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Ask HN: Tips for a 30 year old trying to switch to IT/software development?
11 points by kindalost 57 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 13 comments
Long time lurker here. Just quit my job and thinking about how I should go about it.

Background: I have a degree in business administration, so not stem related at all. I have some money on side to live on for a around a year (more if I move back to my home 3rd world country). I consider myself tech-savvy (running Ubuntu then fedora for the last 10 years, build my own desktop).

The goal: finding a REMOTE job in IT/software development as fast as possible. It does not have to pay much ($21k+ a year and I would sign), getting experience is the priority. Aiming for FAANG someday.

What I do know: Harvard CS50 10-15h a day. After that I will probably follow a Reddit thread suggesting CS61A/CS61B/CS61C from University of California, Berkeley. And finally Full Stack Open 2021 by University of Helsinki (gives certification).

As a hiring manager, would you hire me after all this if I have a mid-sized project matching your business?

Is there a database somewhere with a case study of digital startups? Wanting to create my own someday and that could really be handy.

Any advice would be appreciated, success or failure story also.

PS: If I have to go back to university, I will but prefer not to (cost is the real problem).




I have a made a much smaller transition in my career. I majored in electrical engineering and got a job as an embedded software engineer but wanted to work on web-based tech almost immediately, better pay and easier to troubleshoot. My advice would be to not try to make to big of a leap right away because it can be hard to show potential employers that you know what you are doing.

I think the following would be good approach:

1) Get business job that does a lot of excel work, then while in the position, learn how to automate parts of your job with python (Get paid to learn software).

2) In your spare time, work on projects that move you closer to the role you ultimately want(i.e web development, mobile, etc).

3) After 6 months to a year, start looking for a job that is more programming focused but still on the business side of things. Something like working on dashboards or working with data for a finance department.

4) Then after a little more time, you should be able to transition into being a full blown software developer.

You will probably need to continuously work on small projects throughout this time. The projects don't need to be huge, they just need to be able to show an understanding of the underlying technology. For example, I got a job based on a simple mobile app project that used a serverless API. The project was unfinished but it demonstrated knowledge in serverless applications.

This approach probably isn't the fastest possible but it does have a high likelihood for success and will keep you employed throughout the process.

Good luck, I hope this advice helps and that all of this works out for you.


I have thought about this approach (or finding a part time job), but it really depends on finding the right job to allow it. So still pending for now. Thanks mate.


IT isn’t software development and software development isn’t IT. I consider IT to be help desk, support, systems administration and generally solving problems related to supporting systems. Software dev is creating some of those systems, maybe as products that the company sells.

Starting in IT and moving to software dev works (firsthand exp) but if you want to do software development then go for that. Like others said if you have a few projects in a portfolio that would help but you have to get past screeners, HR, etc. My suggestion would be to find local dev meetups, groups related to the language you are learning. Networking will get you pretty far, a boot camp accomplishes the learning and networking parts but at a cost. Also building web applications and knowing basics of deployment will be needed to get into dev job, I’d say focus on that using a mainstream language and framework and it will make things a d little easier.


post on the 'who wants to be hired' thread.

then search the 'who is hiring' thread, and apply to a few companies that match. seems like a bunch of companies are hiring interns for everything.

also, if you are willing to SDR, it's a great way to get in, and pay your dues in a way that most people never will at any software or tech company. if an engineer ever tries to dis you? fuck you buddy, you got an engineering degree, but i was an sdr.

in all seriousness tho, i think it's a great place to start. even if it's highly likely you'll get fired. it's high risk, high reward. i've never done it at someone else's company - tried it myself - it's hard.

after that, Level 1 Technical Support. done. do your time there, study on the side, concentrate on titles, you'll be there in no time.

also, obv, go to a booming fucking vertical. crypto. defi. vr. securitah. whatever it is this week. or will be next week.

ideally, go to a booming fucking company, whether in a booming fucking vertical or not.

who is that? flexport? stripe? i don't know who. prob anything that is bad for humans and humanity.

many of the big companies are booming, but....what a fucking existence. but if all you really care about is getting enough coin to retire early and then get depressed and kill yourself because you no longer have a meaningful goal, then big company might be for you. they can pay really well. you might die a thousand deaths before you have a chance to take your own life, but at least you'll be able to brag on the FIRE boards.


