3 Steps I Took to Become a Successful Software Developer
The process I went through in order to land not only my first software developer job but also get promoted, and land a second job with yet another promotion has nothing to do with a university degree.
I want you to know how I got to where I am, your first software developer job, and then many other offers; this is in the hopes that you can change your career and more importantly, your life.
I’ll tell you the steps I took, so that if you want it bad enough, maybe you can do the same thing too.I’m going to give you a synopsis of the 3 steps I took to go from a job that was a dead end for me to more job offers than I can possibly take.
If you’re interested then I’m happy for you; I sincerely believe you’ve made a good choice.
This is one guy’s journey and the steps he took to become a software developer in less than 2 years of studying from home using free tools found on the internet.
Although I’m not the founder of Microsoft, Apple, Google, or Facebook, I’ve got some pretty cool credentials now.
The purpose of this Post is to help to get you into the same office as people who can help you to develop yourself, so that you can learn from professional developers on your team who do have expert levels of experience, so that one day you can create something special for yourself by learning from and working with them.
Here’s a look at my credentials:
(Here is one of our YouTube videos if you’re too lazy to create an account to watch it)
But before you read further I suggest you ask yourself a few questions…
Do I want to learn new things?
Do I want to have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world with an internet connection?
Am I willing to persevere when the going gets tough?
Am I willing to commit myself to something and give up others which are not conducive to that commitment?
Am I willing to ‘earn’ it?
If you answered ‘Yes’ to the previous questions then please keep reading.
I’ve got to give you a disclaimer first though. This isn’t a Zero to Hero all inclusive guide to land you a job at Google, Apple, or Facebook.
This is just a guide to get your foot in the door at a software company so that you can work with people who may.
This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
Simply put, I want you to know how I did it, so that if you’re interested, you can do it too.
Why do you want to become a software developer?
The answer to this question will be different for everyone.
Growing up I never considered software development as a career for me. It was one of the farthest things from my mind. I wanted to be a Pilot, Teacher, and then Attorney.
Due to a number of extenuating circumstances such as being too old, a few run in’s with the law, and owing almost $50,000 in student loans pursuing my undergraduate degree, the first three went out the window for me.
I decided I wanted to become a software developer after my mom died.
I’ll explain why now.
When she died, I decided I wanted to do something that mattered, that had an impact, that could improve the lives of people all over the world; money wasn’t really the most important thing to me anymore(although obviously it is still a factor if I want to be able to provide for my family the way that I do.)
Sure, there are many other careers that can do this as well, but practical implications played a role as well.
Cost of tuition, Job climate for workers in given field, Freedom of movement for work(or lack thereof), Working hours demanded. These were all the things I had to spend a tremendous amount of time contemplating when I began rethinking my life, began thinking about how I wanted to make an impact on the world.
But that’s an entirely different conversation.
I knew I wanted to make enough money to provide a comfortable living for my family. I knew I loved technology. I knew I loved the idea of being able to travel and work at the same time, and I knew that the internet has allowed us to do that. I knew that the opportunities were there, that I just had to earn it.
So I began to do some research. I knew that engineering was a highly paid job, and I knew that software developers/engineers can work from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. At first I was reluctant to change directions after having spent so long pursuing a career in law, but I decided why not at least look into it? I scoured the internet for blog posts, statistics, and videos about software development.
Then I found two things which completely changed my opinion.
The following video:
A lot of the coding that people do is fairly simple, it’s more about the process of breaking down problems than coming up with complicated algorithms like people traditionally think about it.
A video which offered me an incredible amount of perspective. An amazingly thought provocative inside look by some of the leaders of industry within software development, and their take on the process of software development.
But it wasn’t just that, I then found out about AppAcademy based in San Francisco.
98% of students get hired?
Earn $105,000 a year after 3 months of training?
No costs unless you get hired?
Although at first it sounded too good to be true, the more I learned about the place the more encouraged I felt. I resolved myself to research AppAcademy via Google, reading dozens of blog posts and articles about software bootcamps.
After learning as much as I could and conducting countless hours of research I came to the conclusion that AppAcademy might be real. I wanted to give AppAcademy a shot, I decided I would study and then apply. I sincerely felt that this was something worth pursuing.
