Season 8 Episode 4 Mar 2, 2022

How You Can Be Successful Breaking Into Tech Mid-Career

Pitch

There is no age limit on becoming a developer.

Description

In this episode, we talk about breaking into tech mid-career with Sarah Bartley, full stack web developer, and Will Johnson, developer advocate at Auth0.

Hosts

Ben Halpern

Forem - Co-founder

Ben Halpern is co-founder and webmaster of DEV/Forem.

Arit Amana

Forem - Software Engineer

Arit Amana is a bootcamp-educated software engineer who transitioned to her current role at 37, after being a public-health analyst, and then a stay-at-home mom of two. In her free time, Arit passionately supports those attempting similar career transitions through speaking and mentoring.

Guests

Sarah Bartley

- Fullstack Web Developer

Sarah Bartley is a full stack web developer who specializes in creating the front elements on web applications and translating web designs into websites using JavaScript, PHP, and WordPress.

Will Johnson

Auth0 - Developer Advocate

Will Johnson enjoys creating content to educate developers through technical blog posts, video screencasts, tutorials, and in-person trainings.

Show Notes

Audio file size

34490198

Duration

00:35:56

Transcript

[00:00:00] WJ: Like I believed that I could be in tech. I visualized it and saw it and seeing how happy I would be. I visualized me moonwalking out of the factory from the side door.

 

[00:00:22] BH: Welcome to DevDiscuss, the show where we cover the burning topics that impact all of our lives as developers. I’m Ben Halpern, a co-founder of Forem.



[00:00:30] AA: And I’m Arit, Software Engineer at Forem. And today, we’re talking about breaking into tech mid-career with Sarah Bartley, Full Stack Web Developer, and Will Johnson, Developer Advocate at Auth0. Thank you so much for being here.

 

[00:00:46] SB: It’s nice being here.

 

[00:00:47] WJ: Thanks so much for having us.

 

[00:00:48] BH: So we invited both of you onto the show because you are representatives of the many number of people who have shifted their focus into tech mid-career. Can each of you tell us where you were going before you got into what you do now and what inspired you to join the world of software development? Sarah, can we start with you?

 

[00:01:10] SB: Sure. I actually was in teaching. I taught for nine years and eventually I got to a point where I just fell in love with it. And then one day I was looking at my teaching philosophy that I’d written when I was in college and I was looking at, and for me, it just didn’t click anymore. It just felt to me like I don’t really feel any of this anymore. So I was looking for a change. And originally, I did the wrong thing, which is I just started job searching with no idea where I wanted to go. And I got lots of rejection letters and I got really frustrated. So I took time off and I read a book called, “What Color Is Your Parachute?” And that was really informative because it gave me an idea of what I was looking for, what encouragement would be the best. And after I read that book, I went into the job search, having led our focus versus being feeling kind of lost of, “Where am I going? Why am I not getting these jobs?” As I was job searching at the next time, that’s when I discovered Skillcrush coding. So I looked at the job posting and I read a little bit more about it and then I visited their website and I was reading Adda Birnir’s story on the site. And I was just like, “Oh my gosh! She’s me! She’s describing my story!” So I was all really excited. So I signed up for the newsletter. And when I signed up for the newsletter at that time, they did little exercises that you could do. And I remember the third day is when you wrote your first line of code and I was freaked out because I was like, “I don’t know if I’m ready for this. What if I'm horrible at this?” And I just remember when I wrote my first line of code, it was basically Hello World, but I just remember the feeling that I got and the feeling was just like everything that I felt was lost or was missing was just found in that moment. And that’s when I decided this is where I need to be. That’s when I decided to start learning how to code.

