Any 100% Self-Taught People here get hired?

Any 100% Self-Taught People here get hired?
0

Not including CS or Bootcamp grads. While both achievements are amazing, I am really interested in hearing about those who were hired solely through teaching themselves. I want to know your journey.

How many hours did you spend learning?
For how many months since you began?
What projects did you build?
What resources did you use?
What was your first job and what did you primarily do day-to-day?

I would love for this to be a place others can see too for inspiration.

9 Likes

This is a good question. I am essentially 100% self taught, I did go to college for Information Systems but I didn’t really do any coding plus I never graduated. Everything I know I taught myself. I got hired as a dev simple because I had some projects that I could show and I could explain why and how I did certain things.

I could just copy things from GitHub and Paste it together and make a project but being able to explain what the code does is essential. Especially if you have a technical interview, mine had me pull up my code and explain what was going on.

I can’t really say how many hours I have spent learning because I am still learning, somewhere around 1500 hours if I had to put a number on it which is still relatively low if you ask me. When I got my job I had probably around 300 hours of just JavaScript, not including HTML and CSS. I had built little apps for my last job, like a rotating daily agenda that my boss could update. It wasn’t a CRUD application I had to show her how to change stuff out with the HTML. It was pretty awful looking back at it.

I’m partial to FCC just because it is all free, codecademy is another one I had used but I wasn’t paying for the pro membership so I missed a lot of the exercises. I basically owe my career to FCC and Brad Traversy on YouTube.

Before my current job I was in the Army and I worked on Helicopters, which sounds great but I am not as mechanically inclined as I probably should’ve been. I ended up getting out because of medical issues, after that I worked for the US Army Chemical Corps and did live agent training. So none of that was related to coding or computers or tech in any sense. I just happened to enjoy working with computers and decided to give it a shot and now I am a Full Time Dev.

Added that last part in case people are wondering if you can do this without having a tech background.

11 Likes

Yep.

5 Likes

You can earn a ton of money being self taught. I just joined this site like an hour ago or so, but I can tell you I know you can self teach yourself and make a ton of money. I know a guy who was self taught and never went to school, the last time I checked he was making around $300,000 a year. He had like 12-15 years experience in multiple different fields at that point, but he was making it nonetheless. I don’t keep up with the guy anymore, but I am sure he is likely making over a half a million a year by now if not more. He told me that he just kept practicing in multiple different areas and built portfolios online until he got attention.

3 Likes

I’m self taught. I went to college for two years as an English major and dropped out because I couldn’t afford the next semester. I went to work.

I found myself in a temp job checking Excel spreadsheets and fell asleep on my computer… the work was mind numbing. I found the macro record button, and started recording everything I did to correct the spreadsheet and then studied the macro it created. I automated the process over the next couple of weeks and was able to complete the 6 month contract assignment in a little over a month. My boss kept me on, mentored me in business and encouraged me to learn more programming.

My next job was a “programming” job, as an Excel programmer (VBA), then Access, then Visual Basic, then C#. Whatever I was told I should learn, I found a book on it and devoured it. I took whatever job I could get, jumped into the deep end, and either sink or swim, I just kept going. I got fired more than once for not knowing what I was doing, but I also got rewarded for excellent work more than once.

Basically, I was doing temp warehouse work and taught myself just enough to get a programming job. I just kept scrambling learning, doing, until eventually, I was good enough to almost get a job whenever I wanted. Then I realized I needed to keep pushing anyway. That’s why, 20+ years later, I participate in FCC. That’s also why I’m actually back in school, working to complete my degree in CS now.

  1. I can’t put hours on it, because I have never stopped. It’s a mindset thing. There is no “learn this thing” and you are done.
  2. It took me about 6 months to get my first programming job
  3. Mostly Microsoft Excel customized spreadsheets.
  4. Books (today, I’d probably use Youtube, FCC, Books, Udemy - essentially anything low cost or free).
4 Likes

I can’t call myself entirely self-taught, since I had a couple years of college, but I’ll share my career perspective anyway.

I have no concept of how much time I spent at it, other than “too damn much of my life”: programming was always a hobby for me, starting with BASIC on my Commodore 64, and I’ve continued it since, though perhaps a little less zealously than I once did.

