I’ve analyzed numerous articles and videos about imposter syndrome. They’ve helped me realize one important thing: even the most seasoned developers wonder if they’re good enough.
Learning that lent me perspective. I poured over my accomplishments and allowed myself to be proud of them. I took myself by the collar and said “You got this, Brian, you’re doing great.”
I am a Front End Developer. This is a fact. Yes, I just started learning all of this back in November. No, I haven’t been hired as one yet. It’s fine though, doesn’t matter.
You see, in my mind I’ve built sites in React and deployed them. They work and have active users. Asking for feedback, putting your work out there, is scary. It’s worth it though. I’ve gotten valuable suggestions to improve my code. And, I’ve had professional developers tell me they like the designs. Those were major wins for me, the validation I needed.
I call myself a developer now, and not “an aspiring developer,” or something less confident. The sites I built weren’t copies of some tutorial. They were born from my imagination and forged by my hard work alone. I challenged myself and overcame the hurdles said challenges presented to me.
If asked, I could replicate or even improve upon my already completed projects. I get better with each goal I smash through. I have an actual chunk of experience to draw on now. I can only keep ascending the rungs of the ladder.
Have I reached a level of mastery? No, I’m nowhere close. Hell, the more I learn the further away from the notion I drift. As you get perspective, you realize just how narrow the scope of what you know is.
Employment though that’s what is on my mind, landing a job a professional developer. I will get there, but I’m not in a rush. Why?
I haven’t graduated yet.
How can a self taught person graduate? The same way a college student does. They finish their curriculum. Wait–you may ask–what curriculum?
The most important part of teaching yourself any skill, is setting benchmarks and goals. It keeps you accountable, paves the way. Giving yourself due dates and timelines is vital. Or, you’ll fall into dreaded causal learning attitude and never make any tangible progress. You don’t want to be stuck on that self-doubt and fear treadmill, you want to blaze ahead with gusto.
I don’t shirk, I don’t yield until I understand something. Programming is such a broad subject, there’s so much nuance that I know I can’t get at it all, but I strike at what’s in front of me. I do my research. I seek out what skills are required by reviewing various job postings. I watch videos and read blog articles from amazing developers, to filter out what is important. That’s where I paint my targets.
Fast forward to today and I’m considering learning other frameworks, such as Vue and the new Svelte 3. I want to create apis in Node. That’s a lot of progression, and my list adapted because of it.
Let me show you where it’s at right now and also what I’ve checked off from it:
- Do Brad Traversy’s MERN Stack Front to Back course.
- Find and complete a GraphQL course.
- Find a real client, willing to pay me, and make them a site.
- Do some sort of Open Source/volunteer work with my web dev skills.
After I complete this set of objectives, I’m going to start hunting for a job. This may change, I may add or subtract. We’ll see.
Until then, I’m going to focus on putting one foot in front of me. Not to say I would turn down an opportunity if it fell into my lap. This is just before I personally begin to hunt and focus on that.
What about everyone else who is self-taught? Or, even those of you in the industry right now. What are your short and long term goals? Did you build yourself a curriculum? I’m interested to hear what works and what doesn’t for the rest of you.