I got my first job as a dev -- Chicago area example

I’m going to try and be concise but effective with this.

About me:

23 Years Old
No College Degree
Couldn’t afford school (No Debt Policy / DOE Won’t lend to us anyway)
Strong Technical Affinity
Sometimes Impatient with Computers
Dabbled with C++ at 13, Java at 17
Chicago Area

What I do now: Web Developer - I am building a node project to dynamically serve product pages with a top of the line designer giving me some pretty challenging CSS tasks. We also have an Angular 2 project going on with some prospect.io stuff for leads and marketing.

I had been studying for something like five to eight months. I was a salesperson without a degree that woke up a little after our Director of Sales said we may not be relevant anymore after the year 2020. He suggested Udacity’s nano degree program. Needless to say the fact that a Director at a Fortune 10 company suggested something piqued my interest.

I signed up for the program and gave it my best go. I really enjoyed it until the Javascript part went from 0 - 100. Without teaching loops, if / else and other basics, Udaicty dove right into prototype inheritance. Udacity acknowledged this hole and has since pledged an updated curriculum.

That was frustrating so I went to Code Academy’s Javascript track. After finishing up the basics, I moved on to their Angular 1.x track. After that, I felt brave enough to try and build Udacity’s neighborhood maps project with knockout.js. I nearly needed hand holding to get through that knockout doesn’t have a big community, and without a JSON tree, iterating through large sets of JSON is HARD.

I used indeed to look at the skills in the area that were e needed to become a front end developer.

The skills I came up with:

Angular or React

After about 8 or 9 projects on my website, I quit my job and applied applied applied and reached out to recruiter after recruiter. I made my Linkedin look as impressive as possible and prayed – a lot.

After scouring Craigs List on a gut feeling, I landed a 3-month contract to hire at a home automation start-up.

Tips, Tricks, and Advice:

  • Recruiters are your friend but will be very skeptical that you actually know what you are doing. You need to convince them otherwise.

  • You don’t have jack if you don’t have a portfolio

  • Looks sell. Most recruiters wouldn’t talk to me until I made my site very cosmopolitan and designer worthy even though I didn’t claim to do that

  • Linkedin is very important and making your profile “All Star” should be a top priority. Most of my leads came from here.

  • Ignore Indian recruiters. They often times spam submit your resume which will render you ineligible to be interviewed wherever they submitted it for a whole year.

-Find a mentor if you can

  • BUILD BUILD BUILD BUILD The more you have in your portfolio, the more likely you’ll have a job soon.

-Do not list skills on you portfolio

  • Resume should be cosmopolitan and designer worthy too; Avoid adding retail experience if your goal is programming

  • Do not half-ass learning. You will need to be proficient. There will be more time, however, to learn on the job.

  • Anybody can code. My sister took a coding class at Arizona State for her Journalism Major and is loving it. She’s not a logical person at all. She’s social.

-Your ability to code well, whatever that means to you, is directly related to how much time you spend doing it

  • Learning and not having a life may suck, but your life will probably suck more if you don’t stay motivated and learn. After all, you’re here for a reason.

  • Try not to overthink a solution and don’t be afraid to ask for help. I use stack overflow at work and Reddit a fair amount and my boss is totally okay with that.

  • You will get frustrated many times but it will be worth it when you change careers

  • Do something for free. You won’t think of the lost money when you transition into 9-5 with good pay and benefits.

  • Go to a Church, Temple, Mosque whatever. (Church was hugely important for networking and had many leads from there too; Maybe even over linkedin from the people I have met there)

  • Interview well. If you’re likeable and kind of still suck at coding you’re more likely to get a shot than someone who isn’t very nice and is pretty good at coding.

  • Don’t be afraid to act in humilty and ask for help finding a job. There was someone very kind who decided to help me and I’m not sure where I would have gotten without his encouragement. At times I stuggled with all of this emotionally (and technically).



Code Academy

Udacity - Least favorite for learning - very cool projects


FCC Forum (Thank you!)

