What is the best strategy to get your foot in the door, 32yr old, career transition?

my background:

  • 32 year old

  • Previously worked in IT

  • Read an article by freecodecamp and decided to change careers and become a web developer. I didn’t like my IT job anymore,needed a change.

  • Have been teaching myself web dev since last year, I’m comfortable with HTML,CSS,Sass,Bootstarp,Javascript

  • have a portfolio website.

  • Right now I’m planning to learn the MERN stack

  • Still have some savings left from doing some cash labor jobs and from my past job.

My job hunting summary:

  • applied to jobs over 10 months and got no response. only 1 interview for an HTML Email dev job which only wanted knowledge of HTML and CSS and I was so qualified for but they never got back to me.

  • Tried to do freelancing in sites like upwork but people from countries like India charges so low that my offers got declined every time. so no luck with freelancing as well.

  • I suffer from anxiety and depression because of 10 months of being unemployed. (Suicide thoughts crossed my mind as well)

What I really want?

I want to become a full-stack developer. at first I want to start working as a front end developer then gradually shift to full-stack. I feel joy when I program and I don’t want to go back to my IT job. although it seems that I can’t get any programming jobs.

The new strategy:

  • should I offer companies that I will work free for them?

  • Is this a good approach?

  • How should I write my proposal for them to be effective?

  • What can I do so they don’t take advantage of me? ( I know some people like to take advantage of people when they are so vulnerable.)

  • I want to be a good front end developer, what kind of companies should I work for to get real word experience and exciting projects? should i apply for agencies, corporations, small businesses or start ups?

What did you do to get your first job as a web developer while you transitioned careers?

  • should I offer companies that I will work free for them?

No. While contributing to open source projects for free, or volunteering for a nonprofit organization, are accepted and common practices, working for free for a for-profit company is not (and is often illegal).

  • Is this a good approach?

No. I genuinely can’t see this going well.

  • How should I write my proposal for them to be effective?

Like I said, I can’t see this going well.

  • What can I do so they don’t take advantage of me?
    ( I know some people like to take advantage of people when they are so vulnerable.)

More than profiting off of you without paying you?

  • I want to be a good front end developer, what kind of companies should I work for to get real word experience and exciting projects? should i apply for agencies, corporations, small businesses or start ups?

All of these have their pros and cons. Every company is different and every individual situation is different. As long as it’s a decent company overall, there are benefits that come from any of those work environments.

1 Like

So What should I do? have any idea to share?

Definitely keep working on learning React. Build projects that you are proud of, share them with both technical and non-technical people and make them even better. Build complex projects that are based around something you’re actually excited to create and/or use. Share your resume with people that you trust and keep refining it. Use you contacts from your IT days to see if that can lead to contacts in more developer-oriented roles. Find or start regular local developer meetups where you can learn, teach, socialize, share your resume and your projects, and build a network. In addition to studying and practicing the technical skills that you need in order to be a developer, study and practice the skills of job hunting and interviewing. Try to find resources to support your mental health (this is probably impacting every aspect of your life even more than you realize in the moment). Start contributing to open source, even if it’s just editing typos in documentation. Pursue opportunities to engage directly with other programmers: comment on articles, engage with developers on Twitter, help and ask for help in this forum, find public Slack/Gitter/IRC rooms for frameworks or libraries that you’re using.


:arrow_up: this and also endure to the end. This is a difficult path especially if you are trying to break in to the field. You need to stay focused and “breath” in and out web development.

Good luck!


Well the thing is that I’m a new immigrant to Canada, the people I used to work with in IT are not here anymore.
Although I managed to connect with most of the front end developers in here through linkedIn and even asked them for advice but out of 50 messages I sent them only 2 people replied but their answer were not helpful. they said get internships but every internship I applied, I don’t get any callbacks because they will get college students not a 32 year old like me who all their work history is outside the country.
The huge problem I have is to get the Canadian experience but then If I go and work a labor job in walmart, I can’t put that in a web dev resume as the experience.

1 Like

I don’t know what to tell you. I do get how frustrating and demoralizing this can be. You asked for advice and I just dumped a bunch. I don’t feel qualified to give advice for your exact situation and mindset.

1 Like

Thanks. you put the time to write and I’ll appreciate that.

Ariel gave some solid advice and I think while I understand how hard it is, try hundreds of applications. That’s what most people here are doing.

I’m a 40 year old woman who is from a graphic design degree. I had experience in the industry but it is as hard if not harder on my end. Don’t let your age bother you.

How I treat it, frankly, is a resume send factory. You get numb, keep applying something will come up and if it doesn’t work out you keep going. Meetups I attend as much as I can. Meetups are MORE important than resume sending.


What should I do in meetups to increase my chance of being hired?

