DEV Community

loading...
Cover image for Starting Over

Starting Over

cat profile image Cat 惻Updated on 惻2 min read

It's been almost 4 years since I've graduated from college. I studied web design and development -- and I gotta tell you -- I didn't learn sh_t.

I wasn't confident enough to interview as a developer. I was intimidated by the prospect of having to whiteboard code and solve algorithmic problems (I'm terrible at math). I had no idea what the hell "Big O notation" was or even how to properly articulate and explain that infamous "fizz" "buzz" problem.

To tell you the truth, I still don't.

About 1.5 years after I graduated, I finally got my foot in the tech door as a contractor for a big, BIG household-name company. I was so proud of myself; I thought I had made it. SPOILERS: I actually didn't.

Little did I know that contractors were at the bottom-rung of the barrel. Hell, my manager told me to just make up my title (I chose "UX/UI Specialist"--not quite designer, not quite developer, but I knew a thing or two about both). My job was to audit the UI and UX of the product, tell engineers and designers where everything fell apart across all platforms. I had to pinpoint where in the code-- in various programming languages-- why the hell does this timestamp render differently on each iteration of the product (why are "am" and "pm" capitalized on one platform, and why is it rendering only in military time on the other??? WHO DID THIS? WHO SAID THIS WAS OKAY?)

I digress-- it was a great experience, despite the frustration that came with attempting to decipher the spaghetti that was this product. This lead to a massive overhaul of how this particular team will coordinate building and modifying the product.

However, I wasn't legally supposed to receive any recognition. I wasn't even supposed to say I worked for the company, but instead, through the contracting place.

It was bullsh_t.

I decided I needed to step up. The path I chose, though, is an expensive one: I enrolled in a software engineering immersive at General Assembly. Thankfully I received a scholarship which took off a good chunk of tuition.

I already finished the 60 hours of pre-work, which included reviewing the basics of HTML, CSS, and JS. To kill more time, I'm currently running through the Javascript Algorithms and Data Certification course on freecodecamp.

Essentially, I'm starting over, but I have a good feeling about this. Maybe this time, the basics will stick and I'll finally have the guts to apply to jobs as a developer.

Wish me luck!

Comment on this post with your best advice for coding n00bs!

Discussion (19)

pic
Editor guide
Collapse
ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Really honest post. Great to see you around here again. Seems like you're making a lot of progress.

False starts are incredibly normal and regrouping like this is really normal. I'm not that far removed from being exactly where you are.

@jess is a GA grad šŸŽ‰

Collapse
cat profile image
Cat Author

Thanks, Ben!

I really wish you could detect a false start before it happens lol. But, your journey is your journey-- gotta take it in stride. ĀÆ_(惄)_/ĀÆ

WHAA that's awesome!

Collapse
brandelune profile image
Jean-Christophe Helary

Life is full of things that you call "false" starts. But you only call them "false" after you've started and after you realize that you were not happy with them, so there must be something about them that is not so "false" after all.

Maybe you're just too big for the box which you were being prepared to fill.

As far as I can tell, my life has been full of 3-5 years cycles, within longer cycles (of which I have less experience) of 8-10 years. I'd say that the shorter cycles roughly look like the time it takes to understand something in your body. So, yes, maybe outgrowing that invisible box.

Some people grow faster, some slower. But telling yourself it is just natural growth is also a way to put the responsibility on the people who created a box too small for you, and not on you for failing to detect how fast you'd outgrow something you were not aware was made to be so tight in the first place. :-)

Collapse
jess profile image
Jess Lee (she/her)

Good luck at GA!!! I met some really awesome people through that program :)

Collapse
kironroy profile image
Kiron Roy

This is a great article. Starting my job search now. Good luck to both of us šŸ˜ƒ

Collapse
victorioberra profile image
Victorio Berra

My first job out of college just wanted a cheap code monkey to spit out line of business apps. That job gave me a ton of real world experience that led to many other Good paying jobs. I think it also depends on what kind of jobs you want to go for. Tons of jobs that need full stack developers will never require a whiteboard test.

Collapse
kironroy profile image
Kiron Roy

This is good to know. I am attempting to "put my foot in the door" into tech. I have been studying C# development for a little over a year: C# wiki. I am starting my job search now.

Collapse
victorioberra profile image
Victorio Berra

There is this software engineer culture on the internet that makes people feel like if you aren't working at FAANG making 300K TC then you haven't "made it". Meanwhile there are tons of junior dev jobs starting at 70k in the midwest that are just looking for any novice with good work ethic.

Collapse
mcnchem profile image
Chem

Thank you for posting such a reflective piece. I am thankful that pointed out how you started then switch up as needed. Glad to know that Iā€™m not alone in this experience.

I hope to see more updates !

More positivity and clarity flowing your way šŸŒŸ

Collapse
winstonmuller profile image
Winston Muller

The majority of fantastic developers I've worked with or hired have had a weird career path. It might not seem like it now but your variety in experience will make you a better developer in the long run. Keep working at it and get over that junior developer stage and you're going to be an excellent developer.

Collapse
raullarosa_ profile image
La Rosa āœˆļø

That is all experience under your belt! You will use that to your advantage in your future job search and a smart employer will recognize that. You will also catch those red flags you encountered from your past employer a lot sooner to make sure you receive the experience/recognition you deserve. It is all preparing you for something great..

Best advice I would give is to build and learn for yourself. So you can be a better developer/designer/engineer w.e. So you can do better work and feel good about what you leave on the table. No employer can ever take that away from you.

Collapse
brandelune profile image
Jean-Christophe Helary

Let me start over.

It would be a false start if it were a race.

Your life is not a race. There is no start that you take (you were certainly not born in this world by your own choice) and there is no final line where you have to stop to get a score. And races are by definitions managed by sets of rules over which you have no control whatsoever. Which is not what your life is about in reality.

There is not one race metaphor that has a positive influence on our outcomes as human beings.

Collapse
l04db4l4nc3r profile image
Angad Sharma

Best of luck, Cat.

Collapse
cat profile image
Cat Author

Thank you, Angad!

Collapse
gvetri profile image
Collapse
calebpitan profile image
Caleb Adepitan

How is it that your name is Cat and the cover has a cat?
Anyway good luck, Cat

Collapse
andy profile image
Andy Zhao (he/him)

Damn that's rough, but love the clarity you have on the situation. Rooting for you āœŠāœŠāœŠ

Collapse
vaibhavkhulbe profile image
Vaibhav Khulbe

You'll do good Cat. Good luck with that!

Collapse
mhasansoft profile image
Mahmudul Hasan

My situation is as same as you. After graduation i work hard to develop my developing and technical skill. I love front end. Thanks for sharing your experience. Good luck!