Other than toying around with Forth a bit, I pretty much stuck with BASIC until college, never building much that was interesting: I did type in a lot of programs from Compute! magazine back in the day though. Once I got to college, while I was getting an education in fundamentals like big-O notation and discrete maths, I also taught myself C and C++.

After college, I went into my “larval stage” of programming, hacking all day and night, mostly on programmable MUDs. I built a few fun projects on those too, mostly in the guts of the MUD like command parsers, but also a few cool toys like a Go board.

I eventually got my first tech job at Xerox testing their top-end printers. Basically my job was to print out reams and reams of paper worth of test prints every day, flip through them, and look for blank pages. Whee. In my spare time, I fiddled with Postscript to make my own print jobs (that Forth background was a big help), as well as printed myself out a bookshelf’s worth of nicely covered and bound UNIX manuals for everything I was interested in, like sendmail and perl.

Anyways, more years, more jobs, already turning into a long story. I didn’t pick up a “real” programming job til years later, but the overall pattern is that I always picked up side projects at work, authorized or not. These projects would always be some small little improvement for what I was working on: a clipboard agent for popping open tech support tickets copied from a report. A web UI for reporting on another ticket tracking system. My favorite was a data acquisition and view system for a bunch of Trans-Lux DataWalls. You haven’t lived until you’ve written a device driver in perl.

My first job as an actual bona-fide programmer didn’t happen until I was some eight years out of college, when I got a job programming backend website functionality (again in perl) mostly for things like multi-step form validation. Boring stuff, but I made it somewhat fun by inventing a clever (at least I thought so then) library to handle a lot of it. My longest job as a programmer grew out of side projects I wrote to make my job as an anti-spam technician easier. By then I’d been studying many different programming languages, and I ended up writing projects in perl, python, emacs lisp, javascript, java, scala, C++ and even took a stab at Haskell here and there. It was fun.

So basically I muddled through without a plan or direction, and it worked for me nonetheless. I am now back to programming websites (full-stack now) for a tiny outfit of less than a dozen. Making half of what I could, and writing in PHP at that (a language I detest). So not a world-shaking success story, but ultimately I’m happy to be out of the Fortune 500 corporate environment and being allowed to continue experimenting and having fun.

That last word, “fun”, is one I throw around a lot for a reason. I’m not going to say you can’t succeed in a programming career if you treat it as A Serious Job You Must Seriously Study For, but for me the main driver is enjoyment. I have to enjoy making a creative solution from nothing, or taking what’s already there and making it better. I can’t always have fun programming (especially in PHP) but if I can take my experience and theory knowledge and come up with something powerful and elegant, it makes my day and keeps me going.

So I’d say the primary resource I tapped then and continue to rely on now is Fun. Good thing it’s a renewable resource.

3 Likes
1 Like

Yes. Initially:

  1. design background, quite specialised, not graphic design & nothing to do with CS/software to
  2. Freelance design which led to WP/PHP sites to
  3. Design work, ish, as first an artworker, then (basically) a typesetter, both minimum wage, then
  4. FE work (light, freelance, WP, CSS)

I made barely any money for several years with this. I spent a helluva long time teaching myself things. I worked crappy jobs to make ends meet. Then I would say first development job:

  1. Ruby on Rails (full stack? kinda. Hired as a designer who knew HTML/CSS/JS) to
  2. FE JavaScript + some C# backend to
  3. backend (Elixir) to + some Elm frontend (+ some Python, by this point it’s relatively easy to switch to languages I’ve never used) + Google Cloud services to
  4. FE (kinda) again (mobile app at the minute) + AWS

Overall, that’s eight-nine years, ish, give or take.

The first dev job I did for ~two years, learned a lot. Didn’t know Ruby or RoR, did when I left. Knew JS a bit before, knew JS a lot when I left.

It took a long time to get to that point (although I coulda got there a lot faster in retrospect), and that first job is definitely the hardest to get.

To actually get the job, it helped enormously that I’d done freelance (I could sell it as having x amount of experience, same as a previous job). Plus, I could put work up as a portfolio on a site that I’d built (past that point, I haven’t been able to do that with any paid work I’ve done, so have never used the portfolio site, and have never been asked except in passing). Plus being able to do both creative design and dev turns out to be a relatively uncommon combination of skillsets.

