On November 17th 2017 as part of Innovation November South Bronx I hosted a workshop on Self-Taught Programming. My personal journey programming has been long and interesting with many highs and lows but obvious I'm still at it. I thought I'd share my notes for any of you early in the journey.
I think it’s important to know both sides of the story. We are sometimes (most times) influenced by poor information resulting in an unrealistic outlook of what you're actually involving yourself in. Programming isn’t any different. Hollywood has done an impressive job of making aspiring programmers. This novice can assume that day-to-day consists of rescuing your employer because you locked in and cranked out lines of code that no one else could, or that you have the freedom to innovate to a level making you the companies most valuable asset. Maybe it does exist… But surely doesn’t for most (99.99+%), but there is always the big idea code you write.
How close or far is this from your current perception?
Pretty simple, I had issues breaking into my first passion and what I went to college for (TV Production). After taking a couple of different paths, I thought programming would lead to a financially pleasing career while stimulating my creativity. I also liked the idea of becoming a tech entrepreneur. Looking back now, I’d have to say I’ve heard worse reasons.
You should do as much research as you can before going full throttle by talk to friends, friends of friends, or attend meetups. Get a better idea of where you would like to go in the field.
Solving problems programmatically using a combination of your brain, software, and hardware.My Definition
is a process that leads from an original formulation of a computing problem to executable programs.Wikipedia
I don’t get caught up on the numerous terms affiliated with programming (coder, hacker, ninja, engineer, etc.). Nor do I believe that a title actually highlights your level. I’d prefer for you to tell me exactly what it is you do. Many companies drop the ball building technical job descriptions. In some cases they don’t even describe what you’ll actually do on the job. In this climate of technical demand it probably wouldn’t work out in the long run for either party.
Self-taught programmers have to approach the industry with the right tools, and vocabulary.
Not that my advice is the end game, but here is anyway.
I never thought much about having a personality as a programmer until I realized the strong characteristics of others around me. Every personality type will have it’s pros and cons. 7 Personality types of developers today by webdesignerdepot.com was pretty funny.
Also consider recruiters. A good recruiter can speed up the process and also remove some stress elements that are usually always in play. Like, your proposed salary. Hmm wouldn’t it be great to not discuss that with the potential employer. In my experience I told the recruit how much I was comfortable making and thats pretty much what I got. If you think your ready, I may have a good recruiter to refer you too, just hit me up.
Also, stay away from bad recruiters. This is a waste of time.
You may not think much about how you will change as your career progresses. I wish i discovered this earlier - The 11 phases of a web developer’s career (as illustrated by Memes).
Hard for me to speak personal experience but i think programming is like many other fields. Even if you go to college that doesn’t mean you're actually prepared for the industry or what your actual job will be like.
Learning programming actually takes time, using it can be instant. There are just concepts that you will not get right away and thats what you’ll need to own for the next level.
Everyone does learn differently. I’ve been burned one too many times from non credible source. I just love the feeling of a book full of knowledge usually built to take me from novice to beyond. One day I’ll go in depth about my learning technique.
To wrap up, Self-Taught programming is all about reducing the gap and learning at an accelerated rate while going against the grain of college educated programmers. You have so much more personality, therefore more opportunity and potential. It’s time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.