Monday, November 18, 2013

I give you permission to no longer ask for permission to learn to code

Craziness happened this last week. My blog post went viral on Hacker News and Reddit, over 34,000+ people read the article in one week. Needless to say I got inundated with emails from lots of people who are trying to learn to code, others who are trying to get hired. I'm still trying to get back to everyone so I apologize if that's you.

What amazed me was the fact that people are asking "MY" opinion, (feeling like an impostor) just because I started from zero knowledge and actually got hired. Here's the thing though that I would say to everyone who is wondering if they should learn to code or if they "can" learn to code. Here's the thing: if you want it bad enough you can accomplish virtually anything so my answer is of course, "Yes! and Yes!".

I'll tell you a secret that helped keep me motivated when I was really discouraged and felt like I would never understand something. I would watch the movie In the Pursuit of Happiness with Will Smith. No matter how bad things got, they were never as bad as he had it. Not only is it an inspiring movie but it's also a true story. I find that a lot of people that email me are basically saying: "Hey how can I get a really really easy job that pays a lot of money... TOMORROW!!?"

I explained that it actually takes a lot of hard work and usually that's the last I hear from them. Then you have the other side of the coin: You have 80's mindset developers who practically scoff at the idea of "teaching yourself to code" and always point you to Peter Novig's article Teach Yourself Programming In 10 Years. I honestly like Peter's article and agree with it, BUT I think you can learn enough programming/coding skills to be able to add value to a company in a junior role certainly in 6 months to a year.

It's not like a company is going to give you the "root" passwords to their databases on day one even if you were a database wizard. Some things are simply about trust and establishing a relationship over time proving the quality and type of person you are.

So I give you permission to no longer have to ask if you can learn to code or get hired, the short answer is yes if you want it bad enough. That may even mean you need to relocate. Which brings us back to the question of how bad do you really want it?

The hardest thing for me about working in a new field is not being that good at it and having to ask for help and then banging my head against the wall or apologizing and fixing my mistakes. When I was a Blacksmith/Farrier I felt 100% confident that I could make 99% of all the horses that I worked on to move and feel better. I love the confidence that comes from absolutely knowing what your doing and having the experience (from lots of mistakes) of what doesn't work or isn't the "best" way to do something.

I no longer have that same confidence I had when dealing with horses when it comes to coding and in fact most days I have a slight migraine from trying to learn and absorb everything I can. That is what drives me now, I don't want to just have a job. I hate not being really good at something, I hate being the guy who can do the task but if anything goes wrong outside of the norm, I would drown. I push on for the day when I have enough coding history that I can actually draw from it. It's many years down the road but the quickest way to get there is to step on the gas.

I've been bad about blogging, lots of things going on but I do have some big plans for the end of December - early January. I'm playing around with some smallish ideas until then so don't worry. This isn't a "ghost" blog that will dwindle away. It just took me a while to get acclimated to the new place.

Watch out peeps, I've got big dreams let's see if we can make them happen!

Keep coding :-)  

-Josh

4 comments:

  1. Have you heard of "impostor syndrome"? Sounds like you've got it. But don't worry, most people who actually care about their careers do at some point... some for a long time.

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    1. Thanks Dave I appreciate it :-) ...although you are a Dino Wizard, so I don't think you can relate :-) ...weren't you coding at like 3 ? =)

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  2. Interesting that you should mention the movie "The Pursuit of Happiness". My wife and I just watched it for the first time a few weeks back, and I was telling her that I felt like I could kind of relate! The real-life guy actually made it "to the top" in the corporate world, and it really encouraged me to realize that if you really want something, and it's not unreasonable, even if it looks like the odds are stacked against you, you can make it if you stick to it and work hard.

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    1. Agreed, glad it's not just me, I just feel inspired and more grateful whenever I watch it. All the best with your journey man :-)

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