Where to Go Next

I came here after barely touching general-purpose code for four years, after basically flunking out of college. Since then I’ve tried to get the JavaScript Algorithms and Data Structures certification, only to lose interest with JavaScript and switch charging through the Scientific Computing with Python course. Now I find myself trying to apply for a Game Development job with no resume, a sparse portfolio of college-tier code files that might not even function, and poor experiences with managing projects that weren’t totally self-contained. Then again, I’ve navigated elaborate file systems before, I’ve successfully mass-edited XML files for my job, I know the basics of unit testing (after nine years), and now I am at least on my way to getting certifications from here.

My biggest problem is that I’m just not decisive and am afraid to take risks after my college disaster. There are too many options and I struggle (eagerly) to handle failure constructively. I don’t live in a tech haven and I also struggle to form connections with other people, so online is the only place I can look for career opportunities. This is why I’m asking what to do now, after going from no prospects to one Python certification in some two weeks.

I think that if you want to do well in this field, you are going to have to learn how to keep focused and disciplined. I think this is especially true if you don’t have a degree - you need to convince potential employers that you can get things done. A degree implies that you can do that but you can also do it by learning and building things. I know that that is easier said than done, but that is what we need to do.

My biggest problem is that I’m just not decisive and am afraid to take risks after my college disaster.

What is the risk to which you refer?

There are too many options and I struggle (eagerly) to handle failure constructively.

Yeah, too many options can be tough. This is where discipline comes in. You’ve got to learn to pick something and stick with it.

And learn to think of failure as a positive thing. The only people that don’t fail at anything are people that never try anything difficult. Every great person from history has a long list of failures. The difference is that great people learn from their mistakes and push on.

I don’t live in a tech haven…

Perhaps not. But if your IP address is to be believed, you have a major city 30 minutes to the NW, another one a few hours WNW of you and a little farther across the state line is a cluster of small cities with headquarters for three of the largest companies in the US. About an hour to your south is another major metropolitan area.

I actually came to the opposite conclusion as you. I am in a major tech hub and ended up having to go out of state for my first job - it was far too competitive here and there was too much talent. I’ve moved back now, but for a few years I lived and worked in NW Arkansas, which is actually a bit of a minor tech hub, with a couple major companies based there.

…I also struggle to form connections with other people…

Well, I can’t speak to any issues that you have, but I will say that the more you learn how to connect with other people, the more success you will have. It is a fundamental skill. It comes naturally to some people, and some people have to learn it.

Seriously, get out and meet people. Go to coding meetups. Meet people. Learn how to make small talk. Just work it.

As a not, a lot of these things (discipline, focus, connecting with people, etc.), these are all basic skills that will help you with life in general. The better you master these skills, the better you will do with life. I’m not trying to put you down here - I struggle with these things too, but I force myself to deal with them, as best I can. The more I do it, the easier it gets.

…so online is the only place I can look for career opportunities

I think online is a difficult place to get your first job. People don’t want to hire people with no experience to work on their own. Getting the first job is very tough and this will make it more difficult.

This is why I’m asking what to do now…

Work on those soft skills I mentioned, and learn things and build things. Keep building more complicated things that require you to learn new things. As you learn other new things, try to think of how to incorporate them into a project.

…after going from no prospects to one Python certification in some two weeks.

Well, one Python certificate isn’t going to get you a job. And I’m not really convinced that anyone really cares about certificates, especially from self-paced, self-evaluated, free online pseudo-bootcamps. The certificate is for you, so you can feel proud and mark your progress. All a future employer cares about is what you know and what you’ve built. (A degree is a little different because it has rigorous standards and is from a trusted institution.)

My approach was to finish the FCC curriculum (I did it before there were Python sections) then keep building and learning, building more complicated web sites. I just kept building and learning. I took more than 1.5 years, but I eventually landed the first job. #ymmv

But we can’t give you motivation and discipline. Only you can do it.

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