General Discussion

Rhys Marksberry
Rhys Marksberry
3,535 Points

Do I even have a chance?

If there are people who can do this, do I have to study for years to start a career in web dev?

6 Answers

Hi Rhys!

A few thoughts:

I'm sure you've heard the old adage: "Do what you love and the money will come!"

And there's some truth to it - don't just chase the almighty dollar, because the opposite is true:

"Do what you hate because it pays well and eventually you will be rich, but completely miserable."

One thing, though, programming is something you can learn online, at your own pace, for free or for a nominal cost, such as a Treehouse membership/subscription, so it's a relatively easy and inexpensive way to get ahead and pursue a new career. And more important, there is no one to say that you can't move forward this way! So, give it a shot, go for it, and see what happens!?! There's really very little to lose.

My point, though, is code because you enjoy coding above any other reason.

But to really answer your question: "Do I have to study for years to start a career in web dev?" Perhaps, but not necessarily - a lot depends on your tenacity at job searching, luck, changes in the market, etc. Again, if you are in the game for the love of it, then it will be about the journey and not the destination, and then how long it takes, shouldn't be an issue.

Also, other coders can do some amazing things, but a lot also plagiarize and get super-brilliant code samples from other sources.

More info:

And not to bore you with my life story, but perhaps this will help you evaluate where you are vocation-wise:

I first got into programming because I took an electronic music class and was able to use a computer to sequence music, which I really enjoyed. I thought I enjoyed it because I liked music, but I later realized I like the power programming allows you to make something behave the way YOU WANT IT TOO!?!

I realized I've always had an admiration for systems and program flow.

For example, I have always liked setting up dominoes in a big pattern where you knock the first one down and they all fall down in succession. In effect, it's a (very simple) program - you start it, and if you set it up right - it runs all the way to the end.

Or the mousetrap game:


I've thought stuff like these were interesting my whole life!?!

(All crude versions of computer programs.)

For a long time, I fought becoming a programmer (I wanted to be a ROCK STAR - I play drums!?!), but my. father was an electrical engineer and my brother has been a Java developer for over 30 years, so it was inevitable that I gravitate towards programming - it's in my blood!?!

Also, I've always been good at math, too (going as far as scientific calculus in college) and music, math, and programming are very similar (in the way you have to process information and think logically and linearly). All three use the same kind of right/left brain balance.

In other words, deep down, I think like a coder.

Regardless, I still think you should crush HTML, CSS, and Javascript as best you can. Just know it will get easier.

I hope that helps.

Stay safe and happy coding!

Rhys Marksberry
Rhys Marksberry
3,535 Points

Hey Peter!

Thanks for your advice, it means a lot!

I just had a moment and felt I needed to scream out into the void hoping for someone to cast me a line back to shore. When I started learning code I fell in love with it because it was everything I wanted in a career. Something I could problem solve, build things, and have something to look at at the end of the day and say "I made that."

I don't really care about making a lot of money, I just want something to make me feel like I'm doing something meaningful with my life, and coding gives me that feeling every time I sit down. I'm like a kid counting down the days until Christmas, but for me, Christmas is the day I get to quit my job and start my career. I just need to be patient a bit longer.

But I'm not giving up, as long as it takes.

And I know what you mean about wanting to be a rockstar. (Guitar lol)

Tyler Duke
Tyler Duke
4,343 Points

Hey Rhys,

TL;DR Yes you can do it, and yes you can land a job if you are serious about this.

Peter had a great answer but I want to be a little franker with you. My answer is lengthy but for good reason.

I will be as realistic as I can possibly be here. Please don't take offense to it, and I HIGHLY encourage you to pursue what you love - whether it's this or something else. I just take this attitude with everyone because being logical and realistic makes sense, especially if you are taking this seriously. I will try to bullet my points for the sake of readability.

1) You've definitely contracted imposter syndrome. Read about it, it will become part of your life but do not let it force you to quit.

2) This bounces off my first point: This stuff is hard. There is a reason this job is in high demand. You either do it or you don't. You will be tested, you will be challenged, and unfortunately for many people, it's not something they have a high tolerance for. I wish I could have a magic wand that could magically explain big O notation, but I don't. I know this might sound negative, but please don't let it discourage you. If the passion is there, you will figure it out.

3) It takes many, many years to master anything. Do master carpenters jump from a trade school to a master level? Of course not. Can you show up at Sea World and decide they are going to train dolphins? Of course not. Well, you can, but you might get arrested. Those people got to where they are because they worked hard, and they overcame the difficulties associated with their training.

4) The people you are comparing yourself to have had the same feelings. If you are watching these videos, make sure you watch the videos of what you would consider "master" level developers looking at other people's work. Many of them have gone "Wow! How did they do that?" - For me, that is all I need to feel better. Knowing that you will have challenges at every level is something you must accept.

