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Ask HN: How to get web development career on track from being homeless?
305 points by pdxHomelessDev 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 196 comments
I am a current homeless web dev living in Portland, OR

I saw another post by a homeless dev in CO after doing some searches to see if there were others out there like me.

I got here due to medical issues that have finally come to being managed after 3 years.

I currently have zero cash, I am fairly new to Portland so I do not have friends and I have no family to lean on for support. I have 10 years of web dev experience, the last 3 years being very spotty; only a few contract jobs in and out.

I have a bed in a shelter for now.

I have tapped into the public health insurance so I can continue my medical visits.

I have food stamps.

I have a good laptop

I am often on a university campus using the library for charging and net.

My main problem is getting a job. This is where you come in HN community, please let me know what you all think or if you can relate.

My main languages are PHP and Python. I have extensive front end experience with Javascript as well.

No one is really looking for a PHP developer right now. And all the front end jobs want React/Redux experience or Angular. I have looked up and down on gigs and postings on Craigslist every single day.

Question: What do I do? All the recruiters think I am fit for a senior level position, but with 3 years of on and off programming I am a bit rusty and I am afraid if I apply and fail skills tests at too many places word will get around.

I really just want a relaxed junior level position, but those are hard to find. Everyone wants senior level guys in React and other frameworks I do not have. (Though I am currently teaching myself React and do know a good bit now.)

I just want to get my career back on track and get out of this shelter

Any advice for work, besides getting a min wage job. What do I do to get my web dev career back on track?

Thanks for any and all comments and my email is in my profile




If you have paypal, email me at hello at (my username) dot com.

I know most people are giving technical advice and it’s very sound. I also know the value of money to unblock certain things. Seriously if you need a couple of hundred dollars to get yourself some nice clothes, and put yourself together and remove the “homeless” label while you hunt for a well paying job, it’ll be my pleasure. I don’t know how we’ll verify your identity but hopefully HN isn’t full of imposters. Think about it as interest free loan that you pay in good faith whenever you’re back on your feet.

It’s absolutely a shame for us as a nation that well educated and qualified people have to go through this bull in the world’s wealthiest nation that is producing trillion dollar companies, but can’t have a decent safety net for it’s citizens.


That is a very kind offer sir. I emailed you. This resource I tapped into called WorkSource Oregon has already purchased me brand new and nice interview/work clothes. So I am covered there. I could use a haircut however and new headphones.


Email me vinh@axcoto.com as well. I'll paypal you some money.


I really appreciate the offer, but I am not asking for charity. What has been monetarily donated to me so far, and job leads is more than enough. I can not possibly accept. I hope you take this as a respectful decline.


Keep on hustling champ. Fortune favors those who take chances. Keeping your chin up and being confident about who you are is your biggest strength. HN is cheering for you :)


It's 'Fortune favours the bold' just fyi ;) Thanks for the support nojvek. Hope to meet you IRL along the west coast one day.


Your SSL cert is invalid?

A few spelling errors if you'd like to fix 'em:

"I'm Vinh, a husband, father & programming enthusiast" "I was lucky to have such a wife."

If you'd like, I can just rewrite the entire page for you.

Your NotyIM service is interesting. I'm building something similar at my current employer.

All the GitHub links on NotyIM's site are broken. Invalid cert at yeo.space, I'm sure you were aware.


:( sorry my bad English. It will be really great if you can help me on that. The code is here: https://github.com/axcoto/axcoto.com-hugo/blob/master/themes...

Yes, I didn't have time to get to the cert automation yet :D. I promised to myself to do that this weekend.

And thank you so much :).


If you have ANY WAY of accepting donations, I would also be more than glad to help you out, just post a link if you can, even though I am not from the US. As a Canadian, I feel obliged to reach out. P.s Just trying to help out, I hope you don't take this the wrong way.


I appreciate the offer, but as I said in another comment. I am not accepting any more monetarily donations. This is not the aim of my post. It was a reach out to the coder/hacker community for support. I am not going to digitally panhandle.


got it :)


im curious to know how many emails you get from this. just want to know what kind of people we are dealing with here on hn.


So far just one.


Please update in a day or two. I am curious as well.


So very kind of you.


My thoughts:

- Take advantage of any opportunity that sounds legit, like reaching out to leesalminen from this comment => https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17685318

- Work out a detailed, simple, and clear plan for you're going to practice coding as if it were your full time job, because you may need to ask people for help (access to a computer, a safe place to store a computer, a place to clean up & prepare for interviews, etc.)

- Never, ever get down on yourself for doing what you gotta do to survive & get back on your feet

- To the extent that you can, be careful about who you choose share the realities of your situation with, especially during interviews, as you need employers to think that hiring you is a good business decision, and being homeless (in my opinion) has nothing to do with that

- Despite the fact that many people might suggest you get a minimum wage job, that's going to be a big time suck, and if you can find a way to survive without the job, you may wanna use that time to practice coding & interviewing instead (it might be possible to work out a deal with a employer where you can work on a flexible schedule, but don't lose sight of the fact that flipping burgers will not do much to make you better at interviewing for coding jobs)

- Stay positive when telling your story, because the more people are blown away by how you can stay upbeat as you deal with some tough stuff, the more they're going to want to help you

- If you want to practice interviewing, hear some thoughts on how to attract recruiters, or just have someone listen while you vent, I'd be happy to carve out some time for you (personal info is in my profile)

- Go forth and kick ass


Thank you for the thoughtful and extended info and advice. So far the shelter has locked up my gear every night for me. So that has worked out. I am practicing coding when I can, mainly getting up to speed on ES6 and React.

Thanks again!


I absolutely agree a minimum wage job would be a bad idea, even for someone who is homeless. Shouldn’t we all be collectively and utterly ashamed about this? Honestly, how do we sleep at night?


The really bad thing about minimum wage jobs (and even some lower wage jobs) is they can actually hurt an individual who is struggling. Often times the wages they make will just barely meet the minimum thresholds to lose their government benefits (i.e. healthcare, food stamps, access to shelter, etc...). They start work thinking they are getting back on their feet and next thing they know they lose their food stamps, healthcare, etc...

Before everyone goes crazy, I am not saying that people should milk the benefits, but when you are struggling to make ends meet and don't have alternatives those benefits can be crucial to not only survival, but overall general happiness and feeling of security.


This sounds like a system that incentivizes not working and the only solution I can imagine is remove these requirements. Removing the benefits would be a nightmare.

If you can’t make enough to live on otherwise, by all means milk the benefits. I’ll say it.


It's really not that way though; the concept of "welfare queens" is entirely a myth. Even those who manage to game the system don't exactly lead enviable lives. The only way to truly "beat" the system while living off the proceeds is to commit outright fraud, like claiming benefits for multiple/dead people.

Basically, the benefits are so poor and inconsistent that you can't realistically aspire to live off of them.

I never qualified for welfare but had to claim 4 dependents and lie about my income (120% of which went to rent or late payment thereof) just to collect $600 a month in food stamps (which included 2 infants requiring non-dairy formula not covered by WIC), and they did their damndest to find a reason to kick me off the payroll every 3 months by constantly post-dating requests for documentation or conveniently losing documents I did send in on time. It worked quite a few times and we got nothing in those months. But the idea is that the benefits are enough to keep you/dependents from starving to death. You can't just collect benefits and not expect to supplement it with your own labor.


100%! Without hijacking this thread and/or turning it into a political rant, the propaganda of people "abusing" welfare is a 99% political agenda. Like you pointed out, unless you are committing "outright fraud" there is really no way to live a lavish lifestyle off food stamps and other government benefits. In most cases, even if you are able to get the full amount for food stamps each month you are left with little. The people who complain the loudest about "food stamp fraud" often don't understand the slightest how food stamps work or what you can use them for. They don't understand it is not some bottomless grocery money each month or that you can't buy toiletries, paper products, or related items.


> Without hijacking this thread and/or turning it into a political rant,

Too late :)

> the propaganda of people "abusing" welfare is a 99% political agenda.

I agree that this sort of message is crafted to create moral outrage and, thereby, an outsized negative response to welfare as a whole. I initially responded in this way, but I quickly changed my mind when I heard the message that it's just so little.

