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I started my developer career, now what?

So, just like me, you started, let’s say two years ago your developer career, but you feel you have a dead end. 

Fear not!

We all pass through this, so, in a way it’s normal. 

Below, I give you some points that helped me in times of need and still do. 

Hey, I am Luc, a front-end developer in his 40+ that started in 2019 February his journey. 

Stay focus at one thing at the time.

I tend to be distracted by new things that appear in the tech world. New languages, new frameworks, new, new… and, if you are like me, that you like the new shine things than I bet you identify. 

What I do is to (re)focus on the goals, asking myself: what is my goal? What do I want to learn this week? How do I apply after I understand it?

Having this in mind helps me to remain focus and, step by step to get to the accomplishment of the goal. 

Motivation is key.

Sometimes is hard to get motivated by what you do and the very passion for coding turns into a drag-and-draft “To-Do List”.

Motivation is what keeps human morale uplifted so that it will continue. Find things you like to create. Build something that helps others. I find creating things very helpful, especially when I know that what I build it’s going to impact someone’s life. Think about it: you bring value to other’s people lives with your imagination and work. 

Don’t get stuck!

During my almost two years of programming, I often got stuck on concepts I didn’t understand and it felt like bumping to the end of the line. I learned that moving forward and coming back after a while, it’s helpful and beneficial to my understanding. The concept that didn’t make any sense to my brain last week, since I am not stressed out and focused to understand the concepts itself, but to understand what the concept is about, helps me to understand on a deeper level this week.

Bonus point.

Trust yourself and take your career towards the direction you desire. You have control over this. Make the advance something fun and enjoyable. Don’t stress out as your journey is your own and you dictate the speed.

Breaking points:

  • stay focused: one thing at the time;
  • find motivation: this is hard sometimes, but with self-discipline, lack of motivation we’ll keep you going; 
  • don’t get stuck: move forward and give yourself credit that the syntax you haven’t understood today you’ll have it the next day in 5 minutes. 

Remember it’s all about growing, having fun, and enjoy your journey. 

Until next time, have a pleasant, productive, and enjoyable week.

You can follow my journey by subscribing to my weekly newsletter.

I am bad at coding, please help!

I am bad at coding, please help!

How many times you haven’t felt this way?

How many times you’ve looked at your code and had the feeling of the worst programmer in the world?

And finally, how many times you had the feeling if you are a junior like me, that you maybe, just maybe, took a wrong path to programming and you are just “not for it”?

The other day I received a message in my Twitter inbox that literally said this: 

“Please help me I want to get into web development, I know basic Html and CSS, but I’m so bad…

I feel like falling into an empty void I’m such a failure”.

This is a desperate cry for many of us but I know I am not alone. Some developers are programming for more than a decade and still feels that they need to improve.

Hi, I am Luc, a front-end developer and this is the weekly article about my journey into web development.

Without further due, let’s get into it:

I don’t have the 20 years of experience as I started late, at 42, last year (eg. 2019), but I noticed something that preoccupied me at the beginning in the field. One of the problems that most people are facing when it comes to programming, is a lack of confidence. I consider myself someone who knows how to administrate emotions, as having four kids the tendency is to go crazy if you don’t learn how to hold tight and put things together. Even with that, when I started to code I felt overwhelmed. There were new things every day, and it always will be this way in this industry. But the same ways are coming, the same way are going… look at Deno (the runtime for JavaScript), it came out in May 2020, and in 2 weeks I haven’t heard anything about it since.

Start to code.

When I started the HTML and wrote the first “Hello World” I felt like an entire universe had opened to me. To find later that HTML is just a scratch to surface to what coding is. I had a “this will never end” feeling and from that moment I knew in a way that I will never regret choosing this path. I understood I needed time to get experience and I set a schedule and a weekly goal(s). To thrive, for me, the best strategy is to set a weekly goal. Let’s say that I want to learn loop in JavaScript, what I do is read the documentation about, watch a tutorial, read articles, apply what I’ve learned. Thus the info gets stuck in my brain. Even after one month of no use, I remember how does it work ‘cause I grasped the basic. But again, this is just me and you may find a better way of doing it.

Learn the fundamentals.