First, I would say focus on your mental state. If you’re suicidal, that’s NUMBER one. Not a joke. Do not keep applying when you’re feeling as down and out as you are.

Second, when you’re healthier, focus on your portfolio. Every meetup is different. Go to learn not to get hired. But if they’re hiring ask questions.

Third, permanently get out of the mindset you’re 32 and over the hill. It’s self destructive and will get you nowhere fast. Many developers code until their retirement years. I knew someone at lockheed in their 80s. still coding because he loved it. He was amazing.

Coding is not just a means to an end for several of us. Several of us love it.


As Whisper said, first important thing is your mental state, this process will be very difficult and take a long time, so if you could get a job first(whatever it is), it will help you to balance your life first, especially base of your situation. Then you can take advantage of the leisure time to improve your Web skills as Arie said, if you really love Web development , you can do this. But if you feel tired to it after working for some time, you need to ask yourself, Do I really love it?

You need more patient and mental power to support you to get over the hump, and really hope you could sucess.

1 Like

Unfortunately, that particular repertoire is a little under-qualified for the current front-end job market. Unless you are really an absolute whiz with JS, like making SPA with plain JS good. MERN stack is a good place to start, but also pay attention to your local job market needs to tailor your learning.

The best advice I can give to anyone learning and job hunting is to work with others. You need that human interaction. Find yourself a local coding community, both online and in person. This offer you a chance to talk, network, and evaluate yourself with other people of likeminded goals, and should motivate you to work and learn. The people can also be your support structure. You can learn from each other and achieve more complex things.

I was only a couple years younger than you in a similar situation. I am working now as a developer. It took a lot of work and introspection, and it wasn’t smooth sailing in any way, but it’s doable. I had some help. It’s not a holy grail or the lottery, and you don’t need to be a genius. You can be 32 with limited coding experience and work your way to a developer job, probably more people than you think do it everyday.

Send as much applications as you can, regardless of your qualifications. Work on your resume and tailor them to the job. Explore every avenue and connection you have and be persistent in demonstrating your qualifications. Talk to people about code, technology, jobs…etc, practice your elevator pitch every chance you get. Practice coding and whiteboarding.

I wise there is a magic surefire strategy that does it for everyone, but there isn’t. It’s just a lot of preparation and a bit of luck.

1 Like

Yeah, I’m in Toronto, Canada and every job mentions React. that’s why I decided to learn the MERN stack.
I didn’t have good experience in networking events as a newcomer to Canada.
Here I went to a government funded program which just wasted three months of my life. they promised networking and placements in tech but after the three months passed,they just give us a piece of paper as a certificate, took lots of pictures and said good bye.no placement. The woman even said I have connections in banks and IBM and you will get placements but it was all lies.it seems it’s their job to pretend that they are helping women so to get paid and we are left with lies.I’m so skeptical of these programs.
There was another networking event regarding a major bank in Canada called RBC, I went there with some hope to at least get something out of it since it was mentioned in the email that this event was exclusively for newcomer women interested in working in tech. they took our resume,then gave us a form to sign that it’s ok to use our pictures and videos and then all they did was take pictures. it was like we were in a pretend party. I realized they only wanted us over there to pretend that they care.2 months passed no call.nothing.
Another meetup i went was a meetup for CS Dojo and I wanted to talk to some people to ask them for jobs. then a man old enough to be my father approached me and he said he’s a programmer and he thinks I should go on a date with him. I felt like shit cause he wouldn’t let me alone and he wanted to get my info.
So even I like CS Dojo but I had to leave. I didn’t know what to do.
I’m not even an extrovert. I’m 100 percent introvert and I did this just to get some help but people can be disgusting. I tried to avoid him so I left.
Now I’m thinking what’s the use of these networking events?to be harassed or to be in a pretend party.
Since I’m so desperate I might go to a JavaScript meetup in the near future to get help again.
Can you share some good strategies with me so I could get some actual jobs out of a networking event? before I immigrate here I’ve never experienced networking events.we don’t have it in our country and it’s a completely western thing.
Any advice would be appreciated.

Just go to meetup.com and search for Web Development, JS, React, Vue, Angular, Front-End/Back-End etc… types of meets in Toronto area.

You have to be specific in your search for the right meet to attend, and look for the ones that has meets regularly with a good amount of members.

But you would want to go there to learn and to network with other devs and people, and not with the ultimate goal of finding a job.

1 Like

As a female who’s attended a lot of tech meets, and an organiser of one, I’d say if someone harasses you at a meetup, go and say to one of the organisers. They will generally not want people leaving cos someone can’t take the hint.


Also check out if there’s a FCC Facebook group that’s local to you. If you can meet up with people and code it makes such a difference. Plus tech meets are less intimidating if you have someone to go with.

