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Rob Kendal {{☕}}
Rob Kendal {{☕}}

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What's your coding origin story?

I've seen quite a lot of posts on Twitter recently about how people got into coding and there are some really interesting and even wild ones, real career divergents.

'Oh yeah, I used to be a lion dentist and then just learned React and went from there'

'I won the 1998 figure skating championships but now I'm a Python architect'

...and so on.

Joking aside, I once worked with a genuine medical doctor who just pivoted into being a top sysadmin...mental!

But, my origin story is much more beige: I literally worked with computers from about 4-5 years old, learned to code and became a developer....the end.

What are some of your development origin stories? Where did you come from? How did oyu get here? Where are you going?

Discussion (60)

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nikolicstjepan profile image
Nikolić Stjepan

As a kid I played games on PC a lot. They (parents and the rest of the family) said that I was addicted and that being on the PC will never bring anything positive in my life. I said that I will one day earn for living using PC, they laughed...

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hellovietduc profile image
Duc Nguyen

Typical dev story right here :D

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andrewbrown profile image
Andrew Brown 🇨🇦 • Edited
  • Mom owns a computer repair ship since 1994. She got laid off at Bell and had to become an entrepreneur.
  • In 1998 (I would have been 11) she was being asked to make websites. Since I spent all my time playing around in Microsoft FrontPage I made websites for her customers and business friends.
  • By 2005 I had enough money from building websites to go to College to learn how to build websites.
  • When I was at College I skipped most of my classes and stayed as long as I could on campus to utilize their servers where I spent my 3 years learning Ruby on Rails.
  • After College, I lived with my Grandma working on remote website jobs online (mostly for career/life coaches) while also trying to break into the web-dev industry.
  • My parents told me to get a real job, anything, like work at a gas station and I ignored them.
  • I started contributing to an open-source project for 2 weeks and after contributing so much I had to stop since I needed to focus on paid work.
  • My contributions were so valuable they hired me as their CTO and flew me to Barcelona.

I've been a CTO ever since.

What's the formula here?

free_open_source_contributes   = 2.weeks
self_study                     = 3.years
repetitive_fundamental_tasks   = 10000
ignore parents                 = true
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Someone suggested I make this an Instagram story. Instagram is something people use right?

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karanbalaji profile image
Karan Balaji 🇨🇦

ignore parents = true. Hahahaha tough one in India than all the others xD

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Andrew Brown 🇨🇦 • Edited

The best way to convince your Indian parents to let you work in the web-dev industry is to append both Doctor and Engineer to the end of your to your web-dev title eg.

UX Doctor Engineer
Full Stack Doctor Engineer
React Doctor Engineer

😏

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karanbalaji profile image
Karan Balaji 🇨🇦

Hahaha very true.

Hello UX Engineer it is 
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jpaulin profile image
Jukka Paulin

We will use this formula for growth for epitsim civics ecosystems. thx! be back soon. ;-) Wonderful story. Thanks for sharing!

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Pandita

Pixel doll forums, I wanted to showcase my little pixels so I had to learn how to code a website, luckily for me, other members had tutorials on how to make them. Girls teaching girls. It was fun during that time.

After that, I went to university and learned how to truly program/code/develop/that and at work I learned my limitations and areas to improve (which I'm working on) :3

So here I am. I think my origin story is pretty fluffy lol

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kendalmintcode profile image
Rob Kendal {{☕}} Author

That is such a fluffy, wholesome story :D

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Duc Nguyen

I was at 7th grade, a lot of my classmates had Nokia cellphones that could access the Internet. They started playing online games and it was super fun at the moment because we were all new to this. A female friend of mine had a cellphone with a T9 keyboard that she always let me and my dude borrow at break time.

We tried installing some games but failed as the phone didn't support Java. So we Googled what Java was, and it led to the "wap" sites where my friends downloaded games, and then there were some forums where people guided how to create a wap site.