That is, even accepting the likely-inflated numbers claimed for the abuse, it's such a small percentage of overall tax revenue (and even of social programs), partly because the benefits are so meager to begin with, that it's simply not worth consideration or discussion.

The far more interesting (political/economic) question, to me, is whether it does more good than harm.

In this particular case, I absolutely agree with ancestor-comments that "milking" the benefits rather than risking losing them by working a low-wage job is best, and not just for the OP, but for society and the economy as a whole. The faster the OP gets back "on his feet" and is producing near full capability and is earning (and paying taxes on) full wages, the better it is for everyone.

Neither society nor the economy are a zero-sum game, after all.


While I agree with you,I think most minimum wage jobs are better as a second household income or for people bored at home or for completely inexperienced people.


I think you're shooting yourself in the foot looking for 'web developer' jobs in the homeland of hipsters. Of course all the postings are going to be for trendy technologies.

Look for more boring jobs that require web development skills, unless you're really stuck on the title.

You know PHP. I did too, once. I made the mistake of taking on a Magento project a decade ago, suffered through it, and I still get hounded by recruiters desperate for PHP developers who know Magento. That fucking platform still powers 99% of the entire e-commerce space; version 2 was released recently and by many accounts it's even worse than v1, which means people who made the mistake of using it are going to need support for it. The demand for PHP developers is still very much there.

You know Python. You can get jobs knowing just that. There are lots of relaxed junior-level *-analyst positions in many domains requiring nothing more than scripting skills and a brain, which you clearly have. I see job postings all the time looking for Django devs. Lots of businesses need reporting-type stuff done, business analytics, ETL, that sort of stuff. Shady businesses always want web scrapers written.

With 10+ years in web development, you might also want to take a shot at jobs involving web application security-- either securing or breaking it.

Just to put it in perspective-- my job title has nothing to do with web development, yet it is an incidentally significant portion of what I do. Best job of my life, and I never would have found it looking for "web developer" jobs, since that's not what they thought they needed when they hired me.

Crawl LinkedIn, not Craigslist. All you'll get from Craigslist are couches, crabs, and people who want you to build out scalable PCI-compliant e-commerce solutions with a full complement of product photography for their hobby business for $500, payable upon delivery. And when they sense your desperation, they'll withhold even that until you go away.

Best of luck to you.


This. Don't follow the advice of "Learn {X} new technology". In this day and age, a new language, framework, etc show up every 3 minutes. You may be a bit rusty, but stick to what you know for now. Maybe start a blog about your situation and what you're doing to get back in the game. There are definitely jobs out there that need your skills. Job hunting is usually a numbers game, so keep sending out resumes.


I think this is bad advice, many if not most of the frontend jobs right now ask for React, which means that a lot of future legacy code also will be React code. More importantly, it shows you're ready to adapt to "new" technology. With PHP, all you have is legacy.

Think about it, if two or more applicants have experience, but one also has experience in the exact technology already used at the place, that person is ahead in the game.

I frankly would keep quiet about the personal situation, I think everybody understands if you do. He's not looking for charity because he's homeless, he wants a job because he's a professional developer.


If your experience is python and php then you should look at how one of them has progressed and maybe consider a job that has some use for JavaScript for future marketability..

The idea that you should learn modern JS and then react to apply for react jobs with no real world experience is a bad one for someone with work history in 2 languages that are in the top 10.. Particularly if they are in a rather desperate situation.


To quote the OP:

"I have extensive front end experience with Javascript as well."

"No one is really looking for a PHP developer right now. And all the front end jobs want React/Redux experience or Angular."

So, not learning React doesn't seem like a good call unless he wants to stay in the backend. No matter what he will be learning now, he will not have "real world experience" with it. All he can do between jobs is learn. What's your advice exactly? What does "looking at how Python has progressed" even mean?


> What does "looking at how Python has progressed" even mean?

Take an existing project you wrote in python and modernize it for newer style, maybe it was in legacy 2.X for compatibility with something and needs to be updated. Maybe convert to a python framework that is popular now (there's not so much churn in python so a past framework might just be updated.)

I'm sorry that isn't as dramatic as taking some knowledge of past JavaScript, learning additions that introduce a different paradigm and then an entire new style of development complete with transpiling and maybe typescript.. and then trying to keep it running with churn in the whole bunch of libraries and tools that are in that bizarre front end process.. While not seeming to have any previous experience with compiled languages and related development processes.

Taking a past project and modernizing it allows you to mix discussion of real world experience with your understanding of new things. Where things are just updates you blur perception and significance of the age of your real world experiences.

But switching completely to patterns, code and development processes you have never used before even by analogy is taking that to the most tenuous extreme..

Who knows maybe the OP's past JS experience was in SPAs in a functional style using node tools and an IDE and react is almost reasonable.. But that seems unlikely if python and php were the first languages the OP thinks of.

It makes more sense to milk and refresh past connections to Python to find a new subfield than to try to stay in web development by switching to JS (if it was your 3rd language from 3 years ago) to move from Backend to frontend in the months right before almost every language will get an opportunity on the frontend..


With PHP, all you have is legacy

This is not true. I think you'll find a lot of new projects being written in PHP 7.2 and/or using some newer framework, like Laravel.

There is nothing wrong with getting PHP work. PHP is not going away anytime soon, and the language has improved a lot since 5.6.


Your mileage may vary, but PHP is on its way out and no matter how it "improved", its reputation really hasn't. People starting new projects means nothing if there's no traction for jobs.


It's absolutely not true that there's no traction with PHP, even if we grant that PHP is "on its way out"! That kind of comment shows how out of touch you are. As for PHP's "reputation", a lot of that is legacy from 4.x days. But when was that? Oh yeah, that was the early 2000's. I'll say it again: if you look at PHP today I think you're going to see that things have improved dramatically. Just ask Facebook...


lol no its not.


React was released five years ago and has been the dominant front end framework for most of that time, including right now.


Dominant in developer/framework Mindshare for five years.. Damn hard to find a company actually using it in many markets for most of that time. At first it was not all that different from node's leadership of frontend thinking, except that it could be used in the browser..

For a past python developer, trying out something like Django a bit with converting a past project would be less work than react for a js developer and probably a good refresher.


Do Facebook not use it?


Is that relevant to my comment?


I believe it is relevant to the part where you said it's damn hard to find a company using it.


Given that I see nothing for "react" on jobs.facebook.com listed by Facebook for my job market, I still don't see how Facebook could be relevant to that part.

But, if Facebook actually hires react engineers everywhere and just doesn't like their own job platform, then they probably hire php engineers everywhere as php is the platform they are the most famous for sinking money into modernizing.. So again, I'm left to wonder why anyone who already knows php would be told to learn react before looking for a job.

It's a lot like always being told to learn Ruby on Rails a few years back even if you knew nothing at all about ruby. I wonder where all those ruby illiterate RoR engineers ended up.


First Google result for "Facebook Front End Engineer" yields a job description with React as a Preferred Qualification: https://www.facebook.com/careers/jobs/a0I1H00000LCKeYUAX

Granted, I don't know your market, but if it's outside the typical 5-10 cities, that might be the problem.


> typical 5-10 cities

Ok, so let's assume Facebook is hiring today and for the last 5 years in 10 job markets.

Damn hard to find a company actually using it in many markets for most of that time.


Agreed. There's a lot of good frameworks on PHP. There might be less work to develop PHP websites from scratch, but more that involves maintaining an existing system.

The unpopularity of PHP actually means there are more PHP jobs emerging. Nobody wants to swap out of a functional old system, but the younger folk are going to go after new, sexy, technologies.


Even ignoring the legacy systems (Wordpress, Magento...), PHP has made massive improvements compared to other old languages like Python or Ruby. The language features, performance improvements, frameworks and libraries available today makes it 10 times better as a language than 10 years ago.


Agreed.

In 2007/2008, I'd been doing PHP for 11ish years; started in early 96 with PHP/FI, with vb & notes in the early 90s before that. I kept doing some PHP, but moved primarily to spring/java (via grails). enjoyable, learned a lot, but it always felt clunky and convoluted (I never became as proficient as I wanted in that stack). After several years, I 'came back' to the PHP world. A lot of the early warts/problems were still there, but you could avoid them more or less entirely if you chose to build with the new crop of composer packages and psr-compatible frameworks.

