How I went from newbie to Software Engineer

Whenever I would start reading a success story, I would immediately look to find the author’s background, hoping it would match mine. I never found someone who had the same background as I did, and most likely mine won’t match yours exactly. Nonetheless, I hope that my story inspires others and acts as a valuable data point that can be added to your success story dataset. Full Disclosure I took a Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) course in high school (nine years ago). In my freshman engineering course (seven years ago), I learned some C, Python, Matlab, and Labview. I graduated from a good university with a chemical engineering degree and a good GPA (three years ago). I hadn’t done any programming outside of school, in high school or college, until I decided I wanted to learn last year. After college, I got a job as a Process Engineer at a refinery. I worked there until I changed careers into Software Engineering. Why I wanted to change careers I enjoyed solving technical problems, but I knew I wanted to get into the business/startup world at some point. I always kept the thought of an MBA in the back of my mind, but every time I looked at the price tag of the top schools, my interest waned. On May 27th, 2017 I found myself googling about MBAs again, and somehow I stumbled upon software engineering. It seemed like a perfect fit. Software engineers are in increasing demand, salaries are great, and it’s the perfect industry from which to get into the startup world without needing a ton of initial capital. All you need is a computer, and your opportunities are limitless (kind of). In no other engineering discipline can you just have an idea, start building it, show it to users, and iterate with little capital and low barrier to entry. In chemical engineering, you essentially need a running plant or a lot of money to design a plant if you had an idea for a new product. I had heard of people quitting their jobs and attending a bootcamp, but the more I read about it online, the more I realized that you can totally learn it all on your own if you are committed and focused. You might argue that you are losing out on the networking and career advice provided by a bootcamp. This can be true, but I was fortunate in that I was living in the Bay Area which allowed me to attend several meetups, so I networked that way. Besides, the worst case was that I’d realize that I couldn’t do it on my own, and then I would quit my job to attend a bootcamp. The Goal Photo by Robert Baker on Unsplash You need to have a goal. Especially if you are trying to learn while working full-time. It is easy to let your learning drag on and on if you don’t have any external pressure pushing you. So you need to create internal pressure. Your goal should be simple and quantitative. You should do enough research to come up with a reasonable goal. Mine was the following: Get a software engineering job within one year wi

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