I always try to be active on many Facebook groups, consisting mainly of junior devs (or soon-to-be junior devs). Sharing my knowledge is something that I love to do and despite the fact I haven’t seen everything in the industry yet, I am confident I can help a few people. So, I decided to send my audience a little survey with just one text field for any anonymous question related to programming or IT. I picked the most interesting ones and answered them in this post. Do not take my words for granted though. You can always disagree in the comments and I’d be happy to see your point of view!
Do employers care about college degree? Is lack of diploma a barrier in getting a job in IT and can it become a burden later in my career?
I’ve seen many lines of code produced by:
- people, who never attended university,
- college dropouts,
- Computer Science graduates,
- non-technical graduates,
- graduates of top universities,
- graduates of universities I didn’t even know existed,
- students with bad grades,
- students with top grades.
I also talked with many representatives of these groups. Some of them were my coworkers. And you know what? Based on my experience, I can confidently say, that college degree is NOT a good predictor of employee success in the IT industry.
However some companies require degree (from what I saw roughly 1 in 10 job postings mentions it). The reasoning here could differ, but most of the time it’s used to aid in the screening process, so that later developers could interview applicants from the list that’s a little bit more narrow. It saves company time and money, but in my opinion it reduces the pool of potential employees too much.
So based on what I’ve shared with you thus far, you can assume, that to be a good developer you don’t need to have college diploma, however you need to be well educated (books, courses, projects) and that a vast majority of job offers do not require degree. That leaves you with few different questions to ask yourself before putting time, money and effort to go to university (I’m sure there’s more so write them in the comments to help others choose wisely):
- Are you willing to let go of this 1 in 10 offers that require degree?
- Are you sure that IT is for you? College is time to choose what really stimulates your mind since it exposes you to many different fields.
- Can you network on your own (meet new people, that can later help you in career)? Many people argue, that this is the biggest value you get out of the time in college.
- Do you really know what is the quality of lectures and lecturers in the uni you want to apply to? I won’t lie - most of the time it’s just shit.
- Can you develop soft skills on your own?
Can lack of diploma be a burden later in your career? I can’t see the future, but probably not. Keep learning and you’ll always be more agile in absorbing new things than uni syllabuses. And in the end, that’s what matters to every employer.
I’m 25 years old and I’m interested in frontend development, but I don’t have any experience. Does it make sense for me to even start now?
Of course, there’s a plethora of quality resources out there! You can start by browsing through my list of top free online programming courses. Focus on practice and at the beginning learn enough to be dangerous i. e. enough to make some cool project. For example, back when I was studying Machine Learning, I was a little bit bored with yet another dogs or digits recognizer, so I created my own classifier, which could differentiate between different beer labels. In the end it even became part of my engineering thesis, so remember to always have a little bit of fun while learning:
And no - 25 years old is not too late, come on 🙂
What factors did you take into consideration while choosing your first job?
Out of ~30 junior and internship openings I applied to I was accepted to only 1 so there wasn’t much room for consideration. I can share with you three things I look for in a job now. It will probably help you if you receive more offers than I did few years ago:
- Money. I don’t mean to always be rushing to the company that pays the most, but I advise to reconsider if salary is below the market average. Luckily salary ranges are nowadays publicly available in many job postings, so you can compare.
- People. Try to avoid assholes as much as you can, and make sure that there’s at least one person in your team, who knows more than you and is willing to share that knowledge with you daily.
- Project. You must feel comfortable with technology stack and purpose of the product.
What should I do to make the best of my time during IT studies?
- Find job as fast as you can.
- Make a fun programming project with your college friends, while drinking beer in a dorm.
- Check IT events nearby and meet new people there. Use meetup.com or Facebook events.
- Practice soft skills by organizing a student group or presenting an interesting topic in front of the class.
- Don’t assume that college will teach you anything about IT industry or being a good employee.
- Try to repeat all of that each semester.
Can I get an entry level job without good command of English?
You might get an entry level job without being a good English speaker (though you’ll have to progress fast in this area), but written understanding is absolutely essential. Without it you are seriously limited not only in job offers, but most importantly in the amount of resources you can use, since most of them (docs, courses, tutorials) are in English.