My story: Becoming a software engineer through self-teaching coding on a fulltime job

Hi Elphas! It's been a while since I posted in this community, and I really want to share my personal experience to encourage more women becoming software engineer.

I became a software engineer

- without a CS degree

- did not went to bootcamp

- learned coding aside from a full-time job

I believe many people have done it before, but I don't see many exprience sharing around especially in Elpha community, so I'd love to share mine =D

Why Software Enginneering?

I got into the tech industry as a product designer. Throughout the years, I found that I prefer to hangout with engineering folks much more, and got super interested on how they do their day-to-day work. I was one of those designers who can do a bit of coding -- but really just basic CSS stuff and nothing else.

What trigger me to do the career switch

2020:

The pandemic happened. In the middle of 2020, there were this trend of "picking up a new skill during lockdowns". I instantly thought of coding - and decided to do it.

I spent a month going through the web development basics on Freecodecamp. I did it in a very casual way - not really goal oriented buy really just having fun understanding how all the pieces work together. This was my first step into coding, and gave me a lot of confidence because I figured I can learn things just by myself without going back to university or spent $$$$ on bootcamps.

Life and work got busy, and I stopped coding for a few months. During Christmas time, since nobody could travel due to the pandemic, I figured I could use this time to teach myself coding again. This time, I picked Python.

What I did was asking around and got advice from 3-5 software engineer friends, and ask them what's the best way to learn Python and how I should learn it. Then I designed a "mini bootcamp"- a 7-day learning plan for me to go through Python basics as much as possible.

The outcome: I was able to create a 35-line Python program from sctrach, to automate something I need to do at work, which saved me hours of work.

2021:

Work got busy again until about July.

I started to think about switching jobs at this point, but I wasn't really confident that I can start applying software engineering jobs. Nobody I knew could get a fulltime SWE job without a master degree, so at that point I thought it's impossible.

In August, a friend's company needs to update their website, and I volunteered to do it for them. At this point I still have a fulltime job that needs me 8 hours per day. I would take my laptop after work, go to our local 24-hour cafe, and code there until midnight.

In order to complete this website, I learned the basics of React, and very, very basic Javascript. At this point, I'd say I still don't know much about Javascript yet.

I completed the website, and this gave me a lot of confidence boost. I found that 1) I love doing coding allday as a job and 2)I am able to learn everything by myself, which is the most important skill of software engineer, I was told.

Then I spent 3 months sending resumes around, doing whatever I can, and got a job offer after. Regarding the job hunting process I'll probably leave it to another post cuz it'll be way too long.

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I hope this would help anyone who's interested in switching career to software engineering but fear that they're "not made for this". Honestly, I think anyone can do it. You just need to find your unique way to connect your brain to the "programming mindset".

Keep trying, keep confident.

Let me know in the comment if you have any questions!

teresaman's profile thumbnail
Loved loved loved reading your journey, thanks so much for sharing and, definitely would love a follow up post sometime re: your job hunting process! (And, congrats on making this happen!!)
torizhao's profile thumbnail
Thanks for the kind reply Teresa =D
danapuskarich's profile thumbnail
Congratulations, I loved reading your journey as well. I've always wanted to learn how to code but get I get stuck looking at all the free resources available and choosing the best one becomes an endless task and I've never got out of the cycle and wind up just not pursing it. I'd love to know more about how you selected the courses which you chose and how you went about designing a program for yourself. Thanks for sharing!
torizhao's profile thumbnail
Hey Dana! Thanks for the reply. The secret is actually not picking the best resource - software engineering in the end is an iterative process. Learning software engineering is the same. You don't "pick the best one and dive in", instead, you "just go try and see if it sticks"Pick 3 tutorials, spend 1 day on each, see which one you like the best, and finish it on a weekend. Hope that helps. Good luck! =D
ChitraFrench's profile thumbnail
Amazing journey to a coder. Congrats on landing a coding job! I also would love to know which free online classes you selected.
torizhao's profile thumbnail
Hey Chitra, I started with Freecodecamps =D
Thank you so much for sharing this!I'm currently walking the same path: self teaching myself JavaScript while working full time and I feel so validated.Good luck with everything!
torizhao's profile thumbnail
Good luck! See you at the very end of the path. You can do it! =D