I wanted to make a substantial amount of money..
I wanted to feel needed…
I wanted to try something new and to improve myself along the way…
I decided that my goal in life was to be accepted to this school, to be trained for 3 months in order to make $105,000 a year (Average entry level salary for their graduates) after 3 months of training in order to improve not only my life but the lives of my friends and family.
What does it take to become a software developer? What process did I take to learn. What are the 3 Steps I took?
Please remember, you have to be committed to these things for them to work.
The best things in life are earned, not given.
If you wanna have washboard abs then you’ve probably got to eat right and work out like crazy.
If you want to take a journey of a thousand miles, you’ve not only got to take the first step, but every step thereafter until the journey is complete.
If you want to build a house you have to lay many bricks.
The three step Process I took follows:
1. Use free online platforms to learn.
There is an amazingly large library of exercises and coding challenges here built for the aspiring programmer. By the end of the camp you’ll have learned tons of things and built an amazingly diverse portfolio of applications which can help you to land your first job as a software developer.
Did I mention that it’s free…?
The exercises are step by step and clearly explained. The exercises build on top of each other and allow you to literally see that as you change the code, the application(in this case a mobile cat app) changes as well.
This was one of my favorite ways to learn code. I felt so empowered every single time I completed an exercises and FCC told me how well I was doing.
As I learned more and more my mobile application grew in complexity and I began to understand the realm of possibility within software development.
To make a long story short, you’ll learn a ton here. For those of you who want all the technical details I’m going to list them below:
Front End Development:
HTML5, CSS, Bootstrap, jQuery, Basic to Advanced Algorithm scripting, JSON APIs & Ajax,
Back End Development:
Git, Node.js, Express.js, MongoDB, API Projects, and how to build dynamic web applications
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on and be more specific and detailed but I don’t want to lose you.
If what I’ve said so far hasn’t convinced you, then you can read tons of stories from other people who didn’t even complete the entire camp before they were offered jobs.
I’d like to extend a thanks to everyone at FCC who helped me to grow and develop my skills, a special thanks to Quincy Larson the founder of FCC, as well.
But if you’re anything like me, you can’t keep doing the same thing over and over… It’s nice to have a change of pace so that you don’t burn yourself out.
Although TeamTreeHouse isn’t free, I have to mention them because they also played pivotal part in helping me to develop myself and become a valuable employee.
Their platform is special in the fact that they’ve put together an entire library of videos which guide you through whatever framework it is you choose to work with.
People are naturally social creatures, although FCC is amazing is so many ways it becomes challenging to sit there in a quiet room by yourself for hours on end doing coding exercises, it’s nice to hear a human voice.
TeamTreeHouse covers so many topics that it’s hard to know where to begin. They have languages of programming as well as design covered from A-Z. It’s a track to becoming proficient in whatever domain it is you choose to work regarding software development.
Pretty much the entire field of web development within their library so that you can choose what it is you want to learn.
There’s something nice about having someone there to walk you through the process of software development. Plus they give you little tips and tricks along the way and things to think about as well as personal anecdotes which help to illustrate the concepts well.
The amount of free content on Youtube approaches unimaginable.
Virtually anything you want to learn about relating to software development you can learn from YouTube. However you’ve got to spend a little time researching and looking into it.
Some of the channels I subscribed to, listed in no particular order, are:
Derek Banas gives short knowledge packed videos, as well as long ones, covering almost every area of software development that I’ve personally ever wanted to look into.
He delivers his videos in a professional, fast paced, yet easy to understand manner. Hands down one of my favorite channels on YouTube.
A team of people have put together this channel to give you everything from web development to design. They even teach you how to use the countless dependencies related to software development such as wire framing tools, CMS’s such as WordPress, Drupal, and Magento.
This is yet another amazing channel for software developers. They cover pretty much the entire field of software development as well. Every tool and platform you can imagine for web development is here so you’ll find plenty of content to get you going.
These 5 different platforms/tools/services I’ve listed have a breathtaking amount of content within them. If you subscribe to and use these services then you’ll undoubtedly have more resources available than you’ve got time for.
