After ten years of software development, I'm confident about what I know and at peace with what I don't. I have tamed my Imposter Syndrome. But there are three things I must confess
Confession #1: I'm not a genius. I'm persistent. That's essential.
Confession #2: I've never read any programming book from cover to cover. Read everything. The pieces you need. If you don't know what you need, get a mentor or go to a boot camp. Other people know things and will share them if you give them a chance.
Confession #3: No one programmer knows everything about their tech stack. There are incredibly talented programmers, but a lot of the talent is knowing how to ask and where the answers are most likely to be when you don't know something you need to know.
Pro Tip: language specifications can tell you a lot.
Dear Aspiring Developers,
I have earned 489% more money as a programmer in nine years, than I earned in the previous eighteen doing all kinds of jobs from sales to fast food. Does that sound great? Does it make you want to know how I managed to get into programming?
Well, a former coworker once told me, “You could talk a starving man into skipping a free meal.” That was not a compliment. This coworker watched me turn one potential sale after another into a walk away. Want to know how I could successfully ruin sale after sale? What about becoming a programmer?
I stayed up late, got up early, and put in all kinds of unhealthy hours learning to code. It was also a tremendous amount of dumb luck. I was working for an employer who saw me do a couple mildly impressive things in his business: I hooked up two computers to a single keyboard, mouse, and monitor, and built a simple file server using about a dozen dead computers and Ubuntu Linux. After impressing him with those things and demonstrating that I was learning to write code in C#, he decided to ask me to build an application for him.
I did not know that I could do what he was asking, but I figured it could not be too hard. It took me a year of working seventy hours a week to build a simple Windows desktop app that connected to QuickBooks as a data store. If you think becoming a programmer is a promising idea, you need to embrace working hard and depending on dumb luck. Don't forget survivorship bias either. Maybe this is not the way to become a programmer in your 30's without a computer science degree.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own. I do not represent my employer, coworkers, mentor, friends, or family in any way on this website or any of its connected social media accounts.
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