 

[00:02:47] WJ: For me, I didn’t have any direction really. I was working mainly at call centers and factory-type jobs, manual labor-type of work, super repetitive, super boring. Nine times out of ten they didn’t treat you well, worked a lot of overtime and it just got to a point where I just started to feel bad. It was like 30 when it hit me. I was like, “I’m not really making that much money. I’m not really taking care of my family the way I feel like I should.” I wasn’t in a good neighborhood. I wasn’t able to do even simple things like go on vacation and things like that. And I wanted to provide something better for my family and also felt like I wasn’t living up to my potential at all, doing the same repetitive action maybe four to eight hundred times a day, like literally the exact same thing. I just thought there’d be more to life than that. So first, I look into different things. My first goal was to just make more money, doing things more creatively, whether than just stacking boxes and things like that. So I started a YouTube channel. That didn’t go very far. Me and my wife, we started to sell like T-shirts on Shopify. We started like a cleaning business together, me and my wife, and some other things that I can’t even remember, but just trying to do something that allowed me to provide for my family in a different type of way. And then eventually, I came across Colt Steele’s web development course on this forum post. The forum post is like, “Are we taking advantage of this Udemy sale?” It was the title. I just happened to click on it and everyone was buying web development courses. So I was like, “What is web development?” So I looked it up kind of seeing what the salary ranges were, seeing that you didn't have to have a college degree to do it because I couldn’t afford to go back to college if I wanted to nor that I have the time, if I was being completely honest. Saw that it was $9, thought it was a scam, because basically because they said it was like 200 and it went on sale for $9. And I was like, “Okay, this might be a scam.” But I was like, “It’s only $9. I have nothing to lose.” And then after I started doing it, it was kind of crazy that 12 years before I used to do like my friend’s MySpace pages all the time. I customize them and change the CSS and stuff like that. And I was like, “Wow! This is the same stuff from MySpace. I didn’t know that it was a real job. I thought it was just for MySpace.” So it was kind of cool to discover something that I spent so much time on as a teenager was actually something that could help me provide for my family. So that was a cool realization.

 

[00:05:20] BH: Arit, you're a “maybe” late career switcher. Why don’t you fill us in?

 

[00:05:28] AA: Yes. I became a developer at 38. I was a stay-at-home mom largely for about six years before that. My degree was in biology. The original plan was to become a doctor. Then I pivoted from that into public health. And so I worked in that space for a number of years as an analyst. When I started having my kids, I think many mothers can relate with this is just that desire to be with your children to spend that time, especially when they’re so young. And so that was when I stopped working, I guess, a traditional job. I’ve kind of always been a hustler. So even though I was home, I always had like some business idea or other going on, kind of similar to Will, I guess. One of my side hustles was WordPress. I actually got started with WordPress in college when it was just simple blogs, but now it was this robust content management system. And so I kind of got up to speed with that. And it started with like making blogs for my friends or like simple websites for the same friends. And I think word spread that I was pretty good at it. And so I started getting calls from local businesses, mom-and-pop shops, solo entrepreneurs, and it kind of became this digital agency. Without really wanting to do that, it kind of became like that because someone advised me, “You need to get an LLC.” And so I legitimized everything, got everything registered. And so as my agency was growing, I got to like a sticking point because with WordPress, you can just live in the gooey. It’s more no code. Right? So you’re moving plugins. You’re tweaking things. But my clients started asking for more elaborate functionality, which I couldn’t do, and I couldn’t find plugins to do it. That’s when I had never thought about becoming a programmer or even learning to code before that moment. So I decided to join a bootcamp just so I could have like a curriculum and a direction because I was just so sleep deprived to like do it “myself”. Then when I finished bootcamp, so the original idea was to use those skills in my digital agency, but then I felt like I would be in danger of like when all you have is a hammer, all you see are nails, I didn’t want to end up like that and I felt like I would if I didn’t like keep improving my skills in a work setting. And I also wanted like workplace mentorship. And so that was when I actually decided instead of continuing as a freelancer to actually get a job as a developer.

 

[00:08:19] BH: I’m a career switcher, but I made the switch after six months at my first job after college. I really wasn’t having fun at all and I took a few courses on software development, but I actually thought I was terrible at it. I then found out I really didn’t like not doing it. So I sort of saw it in the workplace and it seemed a little bit more fun than the courses I’d taken, but it happened pretty early for me. So I don’t think it’s quite the same. But a few years ago, I convinced my brother to effectively become a software developer. He’s still only doing freelance stuff. You won’t kind of admit he’s a software developer quite yet, but it’s basically his whole living and he was about 40 when he did it. He’s my way older brother, but he wanted my help building him a website for printing T-shirts for his band basically and other people’s bands. He had this idea. He’s been a musician his whole life. And I told him I’d help him, but I was not maintaining it. He really did just pick it up once I told him I’m not touching this after I helped you build the first version of it because I’ve been there with people, “Been there, done that, never touching this again after I helped you get it off the ground.” So that transition though can be scary. It can be tough. It can certainly seem like you’re maybe taking a gamble if you either don’t like it or you just aren’t good enough. And I definitely remember feeling like having no idea if I was good enough. Can we talk about some of those feelings putting ourselves back in those shoes?

