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Matt Upham
Matt Upham

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You Need This Skill - Crucial for Success

Start before you’re ready because you’ll never be fully ready. Just take the leap. That’s the most valuable skill I’ve ever learned (College doesn’t teach you this). This is extremely applicable to learning how to code, wherever in the process you may be.

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YouTube - Matt Upham
(Please excuse the video quality - it was one of the first ones I made. They've gotten substantially better since then, but I think the content is still valuable)

Start Before You're Ready

About 1.5 years ago, I graduated from college and was completely lost on what to do with my career as an Industrial Engineer. After working a bunch of miserable internships, I quit. I packed up my car and headed from the East coast to the West coast with no clear plan in mind.

After 3 months living on the road, doing a lot of research and through self-discovery, I decided to start on the most challenging endeavor I’ve pursued to date: to make the career transition to be a software engineer in Silicon Valley. I had gotten C’s in the handful of computer science courses I took in college, but even with those failures, I decided to give this a shot because I had no other hope in a career. If I was going to make this switch, I was taking the risk and going all in.

I self-studied for 8 weeks before getting into a coding bootcamp. After moving to San Francisco, I grinded for 3 months, 80 hours a week. The environment was extremely stressful. I had a few mental breakdowns throughout the journey, and there were a bunch of times I didn’t think I would make it through. I was scared out of my mind and never felt like I was ready.

I moved out west before I was ready. I started learning new coding skills before I was ready. I got an apartment in San Francisco before I was ready. I jumped on the job search before I was ready. This was the number one thing I’ve attributed to my success in making the transition, and it completely paid off.

Fast forward 1.5 years later, and I’m working at a startup building things I never thought I’d be able to build. The work is challenging, engaging, fun, and most of all, I get paid to learn! Much better than those boring internships, where I’d sit at a desk all day, counting down the minutes until the day’s end, just to go home, wake up, and do it all over again.

Those past work experiences drained me completely, and I felt lifeless. Now I feel full of life, being challenged, working with smart /engaged people, and actually looking forward to going to work, which is a new experience for me (I never thought I’d look forward to going to work)!
Life is not perfect by any means, but it's definitely better than it used to be.

If I had known back in college that computer science was not soul-crushingly difficult, and achievable, I would have studied it. But because of a handful of classes meant to weed out students who didn’t do well, I ultimately switched majors.

If I can help at least one person not go through the pain of waking up to a miserable, painful job that they HATE, push them to take the risk and try something way out of their comfort zone, and watch them succeed, I’d be content. My goal though is to help many more. I never ever ever want someone to go through the pain of being completely lost, unfulfilled, and lifeless because of a job. Life is too short to hate what you do, 40+ hours a week.

Share this article with someone you know who can’t stand what they’re doing, and needs an extra push to take the leap and try something new (whatever it might be).

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Thanks for reading!

Discussion (2)

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_ezell_ profile image
Ezell Frazier

I agree. I think I've talked myself out of way more missed opportunities that probably weren't as difficult as I perceived.

Just do it. Does Nike still use that slogan?

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mattupham profile image
Matt Upham Author

Same here - I've realized whenever I'm fearful, that's usually a sign to ignore it and start whatever I'm doing haha. And yup! They still use that slogan 😜