Got my first dev job then lost it. Losing hope!

5 years ago I decided to go to college for computer science.
I didnt know what type of job I wanted in the field at first till my final year in college. During college I messed up by going to parties and catching 2 felonies for drug possession. I still managed to complete probation and decided to become a developer since it was something that I could make a difference in the world and figured that would keep me motivated.
I did my final senior year in college finishing studies from school and would spend the rest of all my free time going through bunch of sources to learn developing since I felt I kinda just winged it in school and didn’t get much out of it because of how frustrating and draining programming can be. About 7 months into my self learning programming outside of college journey, I found FCC which was reason I chose to program, helping non profit organizations during my free time was exactly why I got into the field.
I graduated college with a bachelors in CS last year which doesnt mean anything now because all jobs that look at your degree also do a background check which has been disqualifying me. Since then I been spending 12hour a day building my portfolio, working on FCC, study and reading about all types of programming concepts and getting job ready for about 8 months after graduating.

I finally managed to get my first dev job 4 months ago. They started me at a salary of 30k here in Florida. With this I was finally able to leave my parents house for the first time and work in my dream job.
The job was not easy though, they were a new startup in USA that came from another country. They wanted me to revamp an entire email marketing software and I had to get it done in 1 month because they were launching. It was only me and another dev at the job that has been in the field for 30years but he was working a different project so I had to do the entire software by myself.
It was a stressful month, I had no help or support as the other dev was way to busy and get mad when I had to ask a question or was stuck. I could not sleep or eat and was very stressed out trying to solve problems and bugs as I was just learning the system and in a rush to get everything done. I was working 12-15 hours a day 7 days a week. I got only about 70% of the project done with only 4 days till launch. The other dev finally had to come in and help me finish it. He was so pissed off that there was so much to do which I had been telling him that all month. We probably had about 3 hours of sleep in those 4 days but finally managed to complete it a couple hours before launch without even being able to test if everything is working. Finally launch came and they had a little over 2,000 sales for the software costing $30 a month. They ended up using the money hiring 4 other developers from overseas since they were cheap with better experience then me and took me off the team. They offered to move me to customer service and cut my pay but I declined the offer.
I am just devastated from this because I worked so hard to finally get where I wanted in life and felt like the world was in my hands. It’s so hard for me to get a job because of my felonies but I finally had a chance. It’s been 2 months since this happened and it’s been hard for me to get back in programming. I feel like that whole experienced drained me, I have just been depressed the past 2 months and cant get myself to get into my old habit anymore…
I am lucky if I can get 1 hour a day programming now without just bursting in tears. I spent 4 years struggle through college with 2.5 years of all my free time to learn this craft and finally get a opportunity which I blow in just 2 months.


Man hang in there. You didn’t blow anything.

They are cheap and you don’t really want to work in that kind of environment and culture.
Congrat’s on finishing project. That’s a win nobody can take away from you.

I invested last 2 years in this as well and I haven’t even got the opportunity to blow. Keep your head up you have some experience in CV now. And you were actually paid to code 12 hours a day. So I assume you are a much better developer than before you started.

Good luck, and don’t give up. Sometimes life put’s obstacles for you right before the finish line :slight_smile:


I suggest contact a good attorney in your state and see if there’s a way to Vacate and Expunge your drug felony conviction.


dude, it was not your fault, they were a-holes, that’s all. You did excellent in learning a new system and managing to advance it 70% of the way on your own, without help, and you worked hard for it. It is sad that you were working with that kind of people but don’t let that bad experience to bring you down. You’ll do better, and everything you learned in those months you were working with them, is experience, you learned something, and that, they can’t take away from you.


Hey man, you’re doing a good job, don’t beat yourself up. You haven’t lost any ground. Everything you’ve done has been added to your experience bank. You’re so close :slight_smile: .

If your criminal conviction happened in FL you’re probably stuck with it, but I believe after seven years it no longer gets reported. Here’s an article that might help:


Hey my man. Like others have said you got really really unlucky in your first role. That sort of environment is toxic and not great for growth. You’re much better off without them!

