My journey that no one asked for: From enthusiast to hired programmer

My journey that no one asked for: From enthusiast to hired programmer

From a nerd in school, through a lawyer, I became a developer. Maybe you can learn a thing or two with my journey.

Hello there, I’m Luiz, a programming enthusiast that decided to share my journey so far, from my childhood until becoming a hired full-stack developer, without anyone asking me for 😉. Let’s go!

The Beginning: Passion Since Childhood

I vividly remember the day my father gifted me a computer powered with Windows 98 when I was just 5 years old, back in 2003, and I simply LOVED it. Since then, computing and gaming have become passions that have shaped a big portion of me, my choices and my life.

My cousin, who is a few years older and studied computer science, was my gateway to the world of programming when I was a child, with PHP and C#. Despite loving computers, I confess that at the beginning, I found programming simply impossible. 😅

I could understand the syntax, I could understand the concepts, but I didn’t know how to turn that knowledge in anything. I understood what a variable was, but what did I do with them? I had no idea. But let's go easy on me, it was just little Luiz (“Luizinho” for the Brazilians out there 😂), a small child. This initial frustration made me feel discouraged for a while.

During my adolescence, I took some HTML and web development courses, but I still couldn't effectively apply the concepts I learned outside the context or the projects of classes. I sort of gave up on creating anything.

The Hiatus: Navigating Between Passions

I never stopped my nerd journey, I explored different areas in tech and played a lot with things like Linux through Ubuntu with Unity (RIP Unity🙏). However, I mistakenly believed that I needed to master programming logic before venturing into development, which caused me to postpone my plans to learn how to code. I planned to study Computer Science on College, but things turned out differently.

Because of my age (I finished high school with 16 years old), and with some influence from family, I ended up studying Law in college for regional and personal reasons, but the passion for technology never disappeared.

Changes: From Law to Coding

When graduating in Law and, at the same time, starting my family, I was faced with a legal market that was not as financially promising as I had expected, and I ended up losing a job offer that two professors had made me, before even starting, due to the financial challenges of the pandemic. It was then, in the middle of the pandemic, without any stable income, that I decided to revive my dream of being a programmer.

Searching for free material online, I found Harvard's amazing CS50 course, which finally clarified my understanding of programming. Completing CS50, CS50 Web and a course on freelancing on Udemy, I felt prepared to seek opportunities in the development area.

The freelancing journey: First steps and First Challenges

Freelancing is not easy by any means, and I really congratulate all freelancers who can make a living programming, I'm truly a fan of yours 👊.

I started on Fiverr, offering full-stack development services and because of luck and a boost from Fiverr that liked my gig, I got my first client. The experience was really challenging, but really valuable. I spent several nights studying and programming and in the end the project was interrupted before completion, because I wasn’t able to deliver it on time.

I finished it a day late, during the night, as it was like 4 A.M., I went to sleep and left it to be delivered in the morning, but when I woke up the client had canceled, which frustrated me but motivated me to never miss an opportunity again.

Since I simply didn't have the option to give up, this first experience taught me a lot and motivated me to pursue more opportunities. With a lot of effort, I ended up acquiring several clients and until the day I’m writing, I still have a 100% 5-star reviews on Fiverr.

Nowadays: A developer in action

Actually, I’m one of the main developer in a Brazilian startup, helping mainly with the backend development using Python. I was hired as a contractor to do the initial backend, but my work stood out to the point that I became an integral part of the company's team, working full-time.

Because we are a small team, I end up taking care of several ‘fronts’ and I learned a lot about software architecture, infrastructure and performance optimizations. Today I really love my work because it is really challenging, I work with a lot of different technologies, and I am learning every day (A big shout-out to “Alê” 👊).

Let’s buckle up (is this expression right?): Advice for those starting out

If you're starting out, I have some advice I wish I knew years ago. First, take Harvard's CS50. It's free and it's amazing. David Malan is amazing in the main classes and very clear in all his explanations, and the rest of the team is also wonderful, I loved Brian Yu's problem presentations and Doug Lloyd's explanations.

The CS50 will give you all the foundation you need to get started. It’s not comprehensive, and you’ll need to study A LOT more after it, It's an introductory course after all, but it's hands-on, you learn by doing, which is what you need in the beginning and brings me to my second piece of advice.

Learn to program by programming. That simple.

“Oh, but I don’t know… Ah, but I can’t build anything…” I know that, I was there, and, in many moments, I still am. But we have amazing tools like Google and Stack Overflow, learn how to set up the project, learn how to create the project and

Use Google and Stack Overflow A LOT, in the end, it's you and the computer.

Don't know how to set a variable in Python? No problem, Google it, don't understand a field in a Django Model? No problem, Google it, read the documentation, go after it and do it, yes, you will learn, that’s the way we all learn or at least that’s what I do.

Personally, the need to earn money made me learn by doing small freelancing projects. Find what motivates you and forces you to do, that you will achieve, maybe not the first time, maybe not the second, I myself started out failing, but the insistence, that, yes, will be your success. 😁

This was my first blog post and EVERY feedback is welcome, praise me, curse me (it's a joke, be nice with people online 😒), tell your story and let's talk, here or on social media, like Twitter or LinkedIn.