Hopeful career changer looking for advice!

Hi everyone,

This is my 3rd attempt at getting through FCC and learning what I need to change to a career in web design/development. I have struggled in the past to keep going on this for a number of reasons I’ll outline below. I’m looking for advice from anyone who has an insight into my situation.

First, I’m nearly 37, married with two young children. I’m also the sole breadwinner in my household (I’m supporting my wife through full time university, she’s about to start her 2nd year), so I work full time in a sales job. My time is limited in what I can do - Im also about to start the 5th year of a 6 year Open University degree, which has included some web design (very basic HTML/CSS stuff and some basic algo/data structure/Python coding).

The reason I have been ‘toying’ with FCC is because I believe it will give me additional experience in web dev to go along with the degree I’ll be getting in 18 months/2 years time. It also allows me to practice with a goal attached.

Now, with all the above, it means that I don’t have a great deal of time to devote to doing FCC challenges. I am also struggling with motivation in the evenings when I do have time - tiredness, stress of the work day and feeling like everything is taking too long/I’m not learning quickly enough, is taking its toll on me a bit.

I often feel like although I know what I want to achieve, that perhaps I’m not capable of doing so, not good enough, young enough or bright enough to be successful at it. Part of me says that this is just fear of failing getting the best of me, or that I’m trying to do too much too soon, but I’m very aware of time passing by for me to get the kind of job I’d like to do, so I also feel like it’s now or never.

Does anyone have any advice they can give to help me with motivation and staying positive through it all? Perhaps there’s someone on here that’s local to me (Yorkshire, UK) that would be interested in collaborating on some challenges, learning the ropes etc?

Thanks in advance for any replies,


If I may suggest…

1st Relax: Getting stressed while studying doesn’t really help, and may even be counterproductive. i.e. you’re not going to absorb what you read, or may soon forget it when you turn the page.

2nd: If you want experience in web dev, the short answer is go and create your own websites, projects. Look around you, find a non-profit, church, school, club, pub, organization that doesn’t have a website and offer to make a website for them for free. (They just pay hosting and domain name.) In return for the website that you’ll make for them, you get to use the finished project in your personal portfolio and maybe use them as reference.

When you start applying for jobs, you have some real-world projects/websites that are in use by actual groups/organizations.

Find a club/org/project/non-profit that you’ll feel good helping and creating their website. As a side benefit, you’ll also get to practice more html, css and maybe even throw in some jquery/javascript learning.

Wow, man. You’re really hard on yourself. You’ve got two kiddos, a full time job, a ton of responsibility, and a non-trivial course-load. I’m sitting around, childless, waiting for some job offers to call back, and I can barely be bothered to do anything more exciting than go to the gym in the morning. I don’t know why you don’t feel capable, but I can assure you that your age isn’t holding you back one bit.

I’m definitely not qualified to give advice on staying positive, but I’d say you’re doing great. I agree that finishing out FCC before you graduate would be good, but not at the expense of your health. You’ll have some time in between the end of your degree program and getting a job to do at least some of the projects. Wait until you have less on your plate, and then you can focus on the lessons. We’re not going anywhere.

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Thanks, man. I guess the issue is self confidence really. I don’t have many friends since life has got in the way, and my other half, while being very supportive of my goal, doesn’t really understand what I’m doing and therefore has no real interest in discussing it with me. It gets a bit lonely at times.

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First of all, I want to mention that I’m 100% sure that you will succeed with your career change. It’s evident from your post that you are a strong person. You are taking care of your family’s economy while your wife is studying full time at university, you work full time in a sales job and you are studying in an Open University. You manage to keep several balls in the air, and that’s not something many people can do.

The negative thoughts you have had like “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not bright enough to succeed” are thoughts that many people have had. Those who succeeded were those who could overcome these thoughts and I think you can do it. If you weren’t bright enough, how come you are about to start the 5th year of the 6 year Open University program? If you weren’t bright enough, how come you are entrusted a full time job in a sales job?

To keep the motivation I would suggest that you plan how much time you want to spend on freecodecamp every day. If you work through the site randomly, with different time spent every day, it could feel overwhelming. But if you decide that you will spend for example 30 minutes every day, I think you will have the energy and motivation to continue. Some people might think that 30 minutes are nothing, but if you look how much it will be in a month’s time, you will see that you have spent 900 minutes (15 hours) a month. That’s a lot of time.

When it comes to getting experience, I think @owel has some very good advice. Reach out to non-profit organizations or churches that don’t have a website and make a website for them for free. Not only will you do a great contribution to the local community, but you will also get experience in making websites. The websites could then be used in a portfolio that you showcase when you start your career.

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I second all the kudos and good vibes above. I’ll also share some advice that I find helpful. Take or leave whatever sounds right to you.

  • Set reasonable and attainable goals that you can meet consistently. Maybe the most that you know you can carve out every week is 3 hours on Sunday morning. I find that if I am too ambitious then I am more likely to do nothing once I realize I can’t follow my plan.
  • If possible, try for the morning instead of the evening. Whether it’s studying, working out, or handling a to-do list I suck at doing it at the end of the workday. I’m tired I just want to sit and wind down. I don’t want to start a whole other thing. Can you get up an hour before the kids? Can you trade-off days getting them ready in the morning so you can spend a dedicated hour doing FCC?
  • Change your environment. If you can work out with your family a dedicated study time, go all the way and leave the house. Pop over to a library, Waterstones, or quiet coffee shop.
  • Engage with other students. Whether it’s the FCC forum/chat, a local group, or other communities - stay in touch. We’re a pretty supportive group around here, and I really think that especially engaging with newer students will help you appreciate how far you’ve come (not to mention that the best way to cement your knowledge is to teach).
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