Keep looking, keep programming, build your portfolio, do projects and show stuff off on github.

But learn from this experience. Whilst the company interviews you to see if you can do the job, now you know exactly the sort of place you don’t want to work. Interview future companies to see if they are somewhere you actually want to work.

And finally
"Don’t cry to give up, cry to keep going! You already in pain, get a reward from it!"


Don’t lose hope and don’t consider being fired as failure. That kind of enviroment was a curse for you not a blessing. You had too much on your shoulders and your employer expected too much from you. That says a lot about that company. It looks like they are looking for cheap coders and that they don’t understand how IT field works.

I’m in my last days in my current job from which I’m being fired and I’m actually quite happy because I hate it. I work only with web designers, none of them knows how to code so even though I’m hired as front end I had to do back end as well, of course for the same money. My boss told me he can’t afford to keep me hired as projects don’t go as quick as he thought they would (he never listened to me). He says he can’t afford to pay me but he is hiring another web designer.

Recently I went to interview for JavaScript developer even though I don’t have much experience or knowledge of it. I made good impression with my soft skills which are very important and I’m competing with people with much higher experience and knowledge. It took them a month to contact with me but in two weeks they will let me know if they hire me and let me expand my skills.

Don’t lose hope as another, better job maybe just behind the corner!


I wouldn’t accept anything under $60k salary as an entry developer who has a degree. Look at the market; if someone is offering something much lower than the average, it’s probably safe to assume they don’t care about your future or career.

I don’t have advice on the felony, but I know my current contracting position didn’t do any background check or drug tests. Maybe start looking around for contracting jobs as well? Don’t give up.


Thanks so much for the support. Best community ever!

Totally agree with everything that has been said already.

From your post it sounds like you have put a lot of emphasis on things not going to plan due to the prior convictions. I’m not from the states but @owel’s suggestion above seems solid - [quote=“owel, post:3, topic:132255, full:true”]
I suggest contact a good attorney in your state and see if there’s a way to Vacate and Expunge your drug felony conviction.

To give you some hope, I have a bit of a past and last year a job I was about to start fell through leaving me unemployed. It was a dark time and I was desperate. Things eventually worked out great though. Far better than if the first job had happened.

Get out and meet people. Go to Meetups, Hackathons, Open days, anything where devs and companies can be found.
There are a lot of really cool people in this community who will treat you right and not give a crap about what happened when you were in college.

It’s always darkest before the dawn


@ProgrammedMikey First I’m so green my green has green and second I also had a semi-bad corporate experience so I am biased. Ok disclaimers out of the way.
You may have just dodged a Giant Mistake, the environment you described sounded super toxic.

The best news is now you can add “Completed a project within a strict timeframe, generating over 2000 sales (or over $60000 in sales) at launch” to your resume and portfolio.

Regarding your record, have you considered making your own opportunities (being your own boss; contacting non-profits, you are passionate about, directly; etc)?
Most attractive to me about coding is you do not have to depend on the corporate overlords (no offense corporate overlords) for your bread and butter.
You could even try and spin/put a big fat ring on that record as a part of your resume “I volunteer with non-profit organizations to help at-risk youth avoid the same mistakes that caused my run in with the law”

Right now where you are sux , but you have a powerful Skill/s and a Degree to back it up. You have Job Experience and a Community of coders to support you. Focus on your goals, keep moving forward and never give up.


Hey ProgrammedMikey

First of all, you’re a champion :star2: . You’ve taken control of your life and have the self driving attitude most employers kill for. People like you are not easy to find. Well done.

As for getting another job, Iam sure you learned heaps in that boot/concentration camp you just left. Add it to your CV, that experience will pay off in many ways in the future. Also, consider getting some payed experience using or Both good sites I prefer the latter.

Lastly, don’t beat yourself up over not being able to meet the deadline imposed to you. You clearly did everything humanly possible. You gave it you 100% all the way. In fact, you should be proud. Tough as nails. They were fools for letting you go so easily.