 

[00:09:46] WJ: Yeah, for me, it was definitely a lot of scary things to be honest. I knew that age was a thing. I knew that not having a degree was a thing, knowing that no one I knew worked in technology, literally everyone I knew worked that kind of the same place, like the same factories doing the same kind of work. If I was to text anyone in my phone and be like, “Hey, do you know anyone who’s hiring?” It would probably like a list of 12 companies locally that they would have named, like all those types of things made it kind of a daunting task, but a couple of things that helped me, like number one, I had a support system, my wife was super-duper supportive. I remember like this one particular time, I thought that maybe it wasn’t meant for me, maybe this type of work, maybe this type of environment was the environment that I’m supposed to be in because that’s what I was born into, that’s what everybody I know does. I was kind of at a point where I was super discouraged, and I think it was after I went on a couple of interviews and things like that, and didn’t really make any progress. I was starting to feel like, “Maybe I can’t get out of this. Maybe I’m supposed to be in here for whatever reasons there may have been.” She was super supportive of me at that time, made sure that I didn’t give up. And the crazy thing is that when I was at that lowest point, when I really thought it was like done is when I had my biggest breakthrough. A couple of weeks later, I ended up getting a job offer after I was completely, almost ready to throw in the towel. So kind of like some of the things that’s good to like overcome those types of feelings and sometimes you have to, as people call it, fake it till you make it. But sometimes you got to believe that you’re that thing before you even get there. Like I believed that I could be in tech. I visualized it and saw it and seeing how happy I would be. I visualized me moonwalking out of the factory from the side door. I actually didn’t do that in real life, but I had everything planned out in my head every day before it even happened. And so I think that’s like one of the things that’ll counteract those feelings because those feelings are going to come out no matter what. So you kind of need something to fight back those feelings and those thoughts that’s the opposite of what you’re currently feeling, and that kind of helped me get over those humps.

 

[MUSIC BREAK]

 

[00:12:29] BH: Being in the industry, what’s the perspective you try to give someone who’s been through three or four or five or six or fifteen interviews and they haven’t made it? They’ve gotten the skills, but they just can’t crack that first job opportunity. What’s the perspective you’d really try to lend that person?

 

[00:12:51] WJ: The number one thing I’d probably say is that you only need one yes. Because once you get that yes, the noes don’t matter anymore. All those noes that I got, I don’t even think about them anymore because I got that one yes. It kind of changed the trajectory of my career. I just feel like keep going and then probably for something more practical network, get to know people, go to meetups, go to conferences, be on Twitter, talk to developers on YouTube, Discord communities, whatever’s like your thing. I'm not saying do all of these, but find a place where you can network and build community and you can even use those people to be like, “Hey, what am I missing? What are you seeing junior developers get hired for at your company? What can I do?” Like that. So try to get as much information as possible before you actually get to the interview. And then when you get them, if you don’t get it, do your best to try to get some type of actionable feedback. And also, sometime that job may not be for you. As much as you may want it, as much as you feel like I just need this one chance, you may not even like it when you get there, the job that you may really need that’s going to help you Excel might be later down the line. So don’t try to beat yourself up if you don’t get the first couple ones or the first a lot of ones that you encounter.

 

[00:14:15] SB: Yeah. That reminds me a lot of what Saron had said when she started the CNC Challenges. She did a one stream and she admitted it. She was like, “Okay, looking for a tech job just stinks. It sucks. You don’t like it.” She’s like, “It’s hard.” And she was listing all things, but she’s like, “It’s going to be a lot of noes. You just can’t let that get you down. You just kind of keep going and plugging away and you’ll eventually get that yes. That yes is the one yes. It’s the one that matters.”

 

[00:14:41] AA: What about you, Sarah? What were your feelings and emotions and mindsets when you were hunting for your first tech job?

