Hi, I’m Joe, and I’m a web developer. Sort of.
This is the tale of how I got from your standard Northern high school (and a sprinkling of college) to my dream job in a year.
Now ladies and gentlemen we take a trip down Humblebrag Lane, as this is the part where Joe says he did well in primary school. Because he did. Now here’s the part where Joe says he did not so well in high school, because again, that’s what happened.
I swam around average for most of my high school life, occasionally dipping into above-average for subjects like IT, although my GCSE coursework wouldn’t agree. I got in with a crowd of some of the most genuine and brilliant people, who just happened to be incredibly funny, and we liked to prove that to everyone else. This led to me telling everyone I met leading up to GCSE results day about how badly I was going to do and enquiring on whether they’d like to take a suicide pact with me.
The bit where Joe gets by
I did okay! I passed every subject at grade C or above, with the exception of History, in which I got a U. If you ever meet me, ask me about my U in History. If you wish to see me vexed beyond belief.
So irrespective of grades, how did I get into web development? Well, I just, sort of, started. I’ve been surrounded by computers for my entire life and with an ever-so-slight flair for creativity, I stumbled upon web design and development. I’d go to school, come home, and code for hours every night. Until 3am. Until 4am. Until I almost fainted at school from exhaustion because code is pretty and I like looking at it god damn you.
Now it’s time for college. I was already around a year into my web development obsession and luckily, my local college was offering a course in web development! Yay! So I applied, and interviewed, and got a place. And I began in September 2014 raring to learn incredible new things about the world of web and the digital industry. I lasted three weeks. Because I knew that it wasn’t what I wanted to do, I didn’t want to sit in a classroom any more. I didn’t want to have this figure stood in front of me talking for hours a day. I wanted to be coding. So I’d already started my hunt for an apprenticeship, something to get me working, something to help my brain start working again.
The bit where Joe gets lucky
Luckily, when you have the grades, it’s not as difficult as it seems to get an apprenticeship. I was only in college for three days a week (14 hours = full time, apparently), so on a sunny October Thursday afternoon, I interviewed for an apprenticeship in Social Media & Digital Marketing. The interview lasted less than ten minutes before I was offered the job, due to start on the following Monday. This is where you clap at your screen, I think.
Now you’re probably wondering, but Joe, you’re into web development, what’s all this social media nonsense about?! Well, I was willing to do anything to get away from college, but I’d spent some time working on a fairly large US news site covering video games and film, which led to a nice section on my CV that got me extremely lucky.
The bit where Joe gets bored
The job I landed was exciting at first, but it quickly became apparent that there was no real work for me to do. I was the one person responsible for marketing a business where almost all clients came from word of mouth, and I quickly became wrapped up in another project that was somehow involved with the business. For seven and a half hours a day, I’d take information from spreadsheets, and put them into WordPress posts. And even then, some days I didn’t receive new spreadsheets to process, which left with me all but nothing to do.
So I got cracking, I built the company I was working at a brand new website just to flex my development muscles again, and began searching for new vacancies. Or rather, I wormed my way in until someone made a new vacancy for me. I only kept at the job for six weeks.
The bit where Joe asks
I now work at Statement. I’m a junior developer. I’m 17 and I’m getting to work with some incredible people doing incredible work for great clients. How do you get this fantastic opportunity for yourself, I hear you cry?! You ask.
There was no job posting. No word of mouth. Nothing. I sent off an email that probably came across as a huge cry for help, and was invited in for a not-interview that quickly became a job offer. I’m still not sure how it happened.
And thus, the tale of how I got to where I am ends. I’m still an apprentice in the government’s eyes, but I do real work that goes out and makes real money for people.
The bottom line is, don’t wait around forever doing something you hate because a perfect opportunity hasn’t offered itself to you yet. Find that opportunity, and get it in a chokehold until it passes out and the referees lifts and drops its arm three times and declares you the winner. Or something.