I would emphasise that (past a certain point) that it doesn’t really matter how many tutorials you do, or projects you build for learning: what will get you employed is (once you can demonstrate basic competence) generally being interested, enthusiastic, curious, and willing to accept criticism and take action based on it. That sounds trite! But when beginners on the forums ask things like “should I learn Node or PHP”, these things are just tools. If you can learn either one and build useful things with it, you can be taught to build things in another language, or framework etc.

The above also makes me a bit leery of people who say you can go from zero to some whizzo full-stack developer earning megabuxx in six months. You just can’t, unless there is some lottery-winning level of luck involved (or you tell a lot of fibs).

Absolutely +1 on what @chuckadams says though: do it for the fun of it, your working life will be a helluva lot more enjoyable (although I guess it then overlaps much more with your life outside of work? Has definitely for me, anyway).

6 Likes

I learned HTML when I was 11 years old, maybe 12 :). I didn’t take it any further though. I decided to get back into it for a little while in my mid 20’s and learned quite a bit of CSS. I don’t remember all of HTML, but I know most of it. I also don’t know(have memorized) most of CSS, but I know it a bit. I stopped trying again in my 20’s and now trying to learn some more in my late 30’s and picking up a little bit of PHP.

I have no skills artistically though, so that would probably damage my chances of ever really making money at this. I messed around here and there over the course of a couple of years with databases and memorized how to create them, as well as tables, but I still don’t have the MYSQL codes memorized to delete tables, create tables with fields, etc… That friend of mine offered me a PHP job if i would learn it, but I get frustrated and give up and come back later lol.

1 Like

I don’t think it’s important to have “the codes” memorized. Anything that you forget can be Googled in a couple of seconds. The important thing is that you understand the concepts and that you can actually build stuff.

1 Like

True, you can always go and get the codes if you remember what the codes do and what they are for. Video learning is a lot better for me in my opinion, especially if you have somebody doing work while explaining it. I comprehended it a lot better when I had somebody actually building a website as they were explaining things.

1 Like

100% self-taught developer here, I was majoring in architecture then I dropped out of college to become a programmer. I have to say though, teaching myself programming with no guidance has probably been the more difficult thing I have ever done in my life. I put a shit ton of hours studying and I also had to deal with a lot of doubts from my parents, ex girlfriend and even some friends. But I was determined to become a developer so I used their doubts as motivation to study even harder, and here I am. Today nobody doubts me anymore, and it feels good.

Hard to say as I wasn’t tracking my hours, but I basically gave up my social life for about 10 months or so before getting my first dev job. During that time, I didn’t do anything that wasn’t related to programming and coding, I didn’t care about my appereance or anything, and I would only take 1 or 2 days break when I felt overwhelmed, then I would go back to my cave.

It’s been almost 2 years since I started this journey, I think 1 year and 6 months?, not sure.

My portfolio

Mainly Udemy, but I also used any other resource available on the internet. I also went through the JS curriculum from FCC and it was extremely helpful.

My first job was at a startup and I worked as a frontend developer working on a mobile application, I didn’t know anything about mobile development so I had to learn on the spot. I had a lot of doubts at the beginning because I was the only one building the frontend application with almost 0 guidance, but I was able to get rid of my doubts and do the job. I felt a lot more confident on my skills after this experience.

9 Likes

Wow, this is an amazing reply. Thank you.

Hey, nice question.
I think I may be able to share some back with you, about my experience being a self-taught developer.

Not looking to do publicity here but I wrote recently a blog post about it, you can find it on http://italktech.io/becoming-software-dev

I came from a sales and 12 years into real state business as background.

I am only telling you all of that because I believe we can do and become everything we want to.

So if you are planning to become a software developer, you can do it too.

At 30 years old, I decided to drop everything and follow my passion that is work and live the tech dream, become a software engineer and work for the tech giants.

I have chosen the self-taught path, the one where you are supposed to figure it out all yourself and work hard between your job and to learn everything you need to make the transition.

Because of my age and circumstances, I couldn’t stop working and get paid to go through four years of education and also couldn’t afford the boot camps alternatives (it can cost you over £5k in the UK).

I remember back in the days when I was googling after information on how to learn programming languages and got many of those popular websites such as CodeAcademy, FreeCodeCamp, Udemy, and many others.

By the time I also have applied for a Udacity course with Google @Scholarship.

I would like to thanks Google by the incredible initiative and support because that course did change my life.

I was working fulltime and studying three to four hours per day, on the Udacity website.

I have done all the free courses, including the front-end program by Google as part of my scholarship.