 

[00:14:51] SB: My emotion was really kind of like I feel more imposter syndrome. So I think as you get older, you feel a little bit more imposter syndrome, I think, than a younger person do because you’re more conscious about your age or more conscious about kind of how people are going to look at you, how they’re going to respond to your experience. So when I was starting to job search, I was wondering like, “Am I actually ready for this?” Because it was just really frustrating because I was trying to think about, “Well, I don’t know all this stuff on here, but I know this and I don’t know what they’re talking about here.” So it kind of is a little frustrating and hard to navigate. However, I know for especially for Women in Tech, we just say, “When you’re applying for jobs, you just need to kind of just put yourself out there and apply it. The worst they can say is no.” And I’ve just put stuff in there and I’ve applied for jobs, and when I did, and I was surprised I would even get asked for an interview. So I was like, “Oh, wow!” And another thing that’s helped me when I was job searching is someone told me, they’re like, “The best thing that you can do is approach it as like you’re actually building the career that you want. So you want to act like you’re creating the job that you want.” And I think that’s why so many developers have different side projects or they’re doing different things on the side as well as like their job searching. So they’re like participating communities or blogging or creating a YouTube channel. So you can do different things as well and that’s going to help you kind of not only get yourself out there, but it’s going to help you build confidence as well as just, in general, I think help you kind of think about the career you want and everything and build the job that you want to have. And so it’ll give you that information of, “What I do want to do versus what I don’t want to do.” So I think that’s really important.

 

[00:16:27] BH: So as you two are getting going in your new careers and your past be like is this even going to happen at all for me phase, what were some of the biggest challenges between then and now? You’re in tech, you probably are secure in your first job and you feel like, “Okay, if I needed to get another job somewhere else, I’d probably kind of know how I could do that.” But there’s still an abundance of challenges. Can we get into what that phase was like?

 

[00:16:57] SB: I think the biggest challenge when you’re starting out is just knowing where to start. Because I remember, for me, when I was doing research, there were so many different directions that you can go in and there were so many different advices that it can kind of feel overwhelming and you don’t know where to start. And I remember, I would feel sometimes, it’d be like, you know the meme where he’s pressing the buttons and he didn’t know what’s the question, he’s sweating. That’s kind of how I was feeling. So I was like, “Okay, I’ll press this one and hopefully that works,” and it’s just rather frustrating. There’s so many different directions. So it’s easy to get distracted. So I remember when I started learning how to code, one of the first things I did is I tried to learn every programming language because I was like, “Okay, one step at a time.” And I was like, “No, that’s a terrible idea.” I got myself confused and I’m going backwards and just focusing on one thing. So when you’re in doubt, you just want to just focus on one thing and just kind of stay consistent on that path. I think there’s a lot of misconceptions, I think, too. I think when you’re doing coding is like you have to code a certain amount of hours per day just to be a developer. Because I remember I would see like on videos, people saying like, “Well, I code for two hours.” And I’m like, “I only code for like less than that. Does that make me a bad developer?” Yeah. I mean, there’s going to be a lot of noise. There’s going to be a lot of people telling you what to do and other things. So make sure you have a focus, but you also kind of want to just try around and see for yourself. One of the things that I’ve learned to do is I’ll try something and if it doesn’t work, I’ll be like, “Okay, it wasn’t my fit for me.” And then I move on. I don’t get upset. I’m like, “Oh my God! I’m such a terrible developer!” But as I grow, as I continue on coding and going my career path, my challenges have also changed. I went through a period when I was coding that I got also upset that I was like making errors in my code and I like see a bug and I was like, “Oh my gosh! It’s so terrible!” But then I just remember I was at a webinar and like Avi Flombaum was speaking and he just said, “Hey, errors are part of the game for what we do. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad developer. It just means that your job is not done and that’s okay because that’s our job. Because if all the bugs were found, we’d be able to go home at the end of the day.” So your challenges are always going to be changing. It doesn’t mean that you’re a terrible developer at all. It just means that there’s something else that you got to approach one step at a time with focus. So you want to like approach, but you try and be like, “Okay, what can I learn from this? What do I need to do?” And then you break it down into smaller steps and then it’s just easier to knock out.

