Skip the Coding Bootcamp: How I Learned To Code & Got a Remote Full-Time Development Job in 5 Months

Hello Campers,

This post has been a long time coming.

I originally wanted to make this post back in 2019 when I landed the job but I was more focused on the learning path itself rather than sharing my story.

To me, getting a full-time job as a developer was the start and major milestone not the end of the journey.

Since then, I’ve actually left that job to co-found my own software company and focus on building things for myself.

FreeCodeCamp was my primary tool for hitting that major milestone accomplishment so I wanted to come back and share my story here.

(TLDR; included at the bottom of the post.)

I tried to write it here as the original post but it ended up being too long so I gave up and wrote it on medium.

These types of posts really encouraged me during my initial learning period.

I’ve given this exact blueprint to a lot of my friends and I’ve gotten feedback that it was immensely helpful so I wanted to make it available for anyone looking to do the same with no experience and without attending a bootcamp.

I really believe this strategy could still work today.

Here’s a preview of the post’s structure with snippets from each section.

My Background

Let me start off by mentioning, I didn’t do well in high school and I have less than 2 semesters of community college under my belt.

I wanted to include this because a lot of what held me back initially was self-doubt wondering if someone “like me” could actually learn how to code.

The Why

There is often an important part of learning how to code being left out of these types of posts and that’s the mentality and intrinsic motivation it takes to prep yourself to accomplish such a daunting task.

Even if you have a strict plan and guideline, without being able to refer back to why you’re doing what you’re doing when things get hard you’re going to give up.

The Research & Revelation

Coding bootcamps (the good ones) have a track record that speaks for themselves.

The ones I was researching had an 80–90% graduate hire rate within 6 months of graduation. I reached out to the top 5 remote bootcamps at the time to try and get a sense of what to expect and the costs.

During this time, I was a digital nomad mostly freelancing marketing jobs online so I had to figure out an efficient and cost-effective way to approach my learning.

The average cost of a bootcamp was anywhere between 15–30k for tuition not including living expenses. There were many payment deferring options but I had pretty bad credit at this time because of my lack of consistent work and working on businesses of my own.

Something else that I didn’t anticipate was that a lot of these programs were full-time anywhere between 3–6 months. Luckily around this time, I had become extremely meticulous about my finances because I was traveling and working online so I knew exactly what I needed to survive on a monthly basis.

I ran some rough estimates.

Potential Scenario for a 4 Month Bootcamp:

  • Tuition Cost: $18,000.00
  • Rent: $1,000.00 * 4
  • Monthly Living Expenses: $2,000.00 * 4
  • = Total: $30,000

I also saw that the average time to find a job upon completion was 3 months.

So let’s add:

  • Rent: $1,000.00 * 3
  • Monthly Living Expenses: $2,000.00 * 3

New Total:

  • Projected Total Expenses: $39,000

The Plan

I decided to find and build everything a bootcamp could provide for me but on my own through more cost-effective means. A bootcamp is a business and I didn’t want to pay retail.

Now that I knew what I was supposed to learn I started to source the other important parts of what a bootcamp would’ve provided me.

The course said that they would provide me 1-on-1 time with an experienced developer twice a week, around hour-long sessions to help me overcome any obstacles and give me some guidance.

I was watching a lot of videos around learning how to program on YouTube and I happened to come across a smaller channel that in the end offered tutoring for programmers of all levels.

I reached out and after telling him my plan he offered me a rate of $50/hour plus he would also give me an additional hour if I purchased 10 hours upfront so $45/hr.

Over the course of a 4-month bootcamp (16 weeks) at 2 lessons a week that would be a total of 32 1-on-1 lessons, at this instructor’s rate it would $1,440 for the same amount of lessons.

The instructor told me that he was also a self-taught developer so he would hold me accountable during our lessons to make sure that I was progressing on the curriculum.

Tools For Success

Keep a Schedule

When I first got to my grandmother’s place in Korea I thought that I could just study at her apartment, it was a humble little space with decent lighting and I decided to study at the dining table.