The speed of PHP7+ is comparatively amazing (which, arguably, shows how 'slow' it was before!). PHP 5.6 (2014) was roughly twice as fast as PHP 5.3 (2009). PHP 7.2 (2017) is roughly 2-3x faster than PHP 5.6. In the 8+ years I 'left' PHP (was still using it, just not as primary day to day), the performance doubled, then doubled again. Still not as fast as 'pure' java/c/whatever, but incredible improvements all the same. Given that the majority of my dev work involves a lot of 'line of business' stuff with a SQL database as a central piece, db queries are almost always the biggest performance issue, the relative speed of PHP vs other stacks was even less of an issue for my real world scenarios.

Upcoming experimental JIT stuff looks to make an even bigger improvement in some areas.

Some comparisons were from memory, some from https://www.phpclasses.org/blog/post/493-php-performance-evo...


Also remember that PHP is not even competing with java/c. PHP's niche is shared with python/ruby and partially nodejs. I would say PHP blows out of the water all those 3 in backend web dev.


Oh boy, I've been there with the Craiglist delusionals that you described. He didn't even bother to name the business that he was trying to get built. If he can't do that, he can't be that serious about starting. They state "passion" but no sir, if you don't know how to LLC or register a name, passion is not a substitute for having a clue on what you're doing.


I agree with Craigslist. It's a cesspool. The paradox of freelance is that generally people treat you better and have more reasonable expectations if they are paying you more.


> generally people treat you better and have more reasonable expectations if they are paying you more

This is true in most settings, from office jobs to the service industry.

Always good to remind yourself that usually professional respect comes from your salary, not the other way around.


I think this is good advice. There is loads of work in PHP that require his kinds of skills. You might not go to the local ECMAScript meet up and do a talk about it but it's gainful employment and there ain't nothing wrong with that.

I share office space with a company that does SME consulting work and they do heaps of Magento, Wordpress and the like. Everyone's getting paid and nobody is complaining.


Good advice, but honestly I disagree regarding LinkedIn, it's a waste of time. The job listings are junk in my experience. It's for HR to pointlessly spam people.


It’s good to get connected with recruiters who have connections and positions to fill. Having a recruiter on your side does not hurt.


I am afraid if I apply and fail skills tests at too many places word will get around.

Word won't get around. You won't get a job you don't apply for though. And if they just do skills tests without any other consideration they're probably not an ideal workplace.

Everyone wants senior level guys in React and other frameworks I do not have. (Though I am currently teaching myself React and do know a good bit now.)

Of course they do. Everyone wants React guys with 20 years experience in it, Java guys with 120 years experience. And they'd like to pay in aspiration and a twice yearly packet of macadamia nuts. But they can only choose from those who apply with all their varying experience and salary demands.

If you've got 10 years experience you've got enough to apply for a senior role (arguably more than enough in many places) and if you've got your head around the basics of React you can tick that box too. Just be honest that you've looked at it outside of work, understand it but haven't had the chance to use it professionally yet. Senior roles may be preferable to you, where there's less emphasis on churning out code and more on getting the most out of the team as a whole, as well as rewards commensurate with your experience.

I saw a guy interviewing on YouTube the other day for a React job who didn't know the difference between componentDidMount and componentWillMount and the interviewer seemed to think he did well - so if you've got that far, you're good to go!

Just apply for enough roles and you'll find one that works for both sides. Don't be put off by barriers in your own mind, make employers tell you you're not the right fit and ideally why, then move on until you land one.

Good luck.


I watched that same guy (just discovered his channel through that video) and its hilarious to me that I see him mentioned here and how you have the same reaction to that part like me.

His videos are actually a good resource to the OP. This video is kinda the exact answer to the queston: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70Wcm5c7AF0


> Just be honest that you've looked at it outside of work, understand it but haven't had the chance to use it professionally yet

I can confirm this is true - explained this exact thing to the place i'm working at now... also, react is just a framework. if you understand JS, then you just need to wrap your head around the way it is being used in this particular case... just build a few small sites with it and you'll be further along than a lot of other people.


Can confirm, managers do back-door reference checks about former employees (if they know somebody) but nobody tracks rejected candidates. I think this is healthy because false negatives are so common; anybody can have one bad day, including interviewers.


Thanks for the comment. That all makes sense.


Hey email me. I have a nice idea. bobsadino@inbox.ru Lets collaborate :)


Hey my name is Austen and I’m the cofounder of Lambda School (https://lambdaschool.com), a YC company that trains software engineers in live online classes for no cost until they’re hired making $50k+.

We actually have a nonprofit fund dedicated to helping homeless software engineers land jobs. If you’ll email me austen@lambdaschool.com I would love to put you up in an Airbnb and connect you with our career services department.

We have a full-time program called “Lambda Next” that steps you through what it takes to get a job step by step with full support, code reviews, interview practice, salary negotiation, etc. Normally it’s reserved for our students (since we don’t get paid until students are hired), but we can have you participate at no cost.

Let’s see how fast we can get you hired! Happy to take care of housing and help you focus.

PS. if anyone at airbnb has a way to let us buy gift certificates bigger than $500 it would save me a ton of time


Austen, you are a fucking awesome human! I love what you & the Lambda School are doing. You give me hope for America.

Good luck, pdxHomelessDev. While not a programmer/dev, I work in IT as a system admin and have been homeless myself. It is a hard thing to pick yourself up out of.


Sent from my personal email.


Got it. Will get you in housing by the end of the night.

I know what it’s like to be homeless, keep your head up.


If this actually happened, this is the most awesome interaction on HN I’ve seen so far. Kudos to you kind sir


It did indeed happen https://imgur.com/a/KZ5AeGo


It did and I am so grateful. I am currently in an Air BnB near the university campus. Austen, thanks again so much and I look forward to speaking to you more about Lambda School.


Emailing now.


I am looking for a PHP Developer. We’re located in a Colorado, but are open to remote and other options. My email is me at my username dot $mostCommonTld or myusername at gmail.

Email me. Seriously.


Just now getting on the internet today. Sent you a reply to your email you sent me. Thank you.


Not sure if you (or the poster) wants to share this, but did the email happen?


I haven’t heard from OP yet, but I’ve gotten messages from several others. Still hoping to hear from him/her.


Maybe you shouldn't have made your email address a cryptic puzzle


I heard from him! First test passed ;).


Hope OP reaches out. It's important not to let opportunities like this one if they're to succeed in getting out of this slump.


Was homeless when I went to a dev boot camp. Had no industry experience, just a bunch of python scripts to automate my old job, and a few years of linux usage from not liking windows. Focused really heavily on several SPA frameworks, and javascript/nodejs. The biggest help was the hiring network, whiteboarding practice, and resumé critiques. Also that I submitted like 5 applications per day to anything even partially related for a solid month. I never mentioned my dire straights, since there appears to be a social stigma in the industry, although there doesn't seem to be a stigma against the happily ever after finding work. If they ask why there's gaps in your work timeline, don't tell a sob story, just tell them it was health related and move along. Also try to schedule groups of interviews a few weeks out, it gives you very real leverage in the labor markets, instead of appearing/sounding desperate let them show their hand, since you're already surviving you dont need the job/career, if anything they need you, the labor markets are seriously strapped for talent, so take on some part time minimum wage work that you'd like, and take as much time finding the right fit team/culture/project that you would enjoy. Don't give up, never stop learning, you can do it.

Edit: imo, Also don't deal with recruiters they'll plug anything/anyone for a CTO position if they can pull the commission, although I guess maybe as a way to practice interviewing.


My feeling is that recruiters are a great resource if you learn how to use them properly. I agree that you can waste a lot of time talking to recruiters if you allow them to suck up your time.


> My feeling is that recruiters are a great resource if you learn how to use them properly.

Calling myself out here. I was half asleep when I wrote the parent comment. Nicer language would be:

My feeling is that recruiters can be great partners is you learn to work with them effectively.


you can also get a lot of free lunches...