Build your confidence talking to people, ask what they do, what the company is like, languages used etc. It’ll take time but you’ll learn about the companies, tech stacks along with building a network

1 Like

Please if you considered suicide get help. You are awesome and no one isn’t worth enough to kill themselves.

Also, you have a way better background and foundations a lot of other people that ended up getting a job but they applied to 200+ jobs before getting 1. So don’t worry it is normal to have so much denial.

Patience and courage is KEY! :slight_smile:

  • Tech

Prelude: My advice will be slightly different from others above, though above are great advices. So take it for what it’s worth.

If you’re new in the country, the most important thing is to just get a job. Any job!

The new job may be in your field, or not, it may not be exactly 100% your dream job, but hey – if it pays, it’s good. If you can do the job, (even though it may not be the dream job, or not even remotely related to your old job), just do it. That will/may also alleviate the depression you’re feeling when you get any job.

It can feel hopeless and dark when you can’t find your first job in your new country. That’s why it’s important to swallow your pride, and just take up any job.

You said your previous experience is in IT, so apply for IT jobs and get any kind of IT job, just get your foot in the door! Repeat: Just get your foot in the door! Any job!

Can’t get any IT job? Apply for other jobs as well! Temp office work, administrative assistant, whatever. Can you type? Data encoder/typist. Look at your current skillset (what can you do?) and apply for jobs that you can use those other skills you have. Can you greet people, stack products on a shelf? Then apply for those kind of jobs.

If I go and work a labor job in walmart, I can’t put that in a web dev resume as the experience.

So what? ^^ But it will be good for the soul, because now you have a job. You’re not stressed for lack of money, and more importantly you have a safety blanket. And you’ll feel useful and productive, and who knows… maybe meet other people/contacts. And who says that once you work at Walmart, you’ll be stuck there forever? You’re just doing this for the money.

(As an aside, I know someone here in FCC who worked retail in the past, and now got accepted in a HUGE, FAMOUS software company. Maybe she’ll chime in here.)

So think, getting this temporary job is not the END of the journey. After all, you just needed this whatever job for the money to support yourself. Continue learning/studying at nights and weekends, during lunch breaks, etc. Continue building up and learning new skills.

– and continue applying for other jobs! A different job this time around. Think of it as stepping stones. You don’t go from Level 0 to Level 10 over night. It’s a series of small steps. Especially in a new country.

And once you’re inside a new company, look for opportunities, to learn new experiences. If there’s an opportunity to show off what you know – show it off! Volunteer! Speak up! Do the “other job” even though its not in your current job title, do other stuff. Example: Offer to update their website, or make a website for them… even though that may not be in your job title. You get the idea…

Thing is, your new boss will now see you have other skills, and will put you into better use… maybe assign you new tasks, to do other things. Yeah, you’re not “officially” a developer, but this new thing you’re doing is something you can put in your resume… “updated and maintained the company website, wrote web copy, analyzed web statistics, search engine optimization, etc”… — stuff that will be useful for your next job hunt. Climb up the ladder. Work your way up.

You can be an introvert, that’s fine. But you also need to know when to speak up (If somebody is sexually harassing you, don’t be an introvert and tolerate it. Tell them to “Fuck off!” ) , and not be afraid of telling others, especially your boss, “hey I know how to do that, I can do that! Give me a chance boss!” – yeah, it’s a game changer. You’ll have to learn how to do that in your new country. You’ll need that guts, confidence, and hunger and speak up for yourself. Nobody else will do that for you. You yourself will be the best advocate for yourself. So the other little/unrelated jobs you’ve had? Theyre not wasted. They’ll also give you experience, teach you new social skills, how to interact, how to behave, how to carry yourself in this new country of yours.

The good thing about western culture is it doesn’t matter what you look like, pretty or not, your sex, your age, whether your family has connections or not, whether you’re rich or poor. All they want to know is can you do the job? Do you have the skills? Can you learn new things?

Look, It may not be a straight easy path from where you are right now, to your eventual dream job. But you will get there. You can get there. It may just take longer (months? years?), or follow a different curving, alternate, spiral path… but eventually, you’ll get there! Don’t lose hope. As an immigrant, this is the most important thing you need to have – HOPE! Hope that it will get better, you’ll get a job, you’ll find that dream job, you’ll climb up the social and financial ladder. It will not be overnight. It will not be easy. But it can, it will happen! You can make it happen.


Thanks. this is really good advice.
I’ve been applying for some customer success jobs since last night. they are a mix of customer support and basic programming like knowledge of html and css and basic JS. I hope at least I could get these jobs. Cause I have background in IT support and know programming.

1 Like