I started working last week as a full-stack web developer, and it’s been going good so far.
So, here’s a quick outline of my path:
- Got a liberal arts degree
- worked at various non-programming office jobs for a lot of years and didn’t like where my career path was headed: nowhere
- took an intro to programming class and intro to sql class at my local community college a couple years ago that piqued my interest in coding
- started Free Code Camp in summer of 2015 and and worked on coding: sometimes everyday for a couple months, and there were some periods I was doing other things and not coding much at all.
- Started job hunting around December 2016 and attending local meetups like node school.
- Got an interview for a coding internship in December. Didn’t get it, felt bad, but it was a learning experience.
- Moved to north California in February to be close to my parents.
- Started coding intensely since I was unemployed. Kept applying to jobs with no luck.
- Finished all the FCC certificates by March 2017.
- Was surprised to get an email from a prospective employer for a phone interview in April.
- Did a php coding test as part of the interview process. Intensely learned php while working on the coding test. Got the in-person interview.
- In-person interview was more of a culture fit check since my coding test and github projects were enough evidence that I could code and had potential to get better.
So the takeaways:
- I actually got a job through Indeed.com, and the only company that gave me a chance was one that didn’t have an HR department for recruitment. The developers on the team looked at my github and they could see my passion for programming.
- In the interview process, your main message to the employer is: I know my stuff, I am a fast learner, I am a lifelong learner, I am passionate about programming and I have no doubt that I want to make it my career. Keep that in mind, and ask/answer questions accordingly.
- The interview process is you interviewing the employer as well. Make sure the job is good for a junior developer. Ask questions like: “Who do I go to for help? How am I evaluated? What opportunities are there for learning? How much of my day will be spent on coding? Who are the people I will be communicating with the most?”
- There’s a lot of stories of people coding for a couple of months and then getting a job. Well, I took a lot longer. If you count the time from when I first took a community college intro to programming class, it’s been about 5 years since I began learning. Why so slow? For one, I was working a full-time job the entire time. Two, I didn’t do much coding between the time I first started and when I found FCC. Three, I was kind of exploring a lot of career paths, so I kept getting distracted with learning other things, even after FCC.
- Don’t give up! There were many times I got stuck. Fight through the mental frustration. Or take a break and come back to it. But keep at it. Always have a learning goal to reach.