My experience probably wont be typical for most, but i’m writing this to hopefully motivate some of you. First, yes its possible to get a job as a developer without a degree. Second, but only if you work your ass off.
A little background just so you all know exactly who I am. I never did well in school. I tried doing my own thing with music after high school, and after alot of ups and downs, I decided to just keep it as a hobby and go back to school. After a while I started falling into the same habbits as before. Not finishing homework, skipping classes because I didn’t feel like waking up, etc. So I just continued to work full time at the car dealerships in my area. I was working my way up and making decent money, but god damn I hated every second of it.
My brother had introduced me to coding a few years back. He’s a C dev for a startup under Sony. I played around with a few things and decided I really dug coding, but I couldnt find my niche. I tried C for a bit, then python, then back to C with C#. However, With each of those I never got past the basics. I was essentially learning the same things over and over again just with slightly different syntax and decided I didn’t like what it had to offer.
Cue me getting fired. In march 2017, I lost my job. The details don’t matter, but i’m still pretty salty over the whole ordeal. I had been looking into coding bootcamps for a few weeks when I came across FFC. I liked the layout and ease of the site. I kept putting in my time and eventually decided to start supplementing FFC with other resources. I went through the fullstack JS course on treehouse, then the Colt Steele Web Dev Bootcamp on udemy (awesome). and just kept going from there. I can give you guys a list of other courses I took and found useful if youre interested. But since I had no job, I spent about 6-8 hours a day coding like it was my job. Created a ton of small BS projects, a couple freelance gigs, and made a simple and clean portfolio site.
About a month ago I said fuck it and started applying to literally every job in my area. If I didnt know a stack or a specific language they used Id just watch some vids, make a project and say hey, im good. I had a phone interview with a smallish company almost instantly that seemed super promising. The owner was really cool and seemed to be into me. As most things go, however, I never heard back. I continued to apply to every dev job I saw, but I also started applying for other gigs related to my dealership experience just so I could bring in some cash since I’d been unemployed for nearly half a year.
I got two calls right when I was feeling like maybe I’d just wasted 6 months of my time. The first didnt pan out, as they had sent me a coding challenge that wasnt related to this field in ANY way, and they knew that and had warned me. So I just politely told them it was too advanced for me and wished them luck on their search. The second was for a small web dev firm not too far from me. We talked on the phone, and he seemed cool. I clicked with about half the office with my musical/audio engineering background and they invited me in the next day for an interview.
So i’m nervous as shit. After seeing that coding challenge I thought no way was I ready. These guys however were just looking for a dev with HTML/CSS/JS and PHP/mySQL experience. I told them I’ve had literally no exposure to PHP or anything database related. The lead programmer, however, seemed to like me a lot and said my excitement over development made him excited to teach me.
So I started a few days later.
I just started my second week there and it’s been great. I’m getting paid to do basically the things i’ve been doing on my own, and getting the chance to learn from someone whos been coding for 20+ years.
Shit aint easy though. my first couple days they gave me a few simple tasks. Creating a contact page (And making it functional through their CMS), adding small features to pages, things like that. At the same time though, I have to learn their workflow. Git, which is relatively simple but theres enough commands to confuse you. SASS, not really too difficult to learn. and my biggest bugaboo so far, their CMS, Craft.
With craft, they use a PHP templating format called Twig. and while I can see the benefits, I’ve never worked with anything like this. So half my day is just listening to the lead and taking a TON of notes and going home and practicing all of it.
So while I got the job, its totally true when you hear programmers say that they’re life-long learners. I feel like ive learned more in the last week than I have in a month of doing it on my own. Though that’s probably just do to having a mentor and coding 8+ hours a day with an actual purpose/direction.
It’s totally worth it though. I love coming in and working. The simple tasks make me feel good, but having to spend an hour googling how to setup a twig template and getting it to work makes me feel even better.
I’m happier now than i’ve been in a long time, and instead of feeling like im wasting my life doing something I hate, I finally feel like I have a direction.
Just keep coding, guys.