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Don't Label Yourself 'Self-taught' or 'Junior' in Your Public Profiles

Why not?

Becoming a programmer is a challenging undertaking. Learning to code on your own is hard. Completing online courses, projects, and bootcamps is a big accomplishment. So once you've done all this you want people to know that you're self-taught and darn proud of it! And you write Self-taught Developer or Junior Developer on your public profiles - on twitter, on your blog, everywhere! This is not a good idea.

But why not?

  1. It subjects you to unnecessary bias. When people see self-taught or junior they may hear inexperienced. Some may dismiss your advice, your blog posts or tweets because...well humans are flawed. There is an underlying psychology at work, not in your benefit. (analogy - it's like someone sharing food recipes on youtube and explicitly pointing out that they have never gone to culinary school.)

  2. Why? You don't gain anything by labeling yourself as self-taught or junior in public profiles so why say Junior Developer when you can say Developer. Make Self-taught Developer --> Developer. It does not matter how you learned. If you've ever made a computer do something with code and the sheer power of your brain (and hands for typing I guess) you are a developer.

  3. If you're job searching, you can impress your potential employer by revealing that you're self-taught during an actual conversation. And you should absolutely talk about this in the right context. It demonstrates so many desirable quality - self-motivation, discipline, follow-through, passion, resilience, problem solving. I'd rather hire you than someone who has a CS degree but has been stagnant with their career.

Don't sell yourself short. Go change your public profiles now. Write developer. You are a developer.

Top comments (7)

jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy 🎖️

Most of the best developers I've met are all self taught and have no relevant qualifications

aaronmccollum profile image
Aaron McCollum

Thanks! I had been hesitant to write anything since I guess it's ingrained in my head that I have to "hit a certain milestone" to give myself a title in anything. Graduate a bootcamp, earn X number of certifications, know X amount of languages, etc.

te53_ profile image

Good advice!
A little bit off topic, but Mary Spender on YouTube has a similar concept of labeling yourself as a guitarist even if you've been learning for just a week. Not only does it help with people perceiving you, it can also foster self confidence.

brunowinck profile image
Bruno Winck

But what if you are really self-taught? I'm self-taught for the simple reason that when I started in software, most universities didn't have such a specialty or it was a very low level and backward.

In a field like software, being self-taught is a proof you can keep learning by yourself, self-directed and it's a very important skill.

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao • Edited

To me it's actually the pay check difference is huge, given a few months of your time you could be doing the same thing as your colleague.

But to grow you might need to change a new job after 3 mths without the title as having the junior title. Does short change yourself in terms of salary & it hurts you in voicing your options due to it. It's as others has mentioned to perceive value of your own work will be greater if you just start out without a junior in your title.

adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett 🌀

I would hire anyone who knew their level junior or otherwise I'd also be happy to see pride in self education and study. Discipline makes a good developer.

tacomanick profile image
Nick Shattuck

What if you're a student? Should you still be a developer, just in school?