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Cover image for It is never too late to change careers

It is never too late to change careers

patferraggi profile image Patricio Ferraggi ・4 min read

If you are interested in reading this article in Spanish, check out my blog The Developer's Dungeon

Background

I grew up in an upper-middle-class home in a suburban neighborhood in Argentina. During my adolescence I was quite a mess:

  • I liked punk rock so I wanted to wear a mohawk in a school where you had to wear shoes, shirt, and tie
  • I fought with my father constantly
  • I did not do well in school, mostly because I ditched class to go play magic the gathering or play video games.

After I turned 18, I didn't knew what I wanted to do with my life, I knew I had to go to college because that is what everybody does right?
Since my high school was business-oriented I signed up for a double major in Business Administration and Accounting at the University of Buenos Aires, the biggest university in the country.

Forward 5 years later, it was 2013 and I was 23 years old, I was still living with my parents, working 8 hours a day as a bank teller while going to university in the afternoon/night.
Pretty normal life right? probably everyone I know would have considered that a good path for someone who is progressing in his life.

For me, it was hell. I was not happy, although I was making progress at school I was half-assing it, I did not like what I was learning one bit, but I knew I wanted a good life and I thought that was the correct path to get one.

The breaking point

The funny thing is I have always been around technology I just didn't realize it could be the right thing for me. My father is a software engineer but our relationship is complicated so my attention was diminished, all my friends worked in software or IT.

It was one of those friends, Gaston, who probably knew me better than I did, that told me many times that I would love writing software. I have doubts if I could even understand it, but I decided to give it a try. He gave me a brief introduction and I got the book used in the first year of Engineering majors at my university and started learning algorithms, data structures, and C/C++.

I was immediately hooked.
I felt like I had discovered a new world.
I felt like I had gained magical powers.
This was something special.

I did spend many days and nights meditating about my life and what I wanted to do with it. I recognized that coding was something I was deeply interested like I never had been before, no one had to tell me to study, to read, to practice, I did it out of my own interest and curiosity about everything that this new world had to offer me. So I decided to make a full switch and become a software developer.

After I completely finished that book, the same friend, who is a .NET developer told me to read C# in Depth by Jon Skeet, I went over it and started doing C# with Windows Forms.

It is funny how one event can trigger multiple others, from that moment I used what I knew and started doing hacks for the same video games I used to play many years earlier.
Started small with some macros that would hit certain keys, then to reading and writing memory and then to creating DLLs that would Hook windows functions in order to read client-server traffic.

At the same time I got accepted at a C# Bootcamp given by Accenture, it was free but involved going there 8 hours a day for a month, which meant quitting my job as a bank teller. I decided to take a leap and do it, quitted my job and went through the Bootcamp.

I guess Gaston still saw potential in me because when I finished the Bootcamp he gave me a recommendation at his job. Two months later, I was working there as a .NET Developer, doing C#, Webforms and ASP.net MVC.

How did everything turn out?

It is 2020 and I am working as .NET/Angular developer. I had a few jobs by now, working with C#, F#, JavaScript, and TypeScript.

  • I still come back home after working 8 hours and I code my ass off.
  • When I work out I have a long list of software development podcasts.
  • Before bed, I read software development related books.
  • I give mentorship to starting developers on the weekends.
  • I have worked in some open source projects including my own Visual Studio Code extension.
  • I blog at least once a week.
  • In my spare time I like to build stuff with JavaScript although lately, I have been getting deep into Functional Programming and Haskell.

This career has introduced me to amazing people and even gave me the opportunity to move outside the country and experience a different kind of life. After 6 years, I still think this is what I want to do for the rest of my life, I am very lucky that I found my calling in life and I had friends pushing me forward at the right time.

Do you still have doubts?

Your situation might be different, but if you feel related to my love story with software development, please do whatever is in your power to continue on this path, it's worth it, I just regret I didn't start earlier.

Now I can look back and see that all my choices, though scarier, were rooted in something powerful, the realization that this was the correct path for me.

I can't do the work for you, but I can give you my story as proof that it is possible, I can be there and push you forward when you need to, I can give you advice and guide you in your journey.

Thank you for reading this summary of my journey into development, a journey that is only just starting and I can't wait to see what the future has ready for me. If you liked this article, please share it.

