If you’re someone who’s feeling stuck in their current job or career, and you’re looking for a change, or looking to start a great career, you might be interested in learning how to code.
In this article, we’ll explore the story of someone who dropped out of college, was in debt, and working 60 hours a week, but managed to learn how to code in just four months and land a job in the tech industry.
We’ll go through their early struggles, their discovery of coding, their learning strategy, and their transition to full-stack development. We’ll also explore how they built practical skills, prepared for the professional world, and ultimately found a job in the tech industry. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of what it takes to learn how to code and land a job in the tech industry.
- Learning how to code can be a viable option for those looking for a career change.
- Building practical skills through full-time learning and tackling real-world projects can be crucial in the job search process.
- Utilizing resources such as online courses, mentors, and collaboration tools can help accelerate the learning process and prepare for the professional world.
College Dropout and Debt
Dead-End Jobs and Desire for Change
To become a programmer, Jim decided to build his first full-stack project, a Pinterest clone. He reached out to Stephen, a YouTuber who streamed himself building projects line by line. Stephen treated Jim like a real junior developer and implemented a project management tool called Jira to compartmentalize the entire project. Jim learned how to estimate his work and planned how to build an entire web app from zero to launch.
Jim also set the project up on GitHub, which taught him how to develop different branches for when he was working on certain features, allowing him to effectively control different versions of the code. Stephen grilled Jim on his pair programming sessions and taught him how to work collaboratively with other people. Jim learned how to debug his code on his own and eventually finished his first full-stack web app in around two months.
Discovery of Coding
First Encounter with FreeCodeCamp
When Jim was feeling stuck in his dead-end sales job and wanted a career with more long-term potential, he decided to explore the tech industry. Since he had no prior knowledge of coding, he simply searched “how to code” on Google.
That’s when Jim discovered FreeCodeCamp, a website that teaches web development. Through FreeCodeCamp, Jim learned the basics of coding such as variables, loops, objects, and functions. However, he still felt like he didn’t know how to apply his knowledge to build something useful. To gain confidence he went further.
Front End Projects and Watchandcode.com
To gain more experience building things with code, Jim turned to FreeCodeCamp’s front end projects. However, he felt stuck until he discovered a YouTube channel by a man named Stephen who streamed himself building projects line by line. By copying him and recreating what he was doing, Jim was able to use that experience and build the next couple of projects on his own. Jim also found a great resource called watchandcode.com, where he could watch and code along with the instructor. By following along and modeling others, the concepts started to take hold, and Jim began to understand what he was doing.
Building His First Full Stack Project
To become a programmer and build something with a front end, a database, and a server, Jim decided to build his first full stack project. He learned how to develop different branches for when he would be working on certain features, and could control different versions of the code. Most tech companies use some version of these two applications because being a developer isn’t just about knowing how to code. It’s also about knowing how to work collaboratively with other people. Jim learned how to build by Googling for answers and using sites like Stack Overflow. Stephen grilled him on pair programming sessions and taught him the concept of DRY, or Don’t Repeat Yourself, which is essentially making reusable code. Jim learned how to debug his code on his own and now after around the 3 month mark felt like a real developer.
Learning How to Learn Course
When learning something new, it is essential to know how to learn effectively. The “Learning how to Learn” course by Barbara Oakley is a great resource for anyone looking to improve their learning skills. The course teaches various techniques, including the Pomodoro Technique and creating a dedicated study space. These techniques can helped Jim learn more efficiently and retain information better.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique that involves breaking down your study or work sessions into short, focused intervals of 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break. This technique can help you stay focused and avoid burnout while studying or working for extended periods. By using this technique, you can maximize your productivity and accomplish more in less time.
Creating a Dedicated Study Space
Creating a dedicated study space is crucial for effective learning. It helps you establish a routine and a sense of purpose when you enter that space. This space should be free of distractions, such as noise and clutter, and should have all the necessary materials and resources you need to study. By creating a dedicated study space, you can improve your focus and concentration and make the most out of your study sessions.
By implementing these learning strategies, you can improve your learning outcomes and achieve your goals more efficiently. Whether you are learning a new skill or preparing for an exam, these techniques can help you learn effectively and efficiently.
Full-Time Learning in Korea
When learning full-time, it is important to establish a daily routine to maximize productivity and efficiency. A typical day for Jim would start at 8:00 a.m. with waking up and heading to the train station at 8:30 a.m. Upon arriving at the coworking space at 9:00 a.m., you would spend 15 minutes reviewing the curriculum while enjoying a cup of coffee and journaling. From 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., you would have your first study session, which consisted of 30-minute increments of Pomodoros. After taking a small break and having lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., you would resume studying until 6:30 p.m., also using 30-minute increments of Pomodoros. Three times a week, you would also hit the gym from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. before ending the day with dinner with your grandmother at 8:30 p.m. and helping her clean up until 9:00 p.m. This schedule would be followed for six days a week, with no exceptions.
Challenges and Study Methods
Learning full-time can be challenging, and it is important to find effective study methods to ensure success. When Jim first started learning to code, he found that even after doing the tutorials he didn’t feel like he could apply the concepts to anything. Jim realized that he had learned how to code, but not exactly how to program, which is using the code to build something useful.