A year ago (in 2019) I was insecure, I didn’t know where to start or how to continue. I had bought an Udemy course of “full-stack dev” just to find later that the title of “full-stack” in the instructor’s mind had a different meaning than mine, and it was from 2015 thus outdated. I decided to give it a go even so. I turned that disadvantage into an opportunity. As the version of jQuery and more of the Boostrap was outdate in the course I had to learn by reading the documentation. The JavaScript intro was just that: an intro. I gave up on learning with that course and went to another course in JavaScript. It didn’t made any sense to my brain. So I turned to PHP and it started to make sense. If you want to know more about this experience I wrote an article about it …of course I did,🙂 since I am documenting my journey.

 Learn the fundamentals is the best of choices as libraries changes, languages updates and frameworks remain in oblivion.  

Don’t just code more, code better!

I saw this reply on one of my recent tweets and I loved it. I wondered how can I improve and asked myself:” how can I code better?”

So, I started to dig. Internet is like a gold mine, the more you dig the more treasure you find, so I put together some of the most important strategies, but without expanding them:

  • read other programmer’s code;
  • comment your code as less as possible and when you do, write meaningful comments;
  • fall in love with code refactoring;
  • write documentation for large comments;
  • avoid global code (like variables, or loops);

I was surprised to find that some of the practices above I were following without knowing they have been put into the “Best Practice” list code. Again, this is not a technical article so I added the ones I found most important at the time. You may find other great practices that help you on your journey.

And as you grow in knowledge and advancing into the industry, document your journey. It doesn’t have to be by writing articles at the beginning, you could write notes that will eventually in the future convert into articles.

I hope you find this helpful and if you do you can share it with your connections.

Until next week, I wish you a productive time and happy coding.

How I overcame self-doubt!

You might know part of my story if you are following my account on Twitter, but I have never opened myself on social media at this level and share my personal experience until I realized that I can help people, I can “really” help people.

I don’t like long introduction either so I brake the story in three briefly parts:

  • acknowledging you are doubting yourself;
  • you are not alone;
  • there is hope;

Acknowledging you are doubting yourself

Doubting myself is one of the most dangerous paths, as it is a hindrance to progress and improvements in most cases. 

It is connected with fear and the fear of failing. I have seen myself on so many occasions when the most important opportunities have passed near me just because I left them due to fear of failure and self-doubt. Until enough is enough is enough.

You are not alone.

I know that this subtitle may not give you hope, but hold on a second and allow me to share my thoughts with you.

When you see yourself as the only one that experience in the way you do, you tend to isolate from talking about it, thus instead of using that experience to give to others and empowering yourself, you focus on your experience from a negative angle thinking that you are alone in this. When you are in self-doubt let me tell you blankly that we all have the feeling, yes it’s important what you feel, yes it’s important that you doubt yourself, yes you need to canalize this toward a good goal, and yes you can.

There is hope.

I am sorry, I‘ve should’ve said “There is always hope”. To start, look inside of your heart, look back at everything you have accomplished, DESPITE self-doubting, despise everything you have experienced, you are HERE, in a turning point when you want to change this. And there is hope, you are your only hope and your experience can become your catalyst to explore more opportunities despise self-doubting and fear. 

These two feelings are normal, and without emphasizing this as a bonus in this article I will give one of the keys of how I overcame them: I DIDN’T! I learned to live with them and transform them into a benefit to others and myself. I started to talk about them, share them with family, friends, and ultimately share it here so that others may be encouraged. I don’t pretend I always win over these feelings, but I learned to identify them and take action. The most important action I took is to not deny them and understand they are part of my life, 

I hope this week’s article will encourage you and bring hope. Until next week, keep shining your knowledge and continue to pursue your dream.

From introvert to extrovert.

My story about how to overcome shyness.

A few days ago I answered a tweet as of how I overcame diffidence. How did I manage to become an extrovert from an introvert? Sometimes we feel strange around some people, but that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with them or with us.

There is no “wrong” being an introvert.

Since I remember I was a shy guy. I was imagining things I should tell when I was bullied, or things I should’ve done when I was in negative circumstances produced by others. I never did.. or say. Until a turning point. 

The trigger in my life was that I needed to help people. So, for that reason, I had to talk to them. Being in a community that helps others, empowered me to be with people and around them. As an introvert, I didn’t like being around somebody, but I had to be with them intentionally and talk to them.

Back in the ’90s, we didn’t have nowadays information, so I didn’t know how to deal with being an introvert. I decided by myself that I should stop being so reticent in speaking my mind when I have something good to say.  

Little steps are better.

