Help needed in choosing a proper coding career

Hi!
I am writing this post because I would want some advice from those of you who have experience in IT sector, especially those who work as a developer (software, web, mobile etc.).
But, before the questions, for your help to be as useful as possible for me, I will give you a background of my coding career until now: I am a 17 years old boy who lives in Romania. As education, I am currently in high-school. Referred to coding, I know only C++ which I use in solving competitive programming problems. Until now, I solved hundreds of those and learnt a lot of Data Structures and algorithms topics, so I am not a completely newbie in coding. Recently, I thought about my future career as a programmer and I did some research, in this way finding a lot of resources to learn hundreds of niches in this IT sector. So, now I am slightly dizzy not being decided what and how to learn efficiently. So, here I am, writing this post. Thus, I would want to find out your opinions about the topics I will write here as well as some advice because I’m extremely in need of these.

  1. The college
    First thing I want to discuss with you is going to college. As you know, I am in high school and in 1 year and half I will have the opportunity to go to college. The problem here is that I find it quite useless: why should I go to college if I could learn languages and how to make projects from the internet or from courses? Why should I waste 3 - 4 years in college when I could spent them on a job and gain precious experience there? I know that the degree can grow the chances being accepted in an interview, but at what cost?

  2. The strategy
    As there are a lot of programming domains in this sector and I don’t want to lose time learning something useless, that won’t bring me pleasure to work it at the job, I’d want to know from you what’s the best strategy for that? How can I choose in an efficient way what things to learn?

  3. The list
    Well, as I documented some time, I come up with a list of jobs that I will most likely want to work as:
    a. Software developer
    b. Web developer
    c. Mobile developer
    d. AI/ML developer (this is my favorite from my view now but I heard it’s hard to find resources to learn and it’s hard to get a job - what do you think about that?)
    e. Big data engineer
    What do you think personally about each of these? Which should I choose first to get a well-paid job (generally) in shortest time? As I read in some other blogs that the best strategy is to try and fail until you find something suitable, in which order do you think I
    should choose them to minimize the time lost?
    As some other facts that could help you to give better feedback, I consider myself a self thought person (even if in my competitive programming career I was helped by mentors) and I am willing to work as hard as possible to get a job.
    If you would want to help me with these I will be very grateful for that, it means a lot!

As a Romanian, I don’t know if there are limitations for you with regard to working in the EU, but if you wanted to work in America, or Canada, or other places in the world, a college degree is usually a requirement for this type of work Visa.

Somebody Else will be able to answer this Question better, but part of the problem with determining personal aptitude paired with pleasure, is that is usually doesn’t have a very efficient method for determination.

You can never know for sure whether the language or development path that you originally hated, may become the one you eventually like and appreciate the most, and vice versa.

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HI @eusebiuu !

Welcome to the forum!

IMO, I think you are missing the point and real value of college.
You don’t go to college just to land interviews or to learn basics skills.

A good college will provide you with what you can’t get on through online classes.
A good university will teach you how to be a well rounded software engineer and not just a coder.
You will be surrounded by some of the brightest minds and mentors that can have lasting effects on your career.
You will also connected to their career services and alumni network that will expose you to a variety of career opportunities.
You will also have opportunities to work throughout school and take advantage of apprenticeships and internships and build more connections from there.

I understand that college is expensive and time consuming and it not be an option for you. But I wouldn’t call it useless. :wink:

Don’t worry so much about picking the perfect path right now.
You haven’t worked in a business yet as a developer to know what you would like to do long term.
Pick a field you are interested in and learn what it will take to get a job.
Then once you are on the job, you can work on real world business solutions and find out what you like to do.

I have a mentor who worked for variety of companies and tried out a few different things.
Over his 20+ year career, he learned what he liked and didn’t like and all of those experiences made him a more well rounded software engineer.

All of those have varying levels of learning and preparation.
For data science and machine learning, it will take you a lot more time and course than say front end web development to land a entry level job.

But the biggest thing you are missing, is it takes more than just learning how to code to land a job.
Especially if you are self taught.

A lot of people make the mistake of just focusing on the code part and then hitting apply in hopes of landing a job.
They will apply to hundreds of jobs, sometimes 1000+ using the spray and pray method.

But that is not efficient way to land a job as a self taught.
You want to have a targeted approach that works instead of a mass apply approach and hoping it works.

The fact of the matter is the system is broken and flawed.
You have to know how to work the system and make it work for you so you can win and land a job.

You have to learn how to get through the HR department and recruiters.
You have to learn how to write good resumes that people will actually read.
You have to learn how to get noticed and stand out from the sea of junior developers.

The good news is there are tons of resources to learn how the system works and make yourself stand out to land interviews.

But you will have to put in the time to learn how the job process works.

It is possible to land a job as a self taught developer.
I was able to do it as a career changer.
But I also understand how to process worked and worked really hard to build out an online presence and connections in this industry.

