For me I had a degree in a combination of computer science and some more businessy aspects of IT. Got a 2:1 which in the UK is a good result (only 1 person in my year got a 1st). I had 1 year's experience doing dev in London on my 3rd year
It took me 18 months to get a job even in IT as a tech support guy, then another 18 months to get a dev job, where I stayed for 13 years. 6 months into my second dev job at age 39.
The landscape is different now, but you need to be patient but persistent. Work on code outside of work when you can (not everyone has this privilege), and try to stay current.
If you want it, you'll get there.
I love stories like this one. I think the danger of the current landscape is that there are a lot of headlines reading that companies are desperate for developers and that there aren't enough developers to fill these positions. It's refreshing to hear from an actual developer that had to put in the hard work to get to where he is, and it's really humbling for people going into development for the first time to read it. Thanks for sharing Andrew.
I was a bit unlucky in that I graduated just after the millenium bug stuff and the dotcom boom, and the industry just didn't look like it does now. The difference now I think is that you can do it without a degree being a pre-requisite, but that doesn't make the learning curve any easier.
I think you really have to want to do this job as well, as if you're not enjoying it it can be very frustrating. Nobody wants to tell you about the days you lose entirely to debugging, the features you build that get canned or the impostor syndrome you never really get over. Some people are attracted by the promise of high salaries, but you only get those if you can do the job well, and not everyone can, and certainly not immediately.
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