Take a moment and look into each one of them and find which one works for you!
2. Join Communities.
You may not know everything but the people in them will help you. All you’ve got to do is be willing to learn.
Communities on Blogs, Facebook, Youtube, or any other host of platforms provide you with a group of people who are actively involved and who are more than likely willing to help you. They’re people all over the world who love tech and want to share their knowledge and experience with the world.
My first job as a software developer I found due to my membership at Ruby Programming Language on Facebook.
A member of the company posted an article and I found it to be interesting so I read it and then looked at the guys profile.
I noticed that the company had a school as well which was hiring so I decided to apply and then one thing led to another… and bam. I’ve got a job.
Just join the groups, participate, and try to soak up as much as you can.
You don’t have to post questions yourself or anything crazy new because others will. Just read up on the discussions that other users have and all of the tools and resources they post and you’ll learn tons.
3. Put yourself out there. Apply!
Apply, Apply, Apply!
Don’t be afraid to email people asking for their help. Volunteer whatever it is you can do. You’ll learn a ton on the way.
Be honest though.
My first position as a software developer I emailed my boss out of the blue offering to come work for him for free in exchange for training. I felt like I didn’t know enough yet because there constantly seemed like there was something I didn’t know. After he saw some of the projects I had completed he offered me a job instead.
You never know which email or message to a stranger might be your lucky brake. You’ve got to have the courage to put yourself out there, and when some people turn you down, just keep on trucking because there will be people out there who see your potential.
You already have the no, ask and you might get the yes.
How do I find the correct area to study?
You keep learning from wherever you can, school, TeamTreeHouse, FreeCodeCamp, YouTube, BlogPosts, etc.
You try new things until you find something you like or better yet, just keep doing things you like which add value to your person as a team member.
You don’t say no to new opportunities,
You humble yourself and recognize that no matter how much people are willing to pay you, how many opportunities you may have, there always room to learn new things.
How do I know I’m in the right field?
You just keep soaking up everything you can like a sponge and then opportunities will present themselves.
I don’t know X well enough to get a job…
I find it hard to imagine that there is anyone in the world that knows everything about a certain field. Use the tools available to you in order to at least be able to reference things later for when you need them if not to outright study.
Bookmarks become your best friend as a Software Developer. Use them aggressively to be able to reference the resources out there that are available, because you won’t remember everything. Don’t be lazy! It’ll end up making you work harder in the long run if you are
I’ll give you an example.
Think of your contacts in your phone…
Do you remember everyone’s phone number? If you’re anything like me, you don’t.
When you save a contact you’re more or less book marking this person for later because you’ll need their number in the future.
You’ve learned to use the tool of saving contacts in your phone and do it all the time, why not do the same thing for your web browser?
Here’s a look at how many bookmarks I’ve saved over the two years.
After learning the different tools and frameworks over your journey of studying from the aforementioned platforms you’ll get a feel for what it is you like.
Then you can move into that field as a software developer =).
Good things come to those who work their ass off.
The things people want most in life don’t happen overnight. They take extended periods of commitment, perseverance and dedication to learning how to master a given profession.
But they’re possible.
Just commit yourself, ask yourself how bad you want it, and if it’s bad enough to stay in on Friday nights when your friends are out partying, to wake up early on Saturday morning to start learning the next module, or to lose sleep late at night because you can’t stop thinking about how to figure out this method, then you’re well on your way.
Best of luck on your pursuit of a new career in software development, and thank you for reading!
If you found this article interesting or helpful, then it would mean a tremendous amount to me if you hit that like button below.
- Give you a guide to what I did to become a software developer.
- Help you in your journey by sharing with you about mine.
- Give you a comprehensive list of the various tools and strategies I used to get to where I am.
- Empower you, the reader.
- Let you know that you don’t have to become Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs to have a successful career in Software Development.
- That you won’t believe it’s possible. I just want you to know that it is.
Here’s a little bit more about me just in case you’re curious.
Currently: I’m working as a project manager at a WordPress Software development company DesignWall
Here’s my LinkedIn,
Here’s my Portfolio Page,
Here’s one of my Completed Projects,