I taught myself coding for 12 months and landed a full time developer role. Here’s what I learnt
My very first coding job landed me starting pay of RM5K. As compared to a traditional fresh grad that studied for 3 years, my pay was above average. Now I’m not here to brag, but to let you know that anyone can get a great paying starting job as a developer because the demand is out there. Employers are constantly looking for top coders, passionate about learning. It’s a real rare find. Many more coders go on to make top 4 figure salaries in just their first few years of working, eventually breaking 5 figures within just 3-4 years of working.
You must be here because you seeking change. You are looking to improve your life, make a difference. The dreams and ambitions you had as a kid are still there, hidden somewhere inside you. Yet, you feel as if the world is tough place. Work, bosses, clients, meetings, deadlines. It never ends. It’s this constant running in a tough rat race to the top among everyone else. Definitely the tough economy isn’t helping.
I know. I’ve been there once. I used to work various corporations and multiple industries. From corporate banking, to consulting to accounting, logistics and marketing. I joined various management trainee programs designed to supposedly fast track your career. It was fun, for a while. After the initial excitement of a new job wears off, I came to the realization that this is it. This is what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life. I realized that there was no change in some of these industries. There was no empowerment to build, to create. I seeked this adventure to constantly explore the unknown. Yet to be honest, there is nothing unknown or new about selling TV’s to consumers, or offering loans to businesses. It’s all the same.
I sought to learn something new. To challenge myself in new ways. Constantly learning and developing myself was my passion. In the end, I found out that it was software and technology and fuels my interest. It gave me hope that even at my bedroom, one can build things that will change the world. It is only through technology that we see innovation and progress of humanity, society and the world. Thus, i made the big decision to quit my job, live on bread and cereal, and basically enter the world of software, for 1 year. Here’s the lessons I learnt during those 12 months and steps you can take if you want to transition your life to coding.
You need to have the passion for learning
I realized what gave me the constant motivation to pull through 10-13 hours everyday 7 days a week for a year was my passion and desire to constantly learn. If you ever play video game, you will know how addictive it is to want to always level up. This was the same feeling I had when I was transitioning to being a software developer. It was exciting to be able to learn new topics, understand how the internet works, learn new programming languages and ultimately being able to build exciting cool websites, applications and software.
Reading books give you access to the latest cutting edge stuff
Reading books is a tremendous resource for being a top coder. If you want to learn what’s the latest and greatest out there in the world, they normally come in the form of books writing by very smart people. Only through books do they give you an in depth knowledge into key topics of technology, be it cybersecurity, software architecture or algorithms. Can you still learn to code and get a job as a developer without reading books? Yes you can. But you are missing out on a lot.
And how to get all these books? Well, if you are smart, torrent. Also I do not advocate torrenting books.
Being resourceful and never giving up
A big thing is coding is all about solving problems. Often times, the solution may not come to you immediately. Good coders are known to tough it out when solving problems, something taking couple hours just to get inspiration to a particularly tricky situation. This is where you get the famous AHA moments in coding. That moment where coders go YESSSSS when the exact solution just popped into their heads. It’s this mindset and training that makes people who code great problem solvers. Combine it with business skills, and you got one formidable entrepreneur in the making.
Ask yourself, why do you enjoy coding. What is your motivations
At the end of the day, you must be true and honest to yourself. Do you enjoy coding. Why is your real motivation for it. Is it to work with the latest cutting edge technology? Build awesome products? Start your own business? All these are valid solutions. But find your one true calling and work towards it. Only then can you stay motivated and passionate about coding.
Join workshops. Constantly get out there and network with other coders
One of the best ways to learn anything is to teach it to others. In the learning pyramid, teaching someone else is the greatest form of understanding and learning new material. Same goes for coding. When you go out to meetups, and talk to other coders, you get greater perspective of things, where are you going wrong, and what others are trying out. In addition, you learn new things that someone else has discovered, saving you countless hours from not repeating the same mistakes. In addition, you meet like minded people that can keep you motivated, and maybe even work on group projects together. The community is always interested in forming new ideas and working together to make impactful technologies.
Chatrooms and forums are your friends.
As a coder, you can never learn everything alone. It’s always best to go into it with others. The web is full of smart coders from all around the world constantly helping one another, solving problems and asking questions. These are the best sources to get answers to your problems.
- Gitter – A large chatroom platform for all different chats of various topics. Great place to search up for topics you are interested in.
- Stackoverflow – Literally this would be your number one source for all questions and problems. Almost every problem you encounter as a beginner coder would have been asked on Stackoverflow by someone else also facing the same problem as you.
- Telegram – There are tons of telegram chatrooms where Malaysian coders hangout to chat about all sorts of topics. Check out devkini.
- Stackoverflow Chatrooms – Most people don't know it but Stackoverflow has their own chatrooms. These rooms are very active with coders often answering your questions within matter of minutes to hours. The people here are very helpful and always helped me greatly
PS: Learn to touch type. It helps greatly with your productivity and speed of learning.
Hey Ming, alright that’s great. But how do i get started. I don’t even know if this coding thing is for me. Also 12 months is too long to be out of a job.
Yes I understand everyone has different situations, commitments and circumstances. During my time, what greatly accelerated my learning was support groups, chat rooms and industry experts who were willing to help me and teach me the ropes. Getting advice from an industry expert literally saved me days of headbanging and going around in circles. Learning by yourself is by no means the best way to learn code. That’s why I created The Hacker Collective to support beginners in their journey to explore being a coder and a techie.
Is coding even relevant for me? I don’t intend to be a coder in my job.
Short answer is yes. Individuals that know how to code and can speak its language shall be at a great advantage and have a set future regardless if they do it as a profession or not. The Hacker Collective aims to help beginners get into coding through our experimental new course of project based peer to peer learning.