It's decided, I switch career

I'm a self-taught web programmer. I started the transition into dev more than a year ago, after twelve years as an Electrician. Yes, I know, my article comes a bit late, I wanted to share my journey since a long time, but I'm shy and I delayed the process of doing so a bit. But here we are.


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How it started

I had some previous « knowledge » (If it even could be call that way) from some hobby projects that I did a long time ago (and never finished), using PHP & MySQL, with an old book from the late 2000, to build « dynamic websites ».

So, when I started to transition recently, using Twitter for the first time in the process, discovering the landscape of web development made me lost my minds, a bit. Tech Twitter ~was~ is quite wild; you can find anything from the top to the bottom, from the trash and the trolls to good and useful content, finding my way there was a bit difficult.

From my point of view, technologies all felt the same, with some unique features in each that I could not even understand what they were here for anyway. I tried up few things, enjoyed some, hated some, and decided that to start with, Node.js, Angular, few others things. (Twitter propaganda won ?)

It took me a bit longer to reach where I am today than I expected at first, even though I already knew that it is a difficult field, but I thought that my pre-existing knowledge (lol?) would make any difference and it did not.

Today, I don't think I understand it all, up to the machine code, for sure, but I can comprehend the whole process from « top to bottom », without the noisy library/framework/runtime abstraction in my head, which I think is really important, at least to me.

The hard parts, as a Self-taught

I'm not educated that much, and did not even go to my country's college equivalent, therefore structuring my journey feels quite hard, but to summarize a bit;

« Finding the right stack to get a job »

As an example, in my area, there is far more Angular jobs than React ones and there is a lot of PHP jobs which by the way are more on Symfony than Laravel.

That is not something people talk much about, the area you target is quite important to get a job than what you think, and there is also much more than just a programming language in the process.

« Good roadmaps & learning materials »

While YouTube is a great platform to learn, it is absolutely not enough and because it is so open for anyone to do videos, there is as much good content that there is bad content, which could even be counter-productive. The same could probably apply to Udemy and such platforms.

It is without mentioning that some content decays over time, when the library you use is at v4 but content out there is only about the previous version, and the API has changed a lot in the transition, and such things.

Roadmaps are underrated in my opinion, because all those fields require so much underlying knowledge, that roadmaps in general should probably give you a guideline of learnings, what to learn, the exact keywords to search about, transversal useful knowledge, related group of knowledge to know about, etc .

« Finding good projects, practicing a lot »

It is no secret for anyone but to be a master of your craft, you have to practice a lot.

It is hard to find big and good projects that you will work on for days, weeks and months, that you may even extend further throughout time, and that will force you to practice essential skills and knowledge to get a certain job.

While there is probably some pure gold out there, I found it hard to find it by just googling, communities are probably well suited there, discussing with people to know about list of detailed projects to train yourself, and more.

« A feedback loop, and accepting critics »

In my previous career, asking for help and advice was easy, I don't know why, while here I try hard to not ask for anything and to find answers by myself as much as I can, even if it delays my productivity, and I think it's bad.

I think the best trade-off is to search the answers really, then if you're stuck for too long, reach for others' help. Also put yourself outside (It do not enough err) and ask for feedbacks as much as possible, while all critics are probably not good to follow (we are all humans, right ?) some could be pure gold.

How it's going

So, recently I wanted to seek jobs, first because I need money and then because I feel like I'm ready to go to the outside even though all my skills are not where I want them to be.

Throughout my learnings, and as a self-taught, you easily go all over the places, and while it is probably bad in some ways, by doing, so I found out what I really wanted to do, because « web development » is a catch-all for many type of career opportunities. Exploring is probably good.

Building a portfolio being essential for someone without an educational background, recently I tried to filter my ideas to only start projects that I want to use too, and that I will extend easily over time, because I enjoy them.

With recent events in the tech industry, slow-down, big layouts, etc..., I'm afraid for myself, sure, yet I think that no matter where you go, there is outcome and that I just need to go further and further, because I enjoy what I'm doing know, even though I don't have « big-projects-experience » yet.

Also, I do want to make open source and help projects like Node.js, Angular, Fastify and more, because I feel quite empowered by all the good things these technologies provides and I want to give back. I think, big experiences could be found in that area too.

Takeaways

Keep in mind that all I say is about transitioning career, mine, and I'm not an expert. You can reach your goals with other pathways, and you can make money with more, or less.


See ya!


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