The Startup
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The Startup

Getting Your First Developer Job Without Any Experience

And no, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist or have an abnormal IQ to do it.

Photo by NESA by Makers on Unsplash

Finding a job when you’ve got no prior working experience or formal education in software development is hard. I’m not going to try to sugar coat it for you, but what I will say is that with what you’re about to learn, it’s a lot less hard.

These days, anyone can learn how to code on the internet. There is an endless stream of both free and paid content, much more so than there was a few years or even a year ago. There is no better time to learn the skill of coding than now.

Coding is a way for you to channel your creativity and ideas, turning them into reality.

The crazy thing is that you don’t even have to go to college to get a degree, to work, or qualify as a software developer. Which means that you can stay free of student loans and never-ending debt. You could be sitting in your underwear, teaching yourself how to be a software developer.

How I got my first job at 17 years old

At 17, I had dabbled around in a few programming languages with the most prominent one being Javascript. I became very fond of Javascript and was amazed at everything you could do with it. I didn’t have much prior experience at this point.

What I had was about a year of experience from learning on my own.

During the same year, I got my first freelancing gig to develop a WordPress website for a local business. This happened after a period of me wondering if I will ever get a job where I get to code during my teens. I was thrilled, on cloud nine.

I couldn’t believe that I was about to make money using a skill I had started learning a year earlier while being self-employed. The truth is that I didn’t know much WordPress at the time of getting that first freelancing gig but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.

After all, if I had managed to get thus far, why shouldn’t I be able to learn WordPress?

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, fake it till you make it. Try it, it works.

After that gig is when things took off. It wasn’t long until I found a local startup that was looking to hire developers. I quickly reached out and applied, not long after, I had got another gig.

I ended up working for that startup for about a year until I graduated high school.

The reason I tell you this is not to brag but to encourage and convince you that it’s possible and you can achieve it too!

How You Can Get Your First Job

This has worked for many of my friends which means you can make it work.

1. Learn to code

If you haven’t already, learn to code. Use any of the various resources available online. If you’ve never explored the programming world before, it can feel very daunting. You may not know where to start.

Let me tell you that it doesn’t matter what you start with at first, only that you make the first move and start. To give you some pointers, I’d recommend you check out Javascript or Python. They are two beginner-friendly programming languages and are also some of the most popular ones on the market.

Most of the jobs that you will see today, will be related to Javascript. With Javascript or Python, it doesn’t take much before you start making progress and see tangible results.

2. Work on Side Projects

I can’t stress this enough, it’s important to have your own projects to show. They will act as proof of your skill and experience. Because you don’t have any previous working experience as a developer or have any university degree to show for it, side projects are your catalyst. This point is what sets you apart from the rest of the people who are also applying to jobs.

From my experience of interviewing developers, there are too many that don’t have any side projects to show for their alleged experience.

It’s a huge turn off for companies when you don’t have anything to show for your experience. Having side projects not only shows what you can do but indicates passion and grit.

In the end, it’s the work that you have the potential to produce that matters, and not if you went to college or not.

3. Put yourself out there

You have to let people know that you exist. There is a big shortage of developers on the market and a never-ending amount of companies are looking to hire developers.

You have to network and let people know who you are. A great way of doing this is going to tech meetups and events. If you live in a big city, there will most likely be quite a few events and meetups happening each month. Take advantage of these. There is usually no attendance fee and you often get free food as a bonus!

Don’t just go to these events and sit by yourself not talking to anyone. You have to interact! Yes, it will be scary at first but you’ll find that most of the other people there are looking to do the same thing! Be upfront and let the people you talk to who you are, what you do, and what your goals are. You’d be surprised how impressed they might be, meeting someone who hasn’t got much experience, at one of those events. It provides some contrast.

Another tip is to create a LinkedIn profile. If you haven’t done it yet, do it right away after finishing reading this. It is beneficial in so many ways, and the earlier you create one, the better. LinkedIn is the place where you can find others in the tech business who are looking to hire.

4. Look for startup jobs

There are tons of startups out there that all aim to change the world, one way or the other. These startups often need you as a developer that knows to realize their vision. You are at more value to companies than you might think.

If you’re having a hard time getting interviews or you’re not getting the results you want, work for free. Yes, that’s right, working for free is a great way to start your career as it builds experience.

You might think that a company is using you when you’re working for free. That’s not always the case as experience and insights are worth more than money, especially in the beginning.

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

There is no place at which you’ll learn and develop more as a developer than at work. A job forces you to take on new challenges every day and work with things at a level that you may never have gotten to when learning on your own.

Let’s talk about Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome; the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.

If you’ve got to this point, you’ve made it. Imposter syndrome is something that most people experience at some point in their careers and life. It’s the feeling of not being good enough. This is especially true for new developers without a college degree or certification that puts what you’re capable of in black and white.

It’s perfectly normal for you to go through this so don’t be too hard on yourself. I’ve been through it on several occasions and it can lead to anxiety but you have to remember that you are good enough and always do your best.

Next steps for You

I know what’s it like, you read something on Medium or watch something on YouTube and think you’ve learned something new and interesting. While this may be true short term, what you have to do is apply this new-found knowledge for it to have an effect on your life.

Action is what gets you places, not ideas or dreams.

With that said, I want you to take this advice and think about what the next action you need to take to move forward is. At the end of the day, no one else is going to get you the job you want, you have to go get it yourself.

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Oskar Yildiz

Oskar Yildiz

Software engineer, lifelong student, and creative. Living in Sweden. Get my weekly newsletter https://email.oskaryildiz.com

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