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How I Got a Job in Web Development (elliotec.com)
109 points by elliotec on Jan 27, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 26 comments



This was really really interesting. As someone who has been around for a while, it was great to see the journey through your eyes.

One thing though. The fact that you were "offered a senior position in ruby, Rails, and front end development" after less than one year of development makes me worry about that "software development contractor company".

I wonder if the OP would have felt comfortable being in a senior role. More thoughts on what makes someone 'senior' here: http://programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/25564/when-sh...

(Hint, it isn't just time on the job.)


Honestly I was a bit taken aback by the offer as well. I think that a big part was how I built my reputation and supply and demand of developers in Salt Lake. They did a pretty heavy technical interview with me, (but no actual code writing, interestingly) and I did very well. So maybe I did get good enough that fast, but I think it was a combination of other factors that might've helped me more than my actual skill.

I don't know if I would've been comfortable in that role. It may have played a part in me not accepting it. I know I wasn't comfortable with the team, and if they had to answer to me than it might have been an uncomfortable situation all around.


Fair enough. I wasn't sure if it was title inflation to bill end clients more.

Good on ya for knocking that interview out of the park.


That could definitely have been a factor as well. Thanks for the compliments!


This is an interesting story. I started teaching myself to code about 1 year ago. I started with html/css/scss and then moved to vanilla JS. Started working with a few frameworks and the command line, and then started a bootcamp. The bootcamp was a total disappointment, and I definitely don't feel like it was worth the money. I am applying for jobs now and it is tough. Like someone mentioned below, the transition is hard from bootcamp to jr dev role. I feel pretty competent in building applications, usually meanstack stuff and a bit of rails(like ruby not a huge fan of rails) and deploying via linux instances. While I understand that there is nothin to stop me from applying places, a lot of these companies want 5 years or a CS degree to do front-end development. I am started to get a little traction but it is tough. People with CS degrees often mock my lack of understanding of concepts like stack vs. heap memory, data structures, sort algorithims, etc, while applying for jobs they not only dont want to do themselves, but don't reqiuire that knowledge.

Tl;dr congrats, it is a hard road to legitimacy for a self-taught developer.


People with CS degrees are just as clueless as everyone else. Pretty much every good developer I've worked with has not had a pure CS education. They've all had varied backgrounds and the only thing that ties them together is that they really enjoy solving problems.


Thanks! Here's a secret, they don't actually care if you have a CS degree or 5 years experience. You can ignore that on any job description. If you can prove that you are able to do the job, that's what they are looking for.

Another quick point, those CS concepts will come with practice, and you might not know every aspect of what is happening in the CPU when you use .sort! on an array, but I assure you that you will not be required to rewrite sorting algorithms in any job you should be applying for.


Thanks. I know I can do most of the stuff asked. Most of these places want flat designed applications with animation, a nice UI and CRUD functionality. Maybe a token based api and a few forms. Im going to get a job, i am disappointed in the lack of brand strength of the institution I attended, so I am doing a few side projects and contract work to prove to employers I am competent and can learn. Thanks


What did you use to find contract work?


Mind naming names about the bootcamp? I ask for two reasons:

(1) Other people who are getting ready to shell out $10k for a bootcamp deserve to hear from dissatisfied alumni

(2) There's a lot of negative press around bootcamps and the good ones shouldn't be lumped in with the bad ones. I had a great experience at Hack Reactor that set me up for interview success with data structures and algorithms, despite lacking a formal CS degree.


General Assembly, Los Angeles. I feel like a relatively competent developer, but I had to work my ass off. I wanted to do a bootcamp to get polished. To learn the right way of doing things. I found it much less immersive and instructional and they have flooded the market with subpar developers. I don't want to say much more publicly, but if you are interested we can talk more privately about it, and my experience.


I'm really sorry you had that experience. It sounds similar to the industry sentiment: General Assembly is geared towards founders who want to quickly acquire a discrete set of business skills in a short period of time, and they're at a competitive disadvantage against coding bootcamps that specialize in programming skills. It seems like the only area where they can compete is price point.

I'm not sure why GA is pursuing this strategy because it seems to be poisoning their reputation. They really shine with things like weekend courses on marketing analytics or a two-hour course where a non-technical founder can get some concepts and vocabulary to grok what the engineering team is doing, but their nine-week courses are lightweight and don't serve their graduates very well. In fact, when I hear engineers complaining about "bootcamp graduates" it's never about Hack Reactor and rarely about DevBootcamp or App Academy -- it's usually General Assembly.


Yeah. I strongly considered those ones, however I was in LA, and they are the only game in town. Thanks.


Do what I did: go learn that CS stuff on your own :) it's fascinating, and gives me motivation when building standard CRUD app isn't doing it for me. Coursera, the MIT lectures, books: dive in, and you'll come out the other side with understanding and knowledge that will help you in the long run. If you enjoy coding, and enjoy problem solving and logical thinking, you'll probably enjoy learning those topics on your own as much as I have been!


Congratulations you've entered the market at a golden time, be sure to keep sharp and keep learning because anyone sitting on their hands will be left behind. Again, welcome, and you've done it in just a year, so you've got all your career achievements ahead of you!


In my experience dealing with bootcamp grads, the transition from bootcamp to full-time offer can be a really tough one, and it sounds like your experience roughly mirrors those I've seen. A combination of persistence, improving your online presence/findability, and working on stuff. Congrats on making it through :)

I wonder if the experience would have been different in the Bay Area due to the sheer number of folks in a similar position?


Thanks! I'm sure it's more difficult for the people in the Bay Area because of the saturation. I saw that even in Seattle to a lesser extent.


Congrats on working hard & smart and getting results.

Also impressed by Starbucks' role in all of this. How many other companies would have supported you through that period and perhaps in some way made this possible for you! I can't say I like their coffee much, but I've always admired them as a company that values employees and your experience adds to their cred imnsho.


I have a cousin who has been taking beginner CS classes and is actively looking at the steps she can take to eventually move into a job in web programming.

I've provided some feedback, but this first hand account is particularly useful. I've shared it with her. Thank you.


It is nice to see your journey. I think 1 year of dedication is good time to achieve any target you set if you keep your focus.


Sorry, but this is exactly why there is no point in believing of "front end developer" being a career that can offer a sustainable living, in the western world at least, in the coming years.

Greetings, from somebody, who in the 90s, was a) still going to school and b) making 8.0000 - 10.000 DM per website, "on the side". Yeah, those where the times..

One question, just for fun: have you even heard of some "Zeldman"?

(To the inclined: We coded to the DTD long before he got off print design. Because only coding to standards was cool on the usenet, already in the 90s :-) )


I don't understand your point. Yes, it was a lot more difficult in the 90s, but there was also less demand. A front end developer can get by just fine.


What is wrong with frontend development? I don't quite understand your point.

Most frontend web developers I have worked without are also competant to excellent backend web developers (or more). I'm not sure why they would be necessarily constrained to one domain, or why the domain is not important enough to hire for.


Get off my lawn! Just because this person didn't have to suffer like we did doesn't mean they won't be productive and make a living. Zeldman was great, but these new folks coming into the market are following DHH, bootstrapped rapid frameworks that scaffold it all. They are building quick and cool things, and will have years to figure out all the inner workings.

It is a sustainable living, and if you don't sit on your hands it will be for some time. Though we might call ourselves something different by then right?


I think your parents argument is that it isn't sustainable. If one can learn and be productive as quickly as the OP, then it follows that the developer "shortage" will only be temporary for this particular corner of the industry.


Possibly, but we've seen a developer gold rush in the past and it doesn't last. Those who do shine through.




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