Hello everyone! I wanted to share my FreeCodeCamp experience and how it helped me land a Full Stack developer position, and hopefully it helps those of you who are still trying to land that first gig some more inspiration to do so.
I’ve always had an interest in coding, however I never took it seriously until about 4 years ago, when I started writing Visual Basic for Applications scripts at the firm I was working at. Before then, I would dabble in creating my own websites in HTML/CSS over the years. Once I started writing scripts for most of my working hours, I realized that coding was what I truly wanted to focus my entire career on.
Now, I’m not exactly “young” anymore (I’ll be 40 soon), so I was a little bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to learn as quickly as the college youth who were excelling at CS. However, that didn’t stop me because I was determined. For the first 2 years I focused on coding in Visual Basic at my old job, and even taught others and blogged about coding on the company’s internal social media network, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy me (and my old job was just barely letting me pay my bills).
It was around March 2016 that I started sending out resumes and applying to various jobs. Most of the time I heard no response, and on two rare occasions I got rejection emails that actually gave me some information about why I didn’t get an interview (albeit not very much). Instead of letting it get me down, I saved the rejection emails with the intention that I was going to see how many I would receive before landing my first gig. Turns out, those were the only two.
Not long after my second rejection letter I ended up going to a bonfire at one of my neighbor’s houses (after some considerable effort on my wife’s part because she was tired of me just sitting in the basement coding and sending out resumes every night). I remember grumbling while walking down the street thinking, “Yeah, as if I’m magically going to run into a developer who has a position open at his company”. Well, to my surprise, that’s exactly what happened!
Within 3 days I had an interview and not long after that they offered me a job. The main reason they offered me the job was that I had the right attitude and was extremely motivated (the guy I met at the bonfire talked me up to his boss because of how passionate I was about it). Now, my personal projects, websites, and Github repos did help a lot, and I was able to talk through all the technical questions they asked me, but the deciding factor was that I fit the culture of their team and I was willing to learn and grow with them (just because I got a job doesn’t mean I “made it”, I still have a long way to go to reach my long term goals - which includes giving back by mentoring others).
Call it luck, or chance, or whatever you want, but if I didn’t have the drive and the motivation I never would have made it to the interview in the first place. So my advice to anyone reading this that is feeling frustrated or about to give up because they’re getting rejection emails (or no responses at all), give yourself a kick in the pants and keep at it! You won’t know when you’ll meet that someone who gives you a chance, or get the interview you’ve always wanted, but just make sure you’re ready for it by never giving up!