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Persistence is the key to landing your first developer job IMO. As you mentioned there are so many factors that can affect your chances many of which you cannot control. Geographical factors and socio-economic factors to name a few.
100%. Each application is a learning experience. Each interview, each project. Eventually a person will look back at the amalgamation of these collective experiences and see how far they've come, but it's always easier to look back rather than look ahead. Thanks for checking out the post.
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.
I studied for five years, then it was about a year of applying before I found my first developer job. After that, the second developer job came within a couple of months of searching. I think once you catch momentum it usually gets better.
Thanks for responding Rachel. What did you do whilst you were studying if you don't mind me asking? For me, whilst I was studying I was also working full time which meant a lot of 5am starts and late finishes/ not much social life.
Great to hear that once that experience did come to you through your first role, your second job was there so much quicker.
For my first couple of years (during community college) I continued to work part time and did full time school as well - that was pretty a pretty manageable workload until I finished my Associate's and moved on to my Bachelor's degree. Then I left the retail job I was working and just spent a year or two on myself where I more or less lived on the excess financial aid and made some money decisions that I now regret (oops, live and learn!) Later into my degree the workload started to lighten up as I filled out all of the electives and "fluff" work like Humanities credits, so I picked up a different part time job working in a retail warehouse early mornings for a bit. Grew tired of that after a year and started pet sitting/dog walking and coaching at my gym to pay the bills.
I started applying to jobs about a year before my graduation, and became more serious about it about 6 months away from the big day. I managed to find my first software dev job the same month I graduated! :)
Hmmm, that was probably a longer story than it needed to be.. lol
I love reading about developers who went the self-taught route and succeeded. It really is all about persistence. Everyone struggles and faces roadblocks on their journey, but those that face these challenges with determination and literally never quit are the few that make it! It’s such a simple concept, yet so hard to wrap your mind around while you’re in the thick of the “learning to code” grind.
That's completely right. The thing with code is that it's only simple in retrospect and actually whilst you're in the thick of it, learning is frustrating and you go a long way between those light bulb moments.
For me personally, it was a case of learning that those light bulb moments will come eventually.
Thanks for taking the time to leave a message James, really appreciate it.
I studied Economics but I hab the chance to evaluate a technical (dev) solution during my job as a student and the guy responsible for the project came and said „Tell me you can code!“
„Well,“ I said. „As a matter of fact, I habe some experience in Pascal and Delphi. What language do you need?“
„I don’t know C++,yet, but programming is mostly algorithmic thinking and cutting big problems into smaller pieces, which, when solved, solve the big problem. The rest is just syntax.“
He gave me the job, right after graduating. But since my (at the time still future) wife went to another city for her first job. I was open about looking for another job, as soon as the project was done.
The learning curve was more like a wall. I was coding in C++, while learning it in a multi threaded, peer-2-peer distributed system. And I loved every moment.
We had to re-engineer a proprietary protocol, and when do you see a bunch of guys sitting around a pc with a hardware panel of buttons attached, one presses a button and the only thing that happens is, that a number appears on the screen and everyone cheers and high-fives.
What I am trying to say... I was really lucky! Getting a job without any experience. Taking that student job, was the second best thing (after marrying my wife) that I did in the last 10 years.
Getting the second job was a lot harder in comparison. I wrote lots of applications and was rejected almost every time until one day I was invited at a consulting company. And I thought „At least the traveling gets paid then, when I go to my (still future) wife.“ So I took the job, new language (C#) lots of projects, lots to learn. But this consulting job gave my wife (now she was) later the opportunity to move closer to her family again, when she wanted a change. And some day later, a customer, I was working at already for 3 years, asked me, if I would like to make it permanent. So took the chance again. Well now I knew exactly was I was getting in to. I already worked on the software for about a year. Lots of the code came actually from me. And already almost 2 years later, I still have no regrets. We are moving everything to the cloud (Azure) now. Again lots to learn, again lots of new toys to play with.
So as soon as you have gotten some experience, it gets easier. Still the first one or two jobs will need a lot of persistence.
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