Old School coder, overwhelmed

So I’m a bonafide coding dinosaur. I’ve done mainframe C, Php, mysql, SAJAX, and just stopped short of learning how to get sites SSH validated. I’ve made and customized a very popular, in the day, vbulletin server yet I do not really consider calling myself a full stack developer as I simply tinkered and got things to work with new functions based on pre-existing functions. I’ve worked at Lockheed Martin and Morgan as an intern but didn’t go full time as I couldn’t hack calculus to get a BS in CS. I instead pursued a BFA in Animation and Illustration and didn’t think I’d look back.

Well I did. Past two years, as a lead graphic designer/illustrator I started creating a semi-automated Digital Asset Management System in Python out of sheer need. Looking through thousands of files to check for a misspelled name was driving me bonkers so I did it in less than 3 days. Took me a day to understand python syntax. The clients were impressed but the company had no interest in training me coding. Through the encouragement of the client, I left to pursue web development and scratch my itch on what the heck React JS is. I mean… it’s just a JS library right?

Well I was absolutely overwhelmed and excited by the amount of resources online, I have 6 udemy courses I couldn’t possibly finish all at once. But what’s encouraging is, this dinosaur’s coding background is still relevant.

I joined Hacker Rank not too long ago, reached problem solving 3 (probably means nothing…really not sure even if it means something i have to keep going) and I’ve passed Lambda’s intake test.

Lambda’s folks are super nice, rather overwhelmed, but now I’m wondering if I should just jump right in to project work and save myself the 30K.

It’s offline now but I once half coded a client-customer portal on a custom modified vbulletin to integrate membership with the forum. However, I heard php is no longer relevant but I still love it. Should i update myself and integrate a different, more updated forum software?

Gosh and don’t get me started on git hub. Still confused by what version control especially since I controlled everything, but I do want to become agile savvy.

Anywho, as you can tell really excited but overwhelmed. Thanks for taking the time to read this!


Welcome to the brave new world of the modern web. Culture shock is common.

I don’t feel qualified to tell you whether you should do something like Lambda, but even if you decide to go for it I’d think that experience working on projects first would only make your Lambda experience more effective.

Php is still releavant. It’s been widely in use for a long time (in internet years) and it’s not going away over night. That said, when building something totally new, you’re probably better off setting yourself up with something more forward-looking.

If it’s unfamiliar, Git may seem totally alien but you’ll love version control. I like to introduce people to the concept with Git and GitHub in Plain English. When it comes to actually using it, there are a bunch of interactive tutorials that will get you used to the few commands that will make up 90% of your Git usage.


Thanks for taking the time to read and respond Ariel!! And yup I’m very shocked but very impressed with all the new stacks today!

Also I agree on the forward looking portion! I’m just excited I have a decent shot at making a decent income from what I did for free back in the day :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ll go ahead and get to learning git. Thanks again! :slight_smile:

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Impressive background! Can’t wait to see what you’re capable of in the web development field :slight_smile:

I’m another “Mainframer”- though my experience was in QA Testing not coding/programming even though I went through a 7 month program to learn COBOL (my first programming language- I may or may not have dabbled in HTML before that). Fast forward to 2018… I went to a coding bootcamp- did pretty well (I’m told)- I felt like I learned a lot but now having trouble with getting myself to be disciplined (I went out of state and it did me a world of good).

So now I’m looking for work again.

I also came upon this on one of my Slack groups… it may help some people- these are Apprenticeships; bootcamps you can read up on on Coursera Report.

GitHub- Apprenticeships list

Hi WhisperPntr,
Wow, you’ve had quite an intereting journey to get where you are. I went from being a teacher a year ago to finishing a ReactJS course, as well as several FCC certifications, if I can do it with no a sliver of the tech background that you already boast, then you got this! React is freaking awesome by the way. I love it. And I recall being frustrated with Github too, but like the bike, you’ll soon ride without thinking about it. I recently posted an article about the mindset a learner needs to learn tech. This is largely inspired by my teaching background and the last year and a half of my life spent learning to code. I hope you find some encouragement in it: My 4ish Pieces of Advice to the Self-Taught Programmer

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Thanks everyone you really rock. To be honest I’m just as terrified as anyone on here coding background or not. I have the imposter syndrome all the time when I do well. And need to get out of that line of thinking.

