Hey gang, this post is a little overdue. After hitting the the curriculum at Free Code Camp, I landed a Junior dev position roughly two years ago.
There’s some really incredible stories in this forum, people who had it a lot harder than I did, starting from scratch and in adversity. I’ve had it easy compared to some of you heroes and troopers, but here’s hoping there’s still something valuable to take away from this.
My name is Allan and I live in Sydney, Australia. I first became interested in programming when I was 16, in high school. In high school programming (within computer studies) was my moment of zen, where I could escape from the mad cramming of studies and work on a singular project of my own creative pursuit. Truth be told, I wasn’t good at much in High School up until that point.
I liked the activity of leisurely building a piece of software so much that I decided to pursue study it afterward in university, in a computer engineering degree. Though, after four years of study, between the Java and C that was sprinkled throughout my course, and two six month stints of work experience (one in a tech support role, another as a pre-sales engineer type role), while I really enjoyed building software, I had convinced myself that I wasn’t cut out as a developer.
I felt as though I had come out of my degree as a Jack-Of-All-Trades in the IT world (as many of my fellow students in the degree described it), we’d studied a Smorgasbord of topics as opposed to mastering a particular skill - programming, and among the programming subjects we did do, there were people that absolutely blazed me! At this stage I really thought my path was set, and the chance to become a developer had been and gone, I hadn’t made the cut.
After I graduated subsequently I ended up moving to Melbourne and into a corporate job. My destiny as it seemed was pathed with slick lingo, business cards and boardroom meetings. I lasted six weeks before deciding that was not how I wanted my story to be written. I had to drastically pivot and decided to resigned on one particularly afternoon I was feeling foolhardy. What followed was a pretty turbulent time.
I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do at this stage. I was weathering a lot of internal and external doubt about my decision to turn down a good, well paid job after graduating. I had noticed almost all software engineering jobs I was excited about involved web languages, yet my course had completely excluded subjects with these languages and technologies - bizarre!
In a chance encounter I met a guy called Gil at a meetup who, while we were waiting for lights to change to cross a road, told me about FreeCodeCamp (It was right here!).
I took that lead and followed it. Shortly after I moved back in with my folks. Over the year that followed (2016, 2017), between odd jobs, I would go to my local library (seriously - Libraries are the bomb diggity) and plug away at the FreeCodeCamp curriculum, week on week, treating it like a full-time job.
Amongst the doubt I was wrestling with, having that curriculum to follow gave me incredible direction and purpose. The projects gave me something tangible to show for my effort - I was making visible progress and had something cool to show for what I was doing. Web Development was my jam! With every line of code I wrote I had visual feedback render into my browser! I could create visually rich interfaces, tools, and functionless (but visually appealing!) gizmos without the insane, unabstracted complexity of all the languages I was working with at university.
I got my foot in the door with first Junior Developer gig about halfway into the FCC React curriculum. I’ve been there for two years and established myself as a web developer. I’ve built up the confidence to start my own business with my partner, who happens to be a designer. We’ve coined the name Little & Big (shameless plug - our website is here).
Developer life isn’t all sunshine and roses, but it’s pretty good. A lot of the time I’m back doing the kind of work I fell in love with in High School - getting into that zen place and building something cool.
I find it very improbable that I would be where I am now if it weren’t for Free Code Camp, so thank you to Quincy, the team of contributors at Free Code Camp, and the you guys on the forum that gave me a community along the way. You’ve all changed my life.
My number one tip for Free Code Camp students:
- When building a project, always make the effort to leave your mark on it. Add a little bit of your spice in there. Go beyond building the minimum functionality to finish it. I realise it can feel like a stretch, and sometimes completing a project is exhausting as is, but it makes all the difference - to your morale, professional self esteem, motivation and when you’re showing your work to employers. Get those creative juices flowing!
If I can help you out by answering a question, please post it here and I’ll try to get back to you as soon as humanly possible!