 

[00:19:23] WJ: I agree with that so much. There’s so much out there. People telling you to learn this, especially when you’re new, right? And you’re like, “Oh, I have to learn Docker. Oh, I have to learn how to make my React apps performant and all these types of things.” I remember even someone was talking about like uploading the site to an FTP server. This is like when I first started. I’ve never done that. Right? I just use Netlify. But you hear so many things and you don’t really know what’s true and then there’s always something new coming out. But I decided to do the same thing. Focus on one thing. Focus on the big picture. So for me, front-end development is what I want to do. So I knew that React was the most used framework that I’ve seen in my network and the people that I know. So I laser focused on React. Anything else, if I can learn the big thing and prove that those ancillary things on the side, I can pick those up at the job more than likely, but it’s a lot different to know, “Oh, I know everything about GraphQL,” or whatever it may be, but I know nothing about how to build a front end, I feel like if you’re going for a front-end developer job, you might want to know that part first. And then another thing is people may feel like if they do that, if they focus on this thing, they’re going to miss out on this thing over here. But I don’t really think that's as important as you think it is. Me, personally, for a long time I was doing Ruby on Rails and that’s all I really talked about and did, but I laser-focused on React because I wanted to do front end and no one even thinks about Ruby on Rails. I don’t think that, “Oh, he doesn’t know React because he did Ruby on Rails.” People are willing to see that you’re able to learn and that you can adapt. And just an example that I use when I talk about this is the Donald Glover, right? He sings. He raps. He writes, acts. He does all of these things and people just accept it. No one ever says, “Oh, he can’t do this because he’s this.” Right? So if you want to be the Donald Glover of tech, you can, right? You can learn many different things and still be able to find success.

 

[00:21:46] BH: Early in my software career, I was still just like nervous as hell that I was doing everything wrong. I remember I was just like at a social event and I met some guy and I got to talking that I was in software and he asked me like what I did and I said I worked with Ruby on Rails primarily and stuff. And he basically like got into this whole rant about how I should be in ColdFusion because Ruby on Rails is never going anywhere. I was sitting there. I was like, “I have no idea what ColdFusion is. For all I know you're right.” It still stands out to me this day because you can probably still get a job writing ColdFusion. It’s an older programming environment, but people would probably still maintain those websites. So there’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Ruby on Rails. I broke into it at the perfect time really. I couldn’t validate or invalidate what he was saying, but really he was just a jerk. And you’re floating out there, like you don’t know whether the wrong advice is the right advice, but you will figure it out if you stick with it.

 

[00:22:52] SB: Well, I also, too. A lot of people I know, there’ll be like that as soon as you say what you’re learning or what you’re doing. They have very strong opinions. I remember I was saying I was learning JavaScript. I had someone just launched into a tangent about how, like, “JavaScript is not as important, blah, blah, blah.” And they were going on like another programming. I was just like, “Okay.” So they’re out there and you’ll definitely encounter those people. I mean, that’s why community is so important. And I think with what we do is a lot of kind of trusting other testimonials, what other developers have done too. So kind of getting a range of different opinions and then that can help confirm what you want to learn, what learning a language is going to be like and kind of going from there.

 

[00:23:32] WJ: Yeah. Talking to people who are actually in the industry that you trust is going to help you plan out your map a lot better than a random person that you may meet because, like you said, people have strong opinions and they are willing to share them no matter how correct or not correct they are.

 

[00:23:51] SB: I remember the first time I was contributing to Stack Overflow and I was having trouble with one of my Ruby programs and the person at Skillcrush, she’s like, “Oh, just go to Stack Overflow and ask the question.” I just remember my eyes going wide, like, “Oh my gosh! I’m going to ask another developer for help.” And just the imposter syndrome that I was feeling because I was like, “I’m going to be ad hoc into someone who actually codes a lot.” And so I remember I proof-read my entire problem, making sure I was understandable. And I was like, “Hopefully, I don’t get told that I said anything wrong.” But I just remember afterwards, when someone did respond, they were like, “Oh, this is how you do it.” That made me feel so much like a developer. Because I was like, “He understands what I’m saying.”

