Lost in an endless sea of digital BS

This is a copy of a post I left on Reddit, and I want to note first that almost all of what I’m saying here doesn’t apply to the forums here at fCC. This has been the most welcoming and helpful environment I’ve found yet. Still, the question persists…

Sorry if the following sounds a bit melodramatic. I’m not trying to post a sob story, but I do feel like I’m on the brink of tears. Please bear with me.

I’m learning to code online. I started in HS and have come back to it a few times. I have a decent grasp of the concepts, and I know that I need to keep working on new projects and learning. This isn’t my problem.

The problem I have is that the question “How do I get a coding job without a degree?” is answered across the internet with one resounding answer: networking. As in, personal networking. “Get your name out there and get known!” But that’s the extent of it. This is a skill that I have lacked my entire life. I am an extremely introverted person, and most of the time when I do post something on the internet (pick a social media or forum) it’s generally met with either waves of toxicity or simple links to other, perhaps slightly more specific, social media platforms.

I have no experience. I have no jobs to list in the last ten years (disabled) to put on a resume. So, I guess at this point, I’m hitting what I’ve heard referred to as “the plateau”. I understand that it’s a slog, and I have to just keep working my way through it. But, I feel like I’m going the wrong direction. It doesn’t matter how complex a system I may be able to code up, if Johnny, CEO of Big Bad Co. doesn’t know my name, I’m never going anywhere. I have very few “friends” outside the house I live in, and none of them have any idea what a for loop is.

So, to wrap up: I know I need to get out of my shell (toughen up, buttercup) and not take things people say online so hard, but how am I supposed to make “friends” in the tech community when no one seems willing to be friendly?

Specific questions about code can get answers sometimes (i.e. “Why does ‘while(a > 1) a++;’ produce an infinite loop?”) if you’re willing to brave StackOverflow. But, things like “Hey, how is everyone?” on Discord or “Anybody looking for help with a project?” on… anything, really, are generally met with silence, at best.

Still, despite personal experience, I keep hearing about how friendly the tech community is supposed to be, which only serves to reinforce the idea that I must be doing something wrong.

Any suggestions?


I got a job with no degree. I did a little networking and got a few leads, but that’s not what got me the job. Could it have? Sure. But all the networking in the wold won’t matter if you don’t have a good combination of skills and experience. If you don’t have a job, a solid portfolio of solid apps can help.

At the risk of more shameless self-promotion, I once wrote a doc with my advice.

It’s not easy. It isn’t easy with a degree but it’s even harder without one. If I was young, I would have gone for the degree. But I wasn’t so I did it without - it can be done. #ymmv


Networking is definitely a skill in and of itself. I think many people struggle with it. I have some ideas for you but I’m sure others will have a lot more.

1- try volunteering somewhere. (or more than one place if you can) You can volunteer in places like fCC or by working on open source projects. Super hard to do if you are new to it (I am for sure), but that is one way to get known. Also volunteer in a ‘brick-and-mortar’ place if you can. I come across so many broken sites in my community. From places of worship to small stores. I am sure you do too and can easily reach out - in person not by email as that will just be thrown out as spam - and offer to fix up their sites or add a much needed feature (in return for their written reference or recommendation). It’s a lot of work but it does come some ways to helping you get known. If you do that well too they may recommend you to their friends or in the community. I know this isn’t ‘being known by a CEO’ but it helps get you started.

2- Do you have any conferences in your area? (tech ones I mean). Sometimes these are good places to go and volunteer and or attend and talk to people. It is weird but saying to someone, “I’m looking for a job” is probably super daunting but if you don’t say it then the conversation doesn’t go there and they may not remember you later.

Try to be kinder to yourself also. Instead of “toughen up” perhaps try “Whatever happens now, it won’t matter when I get that great job and will be a great story for an fCC post”. (and remember, everyone is some amount of shy anyway, they will admire you for being the one to talk first and keep a convo. going)


Volunteer! There are many organizations that would love to have your help. People you meet through volunteering will give you references, and the volunteer projects give you something to put on your resume.

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I think this is a common misconception. The “tech community” is broad and encompasses a lot of different specializations. Like any other community, the tech community is NOT necessarily nice. There are nice people/companies and there are not nice people/companies. On the whole, the tech community requires productivity and profit like other communities. The tech community is no nicer than any other community.

So, I don’t think you’re doing ANYTHING wrong. Follow your instincts and go on your own path. Do what you can. Set goals and work towards them. With time, practice, and an open mind, you’ll gain the skills YOU need and get the positions that make sense for you. Your path WILL look different from the path of others and that’s OK!


