the next episode is here
First of all, let me introduce myself: i’m 30 years old from France, and used to develop website in PHP since I was 15, for fun and to help people. That was my principal hobby for all the past years.
I had graduations in metalwork, and worked in a workshop in this sector for years before arriving at a position of industrial designer. Until last year.
I decided to officially join the developers world in june, and left my job. Today, i’m working on several projects, including PHP and JS apps and apis, spending nights with friends to quickly prototype apps, and have too much work, and not enough time.
Leaving my job was a real bet: as i only developed for fun and opensource projects, I had no ideas about deadlines, prices, work organization, etc… And no diploma.
In France, companies like diplomas, maybe because they have had too many problems with self-taught people, or maybe because we are in an old-fashioned system, I have no real answer to this subject. So I found a school offering intensive 3-month training for people in vocational retraining: three months of courses and one year of work-study contracts (three weeks in a company / one week of courses). It was perfect, and I joined the formation.
Note when I speak of free time: In france, contributions are made for unemployment benefits when you work, allowing you to receive a compensation when you have no job. It’s time-limited and based on a percentage of your previous incomes.
It had to start in August, so I had time in front of me to try to perfect myself. I then joined FreeCodeCamp and passed the frontend certification without too much concern, while creating links among the members of the community.
I started learning React and discovered JS ecosystem (npm, webpack, babel, es6, …). I also discovered how much JS libs there are out there, trying one, dropping another, fighting with dependencies… I was not really convinced of the overall stability of JS in a server environment, and stopped here to join the Zenias project.
I met @alayek, @raisedadead, @byteknacker, @zcassini and others (sorry if I don’t remember): a team of people working on the backend challenges for FreeCodeCamp and joined them to work on a project named Zeus, then Zenias (maybe the project have an other name now ). I think I was the only guy not working on a daily basis, in the team, so I gave my maximum, and made a big mistake: the project wasn’t going as fast as I wanted, and I became a kind of d*ck. Sleep deprivation due to “I have nothing to do tomorrow, let’s finish this”, “oh, it’s 4am, but the guys from around the world are going home now, let’s chat and go on with the project !” leads me to become aggressive (in my point of view), so it was time for me to back off.
Lesson learned. Even if i don’t sleep that much, I always remember this when I work with others on opensource projects : Not everyone has the time, not everyone is 100% ready to work in a long run on a feature or an issue. And that makes perfect sense.
The formation has been delayed, and was now starting in September. More “free” time…
I took some of it to work on my own website (with CakePHP), wich was created with a kind of community in mind. I somewhat hoped that some people would be interested, but that wasn’t the case, so I worked alone on this.
I did the training to get a degree that should have been given at the end of the year of alternation. All I could do was find a company that was willing to employ me. The only one I found closed its doors in France a few days before the end of the 3 months preparatory and settled in the USA. It was over for me. No diploma.
I believe that one of the keys to success is dedication and patience: as I already had some experience, it was pretty easy for me to help the others and set things up: I created a Github organization for the class, set up some Gitter chat rooms, and decided to be present for them if they ever needed something. Don’t get me wrong, we were 15 students, and only 5 or 6 people in the Gitter room at the end of the day.
During these 3 monthes, I met great teachers and started to thread relations with the local developpers community, going to human talks and every possible meetings.
With no diplomas, I had two choices : stop here and find a job as metalworker or draftsman, OR creating my own job. I choose the later.
The formation ended in november, and the school extended the classes one month to give us more time to find a company. I found the Coopaname ans stopped after the extra month.
The Coopaname is a kind of umbrella company, which means employees have to find their contracts as if they were in freelance, without the pain of the paper thing (taxes, counts, etc…) wich is handled by the company.
I’m currently in the process of joining them and it should be effective at the end of the year.
So I have free time again.
Since January, I work with people I meet on the internet (principally on IRC) and people I met during talks and meetings. Yes, I work for free, as I can’t create bills for now. And I work hard: I wake up at 8:30am and go to sleep at 2:00am. I can’t do more, that’s my limit.
We worked on a backend for a Corsican website (PHP)
I worked on a SailsJS API; I tried FeathersJS too.
I’m working on a project including a CakePHP api, a VueJS app and websockets.
We’re thinking about creating automated wordpress deployment scripts.
An the people I work with are happy, not because it’s free, but because the job’s done. And they give me some of their contacts for “later”, when i’ll be able to bill.
The school I was in asked me to do the same formation again this summer. As a teacher. Paid.
There’s work to do. Development is one of the more demanding sectors of activity (140 000 open positions in 2015… in France…)
What I have learned can be summarized as follows:
- There will be ups and down during your journey to become an employable web developper. The downs hurt. But the ups heal…
- The path is hard (…as stated by FreeCodeCamp when you register )
- If you’re dedicated to what you do, you’ll do it right.
- If it’s not right, it will be better and better
- Speak to people. Don’t be shy and ask questions. Seriously. And don’t rush for answers.
- Go to local talks and meetings. Take your chance and do some: if you love your subject, you’ll do it just fine.
- Be curious. Try things you find cool. Even if you don’t succeed, you’ll have an approach for later.
- Make projects
- Don’t give up, but take breaks.
- Don’t forget your body: don’t forget to sleep, eat, walk…
- Don’t forget your social relations: sometimes, a beer with friends is as enjoyable as a working code.
- There are humans behind a pseudo.
See you in a year for the next episode !
EDIT 1 : Minor addition in summary list.
EDIT 2 : Added Zac Cassini to the Zenias team.
EDIT 3 : Added link to the next episode.