01/17 Started free Intro to Computer Science course on Udacity, the course was excellent and the teacher was engaging. I was excited and ready to dig deeper.
- Udacity being the learning platform I knew I stuck with it and paid for the Intro to Programming Nanodegree. This was a short simple course that I finished in less than a month. It did expose me to a couple of different paths I could take and I ended up settling on Front-End Web Development, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone spend money on this.
- After deciding on Front-End I signed up for the Front-End Developer Nanodegree on Udacity, As a complete beginner I liked the Udacity format but looking back I think they held my hand to much, another problem I had after looking back on it was the course materials were dating I was working in modern frameworks like knockout, backbone, and jQuery.
- About two months after I started the Nanodegree I got married and with that and the honeymoon I took a couple of weeks off of my studies, when I got back I struggled to get back in a rhythm and after a couple more weeks of working I ended up taking about a 4-5 month break from my studies (all the while paying 200/mo to Udacity to keep my nanodegree active ).
- In the fall I hopped back into things and finished the Nanodegree within about another month.
- After finishing the nanodegree I didn’t feel at all prepared for work in this field. I decided to strengthen some of the fundamentals I enrolled in Harvards cs50 course, and finished it in about a month. This course was amazing! It really reinvigorated me, I’m sure you guys have heard it before but this is one of the best free resources out there for someone trying to get into programming.
- Still not super comfortable I enrolled in another “intro to cs course” MIT 6.00.1x. And started to work on my design chops by going through the 100 Days of CSS website and trying to recreate his snippets. The MIT course was in python and while I wouldn’t say it was bad it covered a lot of the same things I had learned in the Udacity intro course long ago. The CSS stuff was invaluable though, I felt so uncomfortable styling web pages and all the little things I learned even though I only went through about 30 of them helped me immensely.
- This takes us close to X-mas and I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable so I decide to send out a couple of resumes on indeed while I begin to work on my website. To my surprise I actually get a response to set up a phone interview with one of the first companies I sent a resume to! I thought the interview went okay, he was mostly interested in my codepen stuff but I never heard back from him even after sending a follow up email.
- I spend the next several weeks working on my website, it turned out okay and got the job done so I started applying again towards the end of January. I was probably overly confident since I got a early response without so much as my own website but this time it didn’t go so smooth! Haha I started sending out dozens of applications a week through linkdn, ziprecruiter, indeed all the usual suspects and getting nothing back from anyone.
- In Feb I started a FCC and finished the front end cert in about a month all the while updating my resume with the projects and sending it out to new jobs I saw listed.
- In March I started going through the FCC beta program, again still sending out applications constantly and never hearing anything back I’m starting to get pretty discouraged, and frankly tired of spending so much time updating my portfolio/website and scouring job boards for new postings! I’m probably spending more time on that than actually learning.
- Last Wednesday I got an email for a company I had applied to through ziprecruiter in March. It said they were going to send over a couple of assessments and told me to fill them out and get back to them. One was a personality test, another basically an IQ test, and a questionnaire going over some technical stuff and salary expectations yada yada.
- I send it to them and set up an interview on Friday. The interview last about an hour and half and frankly I didn’t think I was doing well. They are a .net shop and I don’t know anything about C#, they work with a CMS and I have no experience with any CMS, The primary responsibility of the job is email coding which I have no experience in. The fact that I’ve basically held one completely unrelated job my entire life.
- I basically just kept reiterating how passionate I was and how willing I was to learn and how excited I was to start developing in a professional environment. At one point in the interview I basically said I know I wrote I’d like at least 45k but I’m basically willing to work for peanuts to get my foot in the door, which was probably a bad negotiation tactic lol. I guess he was impressed with how far I had come over the last year and how much I’d been able to learn on my own so he set up a second interview for Monday.
- It was all smooth sailing from there, everyone I met with seemed great, he sent me home with a couple of take home assessments and after I got those finished and he contacted some references he called me and offered me a job above what I was asking and sent out the email offer the following day!
I’m incredibly excited to get going, I was getting very discouraged that with my job history and no education I’d never be able to get my foot in a door and show people what I can do, but someone took a chance on me!