Also even though I do have programming knowledge I had to spend the past 2 weeks recalling how to write syntactically correct code again. When you’re illustrating and animating for the past 6 years you lose your ability to think logically.

I really am terrified but I’m happy to join this commmunity. You guys are rocking it thus far! :slight_smile:


Oh don’t worry… just about everyone deals with Imposter’s Syndrome to some degree in any job or whatever else… and don’t even realize it.

Went through that the first time, went through it again recently…til I found out that no… I’m not the only one.

I’d almost say if you DON’T experience Imposter’s Syndrome I’d wonder if you had a soul… (I’m kidding please nobody jump on me…)

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I love your article! Was very inspiring!

I do have a lot of “skills” but having it all come together will take time. I have to pace myself and allow the solid work that can only come with time show through. :slight_smile:

Hey there! I’m a teacher now and am fCC-ing to try and make a switch into web development. Do you mind if I message you to talk about your background, your path, and what you’re up to now?

Anytime! I may be a bit delayed a day or two in responding, but I’ll definitely get back to you eventually.

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I have been a programmer for 38 years and I still suffer from imposter syndrome. No one can know everything. You just learn whatever is needed now and press on. Don’t get too tied to any one technology, but also don’t just follow fads. Get the logical thought processes going:
e.g. What pieces are needed for a website?

  • User interface/User experience
  • Data access and possibly manipulation
  • Business logic

These things can be done with any number of technologies. To get jobs you need the skills in demand now. Learn and exercise those skills. You’ll do great!
That’s why I’m here as well: a skills refresh.


A dinosaur here also, 20+ years as a software engineer and the last 1 &1/2 yrs as a software engineer manager, here to refresh my skills as well.

If you can handle C and have done php, you have the ability to come up to speed in just about any programming language or technology. Php is still relevant, and I still see job postings asking for that skillset.

Regarding git, git is very, let’s say unique, in how it approaches version control. When I started using git, I struggled for a while myself even after 15+ years using Perforce and svn (other version control systems). Something else that might help in addition to the links already posted, the authors of the book “Pro git” published the entire book online. You can also purchase it from Amazon if you want a hard copy, or as an e-reader book.

Similar situation – I began coding in 1985, working in MS DOS with batch files and BASIC, went to college for a couple years (RPG-II, COBOL, and on my own LISP, ADA, Pascal, C), realized I wasn’t having fun, and so went to clown college for a while.

Enjoyed that, but came to a realization: I love coding, truly do. And I love clowning, entertaining, performing. But I REALLY don’t like one-dimensional people. I’m not a coder, I’m not a clown, I’m not any of the things I DO. They are what I do, not what I am.

So, in 1993, back to programming! Yup. PHP, perl, Lisp, SQL, Adobe macros (back when photoshop HURT). Evolved into a front-to-back developer, but really gravitated to front-end.

At this point, I’m a jack-of-all-trades. I like it that way. I’m working on breaking back into the web dev world, and it’s taking some time, as I have some special challenges, but it’s a process. In the meantime, I’m a cabinet maker, a landscaper, a budding classical guitarist and yoga enthusiast and many many things.

I’m turning 49 years young in a few days, and learning new things is keeping me Peter Pan! :wink:

I really hear you on the one dimensional! I am always “surprising” people when I tell them I draw but love to code. It’s caused a lot of problems for me on this journey.

I wanted to thank everyone for replying to this thread and will reply more individually. But I’m getting out there, going to meet ups and just throwing myself into the fire. It’s terrifying but refreshing all at the same time.

Also I didn’t get the previous position I was interviewing for but considering I was willing to take on a super junior role I’m proud of myself for getting out there to take on a mid level developer and getting further than the first interview :stuck_out_tongue:

Anyways I’m still throwing myself into the fire and learning something new every day.

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