How did you get your foot in the door?

I am an aspiring coder/dev (not sure what I want to focus on, yet). I’ve been getting advice from good friends that have been in the field for decades as well as scouring the internet for the past several months to figure out what my best and most successful path to a new career might be. To put it lightly, I’ve become so obsessed with figuring out exactly how to do this that it’s taken away from just DOING it. I was considering dropping $14k on a coding bootcamp, but after taking a prep-course (free, through a school), reading thousands of reviews and talking to a couple of employers, I found that it would have very likely been a big waste of my money. Many of the courses I found didn’t even touch on algorithms, let alone provide certifications pertinent to what was being taught.
The most forward advice I’ve gotten thus far is to get my A+, Net+ and Security+ certs first so I can try to get my foot in the door with an entry level help desk/IT/customer service job, which would be great! I have the 3 text book bundle on A+ by CompTIA sitting on my desk right now. I have also signed up for the FreeCodeCamp curriculum and started on the first lesson. I cannot believe how impressive this curriculum is! It provides FAR more material than any bootcamp I considered spending lots of money on, as well as the certificates needed to actually be employable! That, in addition to the FreeCodeCamp curriculum has me feeling like this is impossible! The courses all add up to 3000 hours, which would take about 2 years of 40hr work weeks to complete. Should I go in order, or should I get anything specific out of the way, first? Are A+, Net+ and Security+ really good certs to spend my time on to get an entry level job? The friend that suggested this has a really good career in development and told me to start there as far as entry level goes, but I’d love more feedb
I’d LOVE any and all advice, information, feedback, experience or whatever else regarding what I’ve brought up in my post! Trust me, I don’t think I have it all figured out. I am walking into this with the most basic experience in HTML and CSS (ah, the days of MySpace and Xanga, where it all started for me), along with SOME Java, and everything else is totally new to me! After spending 15 years in the medical field and getting pretty comfortable with knowing my shit/being an expert at something/being the teacher at jobs etc., being a totally clueless newbie is a little overwhelming. But, I’m very determined, and that’s why I’m here asking for anything else I might need to be told! Thanks, y’all!

Hey @kelseychlovechok!
Welcome to the Forum!

Thanks for you story of life.

Hi @kelseychlovechok!

Welcome to the forum!

I can’t provide to much advice on how to break into the industry cause I am only 5 months in. However, I can talk about my experience so far with FCC.

I started FCC about a month into my coding journey and I had already done a couple of projects with html and css. So I was able to breeze through the responsive design section. However, when it came to JavaScript that is where I had to take my time and learn it right. So please do not rush through the curriculum. There is no benefit to that.

The FCC curriculum teaches the MERN stack and python. If you are interested in full stack I would suggest doing the whole curriculum. I think bare minimum you should do the first 6 certifications. They also have an incredible news section and youtube channel that you should definitely check out.

I am going to link some valuable resources that I think would be beneficial to you.

Happy coding!


Hello @kelseychlovechok, welcome to the freeCodeCamp forums!

It sounds like your actually looking at 2 distinct “approaches” for 2 distinct careers.

This would get you into the help-desk/IT/customer support sort of job and role, which if you want to I’d really consider it. If your good with computers, like dealing with computer issues, and are fine with dealing with people then this is a pretty safe bet. The world is filled with tech, tech breaks and doesn’t always work, so tech support isn’t going anywhere.

Going to a coding bootcamp, or going through freeCodeCamp would be the path to become a developer. Being a developer/software engineer is probably harder when it comes to being in a self-taught background. The main reason being is the complexity “goes beyond the machine”. IT/tech support experience pay doesn’t scale as well as experience as a software developer. The reason for this is development is hard. As you pointed out freeCodeCamp has a ton of content, and thats only for going over web development!

Neither of these paths actually goes into “getting your foot in the door”, both of these only goes over what path you start to take. Once you’ve “walked enough of the path”, then you can try to get your foot in the door and apply for jobs. Until then your looking too far ahead (looking and asking how to get a job without asking yourself which type of job you want).

Simply put if your deciding between going into IT or development, it boils down to IT being slightly easier, but not as well paying, and development being harder, but you get paid better.

Your welcome to look at the jobs currently available in your area, its possible IT jobs are harder to come by, where-as development jobs are more abundant.

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There’s a lot going on here, but let me jump on a few things that stood out to me.

There are no certifications for software development. That’s why the boot camp you looked at didn’t have them. freeCodeCamp breaks it’s curriculum into sections and grants a certificate in each, but this isn’t a standardized certification. It’s a mark of achievement that people who are familiar with freeCodeCamp will recognize, but not standardized in any way. When it comes to programming the closest thing we have to that is formal degrees.

There are related fields that do have certifications, such as those you are studying for. These largely fit under the umbrella that we refer to as “IT”: including tech support, system administration, network security, etc.

I don’t have any data on transitioning from IT to development. I would imagine that it offers some advantage because it shows that you at least are proficient in some technical areas. My impulse is to suggest that if you want to be a developer, that spending the time to get into an IT career only delays the start of your developer career change by years. This may vary by location and domain, so don’t take my advice as gospel.

As an autodidact, breaking into your career comes down to what you can prove that you are capable of. There are professional skills related to networking, resume writing, and interviewing. You need those to get someone’s attention in the first place, but to get the job you have to put your money (code) where your mouth is.

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Hi! Thank you for your answer. I know that I’m looking at two different career paths, and that’s because I am interested in both! However, I think I’m come to the conclusion that I’d like to make learning code my hobby and take it slow, since I enjoy it and don’t want to rush. I might eventually freelance as a developer, but I don’t think that path is going to lead to a full time career, right now. The IT route involving computer service etc. is where I’m heading, job wise, and I finally decided on that this week! Thanks again!

Hey Kelsey,

some additional ideas:

  • I would stop thinking in technical stuff (languages etc.) and start thinking in “what can I actually do?”
  • you already have some decent skills in other fields, I would try to connect them to your “what can I actually do” thoughts.

So when someone asks “Hey, who are you?”, I would not respond with “Hey, I am Kelsey, a Java programmer”. This is a useless response. I would go with “Hey, I am Kelsey, I build business web sites for medical companies.”

With this in mind, I would ask myself how I would response to an employer.