The “path off the plateau” usually requires you to identify your biggest weakness, at which point you then set out to try to improve it, so you can elevate your overall skill set. I think you already know one or a few weaknesses, as you pointed them out in your post, and you are aware of possible solutions.

Networking is a broad answer. Networking could mean from going to job fairs in person, to asking your uncle for a job as his company, to making friends with recruiters at companies, to just having a web presence, to getting 20k twitter follows, write your own blog, and talk at conferences and “be famous”. The range is enormousness.

However, networking isn’t the only possible solution, as there are multiple parts of the overall problem of getting a job as you know. You might know the basics of what you’re doing, but so would most of the other 100 applicants applying for a given job. The goal isn’t to be the best, or the only one, but to stand out from the rest.

In that sense, getting the job is mostly a “sales skill”, in how you go about “selling yourself”. As with any good sales-person, knowing how to promote the good, and limit the bad can be more important than the product itself. The same goes for your current approach to job searching.

Of course at some point, the “product” or your skill-set does matter, and its at that point your core skills could and should keep improving, as that is ultimately what you’re “selling” to employers. Networking is more of an alternate route of the same “sales” approach, but it isn’t a guarantee.

The tech community on Reddit has the disadvantage of being on Reddit, which promotes the highest rated content as its core feature. What becomes “highest rated” isn’t necessarily the nicest, or best response, it could be a complete troll response within a troll community doing troll-ish things. It’s completely up for grabs.

The anonymity provided by tech is an advantage, and disadvantage.

Ultimately though, looking for the most practical and “best” advice and the “nicest” advice doesn’t always coincide within the same post. The internet will always provide a place to “hear what you want”, but that doesn’t mean what you want to hear is what you need to hear, but its the internet so what you hear is your choice.


Do you want to work on something together?


I got my first job in 2001 without a degree and managed to slowly move between jobs and up the ladder before finally getting my degree in 2018. I totally agree with you - it can be done. Had I had the option I would definitely have preferred to get a degree first as I lost out on a few opportunities because of not having one however I do feel that not having one and having to constantly prove myself made me work harder than my peers and ultimately that’s what counted more towards my getting other jobs along the way.
To OP I’d say “don’t give up” and be kind to yourself. It may come off sounding a bit trite but there will be bad days but keep the faith and keep at it.

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That’s because those are extremely vague posts, and no one will answer because it’s the equivalent of going into someone’s house and announcing you’re there when no one knows you. So of course those will be met with silence.

You have to be more proactive and self-motivated than that. Look for specific things that you can contribute to, without being asked. Or find a project that needs help, and start helping out.

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Hi @Jtryon, this is probably a case of survival bias if the only people answering your question (How can I get a coding job without a degree?) are people who are currently working as programmers, you are not getting much information.

If you think about it, it is possible that the people who get the job and the people who don’t get the job have done the same things, but that other factors have not allowed them to get the job (not all countries are the same, not all cities are the same, age difference, etc.).
Also, people don’t always tell the truth. I know someone who always says that he “did a 3 month coding bootcamp and got a job offer” … I asked him about it and the truth is that he was recommended for the job by a programmer (from the company).

Anyway, things I have done:

  • I created a youtube channel: 6,299 views in total.
  • Linkeding profile: I appeared in hundreds of searches and hundreds of people have viewed my profile.
  • Portfolio: very good feedback (once an interviewer said that one of my projects was excellent).
  • Job applications (many), entry level.
  • Let people know I’m looking for a job.
  • Networking, online.

All that plus a lot of coding, learnt about programming, etc. none of that has helped me to get a job.

Cheers and happy coding :slight_smile:

Thank you. For what it’s worth, I did try (more than once) to get a degree, but life kept getting in the way. I know that’s just an excuse, but well… life. Anyway, thank you for the doc. I’ll definitely hold onto it. It’s not much that I haven’t seen elsewhere, but it’s definitely more concise and better organized. Well worth the read. Thanks.

Thank you, @hbar1st this isn’t the first time your response has helped me… calm down, I guess. As I said in my post, I tend to be a bit melodramatic. I have no delusions of running into Bill Gates on the sidewalk and suddenly landing a top job at Microsoft because he though I was a nice guy. The world doesn’t work that way, but so many blog posts, youtube videos, etc. make it sound like it does. I assume most (if not all) of those are fairy tales, but it’s hard to get past all of that to get real, meaningful advice. So, again, thank you.

