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Arnold Ho
Arnold Ho

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Hello (very uncertain and intimidating) World!

puts "Hello World!"

I am about to make a really big career switch in my life and its scary af! If you're in the same position (or maybe you have randomly stumbled upon this post), then cool! Let's be friends and give each other support!

So what's my story?

Like many who made their career switch into software dev, I am in an unfulfilling job that doesn't interest me to the slightest. When I look at my manager, their manager, their manager's manager, or for that matter anyone in my company... I just can't picture myself being in their life and be happy, I can't bare the thought of being in my current trajectory for the next 30 - 40 years...

This strong existential dread has led me to think about what I really want to do in life.

Back to the drawing board

I was soul searching for a few months, did a couple of things. Even started a dog walking side hustle which I am still running and am planning on continuing. But I've only got two hands and can only walk so many dogs...

One day when chatting with a friend, he told me about this concept called a coding bootcamp which blew my mind. I've always thought that to get into something like software development you will definitely need a CS degree of some sort. I did a bit of research and realised whilst its true that some specific jobs do require CS degrees (or that it would make my life a lot easier), a lot of the simpler web development roles can be done by someone from a bootcamp. It is also not unheard of for bootcamp graduates to get into companies like FAANG (of course, with a lot of extra learnings and experiences to make up the knowledge gap!)

I have narrowed down into two bootcamps in London, Le Wagon and Makers Academy. I did a lot of research on the employment rate after people graduate, the stuff that you learn on the bootcamp, I watched some videos of demo products the bootcampers built. I even phoned up alumni from those bootcamps to see how they felt. In the end that helped me in finally choosing the bootcamp that I wanted to go to.

If I can give myself a piece of advice: Research! Research! Research! Make sure you do all the research you need in order to feel comfortable with your choice. Go cold message alumni of bootcamps on linkedin, call them up! Talk to the admission manager, they are all very willing to help. Ask someone in the industry what they think of people who graduated from those bootcamps, have they work with one before and what are their opinions of them.

Getting over self doubt

Ok, that's all good, but how do I know that coding is for me? What if this is all another example of "grass is always greener on the other side"? What if I quit my current job, pay all that money and realised that its not for me?

I guess I will never really know until I've taken the plunge... What I do know is that if I stay in my current path, it is certain unhappiness for me. Whereas crafting a new path can bring me to unknown places. I remember someone once told me that people favour certain unhappiness over uncertainty. I don't want to be that person. I would like to at least try because I know I will definitely regret not trying.

Jeff Bezos famously calls this the "regret minimisation framework", where he makes a decision based on whether he thinks he will regret it on his deathbed. In my case... it's highly unlikely that I regret my decision, the worse I can do is to go back to my old job...

There are however at least some things that I can do which helps me test the water. Firstly, I completed the Ruby track on Codecademy to get a feel on how much I enjoy coding (it is also a prerequisite to apply for the bootcamp I am applying to). I have also did some problems on codewars and started my own learning on free code camp. So far I really enjoy it, the learning seems endless to me, but so are the possibilities.

The actual coding

So I finished the Ruby tree on codecademy which is all very straight forward, with a lot of handholding involved. I then jumped to codewars as a next step as this was adviced by one of the bootcamps I applied to. I was immediately overwhelmed by the lack of handholding in codewars. I was struggling at some of the easiest problems in 8kyu and immediately feared that I'm not cut out for this.

But after some practice and googling, things started becoming easier, I started being able to solve 7kyu problems on my own (I know... it's nothing for most people here, but it is a lot for me!) I have started building confidence in coding and the fact that I will enjoy it!

So note to self here: Practice build confidence! Practice! Practice! Practice! For Ruby, look up some regular expression cheatsheets. That helps massively since codecademy doesn't even touch on regex, but you will use those heavily in codewars.

Where I am at now?

I have just been accepted to Le Wagon London on its Web Development bootcamp! I know my current level is barely anything compared to most people and once I have done the bootcamp, I will only have touched the surface of web development. But I am hungry to learn and willing to put in as much as possible and become a good developer.

I wanted to document my journey here from being a complete novice to hopefully becoming a software engineer. As I believe I myself would have found it useful if I had stumbled upon this post 3 months ago. Let me know what you think! And let's do this together :)

Top comments (9)

grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev • Edited

Well you already have a leg up over some Devs, you are writing about it!

Keep writing about your progress, I wish I had written about things when I started coding, it helps you retain knowledge and learn things much quicker.

This is because you don't want to make mistakes in what you write (if you can avoid it) so you research and learn things better, and if you do make mistakes people will come along and correct you (normally politely) so you learn from that too!

Welcome to DEV, I hope we see more articles from you and good luck on your journey!

Oh and don't be intimidated by becoming a developer, even us who have been at it for years barely know anything, we just learned how to Google well! 🤣

_arnoldho profile image
Arnold Ho

Thanks @inhuofficial for your kind words! I wasn't actually expecting anyone to read or comment on this but I'm floored with the community spirit of Devs! This is part of the reason why I wanted to make this switch :)

I have decided to write my journey down mainly because I think the past me would have benefited from reading this. But also I was inspired by this blog that my friend sent me: by Swyx about learning in public which is largely about what you just mentioned!

It would also be nice to have a public journal to look back to in the future to remind myself (hopefully) of how far I've gone!

grahamthedev profile image

It is great for the record of what you have achieved, great for learning, that article covers it well.

And you are right, there are hundreds of devs just starting out, reading what others are doing well on (and struggling with, don't be afraid of sharing difficulties / failures) really helps.

Looking forward to seeing your next article!

siddharthshyniben profile image

Keeping a journal is a great idea. I have kept one for some time and it's really nice to look back at your entries

Thread Thread
_arnoldho profile image
Arnold Ho

Thanks Siddharth! I can't wait to look back at my entries in a years time!

nombrekeff profile image

But I am hungry to learn and willing to put in as much as possible and become a good developer.

Nice, that's the attitude! Keep like that and you will for sure become a good developer!

_arnoldho profile image
Arnold Ho

Thanks so much Keff ❤️

akionsight profile image
AkIonSight • Edited

Wow arnold, that is very brave, Hope you have a good time at the bootcamp and the rest of your working life as a whole

_arnoldho profile image
Arnold Ho • Edited

Thank you so much ❤️