I got a part time job but feel like I don't deserve it

Long story, but give me your take?

Hey there! I don’t post here much. I’m a 5th grade teacher who has been learning to code for almost 6mo. I kind of stalled out on the fcc curriculum cause I got distracted building things with React (things for myself, and building free websites for local businesses cause I have ZERO experience). You can see my stuff at lawrencek1992.com if you want.

I’ve applied to a few jobs, but no one ever calls me back, probably because I’m so new. So all my focus has been on just building stuff (mostly with React).

I’m also a rock climber, and I’m pretty good at it. I recently through the rock climbing community met someone who lives in his RV with his fiance and codes part time freelance and makes a living that way. I climbed with him and his fiance, and he told me about needing someone to help write code cause he has too much work and isn’t willing too give up more climbing time to code. He writes in python, a little node.js (mostly for testing) and react. I said I’m new and don’t know python or node.js (though honestly node.js just seems like js) but can write react. And I can. I mean, nothing insanely big. I’ve been doing this like 6mo. I’m super new.

He offered me a job working part time as a contractor for him on his freelance projects. I’m off for the summer and also teach virtually anyway (part of how I’ve had time to learn to code). He offered me way more money than I think I deserve (but I’ve been writing code for me or for free for other people, so I also don’t really think I deserve anything…) He says he only needs react from me (he and the other dude he works with on stuff with both prefer writing back end stuff–mostly python).

But he didn’t like really interview me. If I’m being honest it felt like climbing (pretty well on hard stuff), getting along as humans, and simply saying I can write React (I mean, I can… but still new) were why he gave me a chance. I did specifically say I only have built things for me and little websites for people in my neighborhood. He said quite bluntly that if it’s not working out, he will let me know really quickly. I still have my teaching job, so that’s okay if that happens–it would just be a learning experience.

Anyway he got cut off by some RV issues today when we were getting up and running (remotely), and I’m struggling to get vagrant and virtual box set up with the github repo he shared with me (he is going to help tomorrow night). I’m feeling so nervous reading their code and struggling to get set my dev environment set up with the whole virtual machine thing. Wondering if I’m a total joke for even accepting the opportunity. Like maybe I’m going to massively waste his time. Also they use redux, which I’ve never had to use for my (smaller) react things, so I’m going back through the fcc section on that, which really makes me consider how I know nothing… sigh

I guess if you’re still with me after how much I’ve rambled, I want to know:
-Am I dumb for accepting this?
-Is it normal to feel like such a total failure when you’re this new?
-Have you felt like this before?

Thanks for listening!

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Not at all! It sounds like a great opportunity to see where your skills are at, and he seems to understand that you’re fairly new to this and understands the risk.

Yep, absolutely, 100%. This is so common, in fact, that it’s even got a name: Imposter syndrome.

A lot of developers, both new and old, get this feeling. Part of it comes with the territory, because we are all always learning (tech is always evolving), but sometimes I find it helpful to take a moment and look back at all of the things I have built and accomplished. You’ve been at this for 6 months, you’re building things in React, and you’re managing a full time teaching job. On top of that, you connected with someone and got a job offer. This is a lot to be proud of!

At least once a week. It’s something a lot of developers experience, tbh. Don’t let the thoughts consume you. I like to identify the things that are making me feel this way - focus on the areas I’m struggling and target some learning there.

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Hi @lawrencek1992 !

No. It’s a learning experience and it will be good for you. You will grow a lot.

Yes. I felt the same way when I first start working part time for a small company.

Yes. :grinning:
Here is my story.

I started learning how to code almost one year ago.
About 7 months ago, I was approached by this guy to do some freelance work on his site.
He found me on the forum and thought I would be a good match as a new part time junior in his company.
He needed someone to work on small feature request because the rest of the team was busy with the more complex issues.

At first, I was completely shocked.
I even asked him, “Why me? I don’t know anything yet?”

But he understood that I was really green but eager to learn.

So I took the job.

The first few weeks were the hardest because I had never worked with such a large codebase before.

Just getting setup was really hard and initmidating.

But I was lucky that he was really supportive and worked with me to help me improve.

As the months went by, I started to become more comfortable as a developer and he started giving me harder tasks.

Even though it was scary at first, I think this part time gig was the best thing that could have happened to me.

I would look at this experience as a learning opportunity. :grinning:

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Oh man, the parts of your story about feeling overwhelmed looking at their code base and getting set up are EXACTLY where I’m at right now. Today I had to learn about/install/download like three new things to get going, and I don’t even have the development environment up (he did say this was going to be confusing to get set up), so I read their code. I stuck to just the react stuff and even the React, there is so much of it… So my brain is convinced that everything will be way too hard, and I’m feeling so down that getting up and running is this challenging, like it must just get harder from here. I’m like questioning myself for saying I can write React when my React stuff is so much smaller and less complex.

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I like the concrete action of focusing on what I feel like I don’t know. I clearly need to learn to write Redux, so I can focus on that. I’ve avoided it before, cause it hasn’t been necessary with what I’ve written so far. I just haven’t had to manage such large amounts of state.

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That was probably the hardest part of getting started.
He was telling me all of these commands to run in the command line and I was completely lost.

But luckily, he was really patient with me. :grinning:

I know it is overwhelming to work with such a large codebase but reading code written by professionals is the best learning experience I have ever had.

You will learn ways to write more efficient code by just studying what is already there.
And you can start to incorporate that into your own projects.

