It’s not that hard

Firstly, put your pitchforks down, everyone. I’m not saying a degree in computer science is completely useless. I myself am minoring in CS in my undergrad (not doing great at it, mind you, but still). All I’m saying is, there is a huge dearth of people who can build (and ship) software. Even the average comp sci grad has trouble building products (most college courses focus on theory and not implementation), and it’s common to find programmers who can’t solve fizzbuzz, let alone use source control or build the simplest web apps.

Anyways, enough FUD. There’re huge opportunities for coders, with or without CS degrees.And you should be taking advantage of them. So here’s how I started.

Early Stages

I’ll be honest, I did have some formal training. I’d done CS in my class 12th (the Indian equivalent to the US AP exams). However, the coursework was severely lacking. We’d only done basic selection sorting, stacks, queues etc. And being the impressionable young sheep I was, I never really went beyond the course. Zzzz.

College

My parents’ got me a shiny 2012 Retina MacBook Pro for college(those were the rage back then). Seeing as how much I loved Apple products, I thought, “Hey, I bet I can write cool apps with C++ for iPhones now”. Well, technically yes. Realistically, no. After a little googling, I stumbled on the CS193P course by Stanford by iTunes. And boy, was I hooked. In spite of the boring classes, I loved the iOS SDK. UIKit was well documented, and my square brackety code never stopped turning heads at hackathons and classes (WTF is this NSBullshit, some would ask). But, I eventually stopped watching lecture vids, and doing assignments. It was simply too much of a time investment for something I was doing on the side. I needed someone to give me, shall I saylittle bites of cocoa?

And then came a revelation : Treehouse

Seriously. These guys were amazing. At $9 a month for students(which is what I spend on an average Dinner at Dominos). Every video is 5 minutes tops and you’re encouraged to do 3 a day. And I had the iOS track done in 2 months (I ended up learning NodeJS and a lot of web stuff there, but that’s a tale for another day). Here’s a full list of stuff I’ve learnt there (JSON for nerds here)

!!

Now, with my newly minted Swift Knowledge, it was time to build stuff. There’s 2 ways I feel really work for this : hackathons and internships.

I started by participated by participating at androidathon(I know, ironic,right?) which was organised by Helpchat. It was there I met a senior designer at Paytm. He offered an internship there, which is where I ended up working at in the Winter of 2015.

Armed with my hackathon win and one previous internship at a company, I applied everywhere I could for iOS dev internships. Post a college mandated 2 months working at Louis Phillipe (don’t ask), I ended up interning again with the wonderful team(and the insanely awesome office) at Housing Labs. And that brings us to today. I’ll soon be working on mobile products at VMock, a career services company.

Final Thoughts

So, if I had to give advice to a budding dev, here’s what I would do:-

  1. Build products and put them out to the world. It doesn’t matter if it’s simple, just ship software. Recruiters LOVE looking at shipped software because it shows perseverance and a certain basic level of expertise on your part.
  2. Blog about your experiences with medium level/hard problems. I managed to rake in 6 internship offers from my two medium posts. My Github profile gives me another 1–2 a week from random strangers. I usually prefer medium, but spring up a ghost.org instance if you want to(that’s a good learning experience as well). Even insignificant stats likethese can generate enough of a following.
  3. Go to hackathons and build cool things with your friends. Other peoples’ stuff is a great source of inspiration, plus you’ll learn to work under arbitrarily imposed time conditions (hello corporate world!!)
  4. If hackathons aren’t your thing, contribute to open source projects. That’s how great people like Arnav Gupta started. No work is too small. No platform too esoteric.
  5. Build Stuff.
  6. Build more stuff.
  7. GOTO 5 . **Nervously watches for velociraptors to the left**
  8. Don’t let people get under your skin. There’s too much cultural kool aid , especially in the valley/Wall Street/wherever management consultants are forced to go to. People may refer to you as the “guy/gal who just builds apps”. If this is truly something you love, you’ll end up doing it anyway. </rant>

Upcoming Workshops at HelloMeets-

User Engagement in the Mobile App — Sunday | 21 August | 5 pm to 7 pm

Photoshop Workshop — Saturday | 27th August | 10am to 2pm

Digital Marketing Workshop — Sunday | 28th August | 11 am to 5pm

Credits — Originally published on Robin Malhotra medium blog. Thank you for being in our community.