2 curious boys started the journey from here. We learned the basic structure of an HTML page. We screamed like crazy when we made the text move on the screen with the tag, or when our tags had gradient CSS background. All that with a borrowed cellphone at break time!

2 years later I got my own cellphone. It had a great feature: QWERTY keyboard! I coded on my phone, without looking at the keyboard! I contributed to a wap forum which helped people who were creating wap sites. I became an admin there. Those feelings of helping people, solving their programming problems, being responsible as an admin of a forum... are precious! There were nights I didn't sleep just to chat with my friends there.

Now I am programmer, work my dream job but I'll never forget my past. So motivated whenever I reminisce it back.

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kendalmintcode profile image
Rob Kendal {{☕}} Author

Wow, that’s amazing; to think it all started with a phone. That’s some right I’m on the ground floor level stuff 😎

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Alvaro Montoro • Edited

Growing up in the 80s, my parents owned a computer because of work. They had some games and let me play... but I was limited to 30 minutes Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It was one of the computers that had a system disk, then load MSDos, then change the floppy disk to the application/game one... and that took time out of my 30 minutes! I learned how to create a small menu using batch files, so I could save some time instead of typing all the commands. I don’t know if that counts as programming, but it definitely was the door to it.

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Ben Halpern

I think I first got interested in computers because my dad was... but my parents were separated and I actually didn't have much time with him, so that interest never really got nurtured.

My true origin with coding was Geocities, and it wasn't an abstract interest in coding, I was most fascinated because some 9th grade kids in my school had created a little "online business" through Geocities and I thought that was the coolest thing.

I was in 7th grade. We didn't have a computer at home at the time, but my friend got into Geocities to make a website for his band, so I spent a ton of time at his house and school computers creating my website, which was a fantasy sports news site.

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Guney Ozsan

Honestly I learnt how layouts work by playing with Myspace profile. I was a musician so how it looks was very important for me. That's why I spent so much time on it. I don't regret now:)

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Vuild

Did you know the musicians were running macros in the browser for views at the time?

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Rob Kendal {{☕}} Author

Amazing! I loved Geocities. I also cut my CSS teeth on MySpace, incidentally where I met my wife. I like to think it was my epic emo-styling work on my MySpace space :D

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Bartholomew Allen • Edited

I will admit my story goes through a lot of changes so it all started back in high school whereas a Senior I wanted to major in Culinary Arts thinking that I would be the best Chef possible and one day own my own restaurant.

It wasn't until my parents and I went to a local culinary arts school in the city and after the tour discussed out tuition and payment plans where things started to get intense. After the adviser broke down the tuition costs and fees my parents needed to sleep on it because it was an expensive school at the time. That next morning I woke up and my mother was waiting upstairs in the dining ready to talk to me about their decision and what she thinks is best. Basically she told me that I would not be able to attend that school due to the high tuition costs and at the time I didn't know how to drive so I would have had to catch two buses to get to the school (This was worry some for my parents since the school was located in Baltimore City). After she laid down the bad news she handed me a community college page that had a list of majors to choose from the list. At that point, I was upset that I would have to change majors but I didn't want to put any stress or burden on my parents.

As I was looking through the list of majors I saw Game development listed as a major and decided to enlist in fall 2013 as a Game Development major. After the fall semester, I took a semester off to work for a bit and get money to pay for my next few semesters and learn how to drive. Coming back fall 2014 semester, my mother had another conversation with me about the longevity of being a game developer which made me do some research into job prospects of game development within my state and in general. As I saw game development wasn't something I wanted to do anymore since it was an industry that I didn't want to do long term.

During my winter break, I decided to do research and logical reasoning to see what major I could switch to before continuing in the spring. Luckily I found out that game development was a subcategory under the world of computer science! And I then came across software engineering which made me super excited when I researched more about it. After that, I changed my major to computer science! The rest is history, ever since then its been a long bumpy road through this major and occupation/career path but its all worth it! I have to thank my parents and especially my mom for pushing me to evaluate my life choices carefully and ultimately choosing one of the coolest and best occupations ever!