I would go to Labor Ready they open at 5am or 6am, and have coffee and I think wifi. Most days they won't have a job for you but when they do, that's $60-70 paid at the end of the day cash. When they don't have a job for you, you'll know by 8:30 and can head over PSU campus they should have open wifi, I would study Python and write a project and put it on github. And start an account on Upwork and start bidding at $1 over what labor ready pays (minimum wage), work your butt off -- go the extra extra mile for every client, get 5 star ratings. It'll take 3 weeks to get paid from them. Meanwhile, labor ready, PSU, hard boiled eggs and coffee at the shelter. After you get some ratings on upwork, increase your rate to $40-60/hr. The whole time I would be sending out 5-10 resumes a day. Also there is a bank near labor ready I think wells fargo or US bank, open account and use that for bank transfers from upwork. You can go from zero to hero in 3 months if you do this, this is what I did (and I wasn't poor, just bored and wanted a challenge :)


Hey guys/gals, I just noticed all the comments, I will read them in the morning. I have to get to the shelter by a certain time each night and it takes a bit of time to get from campus to the shelter. Thanks for the input and I will respond tomorrow in the morning. I am usually online from 7a - 5p or 6p PST.


Can't directly help, but I work with some freelancers who aren't homeless, but have a quite vagabond lifestyle. The good ones know when they are "on" a project they really need to be "online" during business hours. Get a good cellular data connection so you aren't relying on mooching free wifi. Be responsive and turn shit around. Get shit done and people will sing your praises no matter where you are.


And protect your electronics at the shelter. Those things have a tendency to disappear when you aren't protecting them.


And make sure your stuff is encrypted with good password. I wouldn't worry about stolen electronics as much as about stolen data. I wouldn't care where you live, but I would care if my data is safe with you.


It is encrypted and backed up regularly. Thanks for the comment. :)


I have it locked up every night by the staff.


I commented elsewhere on this thread and think that we could both benefit from chatting. I’m around tomorrow.


Think about it from the other point of view - the hiring manager has 20 people in front of them who can do the job. You need to tell them a story that shows it is better for that manager to hire you vs. the other 19. You being homeless and not having steady work for the last three years is a big negative (perhaps unfair, but true), so you need to not just show you can code, but show that you have better work ethics, can be more productive, or something else that puts you above and beyond the other 19 guys.

Admittedly, that will be tough. So if you aren't able to do that, then you need to build up a history of good, recent work. Take advantage of being homeless, and offer your services to local non-profits who work with the homeless. They almost all need some tech help, even just to organize and report on their data. Helping out will build up a track record of getting things done, and a network of people who can give you references for your capabilities, as well as let you know who else need help. It is possible that starting a small consulting service doing such things is easier than landing a full-time coding gig.


Let's get real: it's 2018 and we're in the depths of a programmer shortage. No hiring manager has 20 capable people in front of them. A typical hiring manager will have hundreds of garbage resumes that came from people who aren't programmers, or from offshore outsourcing shops that rely on resume spam to get attention. Eventually, after lots of weeding and puffing, the pile is shrunk to maybe three people who are worth interviewing. Of these two lied about their experience, and the last is great, but is difficult to close because they're looking at four other offers all of which are more competitive and interesting. Outside of weeding out garbage, hiring managers spend most of their time in sales mode, desperately trying to close candidates.

In times like this, any reasonably competent programmer who doesn't come off as a total a-hole during the interview will have a job. It might not be the most glorious job in the world, but our OP doesn't seem to care because homelessness.


Part of the problem is convincing people that you are legit. I face a few challenges these days

first off, I don't have a degree so that's one battle, but i'm an isolationist so that's battle #2 and its much harder to win.

During the first half of my career it was easy to find work because i was green and not charging much. towards the middle part i relied on a network of contacts and finding work was super easy. then i decided to isolate myself - i dropped all my contacts, deleted everything i had ever created (several websites that i ran for years), removed myself from social media and now work is very difficult to get. I didn't even realize this was the issue until recently.

In order to fix this:

1. I have started to rebuild my social network and have set up references

2. I now view social media apps as Personal Branding applications and use them as such

3. I built a portfolio site and added a bunch of my old projects to it

4. Look for little projects i can knock out in a few hours or days, work on them, and add them to my site


Are you the same person as the OP? Just checking since account names are similar, but different.

Your story hits close to me. I have never been homeless but I have been through excessive dry spells of no work (I think taking a remote job 5 years ago was a mistake in some ways because it killed my interviewing skills) and had to move back to living with one of my parents. At my mid-30s it feels like your life is a shit show. The jobs I get now have been via "non traditional" means, that is very informal chats instead of lengthy interview processes, and only for short gigs and not long term arrangements.

When I have been out of work for over a year, I too just stopped everything, shut myself in more, thinking that going into "silent mode" and avoiding most contact with friends was gonna help me concentrate more on the job hunt. But it doesn't.

I can tell you to continue what you're doing, building a network and finding ways that people can refer you.

You might think that referrals are a cheese way to short-list your way into an interview, but think of referrals as a trust metric- a quantity that convinces people that you're worth the words you speak.

Can you show us your portfolio site? Honestly I got some of my interviews just from things I had on Github that caught soemone's interest. But I believe they need some kind of novel quality to them- a rehashed tutorial app won't cut it.


I am not OP, I'm the person who posted my own story several weeks ago that OP refers to in his own story.


I agree. I have, at different companies, for the last 6 years, asked people to do a small take home problem that should take a couple hours. BTW I'm aware that some people feel like this is a bad idea but I strongly disagree.

I'd love to be really strict on my reviews of the code but I don't have that luxury because the majority of samples fail one of the following tests:

1. Don't compile 2. Crash under trivial input 3. Have trivially detectable race conditions

I spend alot of time recruiting for remote golang developmers who will be working at a fairly massive scale (not Google but a fortune 50/top 50 Alexa rank). I can't say that I've ever had 20 candidates in front of me who could write race free code with the bare minimum of tests.


That's the huge motivation freeze for some. Knowing that, in a typical hiring process, you have to come in first place among a list of candidates for a given job, when you have generally not been used to seeing yourself as a person who consistently places first at most things in life.

It's not necessarily thinking you are not good at anything, but believing that there is nothing you can be tops at, and just want people to accept your as being good but not amazing.


You're a programmer. You have a skill the world wants, so don't sell yourself short. Nobody expects you to be perfect; you're not a brain surgeon. It doesn't matter what language it is: companies want you. Companies need you.

<insert Uncle Sam recruitment poster>

You see a job you like, you apply. Maybe you get an offer, maybe you don't. If you do, great! If you don't, free practice and maybe even a free lunch.

Companies aren't gossiping about candidates, so get that thought out of your head. It just doesn't happen.


UPDATE: I am well into my way of interviews. I currently have to provide a small VueJS demo, which I am trying to hammer out this week. Lambda School has been very generous and I am part of there program called Lambda Next where I am speaking with their career coach which will help with interview practicing, resume rebuilding, etc.

I just did a phone screen with Amazon today as well in which I am going to have a follow up phone interview that will last 60-75 minutes. If that goes well I have to prepare for a whiteboard interview.

I am still very much in need to reach the final $200 of my campaign located here -- https://www.gofundme.com/homeless-dev-support

Thank you again for everyone reaching out and all of the feedback. I am almost there!!


Good work with finding all these interviews!


Thank you. I had a phone screen with Amazon today. Have to hit the books. Please, if you or anyone you know can get me to the the threshold of my campaign which is $200 more, it would finally put so many things back in order. Thank you for keeping up with me. -- https://www.gofundme.com/homeless-dev-support


I can give you some immediate actionable advice if you need cash -

Write an email describing your situation (possibly with some photos) to tech agencies around you, there are usually plenty and let them know that if they require an extra helping hand, or take on additional projects, you'll be able to do it.

You'll be surprised how many agencies will get back to you. It worked for me when I was in a similar situation where I had to quit my day job as the company I worked for was on the edge.

Also, start a blog, update your LinkedIn, cold message people on email. LinkedIn really works if you don't listen to haters.

Good luck, my friend. Please let us know once everything's back to normal.


UPDATE: Hi all, I am giving everyone an update. Today was actually a rough day as I had to have out patient surgery, and this is completely unrelated to what I was struggling with for the past few years.