I was in a similar situation as you 18 months ago and made the transition into software development.

I (US based) spent lots of time researching all of the different ways to break into software development including bootcamps, going back to school, or the self-taught route.

Here's my personal opinion of each:

- Bootcamps: 12-16 week programs (some have longer) that will teach you JavaScript, React, etc where you'll spend 1-2 weeks on each language/framework/library. I chose not to go this route as they tend to teach you the bare minimum and you're forced to go at the speed of the class so if you are not quite understanding a concept you're on your own figuring that out later. Plus, how much can you truly learn if you spend 1-2 weeks on it?

- School: expensive and ~2-4 years to graduate.

- Self-taught: no real feedback loop as to what you're learning, no community to help you if you get stuck, lack of structured curriculum, and mostly surface level type lessons similar to a bootcamp (watch someone build something, copy them, get a short explanation of what's going on...)

I spent several months exploring each of these options and even dove into a few Udemy courses but none of them really helped me understand the core fundamentals of programming. I was constantly saying to myself "ok, you're showing me how to do something, but I don't understand WHY it works or WHAT'S happening".

Ultimately, I ended up coming across Launch School (https://launchschool.com/) a online and self-paced program that costs $200 per month. You go deep into the fundamentals of programming and come away with a solid understanding of Ruby and/or JavaScript.

Throughout the program you'll have assessments for each course which can be live coding challenges with a TA, written, or take home projects. In order to move to the next course you have to demonstrate clear understanding of what you have previously learned and pass the assessment. LS has a robust community of students all over the world and they have TA and/or Student led study sessions for pretty much every course you take in the program.

I highly recommend you check it out and see if it's right for you.


Consider a local bootcamp maybe, depending of what is available around you? It would give you a network to rely on. I've seen friends doing that successfully and getting junior position as devs in fortune 50 company and startup alike. ( with salary ranging 60-80k in southern US )

Otherwise, a github linkedin combo seems in order.


Thanks a lot, I'll look into it act accordingly, depending on the cost. Please excuse my ignorance, but does LinkedIn really work?


LinkedIn is incredibly effective if you don't have connections. Job sites have been ineffective for a while for both sides. With job sites, you get people with a culinary diploma applying for a Senior React Developer job. The new meta is employers searching for candidates and spamming them.


A few thoughts.

* The minimum requirements to become a software developer: pass a 30 minute interview.

* The baseline standard competency for software development: none.

That said, hiring for software employs maximum bias and minimum training. What that effectively means:

* Software developers, according to HN, generally hate all uniform measures of competence except computer science bachelors degrees.

* Software developers frequently believe in their preferences without supporting evidence and outside their experience.

* Decisions in software are most frequently entirely ad hoc.

* Writing, in natural language, is a rarity in software.

Plan accordingly.


Just curious, why REMOTE?

Most Software Development jobs are still not pure-remote; like even Apple is just pushing for a hybrid set-up.


So I can live in lower cost of living country, invest most of my income and retire as early as possible. I know it won't be easy but some people did it, I want to try. If I fail I can always go back to something like my old job.


- Web Portfolio showing 3 projects (or more). These can be from classes, personal projects, or overview descriptions of past work projects. -- for example, check out the template here [1] called "Portfolio" -- take it, repurpose it with your own content. Get it online. Add your web portfolio URL to your resume. (Once you've done everything else I suggest, the level up would be adding a blog to your portfolio)

- Github/Gitlab (to show your code)

- LinkedIn presence -- grow your network, share posts with hashtags that are related to your post/post's project. Follow important people. Connect with people you know.

- Add your resume to multiple job seeker sites: Indeed.com, Ziprecuiter.com, Dice.com, etc. Get yourself on at least 5, so that when recruiters search for keywords, your resume turns up.

Basically: Show you have the skills. And put yourself "out there" i.e. market yourself

[1] https://bulmatemplates.github.io/bulma-templates/


Thanks mate, will take those into account. Asked the question already, but is LinkedIn really worth it?




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