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I know that this is an ordinary title that normally Google scrapers won’t show to so many people as it is often used.

I was planning to write this week’s newsletter about Git and why it’s needed to be learned, as I start to learn it, but, since I saw the need to tell part of my story which refers to the path I took and how I applied to jobs to get a job, I decided to postpone the one about Git. So here we go!

Hi, I am Luc, a front-end developer in his early 40’s coming from a communist country who is living his dream job after changing his career in 2019.

I was born in Romania, and as I was telling in one of my previous articles, I struggled to stay up on the waves of life and not get drawn, still, The Man in The Sky was good to me, and brought circumstances in my life that were good.

From zero coding to start!

I remember when Jailbreak was a thing and I was applying it to my iPhones just to experiment with “new things” I once manipulated the code to an iPhone 3GS that didn’t have Gyroscope and I needed Gyroscope to be able to play a game, but when Youtube tutorials are at hand it’s easy to implement things, so, in a way that was my only experience with code.

I started programming back in February 2019, I haven’t coded before anything that could be considered web development, and I fell in love with the fact that I could build something from nothing. (well, in a way).

I began with HTML as I wanted to lay a foundation, but, I found that I didn’t know what the Internet is and how it’s working so I dropped HTML for some days and turn to good ol’ HTTP and protocols. After I understood how the internet works and what’s the difference between the Internet and Intranet, how the protocols work and what HTTP and HTTPS stand for, and what is a server and a client, I restarted my journey towards HTML. 

Of course that after my first “Hello World” that I’ve seen on my local I felt that I am the one who will become the next Mr. Robot, but on a serious side, I was struggling. Tones of tags, new things to learn, and didn’t know how to learn. So after two months, I was already passing the freecodecamp HTML session towards CSS, and I stopped for a few days. I wanted to learn how to “learn”.

Discipline is the key

Let me tell you that at 42 age isn’t easy to teach your brain new things, especially when you are hindered by the lack of memory and take Magnesium daily. Also having four kids there is the need to organize yourself very well and create time to code where you need to focus. So here I am documenting myself and read articles about how to learn and I forced myself into the learning process of …learning. So, I learn how to learn and the technique I use is written notes. Since I am a visual learner, I “translate” what I learn into written notes and drawings. I wrote an article about this as I am documenting my journey, and if you are interested in this technique you can take a look here. I am also saying that this is the technique that works for me. You may find yours by trying them. For instance, just watching a tutorial, for me isn’t working, but maybe for you, it will. The most important thing while I was learning was to keep discipline and create a habit, which, fortunately, I did. The main source I used for HTML and CSS is freecodeCamp, as it’s very wholesome and has a great community around it. 

Courses on Udemy.

Later, I bought an Udemy course that had the title somewhere around these lines “Full Stack Developer”. But I struggled to understand and to actually build things as the course it was since 2013, thus outdated. All the Boostrap were different so, I had to pass to documentation and actually learn Bootstrap while coding, which was a good thing even that at that time was tough. After HTML and CSS came JavaScript. There is where the party started. I went to “variables’ and “conditionals”, passed through “loops” and “arrays”…then I stopped. My brain was refusing to understand, even though I was visual learning, and I draw a bucket with stuff in it, imagining the variable, but it didn’t work the way I expected. So I skipped the course to PHP since the course was then passing slowly to PHP which in my area (I live in Spain) is required since the majority of companies use WordPress. Going to PHP and then come back to JavaScript made more sense to my brain and continue. I wrote an article here about this experience as well.

Go get the job

One of my friends who is a construction company owner wanted a website and told me to build one. That was my first gig and I put all the effort into it. I bought a theme on WordPress, I customized the CSS according to my taste, created the content, and in 3 weeks approximately the job was done. That was my first important job as a freelancer. Meanwhile, I was applying for jobs. I was aiming at big companies like Amazon, Apple, and I was applying without knowing that I was competing with senior developers that are more skilled than me, and I have no chance as a junior. 

The interview

But, I kept pushing and one company, not that big, but big enough in my area, accepted me. After two rounds of interviews that went like this:

  • first was to know me and I talked to recruitment stuff asking me about the experience I have and what drove me to make the career switch;
  • the second was a technical one where the person asked me some fundamentals questions about PHP and to tell him about my worst moment of struggle in solving a problem and how I solved it.

Unfortunately, things weren’t so good as I thought, and not having a front-end Senior Developer (and only a backend) that overview your work is hard to advance, and to feel productive, imposter syndrome was my daily companion, until I got burned and quit after almost three weeks.

Freelancing

After quitting my job I was leaning on my client’s income from the maintenance website and content creation. I started freelancing and found the other two clients to take care of their websites and create Social Media content. I continued my journey to learn JavaScript and I was building projects. Sources I used (and still are) I will add them at the bottom. If you are curious and tired of reading, just go to the bottom of this article and see the section sources I use. Freelancing starting June 2020 is my main income and even it’s not much, is coming from the passion I have: coding.

Apply, apply, apply

While I was freelancing, I kept applying for jobs. If not thousands, then hundreds of them. I subscribed to mail job providers in my area and set the LinkedIn search for job positions I wanted. Then, Danny Thompson came with a full free course on YouTube made of four sessions on how to improve the LinkedIn profile. THAT brought me traffic on my profile and started to be contacted by hiring managers from different companies. I currently am jobless and I am looking for a job to improve my skills and advance in web development knowledge. 

Conclusion:

WhileI am writing this article I keep my habit of waking up early in the morning to code as I can focus better in the morning. I am still in search of a job, because I want to bring what I learned up to this point to a company that will value my passion and appreciates my hours of struggles, and allow me to develop myself by bringing that value and give that new technology learned back to them. I know what I want and I know with what company I wouldn’t work. I learned to value my worth and I am not selling myself cheap, even if I am a junior developer. I don’t want this to sound self-pride or arrogance, but, we tend to lower our worth by just wanting to work in the tech industry. We often forget that when we look for a job the company as well is looking for a candidate for a position which will turn to be for the mutual benefit(s).

Breaking points:

My Roadmap to Code

HTML

What is internet and how it’s working

CSS

JavaScript

Boostrap

jQuery

PHP

SQL

Tailwind

Sources I used for coding and building projects:

HTML, CSS and JavaScript: 

Free

Paid:

Sources to find jobs: