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How I became a software developer in the traditional way

rodw1995 profile image Robbie op de Weegh ・4 min read

Lately I read and hear more and more stories from people who have become software developers by following a bootcamp. I didn't follow a bootcamp but became a software developer in the more traditional way. So I thought maybe it's fun and interesting to write this story down.

Teenager

It all started for me as a 14 year old boy in my room behind the computer. I don't remember exactly how but I got in touch with so-called click-to-pay websites. In short you got paid by clicking on a link or by having others clicking on your link. You would receive like 1 cent per 1000 clicks. And I wanted to become rich so… 😆

I found out that with clicking on your own link every day you are not going to earn much. But there was also an option to start your own click-to-pay website. With that, you pay others a little bit less than you receive for clicking on your links. And yes, this was actually a kind of pyramid scheme. But you could earn some pocket money with it, what is nice as a teenager.

So I bought a website and started my own click-to-pay website.

And that's where it all started for me. I started experimenting, made changes to the layout, in PHP scripts, in the database. Often after school and in the evenings, with a real trial-and-error approach, just on the live website... 🙈 It was really a lot of fun, especially when something at the end worked out as you wanted.

In this way I taught myself the basic knowledge of PHP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript and MySQL. And I went on with it, found it interesting and wanted to make more. Which eventually enabled me to create my very own click-to-pay script.

Thanks to web.archive.org you can still visit a website that used it.

So, you are 16 and you want to learn more. And I took an important step in that when I came into contact with the Laravel framework.

At that time Laravel 3.0 was just released and it was not very popular yet.

With Laravel I really took big steps in my development towards becoming a software professional. I learned a lot of new things, such as:

  • MVC Pattern
  • Dependency Injection
  • Inversion of Control
  • Object Relational Modeling
  • HTML templating (blade)
  • Database migrations
  • And more things that I forget now...

I made various (hobby) websites in Laravel, including a website for the local football club.

It's still online but please don't try to hack it 🙏

With using Laravel, I honestly thought I was there, that I knew pretty much everything about programming. I was quite wrong of course. For example, my controllers were huge with all the business logic in it. But I certainly already had a lot of knowledge for a 17 year old boy, I think.

Student

Because my interests in web development, my choice to go study computer science was no surprise for anyone. However I did almost stop after the first week, because I was really wondering what I was doing there. I mean come on, a 2 hour lesson on HTML and CSS and how to give a text a different color... I was already able to do that 4 years ago. In short, the first half year was not very challenging for me. But it was also logical that it all started from zero, because there were also students without prior knowledge. And eventually I'm very glad that I went through. Because I was learning a lot of other things, besides the actual programming, that are important for a software professional, like:

  • Working in teams
  • Communication
  • UML and other modelling tools
  • Writing documentation
  • Testing

I think these are the important skills you learn in college and I'm wondering if you will learn them at a coding bootcamp. At my study we didn't really learn a programming language though, you had to do that out of your own interest (in my case that was still Laravel and PHP).

During college I never had to write a single line of JavaScript code.

Professional

After 4 years I graduated and my professional career could start. First, I was looking for a job in Laravel and PHP, but in the end I got a job as a NodeJS Backend Developer at a digital agency. Which I also liked because in that way I could learn something new, and it was JavaScript so not really new new. And in addition, I was very happy that I could just be the backend developer and not have to look at the frontend.

I couldn't have imagined then that there would come a time that I would start enjoying frontend stuff.

Yet, I already left my first job after 7 months. The most important reasons for this, were:

  • No real challenges
  • No work
    • After a project was finished, I had to entertain myself for 2 months, waiting for the next project.
  • Not feeling valued
  • Lack of trust

In addition, I received an offer from a cryptocurrency startup which was really appealing to me. And so I made my first career move.

And at this startup I got a lot of freedom and, with that, a lot of responsibility. I learned a lot, worked on challenging and fun projects, including my first app and discovered the fullstack developer in me.

With using React I suddenly liked doing things in the frontend.

I'm very curious what my future career will bring me and what I will learn in the coming years. Because that's really the best part about being a software developer, constantly learning new things. You could even say it's a never ending bootcamp 😉

So that's my life as a software developer in short so far and I'm only 24 years old. A lot of beautiful years to come! Keep on coding 😄

Cheers

Posted on Mar 27 by:

rodw1995 profile

Robbie op de Weegh

@rodw1995

A 24 year old software developer from the Netherlands mainly focused on the JavaScript/Typescript stack. Always curious about the latest developments and enjoying learning new things every day.

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