Considering a career in tech? Start here.


This is part two of a series for career changers. You can find the first here: https://medium.com/@fayehayes/life-is-short-change-your-career-today-4cb362fbe0ff.

I initially wanted to write a comprehensive post on how to become a programmer when you have no background experience in the field. Upon further reflection — that’s probably not the best way to go about it. You see, coding isn’t just about picking up one skill and turning that into a career. Along with the hard skills, you have to shift your mindset too.

I landed on using my own journey as the basis for this series. I’ll be taking you step by step on EXACTLY what I did to learn how to code, sharing the tips and resources that helped me, along with some of my mistakes. I’d also like to emphasize that this is from my experience. Learning to code is not a one-size-fits all undertaking. I really wish I could sell learning how to code as a get rich quick scheme. But it isn’t. It takes time, dedication, and the ability to be okay with failure. At least that’s how it was for me. So, this post is for folks that are willing to do the work, be consistent, and know that now is absolutely the time to make a change.

And with that… take what resonates. Skip what doesn’t. And anything I did, put in 10x more effort (you’ll get where you want faster 😉).

So let’s get into it!https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fgiphy.com%2Fembed%2FdWlWuTFzXbBXtcpKXF%2Ftwitter%2Fiframe&display_name=Giphy&url=https%3A%2F%2Fmedia.giphy.com%2Fmedia%2FdWlWuTFzXbBXtcpKXF%2Fgiphy.gif&image=https%3A%2F%2Fi.giphy.com%2Fmedia%2FdWlWuTFzXbBXtcpKXF%2Fgiphy.gif&key=a19fcc184b9711e1b4764040d3dc5c07&type=text%2Fhtml&schema=giphy

InNovember 2016, I was laid off from my first job out of college. At the time, I was so angry and so sad. I thought I had been creating the perfect life for myself. After taking a week to sit in my grief, I started to problem solve.

A friend of mine suggested I try coding. At first, I thought they were ridiculous. I could not picture myself as a developer. I was pretty subpar in math/science and beyond the Myspace experience of my youth, I had no exposure to the tech world. I didn’t think I was smart enough and had no idea where to start! I didn’t have the network or much guidance. And that scared the sh*t of me. But, it also excited me too.

Also to level set with you all, I was in the perfect situation to really sit down, focus, and pursue a new career. After being laid off, I moved back in with my family. I didn’t have many bills. And I was collecting unemployment checks. Perfect situation. Rather than spend too much time looking for a new sales-y job, I spent 10+ hours a day learning all I could about this new tech world along with learning how to code.

Before I picked up a tutorial, researched the field, etc. — I had to get very clear as to why I’m doing this. Given that I started from level 0, I needed to have a good reason to do it. If you don’t know why you’re pursuing something, 9 times out of 10 you will fail. It’s hard to spend 8+ hours a day on anything you’re not passionate about. So it has to be a strong why. You won’t consistently show up if the prize isn’t worth it. Write that down! Write that down!

So here’s what I wanted:

  • More money
  • To never have to rely on a single company for my livelihood ever again

Take a second here to define your why. Physically write it down and put it somewhere you will see it DAILY.

After you’ve defined your why, you need to identify what you want in a future role along with what you absolutely do not want.

Here’s what I absolutely did not want:

  • Any type of strictly sales or account management role (because confrontation makes me itch)
  • To work in a toxic environment

Take another second to write down what you do / do not want in a role.

Once you’ve got your why down, it’s time to get into some research! There are a TON of roles within the space. From frontend developers, to backend, to devops and beyond — there’s a lot to work with.

When I got to this stage, I was so overwhelmed! I had an internal mini battle between wanting to learn something and doing some research. Temper that feeling. Because say you get started on a CSS tutorial, but later find that iOS development is your calling. As there isn’t much overlap between the two, spending that much time on CSS would be a waste of time. So start by looking into the types of roles out there, and from there you’ll be able to craft a specific plan to reach your goal. I didn’t do this, and truly wish. I did! I would have saved so much time.

As you’re doing your research, make note of the words you don’t understand. Write them down and then ask somebody. In addition, learning the lingo makes you look more professional, shows that you are and active member of the developer community, and generally just gives you more credibility.

Now onto the research. Below are some of the common roles that people generally start with. But there are others! Keep that in mind.

Frontend Developer

A frontend developer focuses on all of the visual aspects of a website. The frontend developer ensures that the user interface and user experience is top-notch. They are typically BADASS with all things HTML/CSS/Javascript.

Backend Developer

The backend developer is more focused on the business logic of the site. By business logic, I mean interacting with databases and manipulating data. What’s great about backend development, is that while there are a ton of different languages, the logic piece doesn’t change. If you can write an algorithm in one language, you’ll won’t have much trouble writing it in the next language. Don’t worry — we’ll get into it.

Full Stack Developer (#me!)

These developers are comfortable with both front and backend development.

iOS Developer / Android Developer

An iOS developer is someone who makes apps for the Apple store. The android developer makes apps for the android devices. There are technologies that allow you to create an app for both platforms. But if you’re just starting out and want to create some cool apps, I would suggest specializing in either iOS or Android developer.

This series will focus on full stack development, sorry app developers! If that’s something you’re interested in, let me know and I’ll start to compile resources for you all tool

My challenge for you:

See you in the next one!

Was this helpful? Want me to expound on a particular subject? Let me know in the comments below! Ready to keep moving forward in this series? Sign up for my newsletter to get future tutorials directly to your inbox: http://eepurl.com/g0Z-In


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