I had an operation because I had a 7mm kidney stone that was stuck in the tube from my kidney to the bladder.

On a much better note. Austen from Lambda School has been in contact with me and has been so great about getting me out of the shelter so I can concentrate on getting the next job.

With that being said, and I am a bit embarrased to do this, but I put together a GoFundMe campaign as I still need a few extra things that would really help me out. Please read the summary at the page here: https://www.gofundme.com/homeless-dev-support

P.S. I have an interview with a startup on Friday (8/10).

Thanks for any and all support.


Wow, great news in the interview.

Everyone, let's make it happen so he can get ready for interview on Friday.


Thanks, they are a new startup with 1st round funding. I also have sent out tons more resumes as I am feeling more confident and prepared as things come together.


It's going to be difficult for you to get a junior-level job if recruiters think you are senior. You'll be competing with new grads who got out of college in June.

I think your best course of action is to spend time preparing for interviews and take any that you can get. Part of this preparation includes learning the popular JS frameworks, but a lot of companies need PHP developers too.

Hopefully you will interview well, but if you don't, word doesn't "get around" between companies as much as you think -- they are afraid of being sued if they talk about why they passed on a candidate.

There are other upsides to interviewing, even if you fail. One is that you get some practice. Another is that you got your foot in the door, and even if you weren't suited for a job you interviewed for, someone at the company might know of another opening that is a better fit.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you should get in touch with any connections you have in tech, such as old coworkers, and let them know you are looking for a job. A personal reference is by far the best way to get your foot in the door.


Instead of focusing on Craigslist, have you tried Silicon Florist (https://siliconflorist.com/)? The site has a jobs board and posts about tech/startup related news which can help you familiarize yourself with the local 'scene'. If you're looking for events, there are a number on meetup, but also check out https://calagator.org/.

As you've worked contract jobs recently, I agree with the sentiment others have already mentioned regarding working on applications or open source projects to build a portfolio.


Yea, I am browsing through those resources. I just do not want to apply to so many without being fully prepared. Most of the meetups happen during the time I have to be back at the shelter unfortunately.


Accept the senior level gig if you get an offer, even if they fire you you will get a few months of paychecks and your toes back in the water. Don't tell anyone you are homeless.


I'm not suggesting that you lie on your resume or in your interviews. But there may be ways to frame your situation more positively that don't raise red flags for potential employers. Instead of saying the last three years were "spotty contract work", say you were self employed. And if you're worried about your skills being rusty, start working on a side project or contributing to open source. That will boost your own confidence, help you get back into the swing of things, and give you something to talk about when interviewers ask you what you've been working on lately.


I was once in a similar situation. I was a first generation college student and I moved away from home right around the time my mom started having grand Mal seizures from a brain tumor. She also was having problems and into meth. She also was getting foreclosed on and she wasn't filling her taxes.

During that time I took it on myself to get into a college and find some scholarships. I had to do multiple years of back taxes for her to complete the fafsa.

When I finally moved away I had about 2 garbage bags full of clothes to my name. I wish I would have done great at school, but a wave of depression hit me and I stopped going to classes. I eventually got evicted and was homeless. My scholarship was put on hold and I couldn't register for classes.

I was still a curious person and I guess not very practical. So rather than fix my problems I just read books at the library and used their computers to learn things. I worked my way through Feynman lectures on physics and TAOCP.

Eventually I did get a job at a electronics factory so I wasn't homeless anymore. I bought some library surplus books for 0.50 (including "the c programming language" and a book on XHTML). I used that to get a part time web dev job for $10/hr. It was actually a higher rate but less hours. I was on food stamps for a couple months. I still feel kind of bad about that.

I learned alot, worked my way up to $14/hr. I used that knowledge to get a "real" full time dev job for $50k/year around 2008.

After that my story isn't really affected much by how I started. I switched jobs every few years. I'm now pretty highly paid and work remote for a bay area company.

I'm not sure if this is helpful. The fact that I was just starting out helped me get that stepping stone student job. If you already have the experience I'd say it's like riding a bike. Just build a couple projects on your own and you'll get up to speed pretty fast.

I hope it's helpful knowing that you can go from homeless and learning in the library to highly paid engineer.


Yes it does. Thank you for the comment. I am currently at the library. On weekends it is a little harder to get started early as the library does not open till 10a, but I am working with what I have. :)



Those skills tests do a poor job of measuring your skill level. That said, you should be spending all of your free time programming. Knowing a little React is a heck of a lot better than knowing no React, right? Right.

Just make programming your life until you land a job. No one cares about your personal life if you can get the job done. Don't let it hold you back.


We are hiring Senior Full Stack Engineers. We care about hiring engineers that have experience solving problems across the stack, have a willingness to learn, will bring something to the table and fit into our culture. If we see that you have that, teaching you React is not a big deal. It is more important to us that you know the core languages well and their best practices than framework X.

Feel free to apply to https://boards.greenhouse.io/followupboss/jobs/84965

or reach out to me directly at anthony at followupboss and we can chat further.

While you may be senior level to a recruiter, what we consider senior is usually quite different. Regardless of your situation, you would be competing against other potentially more qualified candidates.


Thank you for reaching out. I will take a look and let you know. :)


If you cant get a Dev job, try something else. I am thinking maybe QA. In my 10 years experience the only good QA people are peogeammers. My enterprise software experience...the companies have dedicated QA people and they suck. I just use them for sign off.

Just read up on some QA terminology/buzz words and I'm sure you'll be hired in a heart best. It's not a minimum wage job, you'll be around development and this will buy you time and sanity till you get a development job...you would be able to easily automate QA and make yourself valuable there too.

I'm a senior developer with a crap load of Dev and non Dev responsibilities. Sometimes I just want to be QA so I just test crap all day long, and have no prod issues or other accountability.


I think this is great advice. I've seen it work for some people. It's a lot easier in some cases to transfer from a QA or Testing role into a dev role when one opens up. People have already worked with you and know you, and they feel more confident about your ability to get the job done. It's a smart move if you know anything at all about QA.


Yes and a lot of companies are going automated. Much easier to have a programmer write automated tests, than to teach QA how to program. Guess who would be in high demand once they get that experience? OP!


Read back on my comment...tons of typo. Sorry, I was typing it on the fly on mobile and autocorrect stinks. I swear I give better advice than I type :)


Besides great information from people.

I would suggest looking into these 2 platforms:

- https://hired.com/ - http://alist.co/

You should also spend time practice https://leetcode.com/problems/

Practice extensively and in 30 days you will be able to pass any interview because from my experience, a lot of company pick some random medium/hard questions from there.

When people asks about what you do in 3 years, just say you do free lancing work or that you take the time to travel and learning.

I will also see what my current company can do and will put you in contact.


lambdaschool.com

Super immersive and effective. They put you up in housing, give you a laptop, work with you to master every subject, and help you get placed. When you find you first 100k/year job then you pay back at 15% you salary for 2 to 3 years and that’s it.


Looks like Lambda school’s charity arm is handling this. And he will be on his way to a better life in no time. https://mobile.twitter.com/AustenAllred/status/1027170602031...


Interesting, but it says the classes are live from the comfort of your own home. I do not see where they mention putting you up in housing. Can you point me to that?


Reach out to their website. They just released housing in SF. https://mobile.twitter.com/AustenAllred Reach out to him he’s one of the founders. I heard about the housing from his Twitter.


Shoot I should have mentioned it’s 50k or more. I think. Not 100k


Yeah 50k with tuition capped at like 30k — apologies for the misinformation


Isnt PHP still in huge demand for companies looking to migrate legacy apps?

Have you tried going to tech meetups, every other meetup I go to there is always someone that says "We're hiring for XYZ talk to me after the meeting". In my area tech companies are always having a hard time hiring

Did you have a portfolio site as well? Update linkedin make a blog etc?

If you take a minimum wage job aim for it to be only temporary

Also, reach out to your local community centers I do nonprofit work the resources they have for the homeless is phenomenal. This must be true for oregon as well


Yes, I am attending tech meetups when I can. Though most of them are difficult to make because they start after business hours around 6p. I have to be back at the shelter by 7p otherwise I lose my bed.

