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GOLD! How I got hired as a software engineer without a college degree

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GrayCode

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I started another thread recently about my first fastlane month and I got a question on how I was able to get hired as a software engineer without a college degree. I feel like this is information I WISH someone shared with me as I was about to jump into coding. So, I figured rather than share it pages deep in the other thread, I'd make it standalone content incase someone specifically searches this out. (Hail the almighty SERPs ;))

How I got hired as a software engineer without a college degree

I'll break it down by paragraph based on key timelines and decisions I made, feel free to skip anything you aren't interested in. Hopefully, this is helpful to you. If you have a question, feel free to ask.

Deciding to learn 'how to code' (Oct 15' - Aug 16')
I was a personal trainer making maybe $30k a year. I was on the whole self-improvement journey before I finally bumped into MFL in late 2015 - maybe Oct 15' (based on me joining the forum in Nov 15'). I was hooked after reading the book, I knew I needed some kind of recurring revenue stream independent of my time. So... here's what happened.

I wound up coming up with an idea for software for gyms (since I worked in one) and took all of my savings at the time ($14k) and sought out 'engineers' to help me build it. Well, turns out 14k isn't enough to hire good, talented, trustworthy engineers and I got screwed.

I hired overseas developers, they beat around the bush, wrote some code, filled with typos, did like 1 feature and over the course of a few months my money went to zero and I was broke with no product. For a while, I kept it in my head that it was their fault, but really it was mine. I had no business spending my money on something I knew nothing about, thinking I was going to get rich. I was looking for an event (get rich quick) when I should've been all-in on the process.

So, that project would come to a close around March 16' or so. I was annoyed and confused but not bankrupt on motivation. I re-read MFL and continued my journey of listening to loads and loads of podcasts and youtube videos. I was a 'success zombie'. Finally, I decided the money was in software and I wanted out of my 30k per year job. So I said, screw it, I'll teach myself to code.

Learning to code (Aug 16' - Dec 17')
I dove in and at first, I wasn't too excited about it. But I dug in hard, 8-14 hour days depending on the day. I missed lots of 'chilling with the friends' nights, but I was able to see the other side. I only worked minimal hours as a PT, literally just enough to pay my bills and every other week I would routinely see my bank account go into negative balances for a day or so. But I knew I was getting a quick $100 from a client the next night so I shrugged it off.

I joined a coding Bootcamp that cost $7k at $1k per month payments, I put it on credit. The Bootcamp assumed most people would dedicate 2 hours per day so they estimated it would take 7 months. But I was going hard, remember? I wound up finishing all the content the Bootcamp had in 2 months' time and went on my way. The total cost of the Bootcamp was actually only $2k financed on credit.

I finished that at the beginning of Nov 16' and I knew I enjoyed coding but was definitely not yet hireable. So I dove into personal projects, I came up with random ideas for things and just built and built and built. I used google as my personal assistant and that would lead me to stack overflow. I would repeat this process until around Dec 17'.

At this point, I had built 4-5 web-apps (nothing insane, some were clones of other popular apps). Going into 2018 I knew I wanted to start looking for a job.

The decision to Look for a job (Jan 2018)
At this point, I was still doing oddball jobs and random business ideas that never worked. If you looked at a zoomed out graph of my bank account balance this entire time on a 2-week time period breakdown. It was never above $500, and if it was, it wasn't for long. But I was ready to get a job.

STOP! (this is important)

For anyone thinking:
  1. "wtf, this takes 2 years and you were broke and you got a job, how the hell is this Fastlane" OR
  2. "Yeah, cool bro, sounds great, tell me how to make $100k next month"
If this is you, you might not be ready for what I'm sharing. Sometimes, the teacher presents itself when the student is ready to learn.

I think I heard @MJ DeMarco say this in an interview once that - That you can still be living Fastlane in a job or working towards it and you really don't need to always burn all the ships and jump off the deep end (something like that). That was all I needed to know because I was about to go from making $30k per year to more than triple and if you read the post I linked in the opening sentence, 10x that.

MY approach to getting a job without a college degree
It was Jan 2018 and I knew I was good, but there were definitely things I didn't know. My entire approach was this:

This is a numbers game, I know that if I get 100 interviews, I'll eventually land one. My goal is to get a job earning 6 figures and still work on my own stuff on the side. If I'm asked something I don't know the answer to, that's OK, I'll write it down and research it after. I'll also openly admit to not knowing the answer and ask them to explain it to me.