 

[00:24:34] BH: My first service Stack Overflow question I asked, I ended the question by saying thanks in advance because I just thought that was nice. I’m Canadian. I thought that was the right thing to do. And someone like brutally corrected me that that was against the rules to like say thanks in advance or anything like that. Only keep it on topic. That actually made me change my Stack Overflow account to like anonymous. I changed my profile picture because I was like, “This is not for me.” That experience really kind of like gave me perspective that led me to kind of get into what I do now and stuff, but I really felt like my very first question on that website was like a really bad experience and I kind of never went back. I think that can be so tough, like you just run into the wrong experience that’s just bad enough that you don’t try the next experience of.

 

[00:25:25] AA: I’ve never participated on Stack Overflow. I have an account from when I was job hunting. I don’t think I have ever asked the question or given an answer. It’s more of just like a resource for me.

 

[00:25:40] WJ: Yeah. I answered a question on there before. And at the end, I said, “I hope this helps.” And then I got corrected on that. They were like, “Don’t say hope or something like that. It needs to be correct.” I was like, “Oh! Okay. My bad.”

 

[00:25:57] BH: That’s exactly the same rule that I got corrected on.

 

[MUSIC BREAK]

 

[00:26:19] AA: What is your best advice considering the fact that, at least in my opinion, a lot of people are working to make the switch to a tech career? And just like we said on the call, there’s a whole host of things that you can do to improve your chances for success. But at the same time, those things can feel very overwhelming and create a pressurized situation almost. So in light of that, what would be your best advice for someone transitioning to tech mid-career or later in life?

 

[00:26:57] SB: I would say I agree with Will about networking. We don’t bite. Many developers are very, very helpful. And I think a lot of that comes from the fact. I think every developer is very cognizant of where they are in their journey and where they started. And so they want to make sure that they give the same treatment to people that they either had or they wish they had. So don’t be afraid to just reach out and ask a question if it’s on Twitter or LinkedIn. And also too, I think the best piece of advice I would give for anyone trying to go into tech right now that’s in mid-career is you really kind of need to take a look at accountability of your whole life. You kind of need to look at everything involved so you can decide if you can make the time, the commitment and all these other factors. So you kind of need to look at all the pieces of the puzzle. So you kind of need to learn, kind of look and see can you make the finances, do you have like the time. And even more so kind of for me, I would say the learning style because like there’s so many different ways that you can learn how to code or you can learn different languages and you kind of want to pick something that’s going to be the best fit for you. And another good piece of advice is you don’t have to code for two hours at a time. You can budget yourself out because it’s important I think for developers to do take breaks. You need to take breaks. You need to be able to kind of relax because of that and it’s okay to take a break. When I was starting learning how to code, I felt like, “Oh, I just have to keep going.” And that’s how you burn out. It’s okay to walk away from your computer and go do something else and then you can come back to it. That’s actually a really good because it’s going to help you not only stay motivated, but it also helps you kind of like digest things. I know for a lot of developers, when we’re stuck on something, we just walk away. And when we take a break and then we come back, we’re like, “We have an epiphany. We know how to figure it out.” So yeah. So don’t be afraid to take breaks and just do a lot of internal research and kind of get a feel about how you want to approach how you want to switch into tech. Do you want to go to a bootcamp? Do you want to learn and be self-taught? What reasons do you want to use? Because that’s probably going to help you lead you down the road as you’re making the transition.

 

[00:28:58] WJ: I would probably say two things. The first thing is probably experiment before you commit. So try out different things, try Python, try WordPress freelancing, or like whatever the things may be, try to kind of see where you like, instead of just say, “All right, I’m going to go to a bootcamp and whatever they teach me, I’m going to take.” And then you end up not liking it the whole time. Experiment with the stack first. Maybe like a couple hour YouTube tutorial to see if you like working with that type of technology before you fully commit to going deep on something. So the first thing I say is experiment before you commit, and it may seem like that may take longer, but it’s better than doing that, get deep into something, and they have to start over from the beginning again and start over from the beginning again, and you’re kind of on this hamster wheel of trying new stuff. So dip your toes in a couple times before you fully submerge yourself. And the second thing is this thing that I like from Seth Godin called Purple Cow. And the premise is when you’re driving down the highway and especially me living in the Midwest, everything looks the same and even the cows on the side of the road, they’re brown and white and they’re black and white, same old thing over and over and over. At a certain point, you don’t even see any cows anymore. You don’t notice any cows, but what if there was a purple cow? No matter how many cows you see, that purple one will stick out. So that’s kind of the same thing when you’re applying for a job. Everyone’s using the same resume with a 12-point font saying that they’re a highly skilled inter communicator who thrives in a fast-paced environment. Right? All those resumes start to look the same and they get kind of boring, but you want to be that purple cow. Your resume gets there, you wanted it to stand out. So what things can you do to get their attention? Like, “Oh, I’ve spoken at a meetup. Right? I’ve spoken at a meetup before I even had a job in tech.” Or let’s say you hosted a workshop or even volunteered at a workshop with local groups. Like, “I volunteered with the women’s group who taught women how to code here locally.” And just things like that. Do you have a YouTube channel, a Twitch stream? And I’m not saying you have to do all of these things, but trying to find like one thing that’ll make you stand out and kind of make them take notice in the sea of resumes that they may get.

