Alin Rauta

My Year as a Self-starter Programmer in Review

December 27, 2015

This was the most crucial year for my personal development ever. It was hard. Really hard. That’s why for me, the key word of 2015 was “hustle”.

I quit my job and started my quest to make a pretty important career change — from finance/consultancy to software engineering.

I saved some money that would help me to make ends meet until I could monetize my beginner programming skills.

After that, I simply started teaching myself how to code, by putting hours and hours of programming everyday.

During all this time I spent just 20 euros for some Udemy courses. Besides those, I did not pay a penny for any other course or tutorial on programming. Instead, I would make trial accounts on Treehouse and Lynda so that I would not have to pay for the courses.

During the trial periods I would simply consume every course on HTML, CSS and JavaScript (jQuery, Angular, Node.js, and Express.js also).

Then, I stumbled upon something much better than those more traditional resources:Free Code Camp.

Free Code Camp is a community of people like me who are learning to code together. They following a single, comprehensive curriculum. Together, they power through the same hiccups every self-starter programming encounters.

The best part is that after you complete the challenges, you get the opportunity to build real world projects for nonprofits.

Free Code Camp helped me a lot because it made me understand that being a programmer is more than just knowing the ins and outs of a programming language. It’s about collaboration and pair-programming. It’s about being part of a community of people that push one another to learn new skills.

Being part of Free Code Camp was the best decision I made regarding my programming learning process. They helped guide me up the steep learning curve from basic to intermediate to advanced.

My initial plan was to monetize after three months of learning my programming skills onfreelancer.comuntil I would get a programming job.

Guess what? It didn’t work out that way. It was childish of me to believe that I could be employable in a couple of months, in a field where it takes years of practice to get to a decent level as a programmer.

Eventually I ran out of money, and I had to take a part-time job to pay my bills and put some food on the table. This was one of the hardest periods of my life. I would code and apply to jobs everyday.

In a very ironic turn of events, when I was looking for part-time jobs, I received offers for full-time jobs. But this would mean fewer hours left each day for me to learn to code.

I finally gave up to the idea that I would find a part-time job, and I started looking for full-time ones. I managed to find a 6 hours/day job at a local subsidiary of a hot American startup.

I was relieved that they hired me, but unfortunate situations persisted. It took them two months to get a contract in front of me a to sign so that I could really start working.

Those two months were agonizing, but I endured and I did my best to maintain my previous high levels of motivation.

After I found that I was hired, I also started to apply at junior programming jobs and I became more familiar with the market requirements. Junior-level jobs were not as “junior” as I’d thought. Many of them still required a year of experience, and some solid knowledge of software engineering.

Over a four month period, I applied to more than 40 programming jobs. Not one of those companies ever called me back for an interview.

But somehow, I managed to stay positive and realistic with my expectations. I focused on writing code and working through Free Code Camp. Because I knew that it was just a matter of time until I would get my first programming interview.

And I was right. After my four-month drought, I received a call to interview for a javascript developer position. That meant a lot for me, and my confidence skyrocketed. And the best part was that other calls for interviews soon followed.

Right now, I am in an advanced talks with two companies for a JavaScript Engineer position. And in the meantime, I’m still working at the local subsidiary of that hot American startup so I can keep the lights on.

After reviewing all the events that shaped this year, I must confess that I would not have succeeded in getting over all the tough situations without my girlfriend. She relentlessly supported me through all this year. I want to thank her for everything she has done for me, and to tell her how much I love her.

With a couple of days before the New Year’s Eve, I want to wish you all the best. Keep coding, because the world will always need new tech products made with passion.

Alin Rauta

Hi 👋. I'm a self-taught web developer and creator of content for demystifying & teaching Artificial Intelligence. You can follow me on Twitter