So here's what I did, I started reaching out to anything that caught my interest. I took all the interviews and used my approach above. By the time the 7th and 8th interview rolled around I was answering all the questions, easily, because I wrote down what I didn't know and researched it.

My goal was to get a job within 100 interviews and using this approach it took me exactly 12. I do not have a college degree in computer science but what I do have is persistence.

On interview #12 I was on the final stages and I believe it came down to me and 2 or 3 other engineers, all of whom had college educations and many more years experience than me. Here's what I did to seal the deal.

I took 2 hours out of my 'oh so busy day' and redesigned their home page based on what I thought would perform better (they mentioned this was something they eventually wanted to tackle). I emailed them the design and listed out my reasons for the changes, I ended that email with: "If you're looking for a confident engineer who tackles things head-on and gets stuff done, I'm your guy"

Then I waited, it took 2 hours to get a response and their response was that they were impressed and they decided to go with me, I'd have a formal offer letter in my inbox by Tuesday morning. I believe it was a Thursday when I did this.

True to their word, on Tuesday morning I had an offer letter and that's the story. I got hired, above other engineers, without a degree and I honestly believe anyone else can do this. They just need to get ok with things taking some time. My life is totally changed now. I would always tell myself when I first began learning and shit got hard and I felt like stopping:

"Dude you're 25, (28 now), so what if it takes you even 5 years. 30 is still young as f*ck and you'll be making great money with the potential to explode that income, be patient, trust the process"

Finally
Through all of that time, I was learning other things too. I learned about money and how to have it make money for you. A good post that probably should be read more is this one that MJ did - long before the 'paycheck pot' was even in a book How to Never Work Another Day in Your Life, The Money-System Portfolio – Fastlane Entrepreneurs.

In the last 3 years I probably:
  • Read 25 books
  • Listened to 50 books (audible)
  • Listened to over 2,000 podcast episodes (no joke)
  • Read 500+ blog posts (Money, SEO, Marketing, Coding, etc)

Things take time, trust the process. Good luck on your journey, I'll be around if you have questions that I can help answer.
 

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MJ DeMarco

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Dude, your 2nd GOLD thread in many months. Thanks for sharing the process. And by process, I mean process!

Take note: This type of process is what a true Fastlane is about. You don't go from a Personal Trainer to starting the next Facebook. You grind a minor shift that when extended into time, turns into a dramatic outcome. And more big outcomes are a comin'!

Look at what you did...

  • Taught yourself a high-leverage skill, with demand.
  • Built yourself some serious capital to pursue higher leverage opportunities, businesses, etc.
  • Built yourself a "safety net" when things go south in the economy (they will)
  • Most important, built yourself a future with the possibility of divesting from time.
All of this and it didn't cost you $90K in a college degree.

Congrats. Stories like this remind me why I write.
 

sergeant

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Thank you! This is a lot like the story of my last year... I am from a rather poor family and I was lucky to be too indecisive about my future to go into debt to follow standard education.

I read The Millionaire Fastlane slightly over 3 years ago. Since then I self-educated myself in business and related areas and tried several business ideas. They all failed, of course. My biggest problem was - I had no actual skill to share/the skills I had weren't profitable. I considered learning code, as that provides infinite possibilities, but I was always told it's very difficult and I wasn't ready for a big time investment.

Then my mind was changed. It was last year's summer. I made a few new friends and one of them was a software developer. I asked questions, explaining that I was interested in that, but never got around to it. He told me something I never heard before. "Nah, it's not that hard. You're smart, you can do it. Think of what you would like to make and learn as you make it."

So, I decided - okay, I'll give it a go. Of course, not immediately, it took me a while. Few reminders through mentions of coding in random conversations later, I finally decided to try it out in September last year. I did a mini course of programming basics, at the end of which I had to make a simple rock-paper-scissors game. It took me 4 hours. It was super enjoyable.

I knew I wanted to go deeper, so I began research. What to learn? Where to start? Etc. I had no idea about software at all. Really. After some reading, I was just more confused. I didn't know what I want to do. I didn't even know what is possible. I decided to choose whatever gives me the greatest freedom. This happened to be Java, for the following reasons: 1) it has a lot of job opportunities, so I could learn as I earn, 2) it is cross platform, so no matter what I would end up planning to do, if not optimal, then it would be at least possible, 3) it is not the easiest, and is also similar to several other languages, so it would give me an edge if I had to learn more of them.

I bought a cheap 11 pounds (yeah, UK here) Java course on Udemy, that was 77h worth of video at the time. It was the beginning of December that I started learning. I had a rather comfortable job as a warehouse manager at the time. I worked "busy" night shifts, because I'm a night owl, so there was a lot of free time at work for my coding practice. By the end of the year I decided to quit the job, live on my savings and focus on learning.

