About 360-some days ago, I started my first front end engineer role. It has been a year packed with a bunch of learning, challenges, and a crazy amount of personal and professional growth.
While I will never say, "Coding is for everyone", I can truthfully say that I believe for anyone looking to enter a career with stability and the ability to make an impact on a regular basis, development just might be it.
I still consciously make sure to not downplay the effort and self-motivation needed to be a self-directed learner—or even to go to a boot camp or get a college degree—but I don’t think things like not loving math or never having coded before should be a reason not to consider a career in technology. Below I will break down some of my main findings of the past year.
I refuse to accept any notions that you aren’t a developer if you aren’t being paid for it. You don’t have to be an expert to be one, either. Each of these mindsets creates barriers to entry in a field that needs a huge influx of talent.
The perspective a non-senior developer has is essential to any open source team or workplace. If documentation doesn’t make sense to just about anyone, then it might as well be a poorly written diary entry.
The impact you can make from the beginning is profound. Technology should make life easier, and it’s time for the entire industry* to stop pretending coding is inaccessible to people who can’t spend upwards of four years in a classroom learning about algorithmic theory when so much of my day-to-day is hands-on learning and implementation.
I’ve read a lot of great blog posts over the last year on how some of the best skills you can have as a developer, really aren’t technical at all.
Empathy, for example, is without a doubt a trait that can be learned just by putting your end users' needs in mind when designing and coding applications. But this also extends to people you interact with on a regular basis while discussing coding, the tech industry, and your day-to-day job in general.
Communication skills such as active listening, writing, as well being able to teach through a variety of formats (videos, blog posts, tweets) are important to making sure the tech industry is more welcoming to all people of different backgrounds.
Being a well-rounded person with an open mind and willingness to elevate others, in my opinion, is far more valuable than being super talented at writing complex code in low-level programming languages.
I’m definitely one of the people who find purpose in being perpetually busy. One thing I’ve come to learn and love about my journey within the past year is that taking a break—whether it’s from getting the green little squares on GitHub, or even from taking a rest week from physical activity— breaks are one of the best ways to improve your life. Your mind and body need meaningful rest.
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of our capitalistic society. I’d encourage everyone to rebel from time to time and catch up on ‘you time’. You’ll come away with some previously hidden self truths, and maybe even a renewed passion for what you do!
*Some progress is being made in regard to four-year CS degrees not being a main qualification at top programming companies.