To become a programmer, Jim decided to build his first full-stack project and reached out to Stephen for assistance. Together, he picked one major overarching project which taught Jim the basics of CRUD, which is Create, Read, Update, and Delete, and decided to clone Pinterest. To make the experience as realistic as possible, Jim treated himself like a real junior developer working at a company, using a project management tool called Jira to compartmentalize the entire project and write the requirements of exactly what he’d be building. Jim also set the project up on GitHub, which is a version control application, to learn how to develop different branches for when you were working on certain features and control different versions of the code. Stephen grilled him on pair programming sessions, keeping him on track with deadlines and estimates and teaching him the concept of DRY, or Don’t Repeat Yourself, essentially just making reusable code.
Overall, full-time learning in Korea can be challenging, but with effective study methods and dedication, it is possible to learn new skills and succeed in the tech industry if you decide to go that route. It can surely be done while living in the USA also.
Building Practical Skills
Front End Projects
Learning by Copying
Another way to build practical skills is by watching and copying others. By following along with someone who is building a project, you can learn how to code and understand the concepts better. You can find YouTube channels like Stephen’s, who streams himself building projects line by line. By copying him and recreating what he was doing, you can use that experience and build the next couple of projects on your own.
Watch and Code Resource
Watchandcode.com is another great resource to help you build practical skills. By following along with Gordon, you can learn how to code and understand the concepts better. By modeling others, the concepts really start to take hold, and you can understand what you’re doing, not just solving a math problem. Through this resource, you can learn how to build web applications from scratch, which will help you gain practical skills that you can use in the job market.
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Transition to Full Stack Development
First Full Stack Project
After completing the front-end projects on FreeCodeCamp, you might still feel like an imposter and not a real developer. To become a programmer, building your first full-stack project is essential. You can start by picking one major overarching project that will teach you the basics of CRUD, which is Create, Read, Update, and Delete. These are the foundations for any web application. For instance, you can clone Pinterest, which is a great project to learn full-stack development.
Pair Programming with a Mentor
To develop your first full-stack project, you can reach out to a mentor to help you along the way. You can meet with your mentor three times a week and pick a project that will teach you the basics of CRUD. You can also implement a project management tool called Jira to compartmentalize the entire project and write the requirements of exactly what you’ll be building. This will teach you how to estimate your work and plan how to build an entire web app from zero to launch. You can also set the project up on GitHub, which is a version control application. This will teach you how to develop different branches for when you’re working on certain features, and you can learn how to control different versions of the code.
Project Management and Version Control
Most tech companies use project management tools like Jira and version control applications like GitHub. Being a developer isn’t just about knowing how to code. It’s about knowing how to work collaboratively with other people as well. Your mentor can grill you on your pair programming sessions and be very strict about keeping the deadlines and the estimates that you originally wrote out for yourself. They can constantly question why you’re doing what you’re doing. They can even teach you the concept of DRY, just Don’t Repeat Yourself, or essentially just making reusable code. You’ll learn how to build by Googling for answers and using sites like Stack Overflow. Your mentor can leave you a lot of comments on things that you need to change. This will teach you how to debug your code on your own.
Learning Debugging and DRY Principle
Debugging is an essential skill for any developer. You’ll learn how to debug your code on your own by building your first full-stack project and working with a mentor. You’ll also learn the DRY principle, which is a coding principle that stands for Don’t Repeat Yourself. This principle emphasizes the importance of writing reusable code to avoid redundancy and improve maintainability. By learning how to apply the DRY principle, you’ll be able to write code that is easier to read, test, and maintain.
Udemy Courses on React and Node
The courses provided you with comprehensive lessons on how to use these frameworks to build scalable and efficient web applications. You will learn about the different components of React and how to create reusable code with it. You will also gain a deeper understanding of Node and how to use it to build RESTful APIs and handle server-side logic.
Completing the Full Stack Web App
Completing this project will give you a sense of accomplishment and made you feel like a real developer. It will also help to gain the confidence and skills needed to pursue a career in web development.
Job Search and Outcome
Defining Desired Job
After learning how to code through online resources like FreeCodeCamp and Udemy courses, you may be wondering what type of job you should be looking for. It is important to define your desired job before beginning your job search. This will help you focus on the specific skills and technologies needed for the job, as well as tailor your resume and cover letter to the job description.
When defining your desired job, consider factors such as the industry, company size, job title, and location. Research job postings to get an idea of the requirements and qualifications for the job, and make sure you have the necessary skills and experience.
Securing a Job and Salary
Securing a job in the tech industry can be competitive, but with the right skills and experience, it is possible to land a job without a computer science degree or coding bootcamp. It is important to have a strong resume and cover letter that highlights your coding projects and experience.
Networking can also be a valuable tool in securing a job in the tech industry. Attend tech events and meetups to connect with professionals in the industry and learn about job opportunities.
When negotiating your salary, research the average salary for the job and location, and consider your skills and experience. Be confident in your abilities and negotiate for a fair salary that reflects your value to the company.
Overall, with dedication and hard work, it is possible to learn how to code and secure a job in the tech industry. Define your desired job and tailor your job search accordingly, network with professionals in the industry, and negotiate a fair salary.
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