I was a bit too quick with that decision, as soon later lots of random events happened that were very costly, so shortly I had to start another job. I was nearly broke, in fact, so had to take any job I could. Wasn't as comfortable anymore... I finished the Java course though, and began learning Android. At this point I started to experiment on my own - I had an idea of what kind of app I want to make (nothing for sale, just a hobby aid). I finished it by July (it was quite complex). It did the job, but little did I know at the time about code maintainability. Once I read some more, I was too embarrassed to show that to potential employers.

At that time I also started sending out CVs and did several code test. Failed them all. They were weird though, often not related to the jobs. General theory questions, or multiple choice, very short time. How do they select people with such crap? Anyway, I made another project, this time a simple app with nicely written code, and began sending CVs out again in September. Didn't hear back much, so I took another two courses on Udemy - JavaScript and Python, which took me 7 and 3 days respectively (it's really easy after the first language!). This helped, as soon I started to get responses.

I soon had a test that I barely passed and got invited to an interview, but failed it. Then there was a lot of bad stuff happening family-wise and I haven't done much progress until the second half of November. Finally, I got another code test. This time it was nice. I had an app to work with, specific requirements and a whole week to spend on actual problem solving and coding. That was fun! I got the interview and the company was flawless. I was totally up for working there. What's more, they told me I did better on the test than people after Masters in CS. I aced the technical side of the interview too, not even knowing the technologies they asked about. Yet, in the end, they hired someone with "better soft skills". Ouch! That really hurt.

Then I read this post. It kicked my a$$ and motivated me to try again. And I did, two weeks later I went to another interview. That was yesterday (or 2 days ago - I did mention I am a night owl). Today I got the call that I am hired. I'm a Junior Android Developer now. 1 year, 3 courses, 4 books, 2 apps. Had I known earlier it would be that easy...

My message to you is one you already know. It's not that hard. You're smart, you can do it. Think of what you would like to make and learn as you make it. Good luck!

(Sorry if that's long. I do like to write and I am really happy to be able to share some little success, finally. I was planning on making it shorter, but I guess I'll just leave it as it is and see what the feedback I'll get.)
 
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GrayCode

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That's cool. Congrats on your achievements. Wish to learn to make real-life projects with what I'm learning.

Can you tell me some of the random projects that you did while learning to code?
Sure, everything I've built had to do specifically with learning how to code the feature, not so much the project because I wasn't thinking "this will make me $100m" (i got over that slowing, poisonous mentality)

So if I code just to learn how to build a specific feature, what you'll find is that most features are transferable across many different products. Then there are domain-specific-features that are unique to the product.

Just keep in mind that with all the things I built I never fully finished, because it didn't matter, I wasn't bringing them to market. Just wanted the knowledge.

Examples of things I built (all because I wanted to know the features within the thing)

  • Twitter clone
    Learned: user profiles, likes, follows, mentions, user authentication, etc.
  • Wordpress clone
    Learned: Content Management System, AWS s3 (storing files in amazon), cemented design skills
  • Personal trainer/client marketplace
    online payments, 2 sided marketplaces
A few other things which I don't recall at the very moment, but you eventually get to a point where you say: "Oh, shit, all of these features are just building blocks"

Think legos, eventually, you can just take them apart and re-arrange them into any order you need to build a new thing.

Sharing response with @lobo

Congratulations dude, you're an inspiration !

I'm basically on the same track, just one year later :D
Thank you, and keep going!

Thanks, @GrayCode !!! Loved your previous post. And this one is even more inspiring. When you're sitting alone and frustrated that things arent going your way, this is a reminder that good things take time, effort and a lot of persistence. Wishing you only the best for the future :)
So true, always a good reminder. Thank you!
 

GrayCode

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First, many thanks for your contributions on this forum. The story of your first fastlane month and your story of how you got there are both incredibly powerful and inspiring.

With so many people becoming unemployed due to the current climate, it seems like the fail-safe solution everybody is suggesting to others is to learn programming.

My question to you is, how do you set yourself up for success if pursuing a path that is seemingly everybody's go to option. Will people go to bootcamps, self-study, or go back to college so they can then compete with developers across the world that are willing to work for less than you?

Has programming become commoditized to the point that it isn't enough of a skill in itself to compete for entry-level positions?

I think this is one of the biggest myths ever perpetuated. I actually thought the same thing before starting 3 years ago. I would think to myself... What if this is a worthless skill by the time I learn it.