There is good news in all this: Employers know all this. They know a junior developer won't know what a senior dev who has 10+ years knows.

So what do you do? Well, to me it's simple: Buckle down, and get in the mindset that you are now a developer. You spend your time learning, getting better, and making well-built applications. You build your resume and portfolio, you advertise yourself and your skills. Don't relent. It's easy to give up when you feel like things are getting hard (data structures and algorithms will make you feel like a total big brain :p), but just don't. You know the Nike slogan? Try the opposite. When you feel discouraged, don't give up. When you feel like it's getting too hard, work harder. Don't give up, don't do it.

Let yourself take a break, take it in, and come back to it.

Finally, yes. You can get a job. In fact, deploy your first real app with React (or Angular) including a back-end and I can say with certainty people will want to talk to you. It'll be hard. It'll be worth it.

Best of luck to you. And use your resources!

Rhys Marksberry
Rhys Marksberry
3,535 Points

Thanks for the advice Tyler! You're right, I did fall right into the trap of imposter syndrome. I already knew about it and was convinced that I wouldn't...but I did. I guess everybody does at some point or another.

But there's no way I'm giving up. I picked up coding looking for something more in my life than just working for a paycheck, and fell in love with it. I knew from the start that it wouldn't be easy, and I didn't want it to be. I love to challenge myself and really see what I can do. I just had a breakdown worrying about when I'll be ready to fully make this my career. I just want to be able to spend more time on it (While also keeping a personal life haha).

I appreciate you taking the time to talk some sense into me, I'll stop beating myself up comparing myself to other devs.

Hi Rhys,

Tyler has some great points and in reading what he wrote, I thought I would recommend this, which should only reinforce his advice (which I certainly agree with):

The book basically talks about how to really become competent in a field, you need about 10,000 hours of experience. And that certain wildly successful people, such as Bill Gates and The Beatles, amassed that much experience at earlier ages than your average person. The point is, their success wasn't a fluke or luck, it was sheer hard work, and they just got started earlier than most people.

On the flip side, Harland David Sanders ("Colonel Sander") started KFC when he was 65, so it's never too late, either!?!

So I still argue that it's about what you love and that you should take advantage of the opportunities presented to you.

I also agree with Tyler - besides doing tutorials, make stuff, do projects, experiment!

I hope that helps.

Stay safe and happy coding!

And I hope it's meaningful, but - wow - you've got two people in the TH community that don't know you from Adam (or each other, for that matter), but care deeply about your success!?!

Rhys Marksberry
Rhys Marksberry
3,535 Points

You have no idea how meaningful it is to me :)

Tyler Duke
Tyler Duke
4,343 Points

The developer community is far-reaching and you aren't alone. I struggle daily; concepts I thought I understood get turned on their head constantly and I have to stretch my thinking even further to solve increasingly complicated problems.

Just a brief background about myself:

I was a Correctional Officer at a jail for almost 4 years. My passion was always coding, I did it off/on throughout my childhood and into my teenage years. I stopped because imposter syndrome hit (among other life events) and I just thought I wasn't cut out for it. How I felt and what I actually was clashed - Fast forward a few life-altering events and some physical health problems and I'm neck-deep in teaching myself how to become successful..

The more I code, the better I get - and the employers who interviewed me saw this. The people who interview you will be - to be honest - one of two people:

1) People who know what they're talking about

2) People who don't

The people who know what they're talking about will see and understand your hard work, drive, and confidence in both what you know and what you don't know. The ones who don't know what they're talking about - well, you won't want to work for them anyway.

You will probably get 100 rejections before you get 1 yes. I shotgunned applications until someone took a risk on me. I feel, at times, there are better candidates. But they chose me. Don't mistake having no experience for having no value. You are learning an in-demand trade, a very competitive trade, and you are putting forth the effort to make it work. Keep doing it.

Hey Rhys!

I just came across this on linked-in, so I thought I would share:

I definitely recommend, besides doing tutorials, BUILD STUFF!!!

One project I did to learn React and Redux:

Which is my quirky take on the classic Simon Game coding challenge:

Also, get as much info as you can from other sources, as well as Treehouse.

(Although, by comparison, I find Treehouse to be one of the best tutorial providers available and at VERY reasonable pricing. I really like their video - challenge - video - quiz - etc. format.)

Some recommendations: (I have 4 certs through FCC) (They have sales all the time, so you shouldn't have to get a course for more than about $12.00 or so. And once you buy a course, you will have lifetime full access. I have purchased about 60 of them myself, some I have yet to get to.) (You can do a one-month free trial. After that it's $39.00.)

More info:

I hope that helps.

Stay safe and happy coding!