If you're learning to program, you're probably aware of the pressure to go from coding newb to full-fledged, employed Software Developer as quickly as possible. While it may be nice to be rolling in cash sooner rather than later, I would like to offer a more sustainable approach... especially for those with mental illnesses like me.
Terms & Conditions
See, what you don't realize is those "did it in 3 months" stories are honestly an anomaly. Don't believe me? Check out this Twitter thread from Danny Thompson:
For those who don't already know, Danny Thompson is a popular content creator who provides tips and feedback to would-be programmers from informal backgrounds. The reality is, most people will not get a programming job in 6 months, let alone 3 months. Over 50% of the 2,000+ participants in the poll took a year or longer to get a job. There's a reason those "did it in 3 months" stories sell so well--no one wants to hear that it takes a decent amount of time to become an employed programmer. This is especially true for those of us who are mentally ill ✋ If you are a bit neurotic like myself, it's probably going to take you even longer. It's the unfortunate truth, but hey, i'll be right there with you.
The other day I put out a poll, The poll asked "How long did it take for you to land your first job in tech?"— Danny Thompson (@DThompsonDev) April 23, 2022
22% landed a job in tech in 3 months.
Almost 80% of the time it took much longer with the majority being over a year!
Give yourself the permission to take your time! pic.twitter.com/QAYaKkrdy9
So What Should U do?
Play the Long Game
Be OK with taking longer, learning to program shouldn't be treated as a race. Learn to program for the sake of learning to program. Be curious and have a sense of adventure! The only reason you will get angry when you stumble with a topic is because you're in a rush, so slow down!
Don't Compare Yourself to Others
Be nice to yourself, you may have different life circumstances which make the process tougher. I know how difficult it is to not compare ourselves to others, but it will only discourage you. If you find you are comparing yourself to others, try being curious instead. Seek to know what they know.
I also have ADHD which makes it difficult to sustain focus. You don't have to code for hours upon hours. Work in shorter increments and make use of tools like white noise machines and pomodoro timers. Basically, highlight potential learning obstacles and find ways to get around them. There's no "right way" to learn to program.
Celebrate the Small Wins
Some days I can hardly get out of bed because i'm so depressed. Days like that I don't feel like coding. If you are in a similar situation, code for a few minutes per day if you can. You are still progressing even if it doesn't feel like it. You know how I know? Because your progress can be measured. Did you learn something new today? Did you fail at something? If new knowledge can be abstracted from your learning, no matter how long you spent, that's a win in my book.
Maybe Don't Do a Bootcamp
I won't get too opinionated here, that's a whole other article, but a fast learning environment may not be ideal. Ingesting a lot of info in a short time frame isn't necessarily better. I say this because I did a bootcamp and came away none the better. There are a lot of variables to account for as to why, but if you are at a mental disadvantage, carefully consider. There are part-time options, which likely would have been the better choice for me, but I still wish I had saved my bucks.
Wrapping Things Up
Don't feel pressured to learn to program fast. We are all unique humans with our unique differences and circumstances. Who cares if Tony got a coding job in 3 months, you may do it in 4 years and that shouldn't scare you. You aren't dumb or a failure if you take a bit longer to get a paid gig. I think we should dim the spotlight on the "zero to hero" mentality. I too fell victim to this mentality and am fully embracing that it may take me longer to get a job. If you're disadvantaged like me, you can take solace in knowing you're not alone. Good day mates ✌