Hope that helps! :smile:

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College will cost you the most time and money because it’s an investment of those two to set you up later.

There are some things about college you can’t easily* learn from the internet. Take this forum for example, there’s a section for getting help, people asking for mentors, projects getting reviewed by others, and sections for other things that can be useful to “explore”. You get all of that at a college.

Experience is experience. Odds are you will work with others on a project for a class and get to interact with peers, along with senior people (your professors). During which you’d do essentially what you’d do at a job, but in a lower risk environment.

I wouldn’t actually consider many domains actually useless. Knowledge is knowledge. You can however find your learning less relevant stuff. For example, C++ might not be as useful to know if you’re trying to work with web development. At a deeper level you can use those languages similarly, but using them practically there aren’t many ways to use C++ for web development outside of a few technologies.

Which one do you want to work in? Any time spent focusing on your goal isn’t time lost.

If your goal is more to just get a job in any of them, then Software/Web/Mobile are the easiest as they will take the least amount of time to get a job for. AI/ML and Big data usually require a background in statistics and college degrees as they are much more focused on math. Because of this, aiming for AI/ML wont be a waste, but there will be more time spent learning and investing in yourself before you can see gains through a job.


Just as a reminder, if you have the means to go to college for a computer science degree, or similar, you should take that route.

Having a degree should open most entry level doors, and you will gain access to a lot of facilities that you can leverage during your college career to end up “standing out” after your time there. Stuff like clubs, job fairs, extra-curricular, the facilities, and your peers. Most of it is optional, but almost all of it is helpful (partying might not be very helpful ;D)

If you consider yourself self-taught that’s fine too, there isn’t anything stopping you from doing both. You can learn what your interested in while getting a proper education, and end up having even more experience at the end of the process.

Good luck, keep learning, keep building :+1:

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Actually, When I checked it looks like Romanian universities are Free for those Romanians who Pass the Entrance Exams. ( says Quora Anyway, I looked for a more reputable source but didn’t find one easily)


So I don’t know if this Affects the Advice People would give.

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Actually, I really empathize with the need that you have to streamline the course of your career development .

Some people can accurately and quickly gauge what will work for them, and some people cannot.

The questions you pose, reminded me of the Speech, given by Steve Jobs, at the Harvard Commencement 2005.


He talks about how the randomness of his life, and many of his choices, played into his Creative and Professional success.

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…And of course, there are many Tech Giants that, similar to Steve Jobs, Dropped out of College or Never went.

But on Some level, They were betting on their Own Capacity and their own Genius… Would you be willing to make that same bet.?

Hey there!

Here are my thoughts.

  1. College

I think you should research what your career opportunities in tech look like in Romania. As @ALLESS pointed out, a college degree could be a requirement for you to get a dev job if you need to move to North America for example.

I don’t know the job market in your area at all so I can’t really advise here.

I will say though that college isn’t necessary if you want to get into web/software development in general. I’m not one of those people who doesn’t see the value in post-secondary education but I think for some people it’s just not the right fit for many reasons and only you can decide that.

If you’ve solved hundreds of coding challenges in C++ I would expect that you have a half-decent grasp on some programming fundamentals, especially for a 17 year old. If you start transitioning to spending your time building real projects, by the time you’re ready to graduate high school you might already have a very impressive portfolio of work which can be used to help you find a job without going to college.

  1. Strategy

I don’t know if there is a “best” strategy for getting into this industry. However, in my somewhat biased opinion web is one of the easier industries to break into and has the most overlap with everything else.

I honestly think that following the freeCodeCamp curriculum while supplementing your learning with other resources is a solid learning strategy. But if you’re interested in really nerding out on how to maximize learning efficiency check out spaced repetition.

  1. The list

Again, biased opinion here, and this is totally subjective, but I think you should look into building web applications which is basically a combination of what you probably think a web developer is with software development.

It has so much overlap with every other part of the industry so if you decide later in your career you want to pivot into AI/ML for example, there’s no reason why you can’t. Maybe by that point you do decide you want to go to college and you do night classes or schools with asynchronous learning models while you continue to gain experience in your industry as a software developer. Who knows?

The cool thing about being in web is you get opportunities to do a little of everything. You could build marketing sites and landing pages, full-blown web applications, complicated backend systems, infrastructure, games, mobile apps, AI/ML, IoT, robotics, VR/AR/MR etc etc

On top of that, as the web keeps getting better and better you’re not stuck to just JavaScript in browsers anymore. WASM lets you run C++ in the browser if you want or many other low level or strongly typed compiled languages. Browsers have some pretty crazy APIs available to us now days too. You can connect to MIDI controllers, Bluetooth devices, gamepads, gyroscopes, you can use hardware acceleration (some of this is still experimental); Web is awesome dude!

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