Thank you for letting me share some details about my journey in becoming employed as a full-time Front-end Developer.
I hope job seekers with similar backgrounds read this and come away feeling optimistic and that they too can earn their way into the tech industry.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read): I am a minority individual (fitting in many buckets including non-binary, pansexual, Filipino, first-generation American and college graduate) who had no formal education in computer science. learned how to code via free online resources and became employed as a full-time Front-end Developer.
In 2016, I graduated from college with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree unrelated to the technology field. Soon after graduating, I realized I didn’t want to work in jobs related to my degree so I took some time to figure out what I was good at and what kind of environment I wanted to be working in.
Some things I figured I was good at were being analytical, resourceful, patient, and persistent. And I wanted to work in the type of environment that could offer flexibility (both location and schedule-wise), encouraged learning new things, and please for the love of burritos, was not in a retail setting.
With this in mind, I did some research for jobs that might fit my strengths and interests.
Fast-forward to 2017 where I managed to land a job coding emails and doing some SEO work. Keep in mind that I only had some basic HTML and CSS skills thanks to tinkering around in WordPress and I learned about SEO on the job. The salary was great, especially compared to working in retail. It was also a valuable learning experience in communication, working with high-level products, and adapting to an office setting.
And I was PUMPED that I could reflect during my downtime and say that I was officially working in tech.
After some time at the job, I knew I wanted to learn more about the tech that builds the web. That was when I discovered freeCodeCamp.
I committed my down time and efforts to work through the Responsive Web Design curriculum and earned the certificate in 2018.
I am happy to report that just four months after earning that certificate (and many job applications later), I was hired as a full-time Front-end Developer.
I’ve been in the industry for a little over two years now. At this point, I feel that the strengths mentioned above have been tested and the environments I’ve worked in (remote, in-office, and hybrid) have given me a better understanding of this career path, how I’m fitting in it, and where I want to go.
Here are my current stances.
Career path: 10/10
How I’m fitting in: I’m doing OK. Learning new technology and having high-level conversations about them and company matters has been humbling. And as I reflect more on this now, I can say that these challenges allowed me to grow tremendously in both my personal and professional life.
Where I want to go: I want to be at a company where I can solve problems and create cool things with good people—with a big emphasis on good people.
To elaborate, I’ve experienced what it’s like to work in a toxic environment, and it’s just not worth the money or sacrifice to mental health. It’s important to me that I work with a friendly, smart, forward-thinking team and for a company that has a mission I align with.
More on what I’m doing now…
At this point in my life, I’d ballpark that I’ve interviewed for tech roles with about 10 companies more or less. With this in mind, I can think of one specific challenge to mention.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced isn’t so much the interview itself, but the post-interview process. I’ve gone on a few interviews where I made it to the last round only to later be met with either a form rejection email or silence—no feedback provided.
In the beginning, when I was interviewing for my first tech role, these were certainly some of the most disheartening moments. As developers, we thrive on fixing things and I couldn’t fix whatever the reason was that deemed me unfit.
If you’re in this phase and are receiving the same treatment, my advice to you is to remind yourself that you did your best and to not let any thoughts of self-doubt get in your way of applying for more jobs. It’s okay to let yourself feel the sting for a little bit, but put a deadline on it and get back to work.
I won’t go on about a lot of common advice like “don’t rush, it’s okay to take your time” or “make sure you understand the basics before moving on”. Those things are important but instead, I’ll share something personal.
Some background about me…
I am a first-generation American and college graduate in my family. I have no formal education in technology and I wasn’t raised by tech-savvy parents. (Actually, I was raised by a single mom who recently just figured out how to use Facebook—sort of.) I also wasn’t the smartest kid in school, and I doubt any of my teachers thought I’d be going places. For full transparency, I was fairly reckless in school with little respect for myself and I had gotten into trouble a few times.
I also identify as non-binary and pansexual and have a history of struggling with depression—though no depressive episode in recent years, thankfully.
I’m sharing these personal details because the main insight I want to share is that the tech industry is open to anyone willing to put the time in to learn. Regardless of the color of your skin, what accent you may have, or what gender identity you align with.
Honestly, I don’t know of a more welcoming community than the tech community and I’m proud to be a part of it. This community accepts you at any level and from any background—No questions asked.
In this industry, you can decide your future, and the tech community will be there to help you along the way.
To give thanks to freeCodeCamp for being an integral part in helping me succeed as a Front-end Developer, I’ve made a one-time donation and bought a hoodie from their shop. If they’ve helped you in any way, and if you can afford to offer support, please consider donating to keep quality online education free and accessible.
Additionally, here is a page from their website that lists all the ways you can donate.
Thanks for reading.