TL;DR:
Basically, I changed my major three times starting at Culinary Arts -> Game Development -> Computer Science, my mom was the source of reasoning for changing my career path.

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kendalmintcode profile image
Rob Kendal {{☕}} Author

Brilliant, thank you for sharing your journey. It’s so nice to hear parents that guide you based on some evidence rather than because they don’t like it or think it hasn’t got a future. It’s so interesting learning about other people’s route and none of them are the same ☺️

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gypsydave5 profile image
David Wickes

I received a radioactive web-crawler byte...

(I'll get my coat)

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kendalmintcode profile image
Rob Kendal {{☕}} Author

Ahhhh see what you did there 😂

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vuild profile image
Vuild

Ewwww. It's leaking goo. You may want to get that looked at.

(Here's your coat, I just keep mine on)

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Robbware

When I was in 7th grade we were all into an online FPS called WarRock that had a shit ton of hackers in it. One night I was specially pissed at the amount of cheaters we had encountered so I decided to do some digging and ended up finding cheats for myself. After trying it out, getting a few accounts banned and generally becoming what I once despised, I started getting curious on how people did that stuff. So I did some more searches, installed a few things (vírus most likely) and after getting a very basic grasp on VB6,I made my own hacking tool. Took a few weeks but after getting it to work I actually managed to keep it updated throughout game updates (the pointers would change on each update) and distributed it online for free (and it had a shit ton of hacks that people used to pay for!). It was a fun year. Now I dont do those tools anymore but I still hold that beginning very dearly in my mind.

I get paid to make sure people like my 7th grade me dont hack our shit.

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kendalmintcode profile image
Rob Kendal {{☕}} Author

Haha I love this story. Lie the dark side of coding turned good 😎

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lankydandev profile image
Dan Newton

I think mine is quite boring but it really changed my life.

I always wanted to do engineering of some sort. I enjoyed maths, physics and science in general. However, there are a ton of engineering disciplines and could not decide which one to follow.

My dad, just mentioned one day, a few months before making my university application.

You should try programming / computer science

He gave me a C for dummies book (probably not the best for a noob). I made some basic app, like a tax calculator, something like that. I flipping loved it.

I then did some VB stuff which was making the colour of a window change. I was sold.

I put together my uni application and haven't looked back. I thank my dad for a lot of things, but I think this one tops everything else. Just one comment that he said to me, about a profession I never considered. Completely changed my life.

I love software and can't imagine doing anything else now. Man. I feel like I'm getting emotional saying this stuff.

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kendalmintcode profile image
Rob Kendal {{☕}} Author

Thanks for sharing that, a great story. I think I had that C for Dummies too! Far too deep for me, C is a dark art so hats off to you for persevering.

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lankydandev profile image
Dan Newton

Haha, I didn't stick to learning C. As you said, a bit hard. I'm actually surprised I managed to enjoy playing with it as my first attempt at programming.

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kendalmintcode profile image
Rob Kendal {{☕}} Author

I stuck with it for slightly longer than I should because I wanted to make games and it was the thing at the time. But like you UI moves to VB.Net.

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Sai Kiran • Edited

I was very passionate with photography, "street" especially, i wanted to own a Nikon. I dropped out of college, and couldn't afford a camera. I basically started designing websites to earn shills to buy a Camera. And now Im coding for a living and also bought a good cam. I always hated Code. Now Im actually kind of amazed all the time how there is something new in this field everyday.
Im a Full stack dev and recently started looking into ML.
Sometimes I find myself helping a lot of people to get into programming, and sometime I also find some of my best clicks featured at many websites(sometimes here too), best of both the worlds. One ending advice, how fad of it, is, dont drop out. College does help in putting your perspective right. Self learning is cool but a lot of quirks need a teacher.

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guneyozsan profile image
Guney Ozsan

Then drop links to your photography here!

