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My Journey from No CS Degree to AWS from Age 30 - 34

I was interviewed by Pete Codes on No CS Degree, here are some extracts.

I see you started coding with Free Code Camp. Would you recommend that for newbies?

Yes! It can genuinely take you from zero knowledge of coding to employable within the first 6 - 12 months if you really keep at it. FCC was the only one that I've found that had the full HTML, CSS and JavaScript curriculum that I figured was in the highest demand. It's also free so you risk very little by trying it out.

How did you enjoy Full Stack Academy bootcamp?

  • I particularly enjoyed the learning sections of the bootcamp because it gave me the opportunity to really solidify the knowledge that I had vaguely skimmed over during FreeCodeCamp.
  • The bootcamp is also laser focused on teaching employable skills and even organises a hiring day at the end which is where I got my first developer job. The job hunt is the hardest part of transitioning careers so it is very helpful to have an organisation dedicated to helping you succeed.

How did you get your first entry level software engineer job?

  • I got my first software engineer job (at Two Sigma) straight out of the hiring day of my bootcamp! I think it was a combination of luck because it was the very first person I sat down with, and also a fit in terms of background because they were looking for someone who had some financial exposure.
  • What was more important was to be able to intelligently answer questions that were given to me during the on-site interviews, for example one of the interviews I had to justify why people use Redux, with the interviewer taking the other side for argument's sake. It can be intimidating to debate during a job interview, but they are looking for you to stand your ground with technical substance if you can. This is how you can show that you add value to the team before you join it.

What advice do you have for someone without a CS degree who wants to get their first programming job?

  • Keep going! The software industry is far more open to people without credentials than most. There are two things that people want to know when hiring you: that you have covered your bases, and that you have done cool things.
  • “Covering your bases” means knowing fundamental knowledge like how to work with git and how to write a basic program in your chosen language or framework.
  • “Doing cool things” can include a side project that experiments with new technology or having contributed to open source projects that the company uses.
  • Mekka Okereke, a hiring manager at Google, adds a third dimension - something with a story. You’ll get these with more experience.

You can read the interview in full here!

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