Self-taught devs who found jobs, what happened afterwards?

Hi people. Those of you who managed to find jobs after self-studying, what happened afterwards? I hear a lot of horror stories about how you might be able to find a first job, and maybe a second job but after that it’s “degree or no show”. What has your experience been? Does it make any difference if you have most of a degree or is that the same as not having a degree at all? Is there a difference in attititude towards “no degree” in the US vs Europe?

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Hi,
I’m based in EU.
I found a dev job in a small company after 8 (give or take) months of studying (mostly JS, although I have invested reasonable time for CSS), it’s now more that half a year that I work here. Things are great. I shifted from pure front end (react ecosystem) to more of a back end. One thing I’d like to improve is the speed it takes me to write code but it’s getting better.
I had a few conversations with my manager and mentor about this specific topic (degree vs no-degree) and he concluded quite clearly that in his opinion, a degree for a regular dev job is completely unnecessary. What is, however, is the ability to solve problems in a systematic and logical way in a reasonable amount of time (so that projects would not stall for too long). For this, there’s only practice. Just like you would practice math skills from grade 5 to grade 8 and increase in difficulty, so you would in coding.
After I got the job, it took me about 2 - 3 months to accustom to the environment and the real development thing, writing software. I am now confident in my JS abilities that I perceived as tremendously hard to acquire in the beginning, learnt a thousand times more during the same period of time at work than when I was learning at home.
Besides, there are a few resources to gain knowledge in computer science field online.
Anyway, I am quite confident that you can flourish in tech industry being self-taught. I never had a job where I would want to stay so dearly.

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Ok, thanks for the input. I’ve interacted with some large consultancy companies who basically said “No degree, no job here”, so my plan was to go back to school at some point and finish my degree.

I have been watching this thread for replies because even I would like to read other’s inputs about this question. However, as per my conversation with people ( some even graduates from reputed CS/Engineering Colleges); what matters most is that you should be able to apply your skills, like are you building your own projects? Constantly improving and learning new methods/technologies etc?

Many people who have degrees but never bother to work on projects outside of class or after college unless someone is paying them to do it kinda get stuck and lose a lot of time, so if you are actually doing the work, you are better off than those.

At the end of it, I believe what matters is how you are spending your time.
:slight_smile:

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At the same time I hear e.g. german, norwegian and french companies have a degree as a hard and unnegotiable threshold. I’ve had a few consultancy companies tell me straight out that they won’t even look at my portfolio or my CV, if I don’t have a degree. So I guess what I am asking is how widespread this kind of attitude is.

Well, I think it ultimately comes down to the job specs and/or location. By the way, I found my job on a local group of programmers and such so that might have given me a different starting point. I second @cryptographicfool that you’re better off if you actually build something.
You would most definitely benefit from CS or similar studies. I personally don’t believe this hype that the degree is unnecessary if you want higher level responsibilities and top jobs.

I have gone to university, but due to personal circumstances I had to put the studies on hold just before I was going to do my master’s thesis in mathematics. I might have a job comming up, so I was more asking if I should plan on saving enough wages to be able to go back to school.

In my opinion a degree will make your job search much easier. Some companies will not accept applicants without a degree. That said with more years of experience a degree will become less relevant. If you want some higher management positions a degree will probably be a must have. For pure development roles not so much.

If you can afford the time and money investment for a degree it’s almost always a wise decision.

Personally I would not worry to much about not having a degree, especially as you already have work experience under your belt.

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There are some jobs that ask you to go back to school in order to promote or transition you into certain role, although not necessarily the engineering track. A common one obtaining an MBA for certain leadership/managerial position, I have not necessarily seen it in the technology/engineering track

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MBA for a management/leadership position makes sense.

I guess that I have never been exposed to tech based work environments at all so it is difficult to understand for me why someone would want to do a management job if they are really into tech?

Most of my experience with tech has been at maker spaces and with open source along with some hack/glitch installation art projects.