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anaganisk profile image
Sai Kiran • Edited

Generally release them like kind of open source
On unsplash bro😊
unsplash.com/@_imkiran

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zwubs profile image
Zachary Winters

My first interest in programming was when our school got these personal computers for us that were expensive little tanks with about as much power as a leapster. I was bored and found the command prompt window and decided to start messing around. At first I made a simple choice based adventure game, but eventually the chat application my friends and I used had been block by IT. So abusing the school's file sharing server I made a batch program to allow us to message each other from anywhere in the school. Quite the little rebel, we'll just say the tech department kept a close eye on me.😉

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Michael Hasselbring

Started to make anime sites around 6th or 7th grade. This was like 2001-2002, using Homestead and Geocities. It kinda escalated from there. After page builders, it was taking page source from other websites and making it work how I wanted to modifying PHP scripts. Ended up doing some freelance web work after dropping out of college and was fortunate enough to to land a junior dev job with a marketing firm.

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Tim Downey

I love that time period! For me it was Geocities and FreeWebs (IIRC).

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Guney Ozsan

When I was at high school (late 90's), using Amiga Basic, I made a basic wireframe 3D renderer and a couple of cellular automata simulations. And that was it for 20 years. I only got Java 101 while studying Industrial Engineering at college.

After college I became a professional musician for about 15 years. 10 years I was live on stage and the last 5 years I did solely original music and sound design for video games. During while I got interested in Unity 3D and start experimenting. I was using Javascript those times.

Then together with an artist friend of mine, we made a cool installation for a big painting fair using Kinect and Unity 3D. That helped me land some remote prototyping jobs.

I noticed that almost jobs and documentation were all about C#. Remembering my Java base from 20 years ago I switched to C# by porting a couple of my personal project prototypes. Since then I'm a full time freelance Unity 3D developer (3 years and counting).

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kendalmintcode profile image
Rob Kendal {{☕}} Author

Wow, one of the best pivot stories ever. What an interesting path you’ve took. What sort of music did you do? Anything we can go listen too?

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Guney Ozsan • Edited

It feels sometimes refreshing, sometimes contrasting. Honestly time to time I feel like I lived the lives of a couple of different people compressed into time, as what you do for living defines you as a person in a lot of ways.

Thanks for asking. Here the first page is mostly my independent works. Scrolling down you can see plenty of my game music spread over a range of genres.
soundcloud.com/guneyozsan

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Tim Downey

In middle school I started out by working on an Animal Crossing fansite with some folks I met on the Nintendo forums. Someone else handled the hosting and everything, but I had access to create content via a WYSIWYG that let you drop down into HTML. I learned some rough, early 2000s HTML this way. I'm talking things like <table>s for layout, inline CSS styles, background MIDI music, etc. Later I moved on to a Runescape fansite (😂) and helped contribute some Java applets, but still the same sort if deal.

Unfortunately my rural Midwestern high school didn't emphasize tech very much as a viable career path so I decided to go into the sciences -- so I started my undergrad as a Biology major with a pre-med concentration. During this time I didn't do much, if any, coding.

A few years in I realized that I really wasn't interested in becoming a doctor and the thought of four more years of school to become a pharmacist really wasn't appealing. Then one day I saw a magnificent feature-length Daft Punk music video called Tron Legacy.

This sounds kind of dumb, but it reminded how much I used to enjoy computers and the (very basic) coding I had done as a kid. It inspired me to reach out to a CS advisor late in my Junior year. So I did that and decided to try double majoring in Biology and Computer Science. This was pretty late in my undergrad career so tacking on CS meant taking a 5th year and really cramming in all of those required classes.

I regret not having a chance to do any software engineering internships, but I was able to get some initial experience by:

  1. Helping out a PhD-seeking friend by coding up a simulation in ActionScript for his dissertation
  2. Volunteering for undergraduate research opportunities (the InPhO project) where I got to learn some Python and dabble in NLP

A bit of a roundabout journey, but now I'm here. If you've read this far, sorry for the wall of text! 😊

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Rob Kendal {{☕}} Author

Hey no apologies, these stories are awesome and it’s so nice that a lot of people have a winding path. My friend did a similar degree but didn’t get into the exciting world of web development.