I want to remind you that this is just my mere experience and NOT a proven strategy. I also want to say to you this: being an introvert is not a sickness. It’s part of someone’s personality and experiences accumulated during life. Also, being shy is not equal to being ashamed. While shame is (almost) all the time related to something we did bad, shyness is related to fear. The second one is part of our journey we call life.

As stated above, I enrolled myself in a program that involved talking to people.

So, I started to take small steps on changing things intentionally by looking into people’s eyes for a few seconds while I was talking to them, thus, connecting with them. The second I did was NOT to react to negativity but respond to it.

Allow me to explain this, even if you might know the difference, for people that perhaps this is new. 

To react is to do something almost instinctively.

To respond is to think and TAKE a conscious decision.

Imagine that the best thing is to “work” with people. I couldn’t look in their eyes so I was forcing myself to WANT to look in their eyes. Yes, it was hard, but I’ve seen improvements. I liked the feeling that the help I was giving was more effective by not be conscious of a possible “failure”.

As an introvert, I was afraid of two things:

  • fail;
  • negative opinions from others. 

I was doing it in small steps as it was the beginning of my journey to learn how to be more effectively involved in helping people and stepping out from the grey zone. 

We should always have to be ourselves.

Change is good, as long as it comes from the inside and own decisions.

The transition from introvert to extrovert is not easy, as it brings insecurities upfront and makes us feel lonely during the process. All the dreams and desires that we nurture and things we imagine to do and say to be ourselves are hard to speak them out… All the decisions are influenced by the feeling of being “not so special” because we want to be someone we are not…

Coming from a side or another, a circumstance or a situation that will give us a certain pattern of thinking, makes us secure. Meaning that the best version that we can be is ourselves, the raw version of ourselves. We must accept the way we think and the way we filter things, we must know ourselves to a point that we accept ourselves with our failures and be brave enough to be willing to change them. 

Am I truly an extrovert?

I liked to think of myself that I am, but there are times when I see myself trapped in the same pattern I used to have of thinking based on fear. I don’t have the recipe for it, and I don’t pretend I am the guy that lives fearless, I learned to live with the worry that I might fail, but I also pushing ahead trusting that I will not. So, I’ll stop putting a tag on myself as an introvert or extrovert, but rather enjoy the moment and be who I am and being of use for those that are coming on my journey.

You are the best version of yourself.

No this isn’t a cliché, but a truthful and powerful fact. You are unique and irreplaceable and the best version of you is yourself. Even if you see things that you are not comfortable with them in your life, you can work with them, and allow them to go. Things like fear of failure, as I said above, is part of my journey, but I learned to see the other side of the coin as well: 

AND WHAT IF I AM NOT GOING TO FAIL?

Thank you for your time, I hope my little testimony here will help you continue your journey and improvements. You can find me on Twitter here.

Can you become a web developer if you are 40

After receiving this question plenty of times, I decided to write an article about it.
I would like you to know that this is just my story and hopefully, you’ll find it of help or at least you can grasp the good things out of it. So, can you become a web developer if you are 40
?

Background

I was born in a ex-communist country, one of the poorest in Europe. Living in a communist country you’d imagine the mentality and lack of resources to outside informations.

My parents couldn’t offer me a good education as they were just simple workers, so around 11 years when the communist party fell down, I saw an opportunity to make small winnings. I went to a Fruits Store so that I will offer my services and work for them, the packages were so big that I couldn’t even move them an inch. I was so skinny due to lack of food that I used to get a stone around 5 kilos and place it in the elevator so that I would used it when I wanted to get inside my flat as I lived to the 8th floor. I was a shy guy and later became an introvert but like most of boys I didn’t want it to show it, so I was faking the brave. 
Nobody wanted to give me any job, as they were probably afraid so that I wouldn’t die. All the jobs were heavy jobs, in constructions or brewery where physical efforts was needed and I couldn’t do it.

From poverty to robbery is just one step!

Close to my 14’s I met a bigger guy, he was around 17 and he proposed me to “work” with him. He was a pick pocket. I started to “work” with him and we eventually became friends. I barely used to go home as my parents draw an addiction to alcohol. I was living on the streets with this fella and used to go to his house from time to time. Starting with this episode, my life had a bad turn until it reached the peak when I was 19. In Romania at the beginning of 19 they used to incorporate young men into military, that was required by the Law. It used to be for 12 months. So the year I was doing military clerks, my mind was clear and I started to ask myself where I wanted to go. I had no education, no basics into any profession whatsoever, so I didn’t know where to start. 