I am redoing my website as well as working on some demo pieces.

Thank you for your comment. :)


By the way one of the best investments you can make is a gym membership to get access to showers, wifi, and workout equipment. You can still look professional while homeless. If you have a YMCA they might be able to waive your monthly fees.

Also check out your local library, they usually have free subscriptions to pluralsight and lynda.com among others so you can learn places other than youtube. There should be like 10 to 15 in your city given its size.

Checkout couchsurfing.com to potentially have someplace to stay on someones couch. Portland is full of hipsters that would probably be more liberal and open to this kind of thing too.

I didnt think about curfew times but yeah thats something too. If you need other essentials checkout any nonprofit community centers that can help you out there. Usually you'll get assigned a case manager who can help you stay on track too, or redirect you to other resources you may need.

Lastly local churches are really helpful too. Consider reaching out to them even if you arent religious, most churches have meal outings once or twice a week


One of the hardest parts about all of this is the safety and stability of a home. Apartments usually require proof of income. Searching for rooms on Craigslist / roomster is dicey — and I have found many desirable listings are for females only. Being asthmatic, I had to ask about roommates smoking tobacco and weed indoors. Seems like everyone in CO smokes weed!

As Dostoevksy wrote "...I am incapable of living in the same room with anyone for two days together. I know from experience. As soon as anyone is near me, his personality disturbs me and restricts my freedom. In twenty-four hours I begin to hate the best of men..."

Another option you may consider is workaway. Volunteer some time, work for a few hours a day, in exchange for a room. You can read reviews / comments of the host so there is information to help make a decision. The ones I have seen require working 5 hours a day, that should leave enough time to do some tech work (project, finding a job, etc).

If things go well with the host, you can ask them for a recommendation. Even if its not tech, its demonstrates character and ethic.


Are you letting the potential employers know that you are homeless or letting them see any indication of it? It's probably not going to help if you are. People will judge you for being homeless. Don't let your prospective employers find out, even through inference.

Have you figured out what you're doing for your address? Do you have a nice set of clothes, haircut, and shave before interviews? If you don't put a residential address on your resume, it isn't going to help you.

I am sure you're already getting enough advice on the technical aspect of finding a job in this thread. You can know anything, but if you can't get through the door because humans are superficial you're still screwed.

I would do this: hit up freelancing websites and make enough money doing small gigs online to get an apartment or rent a room with somebody. Those sites have a bad rap, but I promise you I've done well enough on them to say it's worth your time. Accept a low rate at first to get feedback and ratings on whatever site you choose. Better freelancing companies also poach people from those sites. If you have a good profile, someone will ask you to come work with their clients instead. It happened to me.

Worry about creating a marketable image: your online profiles personal website, github, stack overflow, linkedin etc, your appearance (fitness will make you more marketable), and your sales pitch. Write a pitch and rehearse what you're going to say in interviews. They're going to ask you what you've been doing! My advice: don't tell them about your recent misfortunes. It might be true, but would you want to buy a car that had mechanical problems and was found abandoned on the side of the road, three years later? You'd want to buy a shiny new car. You need to become a (good) used car salesman and you will find yourself in a job.

Good luck in your search.


I do not let anyone know I am homeless hence the pseudonym. Since I am in this ultra-liberal city. This resource bought me very nice and new interview/work outfits. I am working on the haircut part, but I can shave.

I have never had a problem with my address not being on my resume. Though I am having problems making contact via phone as 1) My phone is an old junk Android. 2nd Gen 2) I can only make and receive calls over wifi (had to cut cell service)

I am planning to work on my stackoverflow and other online profiles.

Thank you for all of the advice.


I'm not on any social media, but found a good job. Probably the social media advice is sound, and you can pursue it, but also focus on just being very fast and accurate in technical interviews. Consider making an account on hackerrank (not linked to your main email, so recruiters don't find it) and doing the python and javascript Cracking the Coding Interview or other problem sets for just a couple days of study. This is a fast way to ramp up! This way you focus on actual technical skills, and not on your appearance (at meetups) or recruiter spam (linkedin).

Also, don't worry about companies or recruiters bad-mouthing you to one another. It rarely happens for legal reasons.

About phones:

For phone issues, consider using google voice on your laptop with a headset ($10) and fixed Google voice number instead- this will be hard when you're on the move (can forward calls), but it will make sure you can occasionally have high-quality phone calls. I almost never needed to accept or make non-scheduled phone calls during my job search. To sign up unfortunately you'll need at least temporary access to get a verification call on a mobile or landline (but hopefully the shelter or a public phone can help with this).

Depending on how big a volume of possessions you need to carry with you, scout out all the Starbucks (which now allow use of their wifi and bathrooms without purchase) in a reasonable distance, to find one or two with quiet corners where you could take an interview. If the interviewers hear sound in the background, tell them you're in a Starbucks. If they ask why, say your roommates are loud so you tend to work from Starbucks. There shouldn't be any further questions about that.


Many libraries have study rooms where you should be able to take phone calls without disturbing anyone.


I think putting a full address on a resume is dangerous. Portland, OR should be enough for anyone. Resumes get passed around, posted everywhere, and who knows who will get their hands on your full name and address. It's especially dangerous for women who often have stalkers. This has been my experience. And anyhow, why would a potential employer need an address before hiring you? No reason. This coincidentally helps with finding jobs in a new city, even if one doesn't love there anymore.


I second this. Do not, under any circumstances, do anything that would evoke sympathy from others. The fact that you are posting this indicates to me that you are in the danger zone of feeling sorry for yourself. I’ve been in your situation too, and who knows, might be again; the most important thing to internalize is that nobody cares about you. I wish I had someone to slap me in the face every time I mentioned any hint of misfortune.


This fellow has been abandoned by a society and by a government that doesn't invest in its own people. It's not a law of nature that no one cares about him (OP's situation would be different in almost any other "developed" country) and what you call self-pity is a natural human reaction to misfortune.

Unfortunately, though, @jl2718 is right that many employers won't look upon OP's situation positively, and it's hard to tell if any will (except @leesalminen, who apparently will). Therefore some strategic non-disclosure of circumstances is advised.


https://nypost.com/2018/07/28/homeless-man-hands-out-resumes...

Have you tried doing what David did? Anything that could help you stand out would attract employer's attention.


No, but funny enough. I jokingly have though about writing a sign that says 'Will H4x f0r f00d'

I am a little too anxiety ridden by that idea, but not completely against it. Obviously worked out well for David. Thanks for the link. :)


React itself is quite small and can be learnt in a weekend. The other stuff such as Redux, Webpack, Babel, etc. will take a bit longer, but overall it shouldn’t take that long to get up to speed. If you’re able to go at it solidly for a month, I recommend training yourself in these things.


Getting a programming job has only one secret: passing the whiteboard interview.

The questions in a whiteboard interview have little in common with real world experience. But they're one of the hoops you have to jump through.

Sign up with a website like LeetCode (https://leetcode.com/) or hackerrank (https://www.hackerrank.com/programming-interview-questions/) that give you technical problems, let you practice them, and show how well your programs work. Practice one of those exercises every day while you look for work.

Good luck.


I think your thinking of getting a somewhat junior role and enjoy it is good thinking.

Just learn React. With PHP stuff you will get is kind of terrible. Find place that will get you and give you space to learn what you need.

It is strange that recruiters doesn't want to profit from you. I would ping startups, go with what you are good at, don't focus too much on your woes.

On other hand, ideal for you would be huge corporation, those usually have showers and spaces to relax, they are do things slow and care about your wellbeing.

Wish you luck. Consider another city as well if you can find good opportunity.


Man this is so illiterate :) I am ashamed of myself for writing like this. I was distracted but still...


Hey, I teach a very popular online course for web developers... would like to help you out and offer it to you for free. If you google Complete Web Developer in 2018, you can message me if interested.


I will look into it. Thank you for the offer and reaching out. It means a lot. :)


I sent you a linkedin request.


My best advice is to show up at tech meetups and ask if people are hiring. Portland has a very large and cohesive tech community, and there's plenty of work out there right now for devs. http://calagator.org

I'm not sure if they still do it, but there's a dry cleaning place in Portland that will clean your clothes for free for interviews, if that's an issue. I'm spacing out on the name, but I saw the sign downtown once while walking by.