I have found that is gets more manageable and a little bit easier.
I think it is just takes time to get used to the codebase.

In the beginning , you are still trying to figure out how everything works.
But after a few months, you will become more comfortable with the code.

I know it is hard in the beginning.
But this will be a great learning opportunity for you and you will grow a lot as a developer.

Just try to take it one day at a time. :grinning:

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I am german and learning programming in a company and school for about 2 years now, with some prior expirience… I most certainly know a lot more than many of my classmates and because I am looking into data-analysis, might know stuff nobody in my company does.

And I feel dumb every day, when I get some new task with a program I haven’t used, they share some resources and I feel like “The heck is that? What does it do? Why? How would anyone use this?!” - only to watch some tutorials and getting some hang of it. But still feel like I hardly understand what it does.

So that’s totally normal, because there is so much to learn and know and things are constantly changing and evolving and every program has so many little details - you can learn them for years and still feel like you know nothing.

In the end, accepting the job was a good choice. You got someone who can give you feedback, share his expirience and bring you forward.
Programming especially is a lot about constantly learning new things. Which in return means often dealing with the feeling of not-knowing enough, as this is the first thing in the learning process.

The programming world is big and lucky for us, so it Google. And at the end of the day, your job is to create working programs, not memorizing syntax. So there is no shame google being a major part of your job. Heck it’s kinda impossible with the way things are constantly evolving. Every programming language, every IDE, every library is different.

As long as you are comfortable with writing and reading code, you’re fine :wink:

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No matter how experienced you are, there will always be some level of imposter syndrome when it comes to working on a new job. I think that’s healthy, even though it’s scary. It wouldn’t be very interesting if you always took on jobs that sat right in your comfort zone.

I’m a freelancer and contractor and that means I deal with this all the time. New jobs are scary but I just trust that I will figure it out and try to tackle one problem at a time. And of course, YouTube, Stack Overflow and the FreeCodeCamp forum are my favourite go-to sites :slight_smile:

And I can tell you that setting up new development environments for new jobs is probably one of the hardest things you will do as a new developer. There’s just SO much going on, it’s hard to know what to install and how everything fits together. That’s something you don’t really learn in coding courses - but good debugging skills are essential in order to get unstuck.

You’re going to make mistakes and there will be some OMG moments where you break a live site and freak out. Just know that it’s all OK.

By the sounds of it, you are really passionate and that’s what truly counts. It’s also really helpful to leverage your existing networks because those are the people who know you and trust you, so they can vouch for you as a person and not just a coder.

Awesome you’re into climbing! Me too :slight_smile: I have a rock climbing blog where I interview digital dirtbags! I got into coding and FreeCodeCamp purely so I could learn how to build a location independent rock climbing lifestyle :slight_smile: https://www.adventureinmyveins.com/

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everything is a learning process… I dont think it is dumb just go with the flow and try to learn as much as you could…

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I am a self taught Front End Dev and I thought it was crazy when someone hired me that I met through a trail running group. It took me weeks to get the environment set up with vagrant, linux, and a remote server tunneled to with SSH.

I just clicked on your site and then went to your github and checked out your react code… looks good and you are doing way more react than I could have done after 6 months of learning. It looks like you are a solid learner and will be a good developer. I still have imposter syndrome even after working as a developer for 4 years and learning for 5 years.

The person who hired you knows your skill level so just take this opportunity as a great learning experience and know that you are not the only one with imposter syndrome.

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This is really relatable! Thank you for sharing this.

UPDATE…

When I posted the OP, I was truly considering telling my boss that I didn’t want the position anymore–that I couldn’t cut it and just didn’t have the skills to handle the work. Even after your encouragement, part of me still didn’t believe taking this job was the right decision. But you were all SO supportive, that I stuck with it, figuring every day that that was the day my boss would realize how wildly incompetent I am and let me go.

It’s been almost 2 months, and things are so much different now. I’m incredibly proud to share that I’m still employed, and by now I think I’m close to at least 2,000 lines of my original code that have been merged with production. I wish I could show you, but the Github repo is private, and I signed an NDA prohibiting me from sharing our code base. I write React all the time, and I’ve learned (and gotten quite good at!) a ton of things (redux, axios, git, material-ui). I’m even learning how to use python/django to work on tickets for our backend (django is so hard!)

I remember telling you all that just setting up my dev environment was too hard (I run a VM on Virtual Box and use a Vagrant host to connect to our back end while running the front end on my local machine)–well now that’s a breeze. I ended up buying a different machine, because I wanted more RAM, and I set the whole thing up from scratch with no help and no issues.

It’s absolutely wild to read my thoughts here and think about where I was emotionally about all this less than 2 months ago. I still deal with imposter syndrome, but I also regularly feel successful and valued. My boss is a great human, and has complimented me on noticing bugs others haven’t noticed, working asynchronously with minimal support, and writing high quality code, and all of that makes me feel like my contributions are worthwhile.

Thank you so so much for your support. I think without you I might have given up. I don’t really know others coders, so I don’t have people to talk to about this stuff. Being able to connect with you all about this is very important to me. Thank you. Thank you so much. <3

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Nowadays, the competition in IT is very high, because all the companies wanna get only experienced workers, and this is why the beginners are having some hard times with getting a job. It’s a matter of time I think, if you’re continuing to search, sooner or later you will find a job. My first one was related with small tasks, which I found while looking for weekend jobs. This was a great experience, and my starting point to the professional career, which is more than 5 years right now.