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Switching to a Tech Career at Thirty-Five

brucerw3 profile image BruceRW3 ・3 min read

Switching careers after already having a steady one is a scary move, but what should one do when they see the writing on the wall for the career they are currently in? I currently work as a pharmaceutical reverse-distributor for independent pharmacies in the southeastern region covering South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. However, independent pharmacies are struggling and closing at a rapid rate so I decided that it was time to look into something that I knew would be future proof and something that I would enjoy. I also have a wife, three kids, and a dog to think about since I am currently the sole earner in the family. But now that I have been learning online for about a month, I feel like I have made a good decision.

Background

I have always loved using tech, and keeping up with the latest and greatest gadgets, but I always thought getting into the field would be tough and that it was reserved for those already in the field. However, I received a local community college catalog one day, and saw that there were academic certificates I could get, so naturally I started researching more about the career the way most people do, I googled. I also reached out to some friends and family. I thought going to school was the best route, and I was trying to decide if I should get another degree or go on to get a master's in computer science. But after talking to my brother-in-law Wes, who is an Architect, he suggested that I either learn online or look into bootcamps. Now that I knew I had options, I decided to research to see what the best path would be, and decided to go into Web Development.

Finding Time

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I mentioned before that I already have a full time job, but it's pretty flexible. I also mentioned that I have a wife, three kids, and a dog. Two of my kids are in elementary school and the other is only two. So the main issue was to find out which program would work best while still being able to spend time with family and friends.

Research and Pick

Most all of the options have online self paced versions. I didn't find online learning to be a problem because that is how I finished my undergraduate degree, but I also didn't want to go into major debt either. This pretty much caused me to drop the idea of getting a master's, at least for now.Β 

I liked the idea of going to a bootcamp because in my research, I found that networking and working alongside others was important in the tech industry and could open doors. I also liked the fact that a majority had options to pay back tuition after finding a job or the debt would be forgiven. However, a lot of them also had entrance tests. Now, they did give materials to learn enough to pass these entrance tests, but I really needed to figure out if this was something I actually enjoyed.

My last option seemed like the best place to start. Wes sent me a youtube video to see if it was something I would enjoy. It was the "HTML Crash Course For Absolute Beginners" by Brad Traversy on youtube. It is about an hour long, but as soon as I finished I was hooked. I looked up how to get to more learning resources online. I went to freecodecamp.com to start and signed up for a few courses on Udemy. These are great resources because freecodecamp.com is free and Udemy has full courses for a really good price.Β 

Here's to the Future

I have now been doing this since Thanksgiving, and I have tried to do something everyday. I finished my first course on Udemy already and know quite a bit of HTML and CSS. I also decided to try some trials on both Scrimba and Udacity to see if I am ready to take my career change to the next level by learning even more.

Discussion (23)

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howtocode_io profile image
Robert Guss

Awesome! I taught myself at age 29 and have been doing it for six years. I posted my story on here as well if you want to check it out.

Happy to help you anyway that I can so don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help, get stuck, whatever.

You got this!

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brucerw3 profile image
BruceRW3 Author

Thank you! I'll check out your story. It's always encouraging to see others have been here before, and it's also great to see the help offered. I'm sure I'll be reaching out to the community for help as I transition into JS soon.

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arvindsridharan profile image
arvindsridharan

Nice to meet you Robert.

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howtocode_io profile image
Robert Guss

Nice to meet you as well.

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gwsounddsg profile image
GW

I am 37 and also had to do a career change, suddenly for me because of the pandemic shut down all live events which is the field I was in. I got a job as a backend dev in September and totally understand what you're going through.

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BruceRW3 Author

This is very encouraging to hear! How long did you study, and did you go to a bootcamp or learn on your on time?

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gwsounddsg profile image
GW

I have about 10 years of programming experience, all self taught. But it was all in desktop work. I started studying web dev when I got laid off back in March.

So I didn't do a bootcamp or any formal training, but I wouldn't recommend it. So it took me about 5 months of backend studying and trying to get a dev job.

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Giorgos Kontopoulos πŸ‘€

Never too late to get into web development as a career. Learning the fundamentals of html/css/js is a must if you ask me. Enrolling on a bootcamp seems to work well for many people. I prefer tutorials and trying to create something on my own in order to learn something new.

The web developer roadmap might help to see the big picture github.com/kamranahmedse/developer...

One thing that might go against you is applying for junior jobs might be harder as companies seem to favor younger candidates. Perhaps it is only my perception.

Shoot a message if you want any guidance or post in here to the family at large to get help.

Keep it up.

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BruceRW3 Author

Thanks for the link! I find that I usually break everything thing down in three ways: I'll watch a tutorial, I'll read in depth about it, and then, I'll practice doing something. I try not to move too fast because I'm afraid I may miss something, and I want to have a firm grasp before moving on. I'll be sure to reach out when I get stuck.