 

[00:31:20] AA: I would say be patient with yourself. That can be so much easier said than done because of the pressure. And I think that pressure comes from like all these other people who are also transitioning to tech and the job market and all these languages and people being so opinionated about what you need to be learning. It’s a lot. It’s a lot. And so I would say be patient with yourself. I usually say whatever timeline you think or believe is going to take you, triple it. And I think if you triple it, then that takes some of the pressure off and it actually helps you because without that pressure, then you’re actually absorbing what you’re studying and actually understanding kind of the material and actually growing. So patience will definitely help you. Be patient and kind with yourself and don’t allow your whole life to become about coding. Keep it as a part of your life and enjoy the other parts of your life. Family, friends, hobbies, none of those things should fall off the table just because you’re learning to code or you’re looking for a job.

 

[00:32:37] BH: And I want to circle back and reemphasize something Will said earlier in the show, which was remember that you only need one accepted job interview and you could have a thousand failures, and that’s the same as kind of one of one at the end of the day. And to kind of build on that, I tend to tell people that it’s up to the potential employer to disqualify you. And even if you get hired for a job by happenstance, you got lucky, they didn’t realize that you didn’t know your stuff, that’s their problem. It’s probably not the ideal situation to land in something that’s not going to work for you and you’re not going to succeed, but that’s not the worst-case scenario. Try to make that the potential employers’ problem and not yours. And then just to compliment that, if you have that capacity to just see this as kind of random sometimes and the one that’s a yes is sometimes maybe only 1% different than the one that’s a no and it’s kind of random, like who knows why you got a yes and not a no one time and not another and not to overthink that part. If you can kind of detach yourself from those outcomes a little bit, then a lot of the rest ultimately you get to take the opportunity to continue to work on the craft and follow the rest of the advice. Get deep into something, go broad when it’s necessary, be patient with yourself, all of those things, they all add up. At the end of the day, you’re sort of still rolling the dice and you might as well keep rolling if you can. The first few don’t turn out your way like that, absolutely doesn’t matter. Anyone with experience can almost always tell you that. I don’t know how many people with a lot of experience I’ve met who are like, “Oh, yeah. Don’t apply for that job where you might not have qualifications.” Everyone gives the exact opposite advice. I even remember the first kind of really real development job I ever got after doing some WordPress development like Arit did, which was also definitely a real development, but the first kind of career job I got, I responded saying, “I actually don’t meet these qualifications, but you list it as absolutely necessary. So don’t bother with the next step.” And they were like, “Oh, hold on. Actually, that’s kind of nice to have. We sort of just put that up.” And I was like, “Hell yeah.” And I kind of process, kept going, and it worked out fine, and that success might just be around the corner and you don’t know it.

 

[00:35:08] AA: Thank you so much Sarah and Will for joining us today. This was a lovely conversation. Thank you.

 

[00:35:14] SB: Thank you for having me on here.

 

[00:35:16] WJ: Yeah. Thank you so much for having us. It was a pleasure.

 

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[00:35:27] BH: This show is produced and mixed by Levi Sharpe. Editorial oversight by Jess Lee, Peter Frank, and Saron Yitbarek. Our theme song is by Slow Biz. If you have any questions or comments, email [email protected] and make sure to join us for our DevDiscuss Twitter chats every Tuesday at 9:00 PM US Eastern Time. Or if you want to start your own discussion, write a post on DEV using the #discuss. Please rate and subscribe to this show on Apple Podcasts.