How I became a Self-Taught Software Developer

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This story goes over some of the things I wrote in my previous blog, but it goes into details of things not mentioned in that one.

I was 17 or 18 at that time. Exams for 11th Grade were about to start. I was thinking to myself if I should start learning programming by myself. I remember me and my classmates sitting outside our exam center, waiting for the exam time to come. One of them told me that “Shehriyar, you don’t really need to worry about your future. You’re good with computers. Just open a software house”. I found that funny and laughed it off, though I wanted to learn to code. I asked myself:

I should start learning programming. I mean, I’ve seen people learn it by themselves and all this self-taught thing. Besides, I don’t think I can wait 5 years to learn it and get a degree.

Here in Pakistan, you don’t really need to worry about student loans because mostly your parents pay the tuition fee. So my reason to not get a degree didn’t involve having to deal with student loans. To me, this is both a blessing and a curse. Blessing because you don’t need to go through the fuss of student loans. Curse? You mostly get irresponsible, immature teens with a brain of a 3 year old baby. Not entirely the fault of parents paying the tuition fee, but I think it is a factor.

The Very First Start (Kinda)

I did some really basic programming GW-BASIC as it was part of our curriculum. Yeah, definitely helped me understand those pointers and different design patterns.

Anyways, I gave the exams and now had to wait a couple of months for the results to come in. Now, I had two options, play video games for a couple of months or check out this self-taught Software Developer title. I chose the latter.

I wasn’t surprised when I found out that yeah, self taught developer is a thing and they do exist, except here. I never met anyone who is a self-taught developer. In fact, most of the people in this country don’t even know you can become one and you can’t change their mind.

The Hustle

Now, I made my mind about becoming a self-taught developer. It wasn’t an overnight decision. I reflected on this decision for the whole year, even when I started learning to code.

I chose to start learning to code using Python. Easy syntax, focus on the logic and not the language. A few months went by and I was hooked. I could easily stay up late nights and learn to code.

Results came by, I thought I’ll complete my Intermediate degree from a small college nearby. I had already decided I’m gonna become a self-taught developer. So I got an admission in a college that had a small tuition fee because to me that money my parents would put would be going to waste anyway. I don’t mean it wouldn’t be of use but you get the point. I didn’t like the education system I was put in.

My routine then changed to me going to college in the day, coming back home and coding in midnight. That’s passion. Passion to learn something new no matter what. I still remember that feeling and it just makes me happy.

I had a goal in mind that was very clear. Learn to code while I complete my Intermediate degree and acquire the skills so I can get a job without having to spend 4 years going through university to get a Bachelor’s Degree.

Then, the time was over. Results came in, I passed (a little over barely). I held the Intermediate degree in my hand. What Now?

Stranded

I was applying to jobs while learning to code and I continued applying for jobs, but one thing became clear to me.

No one’s going to hire me. Heck, no one’s going to even interview me, or even fully read my Resume. I can’t continue like this. Following the footsteps of other self-taught developers isn’t going to work. The people there are different. Our countries are different, our mindset is different.

I wasn’t sure where to go from here. I had no work experience. No Bachelors degree. Mind you, here if you own a Matric/Intermediate degree, you’re considered a lesser person. People with Matric/Intermediate degrees are supposed to be waiters, not software developers. Your worth is defined by a paper and I didn’t like that.

I managed to get an unofficial internship thingy at my father’s company. He helped me out greatly and for that I’m thankful. I’ve talked about it in the other story.

Where I stand now

After the two internships. I finally managed to get job, through reference. By that time I had already figured out that I will need to get my first job through a reference. After that, my work experience will hold me up.

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