The promise I made a few lines back was real, if you need help, DM on twitter or ask me your question right down in the comments, you have a new friend πŸ˜„

Discussion

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chrisjabb21 profile image
Christopher Fouad Jabbour

Thanks for sharing your experience Patricio. I can relate to this and not knowing what I wanted to do. I myself have been having struggles of my own with getting my first software development job after college with a masters in IT security and only self taught experience ( alot of rejection and no work experience due to some hardships) of web development with courses and a coding bootcamp. I been studying hard, trying to work on projects on the side, and blog more about what I learn. I might have an opportunity coming up but still trying to push and learn. I been trying to find a community and network with others in this field when i can and find my niche in programming. Sorry for the long comment.

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Patricio Ferraggi Author

Hey Christopher, no worries about the length of the comment 😊. Sounds like you are doing everything correctly, as you said creating side projects is a good way of learning and showcasing what you can do. If it is possible, try to find a project that is as "Real Life" as possible, blogging is also a great way to show passion and get your name out there. I am not sure if you are already doing it but consider joining meetups or local user groups, networking is such a big part of getting your first step into the industry. Generally speaking, people that go to meetups are just as passionate as you so they are more than willing to help you out getting your foot in the door. If you need someone to maybe look at your LinkedIn/Resume to see if there is anything missing just hit me on Twitter.

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Christopher Fouad Jabbour

Thanks man, i appreciate it. Hey you are in luck, I have been going to meetups starting this year (wish i did it sooner than later, I was fighting imposter syndrome) and even networking events in my city. I went to one before the pandemic to and it helped me be comfortable with those events and learn. They can be a drive from where live but I am glad I am trying it when I can. I mostly designed websites but i am trying to make picture list of all the websites I made. I have deployed some simple projects on my github in the past as well. By "Real Life" do you mean a project that solves a problem (like ordering a pizza or looking for pets to adapt) uses a database, MVC, or something like e-commerce shop or dating app. Or would both be good? I had my sights on a bigger project myself or expanding on other projects i made as ideas. Hey that means alot. I will hit you up on twitter as well. I just been busy learning and putting all my social media on my Dev account.

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Patricio Ferraggi Author

Hey, that is good to hear. When everything goes back to normal continue doing that. By real life I mean something that is more than a tutorial, usually when you build your own stuff you encounter many many problems, those problems teach you stuff you didn't expect. Sure hit me on Twitter when you feel like it

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Wagner Damasio Jr

Thanks for sharing your story PatrΓ­cio really got connected to it as I myself have a similar one.

Been working as a Sql Server DBA for the past 3 years just took on a trip as a .net dev for 6 months now willing to work hard and learn more and more everyday about .Net (framework and core) and Angularjs
Nunca Γ© tarde amigo

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Patricio Ferraggi Author

Nice!, congratulations on taking that trip, that DBA experience is gonna be incredibly valuable for you as a developer so take pride. If you need some guidance with what to learn on .net angular that is my jam, just let me know.

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DesirΓ© πŸ‘©β€πŸŽ“πŸ‘©β€πŸ«

Thank you for sharing your experience Patricio, it was enlightening and amazing. A big hug from another self-taught here 😊

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Patricio Ferraggi Author

Hi Desiré, thank you very much for taking the time to read it and for the hug 😊. Don't wanna sound like a stalker but I know you from twitter ahah. Abrazo

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DesirΓ© πŸ‘©β€πŸŽ“πŸ‘©β€πŸ«

Haha, cool! Nos leemos pronto 😊

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Joel Manley

I wouldn't say 23 years old is too late for anything. Interesting to hear your journey, Patricio, C# has always sounded like a nice language to learn, what are your thoughts on it?

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Patricio Ferraggi Author

I would say it is never too late, even if you already picked up something else.
I think it is a great language and it has never been a better time to learn it. C# has been updated in the last years and it is a very performant multiplatform object-oriented language. In the past, one could have made the argument that Java was a better option due to it's "open source" support and multiplatform features, but that is no longer the case. With the release of the latest versions of C# and .net core and the completely open-sourced approach by Microsoft, it is better than ever. Building microservices with asp.net core is just pure joy.