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Nicholas Fazzolari
Nicholas Fazzolari

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Reaching Out - Worries About my Journey as a Developer so Far

Hi fellow Devs. I'm nearing the completion of my Computer-Science degree and am feeling rather lost, worried, and lonely in the world of development. I started college at 29 to change my career path from food service and live music to becoming a web/application developer. When I was younger I decided to delay my college education until later in life. Some reasons included family finance, having a secure job and a successful band which was allowing me to live my youthful dream of touring in a band and bringing my creative output to people. I went and toured the world with my punk band and made great connections there and found a lot of fulfillment and still preform from time to time. However, the music scene operates too late at night with too much partying so I'm off boarding from it quite a lot. This is leaving a huge scary void in my life.

My decision to attend college for CS was not an arbitrary choice. I began writing web sites in 1999, made Quake2 maps and stayed active with graphic design work in my adventures as a musician. We made all our art and products ourselves, 100% DIY. I love creating things in the digital domain and have had some success in doing so. I've been actively working on translating all the skills I've gained throughout my life to software development, which has shown some positive results from what I can measure.

Throughout my education I have managed to transition into a part-time IT job and am getting occasional freelance work as a web developer/digital designer. It seems like I've learned a lot of really valuable software development skills and theories, and have become a far better developer and problem solver due to my education. However, something feels like it's missing.

After doing some thinking I figured out what it is that is missing. I'm in need of a mentor. I am eager to be part of a community. I want to get involved! I have more time as my classes are mainly electives. I'm finding it difficult to navigate it all. I'm a social person and love being part of communities.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Discussion (7)

michaelrice profile image
Michael Rice

Hi Nicholas,

Curious: going from a world of music and the restaurant business, which I know from my own work experiences a long time ago is a high energy, high temp work, full of energy, movement, and people to... computer science where it's generally very quiet, solitary work, especially if you're studying in college.

Sure once you get into teams, there's communication, but the energy level of software engineers is typically far, far below, say, the concert scene!

Could that be what's missing?

nickfazzpdx profile image
Nicholas Fazzolari Author

This is an interesting insight which I haven't put much thought too. It could be part of it. One thing I've been thinking about since making this post is that I'm going through a common anxiety adults changing careers go through. Imposters syndrome came back into my thoughts too.

I've been working my ass off to start producing some work that shows my skills. I have a nice agenda this summer to roll out some cool work and a new personal site. Those accomplishments along with going to some local meetups and reaching out to people should hopefully boost confidence.

anduser96 profile image
Andrei Gatej

IMHO, you shouldn’t only rely on a mentor. In my world, a mentor is useful when you’ve really been stuck on a problem for more than you should or when you need(and you’ll need) to learn from his/her experience.

In my case, the mentor is the community. You might often see posts when people are sharing their experiences or giving advice regarding what to do in certain situations.

Even when you get stuck on something, you have plenty of choices. Just to name a few, you could write a quick post here in which you address the problem you are facing. Or you could reach out to someone on Twitter.

So if in your case the most significant thing that’s missing is a mentor, I’d say that you shouldn’t worry too much. I’m sure you can find support in these large communities of web developers. Why? Because you want to go from X to Y. And there are a lot of people who already reached Y. They can help you.

What I’m actually trying to say is that If you ever need help or advice, you can rely on other devs that are out there.

I hope it was helpful. Again, it is just my opinion.

Best of luck!

nickfazzpdx profile image
Nicholas Fazzolari Author

Those are some good points. After I posted this rant and internalized it some more I'm realizing a lot of this initial work is on me. Now that I have more time and the end of my education is near this anxiety is probably many others have gone through.

Time to focus and get out there and make things with people!

kyleljohnson profile image
Kyle Johnson

I have been in software development for over 20 years. IMO, The best mentor is a book. You retain the information better and the information while still subjective, has been tested with time.

Since you are a front-end person I would start with book.

nickfazzpdx profile image
Nicholas Fazzolari Author

Thank you for the reply. Familiar with smashing mag, didn't know they had full books! Very cool.

manan30 profile image
Manan Joshi

Hello Nicholas,

I hope you are doing great in your career! It was a bold career move. IMO, you should start small. Pick a language/skill/framework of your choice and practice it a lot. Start developing small projects. This will enable you to learn something new each day. To be honest you can become your mentor with enough practice. Lastly, feel free to reach out at any moment on this awesome community. People are always ready to help.

Good luck on your journey.