From your post I can tell you that they set you up to fail from the onset. Think about it, 1) greenhorn programmer tasked to do a major task with NO SUPPORT. 2) Unrealistic deadline. Both of these are counts against the company, not you. I.e, poor management. Plain and simple.

Also, I hate to tell you, but you nor anyone was going to last in that company. Fact is, some overseas resources are cheap. Stupidly cheap. some managers don’t see the value in having local resources who can interact within the company in solving business problems. Sadly, a fact of life. Try to avoid the likes of these guys in the future. You’ll learn to spot them.

In the end, don’t let this bad experience deter you from your dreams. Chalk it up as a learning experience and keep going.

Good luck



@ProgrammedMikey, thanks for sharing your story with us.
I think you should learn from the situation as much as you can. It happens to many people, not just to you. It happened and you can’t change it (sometimes we have to deal with things like that), but it would be a big mistake not to learn from it (it doesn’t happen often, so you should treat it as a precious moment) It’s FREE to learn from it. Trust me, that situation probably saved you from something a lot worse (as jjmax75 already mention something similar).
In my opinion you should forget about the company and be focused on the presence (not the past, not the future, just the presence). You can do a lot and a lot better than some (most) of us. What happened should have given you strength, stay focus on good things that happened. Don’t even think it was a failure. We all like good changes, nobody likes the bad ones, but they happen. Everything changes, it lasts and then go, good or bad. We have to be over it, we shouldn’t be so much easily distracted by it or get influenced by the moments (good or bad ones) too much.
You’ll lose your motivation if you start thinking of yourself as loser. I’ve done great job, you should be pride of yourself. Some of us would be in your situation. Seriously. You’re doing well and you’ll be OK. And start coding! :slight_smile:

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Startups are challenging enough when they are homegrown. Try not to be discouraged by that experience. Make sure that you properly reflect on that experience and identify things you could have done better versus the things that were entirely out of your control. Know also that even if you had done everything right it may have ended the exact same way. Some employers might look at that short stint and send your resume straight to the bin. However, there are plenty of experienced hiring managers who know that short engagements like that happen for reasons not often within the employee’s control.

Someone else mentioned going to meetups and hackathons and this can’t be emphasized enough. Networking is going to be your key to getting the right position somewhere despite your record. If you make a positive connection with someone and they can see your work ethic and eagerness to move forward then they will go to bat for you in getting you on somewhere or helping connect you to the right people. Look for internship programs (paid ones) and anywhere where you can engage with more senior developers who are open to giving guidance. You can often check through your local colleges for when intern drives are happening. Some employers will shop for interns across multiple states, pay small stipends for relocation, provide additional training, and give great opportunities for those who show initiative.

The other option is to go the contracting route. Some contracting firms can be little more than body shops dropping a warm butt in a recently vacated seat for a buck. However, even that sometimes presents an opportunity to the right person. In addition, there are good firms out there that are honest about their rates and don’t oversell their junior developers. Sometimes they can help you figure out how to position yourself and they will have events that allow you to rub elbows with more seasoned staff. Pay’s not going to be great starting out as a contractor and the hours are sure to be hard at times, but it’s a start and I’ve known plenty of people who did their time at the bottom of a contracting firm and they got the opportunity to travel and build necessary skills. Today, these same people are directors and VP’s in stable companies.

Lastly, I will say, Don’t be afraid to have to take a step back or even a lateral move now and then. Yes, it’s disheartening to feel like you’ve failed. Take some time to learn from that failure and continue to move forward from the setback. I was a manager once, after years of working up from Software Analyst to Technical Lead, and thought it was the best job ever and then had my whole team split up and spread across a bunch of different managers because of office politics. It was devastating. I was demoted back to a Software Engineer (not even Senior) and then shuffled between 5 or 6 managers over the course of 3 years. BUT… despite how depressing it was immediately after that, things got better and I ended up have 3 of the best years of my career. I got to travel. I ended up getting more control over my work and it connected me with a bunch of people who have looked out for me in the years since. I’ve seen quite a few people in my 20 years take those demotions and lateral moves and end up being better for it. Sometimes they even leave a company only to come back into better positions later.