I was visiting all the meetups groups around me and making new friends, and I also had fantastic support from some Brazilian friends.

Those helped me with motivation and guidance, so I am glad to have those around me.

You can find some meetups groups on Meetup website.

The process took about eight months, and it changed my life.

Since then I have been working for a few years and have joined amazing companies such as AO and now BBC.

I have been working with amazing people, learned lots since that journey, made some good friends and was able to dream even more about my future.

I have done tons of courses around Computer Science foundations on Coursera and I would recommend you to do the same.

I also recommend you read good books such as:

  • Clean code from Uncle Bob
  • Clean architecture from Uncle Bob
  • Grokking Algorithms
  • Head First Design Patterns: A Brain-Friendly Guide
  • Test Driven Development: By Example
  • Soft Skills: The software developer’s life manual
  • Cracking the Coding Interview: 189 Programming Questions and Solutions

That’s why I believe so much in the community, and I want to give back as much as I can.

I started my blog recently as part of my main goal, and I have been producing some youtube content and programming tutorials.

I hope that you feel this helpful and I wish you good luck on your journey

4 Likes

Yup! Me!
Also, the best software developer I know is self-taught (However he has a degree, but in physics, so it doesn’t really matter)
But me, yeah, I barely finished highschool, now I’m working as a full-stack developer in my second job(third if you count one i quit in the first week because it was pure BS)

2 Likes

No nobody that learned code get hired. They merely have a side job next to there own start-up/youtube channel.

It’s truly inspiring , Jean!!!
I also like your ideas as “That’s why I believe so much in the community, and I want to give back as much as I can.”
I’m also on my journey of self-taught and also going to Meet Up and lots of online resources.
Glad to know more cases of self-taught and can keep motivating on learning more and make the dream come true :slightly_smiling_face:
Congrats for your work at BBC!

This is a great and inspiring story!

Hello there! 100% completely self taught developer here who got hired at my first developer job back in July. I’ll gladly share my journey and hope it helps others. I also have an article about this very thing https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/landing-my-first-development-job-what-a-crazy-journey/

How many hours did you spend learning? - I didn’t keep track but anecdotally, roughly 3.5 years from the time I started teaching myself to code to landing my first job. This was off an on learning though and in that time I met my now wife, we moved twice, and bought a house so there were gaps in my learning.

For how many months since you began? - I’m not exactly sure if this is different than the above question but I’ll answer it in the context of how many months did it take me to get hired. I started applying for jobs in December 2018 with a break in between the holiday season. I went through interviews (both on site and over the phone), take home projects, and (on more occasion than I like to think about) was completely ignored by companies. I have some statistics on how many applications I put in, interviews, etc. in the article I linked above.

What projects did you build? - Everything and anything I could think of. I built websites, web apps, and started more projects without finishing than I like to admit. I built projects from tutorials but also built projects that interested me or helped me out. Here is a link to my GitHub account https://github.com/JS-goose

You’ll notice a sharp drop off around July because that’s when I got hired. I’m working on my schedule to allow for more time on personal projects :smiley:

What resources did you use? - I used many resources. I believe that was one of the issues that kept me from feeling ready for a job. I would be working through a resource and feeling good. Then I would see the next shiny thing and jump to that…the cycle would continue until I finally had amassed an veritable treasure trove of resources - some of which I have yet to go through. My advice is to find a resource you enjoy/like and stick with it till the end.

As far as particular resources…I started with fCC, Udemy, Udacity, edX, The Odin Project, Coding Game, Code Combat, and any books/YouTube videos that caught my fancy (Wes Bos, Brad Traversy, Scott Tolinski just to name a few).

What was your first job and what did you primarily do day-to-day? - I’m currently in my first developer role and I chose this company out of the 2 offers I had because they’re a small, family owned, tight nit company. I’d wager my day to day looks different than most developers because I get to do a little of everything. Some days I’m working on our web app which is built in Angular, other days I’m writing SQL queries, and still other days I’m fixing a network issue with one of our workstations.

I took this job because it was a small company where I get to wear many hats and mingle IT with development. This also gives me more autonomy (and ownership) over the code base but also allows the senior dev to work in a more one-on-one basis with me instead of managing 30 other people on the team.

I hope this has helped and if you’d like to talk more I’d behappy to answer any questions you might have :smiley:

1 Like