Best of luck.


Some places to look for postings besides Craigslist:

http://portlandtech.org/ - this is a great resource, job listings are categorized along a number of facets (by language, by experience, by focus), they have a calendar of events, and they link to lots of other job hunting resources.

http://www.indeed.com/ - Indeed is my go-to search engine when job hunting. I've found my last three jobs using it. You can create alerts and get emails when new positions matching your criteria are posted.

Also, there is never any harm in applying for a job. Let the recruiters submit your resume for senior positions. Consider roles with "lead" or "engineering manager" in the title, where your experience will assist you but your focus will be more on coordinating the work of your team rather than on your own technical chops. Or, apply for QA jobs, which are often a good gateway into developer or UI/UX roles. There are lots of ways to get your career back on track if you broaden your focus.


Shoot me an email too; we have some work you might be interested in.

Nick [at] <hackernews username>.com


High-school dropout here. I was homeless for ~16 months around 2010. I knew I wanted to get into IT but I figured I should not pursue HTML, PHP or .NET jobs, as most schools and educations here taught exactly that. I knew I couldn't beat the competition, even though I had experience using those languages.

I went into *nix, Python and C instead. Hanging on IRC taught me hacker ethos and the lingo that comes with the work. Made friends, embedded myself in various communities. Got job offers through some communities.

First job was doing 50% support (servicedesk) and 50% Python. It was horrible at times. But I did have a job. I met a guy there that went out of his way to personally get me up to speed with Python/Linux - like a mentor. I worked there for a year but we always kept in touch since.

Fast-forward 8 years later; I can now actually code some decent stuff and that mentor just joined my team and we're reunited again. But that's off-topic.

TL;DR: Learn something that is in demand and be prepared to make sacrifices.


I would start off looking at things to do with the mozilla project, even if you don't do c++ there are a lot of things to work on with them, its going to start improving your ranking on github. You also want to make sure you're on linkedin even if you're going for your first job linkedin is a good way to connect with recruiters.


My first advice would be: If possible use your time to learn React / Redux. As you yourself said, this is what the market is looking for. This will increase your chances of being successful. Although this seems like a bad idea because languages and technologies change, but you need it NOW, and NOW and what the market wants.

2 - Prepare your linkedin and set up a curriculum that will understand what you want at this point in your career, an idea would be in the summary part of what you are looking for to return to the area.

3 - Look for freelance jobs to get money and get some experience, this is a time to prepare your portfolio. There are platforms that provide this support.

4 - Make as many interviews as you can, but do with the thought of this re-learning to be interviewed. Study about selective processes, and celebrate failures. You probably will not be hired at the first chance.


Hi - was in same rut few years back where I had taken up a non-dev role and suffered for a while to land the right dev role. To get back on track for interview and eventual hire as a dev I did a) Develop good skills in static typed programming lang (scala) b) Latest dev test deploy tool chain e.g mvn, sbt, intellij, ci/cd , and Docker c) The what part of data structures in standard libs d) developer level best practices in security , auth and authz method e.g oauth c) AWS d) improve interview programming skills i.e demonstrate interactively to solve small problems in scala or whatever e) learn the vocab used today .. not 4 years ago.

Note - All of above is what applied to my situtation. And I apologize for not posting links for references. Thought I must share my experience.


I'm not in the USA, so I don't know what recruitment sites are popular there but you should find these web sites and create a profile, like in Linkedin. And then apply to some jobs there. May be you can send friend request to reqruiters, but there I think you have 3000 requst limit.

If I were in your shoos I would accept any programming jobe, and after a year may be you can change your jobe.

Some work places may not ask you for skill tests. If I were in your shoos I would apply to all of them. Go to the the interview even if you have very low chance to be recqruited. At least you will learn what is asked and next time you will have some idea about how to reply.

You can accept low salary if you want to increase your chace.


Cast yourself as a digital nomad searching the Earth for adventure. No one needs to know your transient state is something you want to change.

See if you can land some of the typical tools of nomads...a PO box, a mobile #, then be the person they are looking for


You could apply to recurse: https://www.recurse.com/ and use that time to learn react

You could look for contract work to rebuild your skills


This may get some money in your pocket starting out: https://www.upwork.com/i/how-it-works/freelancer/

PHP skills are needed on that site quite a bit. It may not be posh but it will get some money in your pocket and give you something to do. Look at ziprecruiter and see if there are any jobs in your area that you would fit. Also check linkedin and see if any of your old workmates can throw you some freelance.


For you or anyone with experience, how many hours can you realistically average working per week and what would the avg hourly wage be? This is all assuming you’re new to the site since that would be the case for OP most likely.


I have tried upWork and have gotten a job from there back when it was called oDesk. But I have not had any luck recently.


You need to understand that asking for advice doesn't mean you will get helpful answers.

It would be a mistake to ask people about problems they can't comprehend.

You have some things to do - sort your life out, get a job, any job, then progress your career.

The people who can help you with your career might not be the people who can help you with the other stuff.

Learning technologies, getting a position, moving up are all things that take time.

Sorting your life out, earning some money, having fun are what you can do immediately.


UPDATE: I have a phone call with a hiring manager from Amazon tomorrow. Sent out 20 resumes/emails so far this week. And going to dinner with someone here in Portland that is on this thread. Feeling better about potential jobs everyday. Thanks again from everyone here for advice/support!


It was great to meet you, man. Let's plan on doing that again, real soon.


Likewise, thank you for talking with me and hanging out.


I'm in no position to offer anything but moral support (and disgust at the way rich countries are willing to let their citizens fail when with a little help they could be productive again). But I wanted to add my best wishes, and say there is a ton of php in the wild that needs the support of a good programmer.

I really hope you can get things back together, and come back and tell us how you got on.


Agreed, sounds like most of what he needs is moral support anyway.

He said the state or organizations helped him get a bed, shelter, food, medical attention, and even nice work clothes. He also has a laptop and has been trying to get back up to speed.

I think in this case, it's mostly just putting himself out there. If you have 100 interviews, and 99 are unsuccessful, the one win is enough that the expected value of applying is worth it.

Good luck!


UPDATE: Everyone has been great and I had many emails with job leads and support. Thanks to a very kind donation, I am on my way to get my haircut that is desperately needed. High chances I will be offline the rest of the day. I met a person irl today from this thread and we talked tech which was nice to have some normalcy back in my life. Thanks again!


I hope things work out for you! Keep at the React studying. I find it a skill more valued than just being a good programmer these days.


If you have code you can share, put it on GitHub.

Put your resume on LinkedIn.

Please share the links & many of us we'll re-share them on social media.


This might sound like a stupid question, but can a homeless person even get a job? Isn't the whole cycle of becoming homeless evil because you need a residents to apply for a job? Just like all those freelance website require you to link a bank account which you need a address to get a bank account.


I am not having too many problems with that yet. And yes, I can use the shelter as a mailing address. Though I just use the address on my ID, which I no longer live at, for fields where they just need an address but won't mail anything to me.


Getting an address for these purposes is substantially easier and cheaper than obtaining steady housing.


How do you get a address?


A homeless shelter, a day center, a church, a sympathetic friend. My local indie book store allows homeless people to use their mailing address. Finding someone who will hold your mail is a lot easier than finding somewhere to live.


Hi,

apart from programming you could add a remote part-time job, look at positions available at:

https://appen.com/ or http://www.ai-media.tv/


I don't have much to contribute with, but I wish you my best of luck and may life turn around for the better for you.

I was in a similar position about a year ago, having no home, but landed a job and found my way!


Learn React and work on some applications for portfolio.

This is important, watch https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454921/?ref_=nv_sr_1


What is important, learning React or watching the film? Also, what is in the film that makes it important (if it is)?


It's a film about a homeless guy who worked really hard and made it as a stock trader. ...It is not like your life at all. Get back to work, lol.


Agree, this movie is GREAT for this case. 100k for motivation.


Have you tried getting any remote jobs? WeWorkRemotely for example is a great resource for this positions. It will allow you to earn money, and maybe save a little while still working from the libary and staying at the shelter.