Tyler McGinnis (or something like that) does a great video on React, so does egghead.io


Other Tips:

  • CSS is best learned and tweaked in Dev Tools first

  • Always use JSON tree for viewing JSON

  • Copying code will almost always trip you up (YMMV)

  • Try to use a plugin or library if one exists. Make sure someone updated it recently and has updated it several times in the past

  • Try to pay attention to all of the little nuances to javascript. If you think through the code line by line and why and how it’s doing that, you’ll learn much faster.

  • You will run into things at work even that are difficult and need time to find a solution.

  • There will be plenty of google when you find a job

I’m not sure what I’m missing. Ask me anything and I’ll find time to respond.

P.S. I’m highlighting the fact I’m in Chicago because I feel like there are few american cases here and everything changes based off of locaton.


Well done man! - I remember you making a thread not too long ago after you quit your job, great to see that you pulled it off.

Links to the portfolio you used to get hired?

@quesurifn Congrats! Keep us posted!

Congratulations and all the best!

I love this! I grew up in Elmhurst, and have been thinking of returning for a Coding Bootcamp downtown. I’m sticking with freecodecamp and @P1xt 's guides. Hopefully I can get back in the game sooner rather than later.

Good luck with your job!

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Good work! I remember your resume and site from a while ago. Am curious what, if any, changes you made to get hired.

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Congrats! best of luck with the job

congratulations keep it up. :slight_smile:

Sorry for delay. http://kylecrfahey.com


I posted the link below.

Just wanted to give you guys an updated perspective. I’m now 6 months in and have received my first raise.

A couple things I have learned.

  1. this, map, filter, find, Object.assign etc. and dealing with arrays and objects are your lifeline and will help you understand almost everything in the javascript world (probably beyond)

  2. You can code inefficient code that is good enough at work, but for your portfolio / Github, make sure your code is clean, neat and flawless

  3. Build, Build, Build but don’t explore five different frameworks at once. I used Vue.js recently in a work project and have used that knowledge to understand React and Angular 2 better. But please, if you want to get somewhere fast, don’t try to be a jack of all trades.

  4. Linkedin is critical, and you must get your profile to 100% completion. Likely your next job will come from there

  5. Don’t discount craigslist

  6. You need to code every day, even if it’s just for half an hour. If you learned Spanish and then never used it, it wouldn’t be that long until you forgot a lot of it.

  7. Once you’re in, you’re in but don’t discuss your salary. A camper that lives in my area (5 years exp) told me this and since then I’ve read several articles to support this. Don’t talk about salary if you want to make money.

  8. Stay on top of new technologies to have an edge in the job market. Don’t think you want to learn React? Bad idea. If Udacity has a React nano degree and you haven’t learned it yet, you’re darn close to missing the boat. GraphQL? Do you know how revolutionary it is? No? Go learn it.

  9. All the serious money in front end seems to be in data visualization. Get your hands dirty with high charts, d3, and victory.

  10. Code every day, but remember the less you code the more effective you’ll be. I can’t tell you how many times, I was hardcore struggling with something afternoon and I walk in in the morning and solve it immediately. Even my boss advocates screwing around when you get stuck.

  11. Get ANY experience.

  12. If you can’t look back a few weeks and see that you understand something that you didn’t before or have a new perspective on it, you aren’t growing and need to do something different.

That’s all I can think of for now. Happy independence day!


Wow I remember you posting a few months ago…I recall your portfolio… So awesome to hear you are IN and doing great at your new job. I too have a background in sales :slight_smile: Thanks so much for the update and the advice! Duly noted! and Congrats!!!

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Good to hear it’s going good Kyle. I’m from Chicago area as well (burbs) with sales as my background too (cars). Been looking for entry level work in front end dev.

Thanks for the tips!

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Hope everyone is well.

Some more thoughts:

Map, Filter, Find, Object.assign are all must knows. That will be most of what you do at a job.

C# looks neat. So does Scala. I want to learn both. (Higher salary too!)

Learn recursion ASAP. There will be things where loops will be too fast. Best to use recursion for this!

Async / Await is the only way to do async programming. Learn what Promise.All is before embarking on this.

Learning DevOps will make you super valuable.

Going through a very basic C++ course will make you a better programmer.

Job Update:

I work 100% remote and am in the 28% tax bracket now. You CAN have what you desire with no degree and hard work!