You can be a developer, too
If you’re reading this, you are probably interested in learning how to build web applications. This is good news for at least 3 reasons:
- It’s very creative
- Developers usually enjoy excellent working conditions and freedom
- It’s fairly easy to find a job as a developer these days.
You donʼt need a bootcamp, but it can help
Bootcamps are OK — they offer some more guidance than self-learning. They are in fact ideal for people who thrive in groups and an organised learning environment. Some schools offer help in finding your first dev job, which can be harder if you are on your own.
However, thereʼs nothing taught at a bootcamp that canʼt be found online, and done by yourself, for free. If you are confident that you can spend a few months learning and working on projects full time, you have the advantage of learning at your own pace, and save the cost of a bootcamp.
Either way, learning never stops, so letʼs get started!
For the purposes of this post, I will focus on self-guided learning.
So can I learn this for free?
Not exactly. Even if you learn by yourself, you have to survive all those months you spend studying. You should plan on at least 9 monthsʼ worth of living costs. But itʼs a very good investment.
How long does it take?
It took me about 8–9 months (with occasional breaks) from near-beginner to a junior developer job. On average, I spent 4 to 8 hours daily (so almost a full working day) learning. I quit my job and only focused on this.
What to study?
Mostly whatever you are interested in, but here are some topics, most are front-end related.
- How HTTP works
- Unix command line
Some Python or Ruby
There are lots of online courses as well, including Codecademy, Udacity, Coursera, edX… and smaller coding challenges, like CodeWars, which is more algorithm-focused.
Is it hard?
Let’s say it is. Here’s why:
- The computer gives you a constant error feedback. You’re doing it wrong. Until you get it right, and start working on something that’s not working… and it starts all over again. Don’t give up!
- You have to keep learning (even when you have a job). Frameworks and languages come and go, and vary somewhat among companies.
- Finding the first job requires some work and persistence, and some not giving up. :) The second job will come easier.
Before you start…
- If you’re stuck, take a break. Good ideas come not in front of the screen, but during a long walk, doing sports, or your favourite hobby.
- If you donʼt know something, google it, or search on stackoverflow. 99.999% of the time, someone has already asked (and someone else answered) the same question.
- Dev interviews are different. Spend some time learning to pass the technical interview. For example, what happens when you type in a URL in a browser and hit enter?