I also love that a lot of these stories involve the weird and wonderful early era of the web with Geocities and MySpace and such. What a time is was to be alive

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emptyother profile image
emptyother

1992: 7 year old kid with an old Commodore 64, no games but a manual for Basic. 1994: IBM PC with Win 3.0 and QBasic. 1997: QuakeC. 1999: Half-Life level crafting, and C++ Allegro.cc games. 2008: Phone-tech support for a small software company. Lead developer told me to take a look at .NET, but I wasn't a Microsoft fan. 2011: Hired as a .NET developer in same company.

Been working there ever since. Future? To improve I need more insight into how other dev teams work. But I just haven't been able to find somewhere new yet. I like the small company I work for, the people there, and the freedom I have there.

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Desi

I started building with HTML on Geocities when I was a kid, in grade four. My parents were upset about it, but I kept doing it anyway 😂 I stepped away from it a bit as I got older, but started blogging on Wordpress in 2012. I was still doing my own code here and there or helping out with other people, and used my background to cobble together sites or updates for the (non-tech) companies I was working for.

In 2014 I got a support job with a tech company, and started taking relearning coding more seriously. This year, I started taking Superhi courses, which have been really fun!

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Dylan Paulus

Spent time playing online games ~5th grade. Quickly got into forums/bulletin boards (Proboards anyone?) to discuss my nerdy habit; which quickly turned into wanting to build my own. Had to learn Photoshop and Javascript to make any of this happen. Luckily I found more forums to discuss design and programming. Having a community helped a ton. As probably most people I got interested in computers from video games!

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Tim Wallace

In 1979, my buddy got a Vic-20 for Christmas. We started learning BASIC with it, then decided to make a "dogfight game" - which today would be called a "flight combat simulator". I was hooked. I became a programmer, he became an aeronautical engineer.

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Joanna Chan

I think for me, it started off with playing around on Piczo, a drag-and-drop site builder, and Neopets.

Neopets was probably my earliest introduction because I remember customizing themes for things like guilds, though it was mostly a copy and paste with light editing. I did a bit of coding on and off since but it didn't stick until my last couple of years in university where I learned more about coding in depth and realized that I enjoyed it and could work as a developer.

A silly story related to Neopets: I remember spotting a spelling mistake on one of the pages and because I really wanted to help and fix it for them, I somehow opened up the page source, edited the text, and "saved" the page, thus showing the "fix." At the time I felt smart, but also a little scared that I "hacked" the site and that they were going to come after me.

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Rob Kendal {{☕}} Author

Neopets!! Yes!! Another classic gem from the roots of the web. Love that you somehow fixed the site. Worrying, but love it!

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Matthew Daly

Did the whole BASIC programming thing as a kid, but kind of lost interest in my teens and drifted into a job as an insurance clerk.

Some years later I got annoyed with some issues with MS Works and stumbled across Open Office. Discovered the whole open source movement and quickly moved to Firefox, then bought a book about Linux and started using Ubuntu, which reignited my long-dormant interest in programming.

Within a few months I'd resolved to become a web developer, a goal I finally achieved four years later. That was nearly eight years ago.

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Rob Foraker

6th grade, this was back in the early 90s, typing class had the old programming magazines for kids with source code, BASIC, lots of gotos printed on that page, to run and experience coding with. I was hooked.

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Doaa Mahely

I had never heard about programming until 11th grade when we used Scratch and some other drag and drop software to program robots. Even then, I didn’t realize that it was programming.

I spent 6 months at home after graduating from high school thinking about what to major in. By pure luck, I happened to take one last look at the list of majors (before settling for finance) and saw software engineering which sounded so cool!

I registered the following week and started my Intro to Programming class using Java 😁

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Kresimir Maric

It may be the destiny, if there is such thing :)
I was always attracted by tech and I loved to be surrounded by it. I was never really the "How it works underneath" type of person until later.
On the other hand I was lazy in school and slow learner so I ended up in culinary school and worked my 20's in the industry as a chef.
Best decision I made was to get back in the tech world and I started learning web dev. Fast forward, I quit my job, got into the online school and here I am now, reinventing myself.

