My Web Development Journey

November 21, 2016

As a kid, I was always naturally curious about everything. I would take apart old electronics because I was curious to know what was inside of them and how they worked. When my dad first showed me a computer I was naturally drawn to it. I thought this box was amazing, I felt as if I could do anything with this thing. My passion continued to grow as I got older. I intentionally broke a lot of computers, operating systems, software, etc just so I could figure out how to put them back together. It was a long and painful and frustrating process, but I learned a lot.

I then pursued a degree in music as music is a huge part of who I am and my life, but that is a story for another day. I graduated in 2013 with over six figures of student loan debt, with a degree in composition. I studied how to write sonatas, string quartets, pieces for orchestra, etc. Not exactly something that is in very high demand these days. So I was left with a pretty serious dilemma. In just a few months I knew I was going to have to come up with a substantial monthly student loan payment on top of all of my living expenses. The jobs I was working at the time were not even close to providing enough. I had to figure something out fast!

I had heard about these coding boot camps and I was fortunate to be living just outside of Boston at the time. So I did a little research into the boot camps in my area I applied to the one I thought would be the best for me. To my amazement and shock, I was accepted. I felt so relieved as I knew that I was now going to be able to make the money I needed in order to pay my bills and live my life. I went to the open house, spoke with the staff and instructors and loved everything about it. The air was different there. It was electric and exciting. I felt like I was home, and I could not wait to get started. I began doing the preliminary work in preparation for the in-person training all the while not really understanding or knowing just how much this was going to cost. I eventually found out that it was going to cost me \$12,500 to attend this bootcamp.

They offered a financing plan and broke the payments down into 6 months, but there was no way I could possibly afford that. Not to mention the fact that I would have to save up enough money to cover my bills and college loans for four months because there is no way I could hold a full-time job and go to this boot camp at the same time. Also, I was already in tremendous debt and getting into even more seemed ludicrous. I’m not going to live things got a bit dark over the next couple of weeks because I saw my dream and my opportunity fading away. What was I going to do now? I felt lost and hopeless.

Then I had an idea! I thought hey wait a minute! If these people say they can teach me all of the skills necessary to get a job as a web developer, maybe I can teach myself. Maybe I can create my own ‘boot camp’. I mean after all the internet is full of free information, that is what makes it so powerful and amazing.

So I spent the next 3-4 months in my room glued to the computer for 8-12 hours a day. I understand that is not normal and most people can’t afford to do that, but I could at that time, so I did. I immersed myself in anything I could get my hands upon, tutorials, books, classes, courses, blog posts, pdf’s, software, the list goes on and on. I was having the time of my life, I loved it. To be honest though most of the time I felt like I was in way over my head because this stuff was incredibly complicated and I struggled to see the big picture, how did all of this fit together? I banged my head against the wall, sometimes literally! Well at least on my desk anyway.

After a few months, I felt like I knew enough to try and test my skills and what I learned so I search for freelancing opportunities online. I made the lowest possible bids I could and even did things for free because it wasn’t about money for me, I needed the experience. I needed to know what I actually knew and what I still needed to learn. After doing that for a couple of months I started applying for junior developer positions. To my amazement, I got my first full-time junior web developer job less than 6 months after I began this journey.

I understand my situation might be unique, but I am proof that it is possible. I never thought I would have been able to do this, but I managed to land a job that paid me 55k, in less than 6 months, which was double what I was making… and I had multiple jobs!

I started learning back in December of 2014 and I am still a full-time professional web developer. I managed to get that ‘junior’ word out of my title and love this field more and more each day.

I am not sharing all of this to brag or boast but to encourage you. I am not particularly smart and I am honestly terrible at math, but I managed to pull it off. I got the job. I truly believe you can too and I am here to help you achieve your dreams and goals of becoming a web developer if you so desire.