Hi Peeps! I haven’t published a line since the beginning of the year. So… June is ending and by now I’ve invested 6 months of my life studying and coding to accomplish with my main 2017 goal: reboot my career and become a Software Engineer.

I’ve started studying in January. As soon as I took this decision I’ve started googling and found Free Code Camp. One more time I have to thank toQuincy Larson for creating Free Code Camp. Otherwise I’d have spent a lot of time trying to find the correct path or at least one path at all.

Free Code Camp got me completely addicted to the idea of becoming a Software Engineer and besides the fact that the internet is full of tutorials, videos, blogs, bootcamps, there are some differences which made Free Code Camp a lot different than the others:

  1. It’s completely free and truly wide open. Doesn’t sells you anything. Just opens you the door and invites you to come in.
  2. It’s aimed to a target which almost didn’t had resources (people from 8 to 80 with many different life paths, backgrounds and professions).
  3. It gives you direct challenges on screen and you can quickly start coding and at the same time researching on your own creating you the ability to surpass the difficulties by yourself.
  4. It gives you a community to share your doubts, problems and discuss coding ideas (Gitter, facebook groups, free code camp forums, etc.).
  5. It throws you motivation and perseverance from all around showing you that to code or develop software isn’t so hard as you thought BUT… it’s not easy too… protecting you and keeping you motivated and believing that YES YOU CAN!

Well, as a matter of fact, I didn’t get this idea in the first days…

In the first days I got immediately immerse in solving the challenges and accomplishing with the proposed projects. I started googling a lot and chatting a lot, publishing some posts on Facebook — joined my city’s Free Code Camp group on Facebook, FreeCodeCamp Faro — and met some mates — João Henrique u the first! — who were also starting and giving their first steps into coding.

I’ve surpassed HTML, CSS and BootStrap in few days and then I’ve started with JavaScript! It was passion folks! The challenge increased and all the motivation of discovering each new way to do or solve a problem increased too! I’ve started watching some stuff on Youtube, began to learn from the CS50 Computer Science Intro course, read some of the YDKJS books and Eloquent JavaScript.

Meanwhile the work tightened a little bit and I stopped studying/coding 8 hours a day but always proposed myself to do 1 or 2 hours minimum. When I couldn’t code because I was very tired always finished my day reading some article on medium or some chapter of a book. Giving at least one millimetric step towards my career change.

One day I woke up and BHAMMM! I’ve finished Simon Game!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeahhhhh!!!!! I opened Free Code Camp curriculum map and I’ve checked that I finished my Front End Cert! It was an amazing feeling! That night I slept very well! I was in Africa, Angola, where I work till now as a Construction Director and in the middle of nowhere I stood drinking some cool beer and looking at the stars in silence, in the middle of the construction site!

That time I’ve already chatted with a very nice guy — thank you Miguel Coquet — who was kind to mentor my studies and giving me some strength to go straight forward!

It was a great night! Opposing to some of the nights before when I slept struggling with code I couldn’t finish! I guess I’ve discovered that curious aspect of a coder’s life! When you go to bed you are the best or the worst — ahahah. It depends exclusively on going to sleep with your problems solved and the mind silenced or… or NOT (with and headache and a twisting mind unable to rest!)!

Well… then I came to Portugal in the beginning of May, in holidays, and I got to the old rhythm, 8–10 hours per day. I’ve started the Backend Cert with nodejs, Express, MongoDB. I’ve attended some Nodeschool events — where I met a lot of other coders with much more expertise than I and ready to help me everyday on Slack. I’ve also attended some hackathons: like Docker or Django and discovered some community friends.

That’s nice when you aren’t alone and you find a nice and welcoming community.

Nowadays I’m finishing the Microservices API challenges and getting ready for the final Back End Projects. Meanwhile I’m also starting to investigate about the job market and what can I do for a living as a Software Engineer here in Portugal: job, startup, free lancing, remote work, lots of options…

The main goal of this post was to share a little bit of my story with you but for those who are studying and pursuing a career change on Software Engineering I’d like to leave some advice concerning I feel I’m on the right track:

  1. Study a lot and code daily (1 hour or more); There’s no magic! You need to struggle, to read, to do the effort;
  2. Follow FreeCodeCamp path (HTML, CSS, BootStrap, JavaScript, NodeJs, Express, MongoDB) because it’s a very strong combination with a lot of jobs in the market and gives you a quite open wide tool belt for the web dev.
  3. Persevere, always persevere. Believe in yourself and be patient because coding is in the matter of fact a hard skill;
  4. Read, Search, Ask…
  5. Do some networking. Do some friends, find a community, seek a mentor or two and lots of people to talk about coding.
  6. Choose carefully the books you read and read only the necessary. Don’t try to read the book from page 1 to 1000 because that’s not the path you are following. Don’t try to read 10 books at the same time. Focus on FCC path.
  7. Take some rest and some naps. Try to sleep 7 hours a day.
  8. Don’t drink too much coffee… coffee takes out your ability to focus and keep calm in spite of energising you — that’s what I feel.
  9. Read a lot on the Internet. Stack Exchange and Google are your best teachers and your first approach to solve a problem.
  10. Twit a little bit, share your progress on Facebook groups, be proud of what you do, not because you’ve coded a great App but because you’ve coded something! Try to help your colleagues and teach.
  11. Get the right coding soft-skills like using git, command-line, choose an IDE (like Atom, Sublime or VSCode), get used to codepen.io, cloud9, glitch, heroku… install linux on a virtual environment or in an old computer you have in the garage.

Well, I think by now it’s enough. I’m going back to my path and pursue my career reboot till the 28th December (360 days!)

Have a nice day guys! And thank you for reading my story! Don’t forget to like it, or love it, right below… Ah, you can follow me too! I promise I’ll not bother you with my stories every month!

Maybe twice or thrice a year! ;) Have fun!

Eduardo M. Vedes