Whether you’re making a career change or breaking into the professional world for the first time, the tech industry is a good place to be. With unlimited opportunities that cater to an endless breadth of interests, tech is booming, and the need for custom software development pros is greater than ever.
Now, the reality is, I can’t answer the question of how to make the leap. Your path, your passions, your obstacles will be different than mine.
I can, however, share my journey into this career with a few tips and hope that it helps you.
Find Your Champion
In the early 90s I graduated high school, and I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up! A high school biology teacher! I went off to college to study. Wow, was it harder than anything I had studied before. I was not doing well. I’m stubborn. I doubled my efforts. It didn’t help. I am not good at memorization, and studying biology is a lot of memorization.
I had always been fascinated with computers, but I was also horrible at math. The idea of studying computer science instead of biology had occurred to me, but knowing that you had to learn so much math kept me away. This leads up to a point, I promise. While studying biology, I was taking a math class. I don’t remember which subject. At this point, I don’t even remember the professor’s name. I wish I did. He changed everything without knowing it. I struggled in his class, and I asked him if I could program my calculator and use that on tests. He told me if you can program this, then you know it.
That blew my mind. I was always taught it was cheating. This professor enabled me to overcome my fear of math by recognizing that my issue wasn’t with math. It was with memorization. To make a long story short, I switched from biology to computer science, and my GPA went from being in the range of being asked to leave to a 4.0.
This leads to my first point; Find your champion. Someone who will recognize your talents and encourage them. Someone who motivates you. Someone who can mentor you. Your champion can be one person or several, but find the people who will tell you that you can do something and turn the volume down on those that say you can’t.
Boy, have I been lucky in my career. From getting a job at the university computer science lab, to getting my first web development job, to starting my own business. There are so many lucky points it is fruitless to try to list them all here. What does luck mean, though? I tinkered with computers so much that I learned a skill. I applied for that lab job, and my experience made me good at it. I took a chance and applied for the web development job. Someone believed in me. I pitched for that first independent contract, and I won it. Luck isn’t really luck. This isn’t a game of chance. Make your own opportunities, and you will get “lucky.”
Don’t Be Afraid to Fail It’s OK to Fail
Let’s be honest. Everyone is afraid to fail. I had my first panic attack at my first web development job. I had a task to finish for a demo on a Monday. I was working all weekend to try to figure it out. I couldn’t. On Sunday, my heart was racing, I was dizzy, and I was physically ill. I failed. I asked for help. Someone helped me. The demo went fine. The consequences of failure are almost always less dramatic than what we build them up to be in our heads. The more comfortable you are putting yourself in situations that might not work, the more chances you will have to prove to yourself that they usually do work. When they don’t, that’s OK too.
Find Your People
There is something in common with all of the points made above. None of this happens alone. Along the journey, there will be those that enable you and those trying to bring you down. Collect your enablers when you find them. Give back to them. Thank them. Surround yourself with them. It is much easier and way more fun to accomplish things with amazing people around you. This is what makes Fanzoo a special place for me. I am surrounded by people who challenge, enable, and support each other every day.
All of this can apply to any job, not just custom software development. In the future, I’ll write about more technical ways to become a better custom software developer, but this article highlights the most critical points on getting started. The software development skills can be learned relatively quickly compared to getting comfortable with the points I’ve made here. If any of this resonates with you and you are looking for a special place to work, reach out! We are always looking for more people to join in our journey at Fanzoo. Think what you have what it takes to work with the Fanzoo team? Fill out an application!