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In bigger organization and bigger projects, people tend to transition out of the nitty-gritty every day coding into planning/implementing/managing because that’s often the upward path

upward path to where?

Like if you look at it from the perspective of a musician, they would make music and as they go along, they will get better at it and make more and better music. Now if you are a musician, you wont transition into event or artist management right? You would just make music. No?

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Upward path to greater responsibility and vision.

Musician transition into producers often actually to have full creative control of projects. Actor often become producers and directors for the same reason.

In some way it’s similar for engineers, as projects grow, they no longer can do everything, they have to rely on teams to accomplish bigger vision. They can supervise that vision and guide it, but there is no way to accomplish it all by themselves. They can also have more say in a companies general technology direction. Instead of following decisions, they become the ones making decisions

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I am not a developer yet but I have worked on the business end of the IT field for several years in Silicon Valley where I interacted with software engineers all day long and sold to them.

You mention consultancies- do you mean like Tata Consulting, Infosys, or Wipro? If so, I could see these companies requiring that you have a computer science degree because they have to sell you to their customers. When Walmart calls Infosys to get a big project done and essentially rents 200 software developers to work on something for a year, Infosys probably can’t give them non-degree holders.

I think most devs who hope to get a job after self-teaching (including myself) are hoping to work directly for a business, and probably a smaller one who is aching for a developer and doesn’t have such formal requirements, and this I saw all the time, though especially in the US, where demand is very high and employers can’t fill job vacancies.

I imagine the demand for developers, and the job market may be different if you are somewhere where large consultancies are your only option, especially if you’re in a place where there are a lot of engineering degree holders. This may be the case in India, Pakistan, Mexico, China, etc. Especially outside of the cities where there are fewer start ups.

Though I’m confident someone will hire you if you have a great portfolio and are willing to work at a smaller company and/or relocate to a tech hub in your area :slight_smile:

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I am not talking about any of those consultancies. But I am talking about a similair one. The recruiter there told me straight out that I couldn’t get a job there because I didn’t have a degree. Oddly enough I know at least two people who worked there without degrees. One of them hadn’t even studied computer science. Maybe it’s a lot easier to sell yourself even if you don’t have a degree if you know someone on the inside or can provide references.

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Understood. Yeah I think big consultancies will likely require a degree but actual software companies will often give newbies a shot if your portfolio is solid.
It’s well understood in Silicon Valley that many of the best programmers do not have formal educations. John Mcafee talked about this a few years ago with respect to white hat hackers being misfits and high school dropouts, etc. Though that’s an edge case.
All companies have different hiring standards and preferences.
Good luck!!

When I was a contractor in my previous job, they had me fill a cloud specialist role for one of the dev teams. This was during the same time when they were converting me to full time. My manager pulled me in one day for a one-on-one and said, “Well, HR got back with us. They are refusing to fill you in a full time position because you’re technically not qualified for the role you are filling”

She was pretty disappointed because I was doing a pretty good job where I was and in her eyes I was pretty qualified for the role I was in.

Although this is just an example how having a CS degree is viewed differently between corporate and the folks who are actually in the trenches.

If your manager really wanted to place you, she could have overridden HR.

Not really. HR always get their way.

Hi!

I can talk about my personal experiences based in Hungary (Eastern Europe). So here I have never found it to be an issue that I lack formal IT education. After 4 years in tech I failed at a job interview because I did not have enough Math background, but that can easily be solved without formal education (e.g.: Khan Academy).

I have some recruiter friends, who told me that it is easier with self-taught developers. They come from another field usually, they are determined and they are hard working. More often than not they have an unique perspective on things and they can think out of the box.

One skill that is extremely important, which is English, especially in countries where English is considered to be a foreign language. It has happened that I got the job because I spoke better English than the other candidates, even though they have had IT degrees.

But at the end of the day, it is always about hard work and dedication. :slight_smile:

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