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Mic

I was getting my teachers license. The classes weren’t offered every semester but the pay difference between licensed and non licensed teacher was so big it wasn’t worth getting a job, so I had a lot of time on my hands. My friend was planning a conference and it annoyed the crap out of me that every day she would have a human log into google forms and make sure no more than 30 people signed up for a class, for over 100 classes. I thought there had to be a way to automate that. Learned python and Django. Made her a site people could use to sign up, check in, etc. Kept going. Made several more Django sites for myself. Now a few years later I’m a full time backend dev and I’m about to take on more freelance coding not bc I need the money, just bc I like it and want to do it all the time.

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Rob Kendal {{☕}} Author

Awesome! Nothing fuels learning like necessity!

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Lorna • Edited

I don't know if I count as I'm not there yet. I've had a potted non-it career due to mental health problems of which I'm just coming out the other side. 2 years ago I read somewhere about the need for web developers and stumbled across freeCodecamp. I had a play around then drifted away. Then maybe a year ago I made a more concerted effort but found myself like a beached whale after struggling with javascript and wrote myself off as unsuitable.

However, having read much about attitude and hard work mattering as much as anything innate, I got back on the horse this year. I'm back at javascript which is going a bit better this time but I've also just begun supplementing fcc with Colt Steele's udemy course to really hammer home what I'm learning. This time next year I want to be applying for junior dev posts.

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briwa • Edited

I was introduced to programming by my Dad in '98. I kept asking for new computer games and he gave me a book on creating your own games in Turbo Basic. I did try them out, kinda liked it, made a somewhat barely working Digger clone (for reference).

However, my life took a hard turn after that. The computer was sold, my dad was switching to another job. Spent the following 15ish years doing something else. I was into music and arts for some reason. I ended up taking Biology as my major instead of IT.

Last year of my bachelor study, my Dad convinced me to go back into programming. It wasn't easy since the passion was there but there was a ton to pick up. I studied hard, was hooked into online webdev tutorial for a few months. When I graduated, I managed to get my first job as a web developer. Spent there for a year and joined Piktochart afterwards, and here I am, doing frontend stuffs instead for the last 5ish years.

I would say it's quite a roller coaster ride, but it is really fun!

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Amirition

I was 13 or 14, I don't exactly remember when I created a blog and then tried to customize the theme. After Customizing, I wanted more so I searched it and that was the time I knew what a website is! That brought me to joomla and since it was hard to learn, I met wordpress and suddenly I found myself translating wordpress themes. I didn't stop there and learned about wordpress development. This was before the college. In college I learned some more serious programming stuff and actually I get to know machine learning and AI! That was the time I married somehow to python and we're having a good life so far!

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Jennifer Bradford

I've wandered in and out of coding for 35 years and have worked as a limo driver, a credit analyst, a dental assistant, and bunches of admin jobs. Now I'm a web developer

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Rob Kendal {{☕}} Author

And how is web development for you? Is this your career to end all careers?

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Jennifer Bradford

I'm working on a degree and hopefully towards data science. I do love web development though

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Kaleb McKinney

I have always liked computers, they always fascinated me. So one day, it was in November of 2015, I was bored, and I ál of the sudden thought, "wouldn't it be cool to learn to code?" And so it was. I did a quick search of "best programming language for beginners", and I click clicked the first link, which was a list of the best languages, if I remember right, and the first item on that list was Python, so that's what I learned. I'm glad I did.

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Charles Crete

Used to play Minecraft as a teenager, started administering a server, eventually started creating plugins in Java, then a website for the community.

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Benjamin Spak
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Vuild

Was a van driver.
Bitten by a spider.
Study/built profitable site.
Then much more.
Reached the stars.
Saw all.
Icarus loop.
Hibernate. Cave disturbed.
Back to change some things.
Then farm.