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Starting Over

It's been almost 4 years since I've graduated from college. I studied web design and development -- and I gotta tell you -- I didn't learn sh_t.

I wasn't confident enough to interview as a developer. I was intimidated by the prospect of having to whiteboard code and solve algorithmic problems (I'm terrible at math). I had no idea what the hell "Big O notation" was or even how to properly articulate and explain that infamous "fizz" "buzz" problem.

To tell you the truth, I still don't.

About 1.5 years after I graduated, I finally got my foot in the tech door as a contractor for a big, BIG household-name company. I was so proud of myself; I thought I had made it. SPOILERS: I actually didn't.

Little did I know that contractors were at the bottom-rung of the barrel. Hell, my manager told me to just make up my title (I chose "UX/UI Specialist"--not quite designer, not quite developer, but I knew a thing or two about both). My job was to audit the UI and UX of the product, tell engineers and designers where everything fell apart across all platforms. I had to pinpoint where in the code-- in various programming languages-- why the hell does this timestamp render differently on each iteration of the product (why are "am" and "pm" capitalized on one platform, and why is it rendering only in military time on the other??? WHO DID THIS? WHO SAID THIS WAS OKAY?)

I digress-- it was a great experience, despite the frustration that came with attempting to decipher the spaghetti that was this product. This lead to a massive overhaul of how this particular team will coordinate building and modifying the product.

However, I wasn't legally supposed to receive any recognition. I wasn't even supposed to say I worked for the company, but instead, through the contracting place.

It was bullsh_t.

I decided I needed to step up. The path I chose, though, is an expensive one: I enrolled in a software engineering immersive at General Assembly. Thankfully I received a scholarship which took off a good chunk of tuition.

I already finished the 60 hours of pre-work, which included reviewing the basics of HTML, CSS, and JS. To kill more time, I'm currently running through the Javascript Algorithms and Data Certification course on freecodecamp.

Essentially, I'm starting over, but I have a good feeling about this. Maybe this time, the basics will stick and I'll finally have the guts to apply to jobs as a developer.

Wish me luck!

Comment on this post with your best advice for coding n00bs!

Top comments (19)

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Really honest post. Great to see you around here again. Seems like you're making a lot of progress.

False starts are incredibly normal and regrouping like this is really normal. I'm not that far removed from being exactly where you are.

@jess is a GA grad πŸŽ‰

cat profile image

Thanks, Ben!

I really wish you could detect a false start before it happens lol. But, your journey is your journey-- gotta take it in stride. Β―_(ツ)_/Β―

WHAA that's awesome!

jess profile image
Jess Lee

Good luck at GA!!! I met some really awesome people through that program :)

victorioberra profile image
Victorio Berra

My first job out of college just wanted a cheap code monkey to spit out line of business apps. That job gave me a ton of real world experience that led to many other Good paying jobs. I think it also depends on what kind of jobs you want to go for. Tons of jobs that need full stack developers will never require a whiteboard test.

winstonmuller profile image
Winston Muller

The majority of fantastic developers I've worked with or hired have had a weird career path. It might not seem like it now but your variety in experience will make you a better developer in the long run. Keep working at it and get over that junior developer stage and you're going to be an excellent developer.

mcnchem profile image

Thank you for posting such a reflective piece. I am thankful that pointed out how you started then switch up as needed. Glad to know that I’m not alone in this experience.

I hope to see more updates !

More positivity and clarity flowing your way 🌟

l04db4l4nc3r profile image
Angad Sharma

Best of luck, Cat.

cat profile image

Thank you, Angad!

raullarosa_ profile image
La Rosa ✈️

That is all experience under your belt! You will use that to your advantage in your future job search and a smart employer will recognize that. You will also catch those red flags you encountered from your past employer a lot sooner to make sure you receive the experience/recognition you deserve. It is all preparing you for something great..

Best advice I would give is to build and learn for yourself. So you can be a better developer/designer/engineer w.e. So you can do better work and feel good about what you leave on the table. No employer can ever take that away from you.

victorioberra profile image
Victorio Berra

There is this software engineer culture on the internet that makes people feel like if you aren't working at FAANG making 300K TC then you haven't "made it". Meanwhile there are tons of junior dev jobs starting at 70k in the midwest that are just looking for any novice with good work ethic.

gvetri profile image
Giuseppe Vetri

Good luck!

andy profile image
Andy Zhao (he/him)

Damn that's rough, but love the clarity you have on the situation. Rooting for you ✊✊✊

vaibhavkhulbe profile image
Vaibhav Khulbe

You'll do good Cat. Good luck with that!

calebpitan profile image
Caleb Adepitan

How is it that your name is Cat and the cover has a cat?
Anyway good luck, Cat

mhasan profile image
Mahmudul Hasan • Edited

My situation is as same as you. After graduation i work hard to develop my developing and technical skill. I love front end. Thanks for sharing your experience. Good luck!