This lasted about 5 days. I love my grandmother, and because we hadn’t seen each other in a while up until this point she wanted to feed me every 30 mins so she became an obstacle. If you know anything about learning, you need long focused sessions without any distractions to try and get into a flow state to work through hard problems.

I’ve been working since I was 15 so this was the first time in my life I didn’t have any specific time-based responsibilities so I started to stay up late on my laptop and wake up later in the day.

This started to affect my overall productivity and the number of hours I was able to dedicate to learning.
Consume Programming + Tech Content

There is no better way to learn than immersion.

I started to read books and watch shows about programming and tech-related topics. On my way to the coworking space, I started to listen to the Software Daily Podcast.
Here are some books I highly recommend:

  • “Hackers & Painters” by Paul Graham
  • “Zero to One” by Black Masters and Peter Thiel
  • ”Program Or Be Programmed” by Douglas Rushkoff
  • ”The Art of Computer Programming” by Donald E. Knuth

Each one of these books played a crucial role in further affirming my belief that learning how to code was a worthwhile endeavor and that anyone who really wanted to could do it.

I especially want to thank Paul Graham for “Hackers & Painters” which really helped me break the mold I had in my mind of what a software developer is.

Land The Job

Step 1: Define the job you want.

Beggars can’t be choosers but I had been traveling the world working remotely there was no way I was going to head back into an office somewhere so the job had to be remote.

Also, I just spent almost 3 months not making any money I wanted something that was consistent and full-time, so no hourly jobs, and no freelancing gigs.

The main point of finding a job was to:

  1. Gain real-world experience.

  2. Continue to learn and fill gaps from my personal learning journey.

Step 2: Find the leads.

Since I was looking for a remote position I started to scrape all of the JavaScript, React, Node related jobs into a spreadsheet off of the following sites:

  • WeWorkRemotely
  • RemoteOk

I did some digging and grabbed the following pieces of information from LinkedIn and GlassDoor:

  • Company Name
  • Company Website
  • Contact Information / Email
  • Potential Salary
  • Employer Rating
  • Job Role / Title

Step 3: The Pitch.

My original estimate for how long this would’ve taken was around 5 months. I had just spent 3 months learning and building projects.

I had originally budgeted for around 5 months I figured I could afford to even work for free or intern somewhere to gain the experience to increase my chances of getting a real job.

I knew the companies I grabbed all hired remotely and were looking for developers using the technologies I studied so I thought maybe they’d be willing to take me on as an intern or get some free labor.

I knew as long as I got my foot in somewhere I would be able to validate my worth to them but more importantly, I was ready to do any and all work that would help me advance my knowledge and grow.

I carefully constructed an email that expressed that desire and I covered everything I had learned up until this point and linked all of the work I had put in.

Cold Email Job Campaign Stats:

  • 18 Jobs Found
  • 18 Emailed
  • 6 Responses
  • 4 Interviews
  • 3 Offers

Needless to say, after accessing the offers I ended up choosing the company that offered me the greatest opportunity to learn that also happened to be the most lucrative compensation package as well.

What’s Next

Working as a full-stack developer and learning how to work with a team on real projects gave me the confidence to build something of my own. After working there for 13 months I felt like I had enough experience so I left to co-found and develop my own SaaS company.

I really hope you enjoyed the post.

Learning how to code has been life-changing but it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

I can’t imagine having come this far without the support I’ve had so please feel free to ask me any specific questions if you have any. I’d love to provide any direction if I can.

Much love,

TK

5 Likes

Thanks for writing up your story!


I had to snip out the Medium link - we don’t let anyone advertise their blogs or other sites here on the fCC forums.

No problem!

I’m going to just convert the medium post to be native on here then.

I wanted to share the journey more so than the blog.

2 Likes

Wow! Thanks so much for sharing this story. In the midst of it all now, trying to check bootcamp and self training but thankfully, fcc is helpful.
I hope to share a testimony like yours one day, just have to put in more work.

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