Play the long game. It’s a career not one job. You have already put a sizeable part of your life into and I assume you’ve been passionate about. Every career will have ebbs and flows. Ride them out. You can do it.

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I’ve had a similar environment as my first job and almost quit from my career as a result. I’ve had issues with 4 of my 5 employers, it isn’t hurting my career though.

My simple advice would be to reflect and present it as a positive learning experience, as hard as that is.

What have you improved about yourself in response to that experience? For example your understanding about what a positive work environment looks like.

Think about how you can present the experience in a calm and objective way. It will go down much better when you are explaining it. For example they needed someone experienced that could hit the ground running, so a graduate was a bad fit for them.

Not easy things to do, I’m going through similar times again myself and this has always worked for me in the past.

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From one side, I’m sorry for your hard experience. From another, it is quite the norm in today’s society to fire someone just to hire someone cheaper. I’m one of those overseas developers and I get less than 10k a year. Am I happy about it? Nope. Can do I anything about it at the moment? Not really. My only option is to stick to the field, get more years of commercial experience and get a new job with higher salary.

Now, back to the problem at hand. I’ll try to keep it simple:
if programming is a draining, stressing experience, you should consider looking for a different job. A different sphere to work in. For me, programming is a joy, I love it. I wanted to do it for a living because I enjoy the process. And now it is a large part of my life. If you make something you don’t enjoy a big part of your life, you’ll live a hard, miserable life. And you don’t want that, trust me.

If I were in your position, I’d move back to my parent’s house, stay away from any job interviews or programming for around 2 weeks to help my thoughts clean up, get sober and start looking for a job. At the same time, I’d start looking for a different direction to work in (I switched several jobs myself within IT, including 2 years in IT support, and don’t plan to go back, I believe you made the right choice). In your case, if I wanted to keep programming, I’d try to get some freelance jobs or projects, even those that don’t pay much - it’ll give you much needed experience. Just don’t expect to make much money in the first 2-3 years. After you get some experience and build a decent portfolio, you may be able to get a decent job (if you ever get tired of freelancing). Sometimes freelancers are hired by larger companies, but don’t expect it to happen soon.

Hope you get through this period and find a new job you’ll love, be it programming or anything else. For the record: last time I had to look for a new job, it took me 6 months of active searching to get any offers. But if I managed to get it, you can do too.


Putting a junior developer alone on a time-sensitive project is clear mismanagement. Not supporting their developer is even worse. Frankly, that company sounds like a turd farm and you are better off without them. Still, it would be a waste to not take this as a learning experience. Think about the things you had trouble with, make a list, and go through each one, making yourself comfortable with the material. Did you have technical questions that weren’t getting answered? Look them up now. Ask them here, or on Stack Overflow if you can’t find the answer. Were you confused about any part of the development process? Take a couple of hours to look into Agile methodologies, or how to better use Git, or ask a question that will clarify something that had kept you from working well. Perhaps most importantly, think about how you could have organized your workload better (this can always be improved). Assuming you had all the technical knowledge you needed, would it have been better to take out the smaller bugs or the bigger bugs first? The more you think about these problems, the better off you’ll be when you face them next - and yes, you will face them again.

You did the right thing by letting the other dev know when you were blocked. It’s very likely that he was as stressed as you, and while that’s no excuse to be angry with you, don’t take it personally. I’ve never worked with anyone like that, and I think it’s pretty rare. Take a moment to put yourself in his shoes: what would you do to best help a fellow coder while also maintaining your workload? We’ll take as given that you’d be nicer, but how would you help someone get back to coding as quickly as possible? What would you need to know? How could the other person help you to help them? The more you think about this, the better you’ll be able to ask for help.

I’m sorry you went through this. I know first hand how this sort of stress can poison something you used to love. You’re wounded, and it sucks, but you will get through this. You can never undo the past, but with effort, you can change how you feel about it. Do that, and you’ll be as enthusiastic about coding as ever. Try learning a new language or a different platform (Android is pretty fun to work with). Follow tutorials, watch Youtube videos, and generally have a relaxing, enjoyable time with programming. I also like playing games by Zacktronics. I just picked up Shenzhen I/O on sale, and it’s got me hooked. I’ve gone back to TIS-100, too. It’s fun to build something huge and horribly inefficient, then try to optimize it.

