Getting my first developer job: career transition and learning to code

Getting my first developer job: career transition and learning to code
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#1

I recently accepted an offer for my very first full-time software engineer position! It’s been a long road with ups and downs, and I owe a big thanks to FCC for helping me achieve this milestone.

I started FCC about a year ago. At that time, I was working in management consulting. My main challenge was finding time to learn to code, as I often had to work late hours. I had been studying several languages in a scattered manner, unsure of which direction to take. FCC helped me to manage my time better by offering a structured curriculum to follow. I breezed through the tutorials and basic algorithm challenges, maybe a little too quickly, and started on the front-end projects. These turned out to be very challenging, and I spent many hours on Stack Overflow trying to get my apps to “work”.

I began applying for front-end developer jobs soon after. I got in touch with an Andreessen Horowitz recruiter, and she set up a screening interview with one of the engineers. He asked me to talk through one of my projects, and I picked the Local Weather App, which I had written with jQuery. Things seemed to be going well until he asked me about the “$.getJSON” statement I was using and whether it was asynchronous. I had (as with much of the code) copied this from Stack Overflow and had never heard the word “asynchronous” up until now.

You can imagine how the rest of the interview went. But I did learn a big lesson, which was that I needed to focus on learning the fundamental concepts, not just hack my way through the projects until they worked. After some research, I decided on Eloquent Javascript. This book was a turning point for me as it gave me a solid grasp of vanilla Javascript. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a comprehensive explanation of the language.

My coding skills improved dramatically after that, but I was still having difficulty getting interviews due to my lack of job experience. Thinking that I needed to lower the bar a bit, I began to apply to internships in addition to full-time positions and was soon invited to interview at a company that specialized in digital TV. I met with five different team members, each of whom gave me a dose of Javascript questions. Interestingly, the team used only vanilla Javascript, no outside libraries or frameworks, so my studying came in very handy! The manager also interviewed me, and I told him about FCC. He seemed impressed and even suggested that I add FCC to my resume (which I had not done). They gave me an offer that same day and I excitedly accepted. Although this was just an internship and in some ways a bit risky, it was an important step in getting me out of consulting and into the high tech industry.

Long story short: after a few months as an intern, a coworker on a different team told me that there was a job opening for a front-end developer on his team and encouraged me to apply. The interview was in a “case” format, in which I had two hours to design an API library and present it to my interviewers. Luckily, I already had experience creating a library during my internship and was familiar with the general approach and thinking that went into it. Even with that, it was still a challenging case and I walked out of the interview feeling slightly overwhelmed. A few weeks later, I received and signed the offer. I will start the new position in about a week and needless to say, absolutely cannot wait to get started!


#2

Big congratulations to you! Really an inspiring story that makes me want to continue down the path. Eloquent JavaScript seems like something I need to pick up as well.

Good luck in that new front-end position!


#3

Congratulations on your job, how long was your intern?


#4

I am inspired… Thank you for sharing your story… This gives me confirmation about my struggles and that I will focus more on the fundamentals rather just getting through the courses…


#5

Yes this is great inspiration indeed. Thank you for the great story :slight_smile:
Lesson: To never give up on your dreams and to be perseverant.


#6

Thanks! My internship was about 6 months long.


#7

Did you get payed when you were an intern?