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Help me Obi-Wan: Need advice on career switch into web/software development
3 points by srfdntchk 1428 days ago | hide | past | web | 5 comments | favorite
So here's the deal...

I'm interested in making a career change into web and/or software development and need some advice.

I had started down this path about 10 years ago with designing static websites, and really enjoyed it, but got side-tracked with my current job which is completely unrelated and burning me out.

So...I want to make a change. I'm starting from scratch and plan to use a combination of self-learning and formal classes to reach my goals.

Below is a rough plan to start:

1. Spend a few months catching up on current HTML and CSS. At the same time work on learning Python using online classes/tutorials.

2. Continue with Python and learn the Django framework.

3. Learn Javascript and its related technologies.

4. Learn Java

While doing the above I'll also participate in Github and try to help out on open source projects.

Also, I figure that throughout this process I'll take part-time classes towards either an AAS in programming (Java track) or a BSCS (already have a lib arts BA so my gen ed stuff is done, except for the math).

I know there are probably a lot of holes in the plan above, which is what I'd like to get some input on. I'm not looking to become a developer in the next 6 months or anything, but I would like to get to the point of having a decent shot at a paid position in maybe 1.5 to 2 yrs.

So what am I missing? How can my plan be improved? Am I being unrealistic in any aspect?

Any and all feedback is welcome as long as it's constructive. Thanks!




Yeah do it! I say it's totally realistic. I followed a similar path as I didn't really learn software development until after college, and it has turned into a great career for me. I would recommend starting with javascript, mostly because you can do so much with it so quickly. Here are some javascript related tips:

Learn some js fundamentals, but I would learn jQuery at the same time and write some fun code as you go to keep things interesting. This site's good for a quick start: http://jqfundamentals.com/. Or if you want the textbook approach: http://shop.oreilly.com/product/9780596805531.do This should also be a great read, though I've only read snippets so far: http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-JavaScript-Ninja-John-Resig/dp...

Once you get going, one of the coolest things about learning javascript these days is that it's never been easier to spin up a toy project powered by free out-of-the-box services like https://www.firebase.com/ or https://www.parse.com/.

The other advice I'd give is that, while I wouldn't go too far to play down the importance of learning to code through formal education, I think you can completely teach yourself since you have the passion for it. I'd say do a combination of the two as it fits you. Because at the end of the day, the most valuable thing you can have on your resume is that you've built some cool stuff. And if you're excited about learning to code, you'll find yourself building cool stuff in no time. Well - okay, "no time" really means a lot of hours of reading and coding, but you'll get addicted really fast so it'll feel like no time :) Anyway, good luck!


As someone in the same boat, I chose PHP as my language of choice, and in a matter of about a year went from not having any real knowledge to landing an internship about a month ago. HTML and CSS are necessary, beyond that, I think any other technologies you pick up will only help your cause. Only piece of advice I have for you is don't slack off and don't get lazy. Think of a project that is far beyond what you can do right now and start creating it, for me, having a project of my own was the most motivational thing I could ask for. One more thing, if you don't type correctly, start learning now! 60wpm vs 25wpm can really affect how long it takes you to develop.


"So what am I missing?"

1) With discipline and hard work you can beat stuff in weeks, not months 2) You can get a paid position in months, not years

"How can my plan be improved?"

Set specific goals, build a study schedule. Python, JS, html and CSS are great choices. Consider Ruby also.

"Am I being unrealistic in any aspect?"

No, you are not. YES you can become a developer in 6 months. Some people will try to bring you down, don't believe them. Just work real hard and keep in mind that things can get really boring sometimes and discipline is fundamental to pull this off.

In fact, discipline is what sets apart winners and losers.

Now, get out of HN and get to work. There are plenty of resources online.


Thanks for the positive replies fellas!

I've started in on this intro Python course at Udacity: https://www.udacity.com/course/cs101

I'm also going to work my way through the W3schools tutorials on HTML/CSS and Javascript and other resources posted here and elsewhere online. I'll probably pick up the O'Reilly book too as I hear their texts are good quality.

As for typing speed, I think I clock in somewhere around 70 to 80wpm accurately, so I'm good there.

I'm really looking forward to the challenge. Thanks again!


I'd look into local user groups with monthly meetings. Conferences and hack-a-thons are really great places to learn things and write some code, respectively.




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