Take care!


Hi code warrior, I salute you.
Do you think perhaps you are having an issue with optics? I read your story and even you mention that you break down when coding (full of sadness/frustration perhaps) I only see greatness everywhere! Despite your felonies (Lots of people have them) you graduated in CS, (not so many people do that) you went self-learning, investing your time immersing yourself deeply into your field, practicing, learning, honing your skills (if you were a Spartan you would be that guy punching sandbags and making your sword swoosh alone in the arena until dawn when the rest were sleeping, you were exercising your dev muscles until you become Conan the Coder, pecs and all included)

You were hired to basically redo a complete product in a month by yourself as your first paid assignment; I am a noobie, don’t’ know much yet but such task sounds to me like if you were asked to defeat not just an army but the “300” all by yourself armed with a lollipop, mint flavor. And you almost did it, at least 70%, an amazing feat if you ask me.

The experience put tremendous pressure and lots of heat under you, so basically they turned you into a diamond, nothing less than a diamond.

Because nothing. You graduated and that has incredible value. I don’t have it and I wish I could have. One thing doesn’t diminish the other. Get this straigh

I beg to differ big time. Waaaay before you were hired, waaaaay before they landed in the USA, they already have schemed to do this, they just needed to find a diamond, a Spartan warrior with poor vision that they could squeeze like a lime and then dispose of. They had a carrot to a stick and they were looking for a donkey. You were doing the job of a donkey but by all means you ARE NOT a donkey so I am glad you left when they wanted you to do menial stuff. It shows you know you are destined for greatness.

You keep focusing in your felonies as a scarlet letter, fuck it, embrace it! embrace it as much as all the effort you have invested in your skills, your initiative, your endurance, your drive. You have a record, so what? you know the dark side from the inside AND you have an education to prove you are better than that. That was then but now you are a diamond, you are not even the “300”, you are the “1” but you need to see that. You need to be the first in realizing you are a great programmer but need more “people” experience.

You took the bait of those mofos and that is what it hurts but yours is the glory and the pride of a job well done. They made you stronger, they forged you into a sharp katana so be grateful to them for the lesson but remember this when they come back to you to update or change something in the software and NOBODY else can do it.

It is time you shift the focus from your stains to your strengths. It was good to cry when coding so to take out the emotion of it, now is time to code again but keep a red extinguisher in the side, you will see flames coming out of the keyboard because you are going to code with big balls of fire from now on. We salute you, Conan Lewis.


I hate to say it but you should have accepted the customer service job. Just to keep an income flow during this unfortunate situation. You didn’t meet the deadline and they replaced you BUT you completed 70% of the project and they still offered you a job. You should be proud. You overcame that drug charge to land your former job. You showed skill and the ability to work with others. You proved you were valuable. Looking for a job is stressful enough, stop beating yourself up. Apply for internships, they usually pay about 15/hr or 30k a year,(also a good way to gain experience) and build a side project that’s fun to you to smack that depression away.

Some perspective…

As someone who hopes for the best while anticipating the worst, this is exactly the type of experience I would expect to have for my first dev job. In a way it’s like a rite of passage. It may not be ideal or fair, but what the f is? I would certainly try to avoid it if possible, but it’s the world we live in and not at all surprising.

So get up off your ass and go show the world what you’re really made of. You’re the one who decides how others treat you. Pick your battles, but expect at least a basic level of respect, regardless of your past or who the other person is. It’s good to have a cry and release the pressure, but the world is wondering where the f you are and when you’re going to fulfill your role in the universe.

And finally, you may be inspired by a fellow camper who’s had some similar struggles plus a family to support, no degree, and never gave up. He got hired and then unhired when they found out about his past. He just kept going and before long he got in where he fit in, with a real company, and a pretty damned good salary. So start your Rocky montage already, dammit.

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