Why I stopped reading articles on how to become a developer

8 min


I regret that at the time when I was just learning how to write code, no one gave me one piece of advice: not to read articles like “How I became a developer in so many months”. Therefore, now I want to give this advice to others myself. Stop reading these stupid articles.

I am sure that the aforementioned will cause protest from many – and first of all from those who write these texts. Therefore, I’ll make a reservation right away: I’m just expressing my opinion. If this reading gives you pleasure, read it and don’t listen to me. However, for novice developers, it would be better to bypass them, or at least take them with a fair amount of skepticism. Let me explain why.

“Since I met in such a short time, it means that you will succeed!”

One of the biggest challenges in my career has been the need to make a drastic change. Going to another profession is not an easy task. This cannot be done on a whim and in no time. You will have to master a huge amount of information with the utmost concentration for a long time. Of course, this will take a lot of your resources – both financial and emotional.

As an aspiring developer, I quickly learned one thing: to be successful, you need a certain balance between goals and expectations. The more ambitious the goals, the more hope it will take to get through difficult times. However, here it is necessary to maintain a delicate balance: after all, beyond some point, goals will become unrealistic, and hopes – false.

Personally, I have learned where this line goes through my own bitter experience. You see, I started my training in programming from absolute zero. I had no experience with code at all. No HTML, no CSS, not even customizing MySpace pages.

But I had a hopeless job, and I dreamed of a profession that would give me the opportunity to move up. I read one study that showed that programmers, in addition to good salaries, have high levels of job satisfaction. This served as the impetus that I needed to begin to take a deeper interest in this profession.

At the same time, I realized that many circumstances would not play in my favor. I was already about twenty-five, and I started my way in IT as a completely green beginner. I didn’t know exactly how realistic it would be to find a job, and I had no idea what kind of job it would be most reasonable to count on.

Fortunately, a single Google search opened up a treasure trove of developer success stories for me. A newbie like me couldn’t help but be struck by this. These are the headers I wanted to see:

  • “How I learned to write code in six months and got a job at Google”
  • “How I became a self-taught developer in seven months – everyone can do it”
  • How I went from novice to developer in nine months, working full time

I swallowed such articles in batches because they gave me exactly what I needed – hope. I considered myself an intelligent guy. If there really are people in the world who take the position of a programmer in six months or a year, then I may well become one of them. In the end, many authors directly said: “If I could, then you can.” This hope spurred me to make a leap into the IT industry.

Informatics diplomas: 0
Days of independent study: 116
Weeks at bootcamp: 12
Self-dedication: a huge amount
I could, and you can!

The unattractive reality was not slow to show itself. For those who are not in the know, six months is a fairly short time. Before I even had time to look back, I had already spent six months in my studies, with very, very modest results. Well, yes, I already knew the basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, could bungle a static site. But I was still very far from getting a job.

All of these articles with headlines like “How I Found My First IT Job in Six Months,” from which I used to find solace, have now turned into a nightmare for me. The more months the calendar counted down, the more thoughts about these people haunted me. A full year has passed since the beginning of my attempts, and letters to employers have remained unanswered. Now I began to think not “Since they could, then I will succeed too!”, But “How did they succeed? Maybe it’s just not mine? ” I have practically given up my dream of becoming the next in this series of success stories.

It was only when I decided that I would no longer read texts of this kind that I felt a little better. It is difficult to resist the urge to compare yourself to others, but it was time to put it out of your head and focus on your own path. It didn’t work out right away, but now I no longer participate in the rat race. I was able to reflect on my personal experience and learn from it a few truths.

Although until now I have only spoken on my own behalf, I am not the only one who has such thoughts or thoughts. More and more people come to IT every year. I often happen to interact with budding developers, and the feelings that these articles evoke in them are in many ways similar to my own.

Thanks for writing this! I am also one of those who read these articles and felt like a failure. Since I began to meet frank people, like you, who are not afraid to talk about those aspects of the process that “do not turn on”, it became easier for me to accept that everyone has their own path.

I’ll tell you what I usually say to these developers.

These texts do not reflect the reality faced by the majority.

The truth is simple: Most entry-level developers won’t be able to find a job in the next six months or even a year. A large proportion of professional developers has a university degreeand it takes about four years to get it. Even if we cross out universities and restrict ourselves to bootcamps, we will see that few of their graduates get jobs in an IT company after a year.

Looking at employment statistics from Fullstack Academy, a well-known and respected New York bootcamp, you can see that in 2019, 52% of graduates got a job within six months of completing a course. But if we take into account only those who have found work in their specialty and full-time, their number will be reduced to 35%.

