From project manager to developer
Previously, I worked as a project-manager and consultant for a Dutch NGO in The Hague. I enjoyed my work, but I missed really making things and working with a team to deliver something real. So, I took some time to really think about what I wanted to do with my future. Luckily, due to COVID, I had all the time I needed to come up with a plan.
Since watching the Matrix as a child, I have had a fascination for programming. I just thought it was super cool. Following my interests I programmed a small video game, somewhat like Fishy. It had a step-by-step explanation and I really enjoyed the whole process. However, I forgot about programming for a few years and went to study in Leiden at the University. When I had the time again to think about my next step, programming came back to me as an option. Knowing what I looked for in a job, I actually thought that programming could be a good fit with my personality and preferred way of working. So, I applied for the Ironhack Bootcamp, was accepted and started programming full-time in June 2020.
I chose to do a bootcamp instead of just learning coding myself, because I felt the bootcamp would give that kind of pressure-cooker experience I was looking for. With a small group of people, you really focus on nothing but learning how to code for a few weeks. This really helps in keeping yourself motivated in moments it gets tough or you’re just really tired.
Landing a job
After 8 weeks of coding I couldn’t talk, think or dream about anything else. So, I couldn’t wait to start working as a developer. I already decided that I would like to work for an agency because I like to work for smaller organizations, work on different projects and be able to contribute more than only my developing skills. During the bootcamp, we were encouraged by Ironhack to already think about companies we would like to work for. I came up with a list of several agencies in the Randstad, including YPA.
When we ‘graduated’ from the bootcamp, I sent a few job applications to these agencies and got interviews with three of them. For all the agencies, a coding challenge was part of the process. I was quite nervous about this, but found that with the knowledge I got during Ironhack, I was able to complete this without too many problems. In the end, I was sold by the DNA and good vibes I got from the YPA team. In less than a month after finishing Ironhack, I started as a front-end developer at YPA on the first of October 2020.
It has been quite the rollercoaster since then. In the first few months I was part of a headless project we were building, and I had to catch up a lot. I learned a lot on the job, but I also spent time in the evenings and weekends to increase my knowledge about all the topics we discussed at work, from SEO to accessibility to Shopify and WordPress development. Now, after 1,5 year, I can honestly say that I never learned as much as I did in the last couple of years. I’m still enjoying working at an agency as a Front-end developer a lot.
After finishing Ironhack, I actually had the feeling that I would prefer working as a back-end developer, but by now I’m fully sold on front-end development. I believe it presents a lot of different opportunities and different things to know about, so you have to keep learning new things every day. I really like this challenge. Also, it is just very satisfying to be able to show what I built to friends and family after a few weeks of working on a project.
Some tips if you want to make the jump to development
I learned a lot in my journey from project-manager and consultant to developer. I summarized some tips and tricks for if you want to make the jump to development.
Decide how you want to learn coding
Some people learn coding by themselves, follow a bootcamp, or have studied Computer Science. There is no right or wrong here and all are viable ways to land a job as a developer. In my opinion, the most important thing is to find a way to learn coding that fits your learning style. Are you a fast learner that loves to watch YouTube tutorials the whole day? Maybe you are able to learn coding by yourself. For me, I wanted a bit of extra guidance and the group process a coding bootcamp could give me. Also, I thought it would take me a lot less time to learn coding in a bootcamp than just learning it by myself. But again, this isn’t the answer for everyone. Decide how you want to learn and how much time and effort you are able to put into it each day. With that information in mind, choose a learning path that suits your situation.
Find a rubber duck
Everyone will get stuck at some point. Either you cannot get something to work, or you just don’t understand it. Having someone or something to discuss the issue with really helps. We call this ‘rubber ducking’. Just by talking about the issue, most of the time something will ‘click’ in your mind and you are able to solve the problem yourself. A mentor could be your rubber duck, but also a non-developer friend, or even that rubber duck in the bathtub you have at home.
Take your time (to read)
One of my biggest insights in the last 6 months is about reading the documentation. A lot of packages, libraries, api’s and other development tools have great documentation (with some notable exceptions). I noticed that I often just skipped reading the documentation, or only scanned it, when I was looking for an answer for a problem I had. To discover an hour later, it was just there in the documentation, but I read over it. Taking the time to do good research and read the documentation about the issue or questions I had made me a much more efficient developer.
I think it is essential to be curious and ask all the questions you might have when you start developing. It will be the fastest way to get to know the terminology and way of working at your new job. And maybe you’ll come across something interesting to research when you have some downtime.
Just do it!
I’m not sponsoring a certain sneakers-brand, but it sums it up quite nicely. In the end, if you really feel passionate about making a change, the only thing you need to do is trust yourself and feel confident enough to make the choice and accept the consequences.
Do YOU have a challenge you want me to work on? Or do you want to know more about my experiences at Ironhack or YPA? Don’t be shy and send me a message to [email protected] or fill in our contact form and we will get in contact with you!