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I worked for 15 years for IBM Canada. Didn’t meet any of the CEOs when I was there. Neither did any of my many colleagues. It probably happens to people if they mean the CEO of a startup whom they met at a hackathon while he/she was there trying to recruit talent because her/his company was made up of a single digit number of employees. (That is my interpretation of what you heard anyway)

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Thank you. I know at some point I have to learn to “sell” myself - frame myself in a positive light. This is something else that I’ve always struggled with, and while mental health issues obviously stray somewhat outside the scope of this forum, would you have any suggestions? Maybe a sales tutorial or something? I have a bad habit of pointing out problems (looking for things to fix) rather than highlighting more positive aspects of things in general. I’m kind of the opposite of a salesperson, I guess, so any help in that area is definitely appreciated.

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This article is pretty good
< Learn to Love Networking>

Also this 1 hr course in self promotion
< Build confidence with self-promotion - Google Digital Workshop>

Networking isn’t the only way to get a job with/without a degree. I got my first one through a job application on indeed and a job interview.

This is true. It’s the experience / quality of your projects that matters. People aren’t going to hire you because they met you for 20 minutes at a tech meetup. But you could have a great portfolio that demonstrates strong skills, apply via job ads and get a job.

Networking isn’t a silver bullet. It’s just difficult to get the first job regardless of what you do.

I do understand that it takes more than meeting someone for 20 minutes to land a job, and I’m really not looking for a “silver bullet”. I really wouldn’t want to skip all the learning and progress in the middle, anyway. That’s a big part of what I love about coding in the first place - learning. I’m sorry if it came off otherwise.

What I really mean is that every time I look into this subject, the discussion eventually breaks down to the fact that, when you get beyond the basics, coding turns into a team sport. So, when the interviewer asks, “How do you feel working in a team environment?” Answers like, “I’m really uncomfortable with other people” or “I don’t know. I never have,” aren’t likely to get you very far.

I guess that’s the kind of networking I’m really talking about. @astv99 suggests being more proactive and finding projects to help with without being asked, but I’m really not sure where to look.

What I was saying in my post was more about what I hear than what I believe. All I really want is to not be doing things completely alone, because I know if/when I ever do manage to get that dream job, I’m going to need to be able to collaborate with the rest of the team. That is something I don’t think I can learn on my own, and I don’t know where to begin.

No, I didn’t sense that, I was just trying to add some perspective to the advice you were getting.

HI @Jtryon !

I think the main issue with networking is that a lot of people seem to think that it involves meeting someone and just being handed a job. But IMO that is far from reality of most people.

For me, I use networking to help me land the interview and bypass all of crap with the initial application process. At the end of the day, I still have to show them something worth investing in. Sometimes it works out and then sometimes it doesn’t. But having that opportunity to actually get in front of a person is one of the hardest parts of the job process.

As for practical tips for networking, I would recommend this video by Leon Noel.

Overall, I think there is a lot of bad information out there about networking. I don’t think networking is going to land you the job. I think networking can help you get to the next step in the job process. Every single step can take that much closer to your end goal.

Hope that helps! :slight_smile:


It’s honestly not hard to find a project that needs help. Open source software (OSS) projects on GitHub are all based on the idea that anyone can contribute to them, and make for an excellent gateway in helping you to learn a few essential things you need to know as a professional developer: (1) How to use Git, (2) How to read code, (3) How to code with other developers. But don’t mistake contributing to OSS as work experience because it’s not. You can however use it as a resource to build your skills and gain confidence. Single out just one project (which shouldn’t be hard because tons of OSS projects exist on GitHub), and become a regular contributor to it, and see where that takes you.

Contributing to one OSS project can absolutely be a form of networking if you persist and keep it going. Once you start building momentum on a particular OSS project, it’ll be easier to branch out and find other projects. Maybe one day you could become a key contributor on multiple projects that happen to be used by a company, and then that company could potentially notice you. That would undoubtedly be a long drawn-out journey, but definitely one that could be possible.

Also do you know the story of how Instagram got started? Instagram, along with every other major tech company (Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple), had very humble beginnings. Nearly every company you’ve heard of got started because a group of friends got together with an idea and then built something. You don’t need to start a company of course, but finding other people to code with is easier than ever with the Internet, and having that “network” will slowly progress your career.

Don’t be the person to go onto a forum or Reddit or whatever else and then write something like “Hi I’m looking for a mentor” or “Hi is there anyone working on a project?” That is a passive approach. Take a more proactive one and look back through existing messages. See if anyone asked for help with something recently, and then get in touch with them and ask how you can help.

TLDR: You need to put in some effort into reaching out to other people first, before anyone will reach out to you.

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