The duration of the course is seventeen weeks (thirteen weeks are occupied by classes and four more – preparation). It can be assumed that all students learned programming on their own for some time before signing up for a bootcamp – from several weeks to several months. Thus, only a third or so of Fullstack Academy graduates take less than a year from their first steps in programming to employment.

And such results are not specific to Fullstack Academy. You can explore for yourself employment data from other bootcamps and compare. Quite frankly, the results are very good, all things considered. But if you compare this small group with the landscape of the community of beginner developers in its entirety – graduate programmers, graduates of bootcamps, self-taught – you get a very modest stratum.

The reality is that those considering a career as a programmer will probably need at least a year to learn. In my case, it took more than two years before I managed to get a job. And there is nothing special about it.

Programming is hard. The mere fact that people manage to get into this area without certification, saving both time and money on a university degree, is already worth a lot. There is no need to create additional difficulties for yourself by setting deadlines invented from scratch. Finally…

We have no control over time

I once came across a video from a “developer career consultant” giving advice to beginners. One of the pieces of advice he pushed especially for was:

“Give yourself a one year deadline. Exactly one year later, day after day, start sending out your resume. “

This is stupid and harmful advice. You can in no way affect the speed with which you absorb new information, nor the time it will take to find a job. It might seem like a deadline will motivate, but no amount of deadline will force your brain to comprehend JavaScript at an accelerated pace. According to Hofstadter’s lawBy setting deadlines for yourself, you doom yourself to fail them. The educational process takes as long as it takes.

But when you read such articles through the eyes of a beginner, it is easy to be imbued with the idea that you can command time. Many of the authors of these guidelines praise their ability to work and proudly show the world their burnout.

Transfer

On average, I spent 8-12 hours in this cafe.
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I won’t sugarcoat: I have been keeping pace with 50 hours of learning and coding a week for many months now, and by now I have put everything at stake to get a job in one of the most expensive and highly competitive cities in the US.
*
Considering both SSP and the Hack Reactor immersion program, I spent four months coding 12 hours a day, up to six days a week. I honed my problem-solving skills, deepened my understanding of JavaScript, learned front-end and back-end frameworks, and practiced collaborating with other programmers.
*
7:00 – getting up, training. For an hour on the bike path, I watched programming lectures and presentations by Javascript experts.
I took the train to work and while I was driving, I tried to find as many Javascript specialists on Twitter as possible, subscribed to them and started asking questions.
9:00 – 17:00 – work. I confess, when I returned home, I allowed myself to smoke some weed.
18:00 – 3:00 – programming lessons
And so every day.

All this suggests the idea that if you also work for wear and tear and sacrifice sleep, you will get the same results. but studies showthat the time spent is not proportional to productivity.

The likelihood of getting a job in an IT company is made up of a number of factors. Different people have different benefits:

  • Past coding experience
  • Specialty Diploma
  • Accommodation next to an IT hub
  • Mentors, advisors
  • Social media circle
  • Ability to present yourself in interviews

These and many other variables have their own weight and can increase the odds. Even having a computer and a dedicated Internet connection can be called an advantage – some don’t have it either.

Here’s how I was doing business four years ago. No phone, no laptop, but a great desire to write code! I took my uncle’s phone, rewrote materials from W3Schools, studied them and practiced when I managed to get to the computer. I still don’t have my own computer, but now I work as a front-end developer!

Unfortunately, few authors mention the circumstances that played in their favor, giving the reader the impression that all that is needed is to work hard, work hard and work hard. Don’t get fooled by this. Spare yourself… Workaholism and burnout are already quite acute problems in the IT sphere. There is no need to sacrifice more people to them.

And finally

There is nothing wrong with writing articles like How I Became a Developer. I wrote myself something similar, so I perfectly understand for what reasons people do it.

Making your way into IT is a huge achievement that needs to be given its due, including documentation. Remembering and describing your experience, you can free yourself from the burden of emotions. Moreover, it cannot be denied that such articles are popular – they are clicked on, they are read. People will never stop writing on this topic, and rightly so.

It is important for us as readers to remember one thing: these are only private stories, stories about the experience of specific people. These are not tutorials, and it is not uncommon for such articles to represent a survivor’s mistake. Very few people will be able to reproduce the results described by the author. For every person who took over as a developer after six months, there are a dozen who took years to do. But you will not read their stories, because “How I became a developer in twenty-four months” somehow does not sound.

It doesn’t matter how long it took you to master the profession of a developer: six months, two years, more. Breaking into the industry is just the beginning. Much more important is how you act when you settle in it.


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