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Cat McGee
Cat McGee

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Want to be a full-stack developer without a degree? This is what you need

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Hello everyone! Becoming a developer isn't easy, and it becomes even less easy when you don't have a degree. Not because you're any less skilled, but because a lot of companies look for a degree to demonstrate your skills. Honestly, it's pretty rigged. I'm sure we all know that you learn so much more from working or coding on your own than you ever could from university.

The good news is - you don't need a degree. There are plenty of other ways to demonstrate that you will be an amazing employee. And this article talks about everything you need to have to show off your skills.

If you're like me and have a short attention span, you might rather read this as a slightly less-detailed Twitter thread. So here you go.

1. One big project

This is the most important thing on this list, and if you take anything away from this article, let it be this.

Build a big project that incorporates everything - frontend, backend, and database. It'll show four things:

  • You can code
  • You understand the layers of software
  • You are hard-working and can complete a project
  • You are passionate

All of these things are so important for becoming a full-stack developer. If you can have one project to showcase your knowledge here, you're golden.

Get this project up on GitHub and have an EXCELLENT README to go along with it. Talk about it on your CV, detailing what your project does and the stack you used.

Make this project something you're passionate about. Know it back to front. You'll be asked about this in interviews, so you need to know how it works!

2. Something on the cloud

A lot of people use the cloud nowadays, so it's 100% worth your while to learn it. You don't have to learn it in depth. Just deploy something up there and call it a day. That one process will be enough to demonstrate that you understand the cloud and how to use a cloud service. Deploy your big project we talked about before, or something else if you like.

It doesn't really matter which service you'd use, but I'd go with AWS. They're widely used and have a great free tier.

Having something you built up on a domain that a potential employer can use and play with is incredible. It's such an easy way to showcase what you can do, and an employer will see that.

3. A few blog posts

I'm sure you already know this, especially if you're on DEV.to, but writing blog posts is so incredibly useful.

  • You will cement your knowledge
  • You will help someone
  • Your technical experience is broadcasted to the world
  • You can show off your communication skills
  • You can show off your personality

While writing articles isn't necessary to showcase these skills, it certainly helps.

Just one or two blog posts can help a potential employer see your communication skills and your shining personality!

4. Work experience

Work experience is unbeatable. It shows that you can work in a team, which is more often than not essential in a full-stack developer position. It also shows that you can convert someone else's requirements and vision into a real product, which is, you know, what a job is.

I know what you're thinking: "how can I get work experience without... work experience???"

There are plenty of ways to accomplish this and get it on your CV. You can make a website for a friend, or work with someone on your football team to create some sort of management software for your coach. Even if this isn't strictly related to development - maybe your aunt wanted a design for her cookbook promotion page - it is unbeatable experience.

5. A personality

Soft skills - everyone's favourite!! (This is sarcasm.)

Your personality is so so so so so so important. I cannot stress this enough. If someone finds you interesting or fun to talk to, or enjoys reading your articles, they are way more likely to want to interview you than if not.

Whether or not you find that fair is up to you. But soft skills are essential to have.

You can easily demonstrate your personality by:

  • Throwing a bit of flair into your projects
  • Making jokes in articles
  • Talking about hobbies on social media
  • Having a colourful CV
  • Making videos on YouTube

and countless other ways.

6. A place for all of this to come together

The thing about a degree is that it is one piece of paper that showcases a lot of these essential skills. You need to have the equivalent.

Make sure you put all of these on your resume. I also highly recommend building a website with links to all of your projects, articles, social media, etc. This website doesn't need to be great - it just need to be a nice introduction that quickly links to everything you've accomplished.

Everything should link to everything else.

7. A drive

Last but not least, you've got to want to do this. As long as you have a bit of determination, you can honestly do anything. I fully believe this.

All of these things will help you land an interview. In the actual interview, it will also be useful to be knowledgable of data structures and algorithms. But that's another article.

Good luck out there. Y'all can do it.

Discussion (7)

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heytulsiprasad profile image
Tulsi Prasad

Really impressed of the way you write and express yourself. It felt as if you're explaining this to someone in real life. Have a great day ☺

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catmcgeecode profile image
Cat McGee Author

Thanks Tulsi!!

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mustafaaljassim profile image
Eng_Mustafa

Thanks for sharing these golden tips.

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giangvincent profile image
giang vincent

"knowledge is the cheapest thing".
In 2-4 years, all the knowledge you learnt became fade or out of time. And you need to relearn or learn new thing suitable for present time. Sometime, when you take new job that process will come sooner, maybe months after you graduated. So with or without degree doesn't make any different, you still need to keep charge your brain with new techs. I think a degree maybe have its place at some companies that require it to reduce the number of resume for first round of recruitment time.

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aminmansuri profile image
hidden_dude • Edited

I consider this a major flaw in the industry.

It just seems that new frameworks and "new technologies" are just reinvented all the time for no real reason. In web development the plethora of frameworks and languages for both front and backend don't really serve a great need. We just follow the whims of major companies vying for the developer mindshare and I'm not sure we're actually building products better, faster or cheaper.

We just follow fashion.

That being said there's a lot of underlying knowledge that gets reused. I haven't seen many new ideas in the last 20 years.. just rehashes of old ones.

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fahaddevs profile image
Fahad Bin Faiz

Really amazing article ☺️

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andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Another great article so much information to absorb from this.