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Giorgos Kontopoulos πŸ‘€

That seems like a good tactic, everyone has their own method of learning things. Find what is comfortable to you, but be sure to understand the bigger picture and how each part of your stack relates to others you have learned.

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arvindsridharan

Dear Bruce, Welcome to the world of Tech. I am very much inspired by your version of how you are trying to switch your career.

I am also learning HTML, CSS and Php. Let's team up and work on projects collectively.

What are you working on these days. May be I can learn that too and we can exchange notes.

Keen to hear from you.

Your companion in this Tech journey
Arvind.

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BruceRW3 Author

Thank you! I am actually getting ready to move into JS. I mentioned getting into Scrimba or Udacity because I would like to get into a community where I can get real world feedback on projects that I do. I may post a link to my github later so others can give feedback on whatever I'm working on. I would like to look into any projects to work on together. Working as a team on something would be good experience. Good luck to you on your journey as well.

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Nikki

That's awesome! I'm 34 and have been studying for a few years in an attempt to switch careers due to a disability. I wish I would've discovered Brad Traversy sooner, he's one of my favorite instructors (writes clean code and explains things well). FCC is also a great resource I still use. If you're consistent and keep learning, you'll do just fine 😊

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BruceRW3 Author

Brad Traversy has been awesome. I took his HTML and CSS course on Udemy after I got it on sale. It is so great to have guys like him who want to see others succeed in this field. Thanks for giving another resource, and good luck in your studies!

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Sam Legge

I wish you the best on your new career change! Similar to you, I am 36 with two kids in elementary, working full time, and trying to learn on my own. I'm also considering a bootcamp for those same reasons of networking and working through it with peers.

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BruceRW3 Author

Thanks! Good luck to you as well! Have you tried anything that sticks out to you that you would recommend trying?

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Sam Legge

In terms of courses: I like both Colt Steele and Angela Yu's Udemy courses. I'm currently learning python through them but also have their web dev courses as as my next to do. Just be sure to always find a promo code for Udemy so you only pay between $10-15 per course. In terms of computer science, I plan to also take the free CS50 through Harvard.

For motivation: I will listen to podcasts in the car related to development. Codenewbies, Learn to Code With Me, and the freecodecamp podcasts have many episodes that interview people who went through career changes and are now devs.

For productivity: I found I struggle with this especially because I work night shift and I flip my day/nights frequently through the week. I prioritize getting around 8 hours of sleep. If there is a day that I can only get 4-6 hours, then I try to make up what I missed by taking a nap or sleeping longer the next time.

I also find I study more effectively if I plan my day when I wake up or the night before. I recommend using an app like trello or notion to make a list of your goals for the day, what's in progress/what you're working on, and what you complete. I find that I procrastinate less when I am able to see what I need to do. (Essentially, breaking down the problem each day into smaller chunks and tackling each one individually)

When I study/code, I use a timer app to use the pomodoro technique and track how much time I actually spend working on something. This can also be motivating to see at the end of the week. I can also later track it to see which weeks where more effective and relate that to my work schedule.

Also, keep finding time to get out on your MTB!

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Nelson

I'm 45 and I have a similar story. Keep working and practicing a lot, that's the secret.

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BruceRW3 Author

Good to hear there are others that came from a similar place. Practice is very important from what I'm learning. Doing things repetitively to gain muscle memory is what I'm currently working at as well. I know this is a marathon, and so any good habit, I can develop now is important, and practice definitely helps with that.

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Mohammed Sardar

Hi,
I'm 36, forced to resign from my job due to negative business impact of COVID. Learning React these JS on self. Getting ready to apply as a freelancer. Mostly I worked as backend developer... Hoping for the best. Good luck All.

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dustinjray

I am also trying to switch careers in my mid thirties, due almost exclusively to the pandemic. It's definitely scary but I've really enjoyed everything I've learned so far. The thing I find the hardest is knowing what I want to learn to do, as there are so many options, and knowing what path would be a) the quickest to get into as someone who has learned exclusively from Udemy over the past year and b) will pay the most. I haven't NOT enjoyed any aspect of learning to program yet so at this moment I have no reason to believe I wouldn't like whatever I end up doing but I'm sure there are types of jobs I wouldn't enjoy so that's another added difficulty, not knowing what to avoid.

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Kristian Pedersen

I'm looking for my first dev job at age 31, with a couple of years of JavaScript from personal projects, and occasional work projects (in a non-technical field).

I've learned the most when I've come up with projects that interest me or someone I know, and are challenging, but not impossible.

Best of luck!

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Magda Sokol(...)

Bravo! Also switching my career to WebDev now :)