Hope arises!

After finishing the military I saw an opportunity into my cousin’s furniture company. I started to work with him but after a year he went back to US as he wasn’t able to be in two places at once, so the furniture company was closed. By the end of 2000 I started a military career and to continue my education. It ended on the end of 2005 when I’ve met my wife in Spain. 

My life begins in Spain

Since then I worked for a year into construction, and then I took an opportunity on an olive oil manufacture, packaging and bottling. I also went to study for three months a milling course of the olives… Been a small factory I used to be the “guy that is good at all things” and I was also repairing the machines and do the logistics when needed. Between 2007 and 2019 I worked for this company and be able to provide for my four kids and my wife.

Beginning To Shape the dream

In 2019 I decided to start working on my dream. 
I still live the feeling when I touched for the first time a PC keyboard. It was in 1999 when I went to a one month introductory MS-DOS course. That feeling and memory had never left me. So, I decided to go into tech industry. 
As I am writing this article I am filled with emotions. There are a mixture of emotions, I can see fear, excitement, and so many of them, positive and negative. But I know something for sure, I will never quit to accomplish my dream, that is to become a software engineer

The Sky is not the limit!

It has been a long journey, with up and downs. I faced my worst enemy: fear! 
I learnt to not listen the voices that come against what I’ve built in my life. I value people, I celebrate life, but I don’t drink my coffee with toxic people as I have a dream to pursue and I need to focus on it.
I choose to listen The Voice that encourages me!
I aim high for a guy that used to be insecure, self doubted and introvert.
But one thing I know: if I shoot at nothing I will hit every time, but if I shoot at the Moon it’s impossible not to hit at least one star!

This is part of my story!
Be encouraged and be brave!

you can find me on Twitter here

How to restore your self confidence

I know from personal experience that self confidence is the best friend of the human being. I don’t pretend that I know all things, but I really wish someone had told me before how to see this in perspective.

Especially when it comes to build a new career.

Hi I am Luc, a fresh developer in his early 40’s.

Identify spots that made you lost your self confidence

Whether is a job refusal or a negative circumstance we tend to think it’s our fault. That’s not the case. Feeling guilty and loosing self trust, hurts on the long term.

One step to identify what made you loose self confidence is to stop trying to find the solution before finding what caused it! This step is the first step that helps restoring self confidence. Also consider this questions:

Is it someone’s attitude?

Is it past failures?

Remember, we are all living different seasons and you shouldn’t be alone.

Asking for help might really… help you.

Reinforce what you already achieved.

Memorize things for me was always hard. Lately I have to use Magnesium as a boost. So, I always revisit every three months what I’ve learnt.

I look up my notes, check the past codes and past work I previously made. By doing this I reinforce what I already know and I am establishing myself into what knowledge I gain.

Looking at what you have previously work, built and learnt will help you boosting your self confidence whether you were refused by a company or whether you see no value on what you do.

Questioning your decision on development career is a good point sometimes, in most cases brings you to “the why” you do it! If it’s your passion, excellent! In time from my own experience, I can tell you that passion diminishes. New circumstances appears, changing, or just.. life happens. When you are passionate about coding, build a routine, build a habit. Even though that in time passion will fade a bit, you’ll have the discipline.

Be aware of your true value.

We are humans!

We all have struggles. Sometimes circumstances comes against us and the pressure is tremendous. When this happens it’s time to breath in hope and exhale the pressure accumulated.

During hard times is difficult to remember all the good things we had and we tend to focus on the problem so much that we aren’t capable to see all the good things that we had experienced.

The value of what you do isn’t the value of who you are.

That value comes from what you had given to people and what you had offer to others, during your career or life.

Value comes as well from the fact that you have friends and family that you love and receive their affection.

Even if your work isn’t valued at a proper worth, you matter because you exist. Your very existence is important to your closest ones. There are people that see you as their inspiration and to them you are valued.

Value as well comes from your plans. Your plans are those that boost up your confidence when are seasoned with hope.

You WORTH it, because you WORKED for it.

And finally you are not defined by past failures, someone’s refusal or knowing only 5 technologies, you are defined by your decisions. And the best decision you made was to push forward against all odds and against all contradictions in your own mind.

Wishing you the best, I thank you for your time and we’ll “meet” next week.