by Alin Rauta

I finally got my first programming job, now what?

In my recent post, I told my story as a self-starter in the vast field of programming. A story filled with struggles, anxiety, excitement, passion, frustration, and hustle. Also, at the end of the story I told you that I was in being in advanced talks with two companies and close to getting my first job in programming.

Guess what? I did not get either of those jobs. Instead, I once again returned to the drawing board, and applied to other programming jobs. However, I was not demoralized. I knew that it was just a matter of time before I’ll got my hands on my elusive first programming job.

As this article’s title suggests, I finally made it. Two weeks from now will be my first day as a front-end developer. (First I have to serve out my two-weeks notice at my current job at a local subsidiary of a US startup.)

How did I make it? It was pretty ironic and random, to be honest.

I was sitting in my girlfriend’s dorm room, and her colleague had her Facebook account open. A job ad caught my eye due to its animated design. I told her to send me that ad so I could take a look at it when I got home.

I applied to that job, and I got a call from the company for an interview the next day.

During the first interview, we had a talk about myself and my professional trajectory. They also gave me two math problems to solve on the spot. I solved them correctly, and I think they weighed this heavily in their decision to hire me.

They also emailed me an assignment, which involved pure coding skills. I had to turn a .psd file into a real website with HTML, CSS and JavaScript. After 16 hours of work, I sent them the solved assignment.

Then I got called in to a second interview where I met the other managing partner of the company. Basically, it was a discussion meant to see if I met their organizational culture requirements. The discussion went well, and they told me right there on the spot that I was hired.

The moment I heard the sentence: “You’re hired”, I felt such a mix of emotions. I felt proud and euphoric. But I also felt relieved.

After all of those feelings sunk in, I thought to myself: “Ok, and now what?” I felt like that junior tennis player who manages to win his first tournament, enjoys the moment, and then the next week flies to yet another tournament. Because it’s never over. There are just new beginnings.

Right now, a lot of new experiences await me. I will figure out how to work in a web development team, and how much different the software industry is from all those courses and tutorials I have been learning from.

It will be a new beginning that I have been waited for almost eleven months — a journey I started on March 16, 2015 (yes — I remember the exact date).

And, for sure, I will learn a lot about programming and more important, about myself. I am a young man who is making his transition into adulthood.

As I cross that line, I can’t help but ask myself: what exactly brought me this far, to the point of getting a programming job?

FreeCodeCamp and the community Quincy Larson managed to build around it were clearly is the most important technical factor in my success.

Until I heard about Free Code Camp, I didn’t even know that you could use Javascript for both client-side and server-side web development. I didn’t know there were specific stacks for this, like the MEAN stack.

The algorithm challenges taught me more Javascript than I had learned from other courses and tutorials combined. The Front-End Development Projects were the web projects I put in my resume that got the attention of the potential employers — and in the end, got me hired.

So, I cannot state how a big role Free Code Camp has played in my development as a beginning programmer. And I want to express all my gratitude and admiration for all the people who make it possible for Free Code Camp to exist.

After all the positive feedback my most recent post received (which could have not been possible without help from Quincy and the entire Free Code Camp community), I want to thank all of you for this.

I’ve decided to start writing once a week about all the mistakes I made as a self-starter programmer, and all the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I want to share with you all the experiences that shape me as a programmer — that lead to me getting this first programming job, and will lead to further success in this field.

Based on the feedback I receive from sharing my experiences as a self-starter, I plan to write a handbook for all the self-starters around the world that want to get into web development. It will explain to them the basics of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and how the web actually works.

So, subscribe to my email list if you want to read about my mistakes and drop me a tweet on Twitter. :)