I will look there, I have currently been looking on http://remoteok.io


build a portfolio microsite using React. Go to meetups. hand out resumes. repeat.


> I am often on a university campus

This is very obvious, but science faculties often need python programmers. If not done yet, you could use the bulletin board to start building a small local net of contacts.


A wise friend of mine tells people looking for jobs: There’s a magic number of applications and interviews you have to do before you get a job. Unfortunately I can’t tell you what that number is.


Just to be clear, you are looking for jobs outside of Craigslist right?


Yes, I am looking many places.


Make a GitHub profile and set it up as a portfolio, just make something beautiful and arranged so your new potential job may be waiting for you!


If you decide to pick up React and need some pointers, email me - mine is in my profile, I work in React full-time at the moment.


One idea is to look at Vue over React. I think there are some advantages. First, PHP/Laraval has adopted Vue. Second, it's a bit easier to get into than React (and better suited for smaller/incremental projects). Third, it's easier to stand out as a Vue developer due to its smaller (but growing) market.

This isn't a technical critique … I think Vue and React are very similar … just a suggestion in terms of job searching. Best of luck!


"I have 10 years of web dev experience". You are really hard on yourself and it sounds like your expertise in development is probably not the issue that you are facing in order to get a job.

You need to rebuild your confidence. Providing that you are reasonably competent at development (which I assume you are), I would focus on learning React and applying for mid-level jobs related. Don't apply for a junior role, you are selling yourself short. You are not a junior.

- I wouldn't be too afraid of "Word getting around" - that sounds like fear driving you rather than faith.

- Try to find a family or friend who will allow you to register at their address for tax/banking purposes. You will need to get paid and you need these systems in place in order to do so.

- If you can get a registered address (even if you aren't officially living there), I wouldn't even tell them about your current situation of being homeless, unless of course you have no choice.

- Look for 'nearly' successful startups. From my experience startups generally have less weighted interviews, more casual recruitment processes, my last two contracts I have landed have paid really well but I didn't even have my references examined. Most people in the startup scene (at least in Europe) don't care about references, they just look at the work you do after a couple of weeks and let that be the deciding factor on if you worth the money or not.

- Become a great React developer (or Vue.js) if you want to get involved in startups, this is because its the 'coolest' technology going around and most CTO's choose the most popular tech stacks. Familiarize yourself with the related technologies so you know what you are talking about in an interview. I would get familiar with Redux, but I would personally use Mobx for state management. I would also look at Next.js and know about SSR apps. Formulate opinions of these technologies so you can talk about these to your interviewer.

- Formulate opinions about emerging technologies, such as Rust and its implementation in Firefox, hence which is why i use firefox over chrome today.

- Familiarize yourself with basic AWS, gcloud, k8s, so at least you have touched on these technologies and you are aware of them. You don't need to be an expert.

- Setup a portfolio website! You can get free 1 year hosting with AWS. I would setup AWS with SSL and host a next.js React application on it, using the latest design ideas etc. Look at other developers portfolios for inspiration. This is a great way to have a nice portfolio piece using the latest tech, it illustrates that you can do your job.

Believe in yourself. The biggest obstacle in this world, is no other, is no grand oppressive state, it is yourself. You must redefine who you THINK you are. You are not a homeless person, but a person in transition. You are not poor, but a person about to find truth and wealth. Be thankful and grateful for what you have, however little that may be. Be thankful that you have a skill that is highly sought after and highly lucrative. You can make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year if your redefine the image of yourself. Use your experience on the streets as a strength, rather than a weakness.

You are a versatile person. I have no doubt you will make it to where you need to go.


This is all great advice, I will certainly tackle some of the things you mentioned. Thank you for taking the time for a information filled comment. :)


I need work on a website so I have a job for you.


I am the homelessdev poster from CO. pxdHomelessDev reached out to me for an update which I gave him, but here's a more detailed run down of what I did to start getting out of my situation.

I was able to avoid becoming homeless by using services the city offers (food stamps, a one shot service that helped with rent during the month it mattered most, unemployment until it ran out), borrowing a small amount of money from family, wife was able to get a part-time job -- this got us out of our immediate scenario of living on the streets or in a car but we were literally 1 week away from that happening.

Finally after months of applying for jobs I was able to land one a week ago.

What I have done to get back on track:

1. put together a good portfolio: i built a few react sites, made some 2d games and converted a few interesting problems found on hackerrank into little applications so that I would have some diverse projects to show off. created social media accounts to showcase my work as well and linked all of those from my portfolio site.

2. prepared mentally: with each job interview that I failed I paid close attention to what went wrong and what I could have done to prevent it from failing and then adjusted my next interview based on that information.

3. put in 15 resumes per day: there are lots of job sites (angel.co weworkremotely.com and remoteok.io to name a few) -- once i ramped up to 15 resumes a day I had at least 3 calls a week with prospective employers. I also didn't limit myself to CO -- i now have a remote job.

4. don't kill yourself or give up: for me this was the hardest part of the process. i suffer from bipolar disorder and was on the verge of suicide for the better part of this year. each failure during the process made me sink further into depression, though keeping my mind occupied with my own projects helped immensely. staying positive through this sort of thing, even if you're lying to yourself and faking it, seems to be one of the keys to success because other people can pick up on your mood.

---

I am assuming that you have very limited funds and thus might not know where to host a website for cheap -- this can be accomplished for 1 or 2 USD per month on AWS using a serverless infrastructure. You can also host free static sites on github pages with custom domains (get one on namecheap for $9 per year). Whatever you choose has the added benefit of being something you can talk about in a job interview and showcase on your site.

---

i don't know how your javascript skills are, but if you have extensive front end experience:

1. update your knowledge if need be to the latest JS syntax

2. spend a weekend learning react

3. start playing with node

javascript is in demand and i have seen Jr devs (1 or 2 years of react and node experience) being billed as either "fullstack developers" or even worse "senior fullstack developers". With your current skill set and a bit more knowledge you should be able to land a JS job pretty quickly.


I was just reading your original post. I’m glad you found work and were able to work a plan to avoid eviction.

I’m also in Colorado and have seen evictions happen in just days. It’s pretty appalling.


The rent laws are terrifying and slanted for the landlord. Here's how everything went down:

1. quit job for ethical reasons

2. run out of savings very quickly

3. run out of unemployment after that, can't afford rent

4. After being 3 days late on rent a notice was posted on my door saying that I had 5 days to pay in full or face eviction

5. After those 5 days were up, another notice was posted on my door that I had to appear in court the following week

6. Show up to court, make my way to the assigned room, multiple other people going through the same thing show up

7. Judge explains what is happening: you can speak to the plantif's lawyer to settle, and you can speak to some free lawyers who will help you sort your rights, and you can choose to settle that day or file a response.

a) settling with the landlord would have meant that I had to pay in full and then move out 1 week later but would not be evicted (basically self eviction)

b) file a response and take it to court a week later and then get evicted a week after that by a sheriff

8. I chose option B

9. In the meantime I signed up for a service (and ended up being approved) which helps with situations such as these by paying 80% of your rent (one-time service)

10. A few days before court I was able to pay rent and they dropped the case

11. sold some things to keep paying for rent and borrowed some money

12. finally got a fucking job

I was also slapped with:

1. $250~ in legal fees

2. $300~ in late fees

3. $100~ prematurely canceled rental insurance fee (rental insurance, utilities etc. are all in the same rent payment)


why is my comment being downvoted?


Craigslist isn’t the place to go for jobs. Lots of people are looking for PHP developers. There’s job counseling services out there, go talk to a professional who specializes in cases like yours. Don’t listen to a bunch of HNers who have zero experience in your situation.


I have talked to a job services placement place. It is state ran and I am in touch with the IT/Software placement manager for the state of OR. Thanks for the comment.


[flagged]


> Maybe go fully ramen noodle

The guy is literally homeless. How could he get more "ramen noodle" than that?

This isn't the time to be picky about working for The Man. Now is the time to get some cash and get his life back on track. He can worry about whether he's solving "real world problems" when he has a roof over his head, some money in his pocket, and a resume that lets him pick and choose.


Whoa.




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