I never grew up ‘technical’. I remember an exasperated friend trying to explain the concept of MSN instant messenger to me around the mid 00s. Long story short, I didn’t have a clue. Computers where something I used like everyone, but barely understood. I just wasn’t that ‘computer guy’ growing up.
So how was it that I’ve ended up as a software engineer/developer at tech startup?
It all started with an idea for a website I had back during my Business undergrad degree at Kingston. Paying developers as student is an expensive business. After a while the thought crept into my head ‘how hard could this be? I can do this sh*t myself’. Arrogance and cheapness are a lethal combination.
I wish I could say that it was completely rosy from there on in. It wasn’t. I wanted to give up several times. ‘Impostor syndrome’ was a real thing for me. A constant nagging feeling that I wasn’t good enough, that this wasn’t for me, that I’m pretending to be someone I’m not. Those feelings never completely left me; it was just that those voices in my head became quieter with the constant hours of practise.
Fast forward a few years later and my ‘website idea’ was long gone, but the skills had remained. I wasn’t working as a developer, but in my spare time I was still plugging away. In the end I decided to make the full career-switch. What I needed was a bridge however to the tech world. In the end it took the form of a masters in computer science. In hindsight it wasn’t necessary and I was already more then capable. The need for academic validation was probably the last remnants of my ‘impostor syndrome’.
Enough of the origin story. Down to tips for anyone also on this path.
1. Pick a project, be it an app or website, and learn how to build it. Easier said then done I know for a complete beginner, but this way is much better then just picking up and sifting through ‘Python for dummies’. Your motivation will wane at times, and having a project will seriously help in that regard.
2. Keep going. *Rocky music plays in the background*
3. Google/ Stack Overflow are you new best friends.
4. You will be overawed at first with all the new things you’ll have to learn, that’s normal.
5. Think long and hard before spending serious amounts of money on coding bootcamps or degrees, all the information you need is available online, either for free or cheaply.
6. Speak to as many self taught dev’s as you can. If they can do it, so can you.