Not going to happen. Engineers will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS be in demand. It'll never become a commodity. The pay grade will likely keep on rising.

@GrayCode how did you know at the beginning what language to focus on, or what type of engineer you wanted to become (software, web, etc)?
Ha, I didn't at first. I didn't know a damn thing about programming. I just dove headfirst into the bootcamp. I didn't understand terms like front-end vs back-end didn't know what a 'javascript' was lol.

Ruby? (What! I don't want to become a jeweler) overly sarcastic but that's how little I knew. I dove in and pieced it together bit by bit.

Now I'm at a place where I can do everything, frontend, backend, database architecture, mobile and APIs to connect everything.

Great news and good advice,

reading the title I wasn't sure if it was a post I wanted to read, but saw it was "Gold" and decided it may be worth it.

I am a new dad and newly married. I simply cannot up and quit my job right now, but I am leaving that option open for the future. I have to feed my dreams financially right now, especially during this rigorous learning process. considering I have not picked up a book of any kind in about 3 years, to now studying and reading and practicing daily.
I started some code-cademy courses, have been practicing typing to increase coding speed (as I never actually had a typing class)
it is hard to pinpoint exactly what to focus on, but I am trying to take it one step at a time, and have each skill compliment the other. I have used this time of unemployment because of covid-19 as a foundation for learning. I put down the xbox and quit watching the shows. I have not had a big FTE yet, but I am gradually rebuilding my mindset.

I plan on getting into the invention market and software and application development. ( as I may need both for my products)

****Is there any other advice on maybe what to steer away from, and what some of the correct steps I should take are?
  • Steer away from myths like the one quoted top most in this post.
  • Steer away from negative self-talk, because you can most certainly learn it.
  • Steer away from the false mindset that if you don't pick this up in 3 months it's not worth it. Get rich 'quick' doesn't exist. Get rich 'fast' and 'for certain' definitely does. @MJ DeMarco 's main point of TMFL
  • Finally, steer away from limiting beliefs like:

    - "I'm too old"
    -"I've got kids"
    - "I'm not smart enough"

    You get the idea.
 

Benji90

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I was active in your other thread and this one explaining your process has me fired up! Unfortunately I wont be able to commit 8-14 hours a day as you did, but I'm looking at hitting 3-5 a day - I worked out I have 43 hours a spare a week.

168 hours in a week
108 after work
102 after travelling for work
97 after gym
48 after sleep (7hrs a night)
43 after miscellaneous (life happens)

So 3-5 hours a day coding would leave me with 8-22 hours a week to maintain my relationship and eat and chores etc

It'll be tight but worth it getting out of my job that's killing me physically and mentally.

Thanks for the inspiration @GrayCode.
 
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BellaPippin

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I took 2 hours out of my 'oh so busy day' and redesigned their home page based on what I thought would perform better (they mentioned this was something they eventually wanted to tackle). I emailed them the design and listed out my reasons for the changes, I ended that email with: "If you're looking for a confident engineer who tackles things head-on and gets stuff done, I'm your guy"

 

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Amazing story man. I hope you all the best in your life.
The most important things I got from this post were:

* Persistence mentality. Either I make it or I make it.

* Process: 2 years learning and hustling journey. This built you a long-term high income where you can use to fund your investments/businesses, instead of something like flipping stuff for short-term income.

* Sales: "I know I have what's required and which is valuable for the job market, so if I hit 100 job listings, I'll definitely get one".

*Creativity: You showed them what you're capable of by solving their website issues, instead of talking and explaining what the solution might be.

Thanks for sharing. I really like these real life stories because it's the only thing that I've seen in real life. I never see an overnight celebrity/millionaire. Man, even drug dealing takes time and effort.

If I read this story 4 years ago when all I was thinking: "I'm going to become a millionaire next year because I believe it and I have the mentality which most people don't", I would of thought you're just a slow-lane slave to the system.

Keep it up!
 

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So much this. For so long, when friends were moping around saying how they couldn't find a job, I wish I had this write up to throw at them.


For a while, I kept it in my head that it was their fault, but really it was mine.

Also, the quicker we figure out things like this in life, the better our lives get. Kudos, man. Great write up showcasing how to get shit done.
 

GrayCode

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Dude, your 2nd GOLD thread in many months. Thanks for sharing the process. And by process, I mean process!
Wow thanks, two in the same week! Maybe it's a forum record :)

Take note: This type of process is what a true Fastlane is about. You don't go from a Personal Trainer to starting the next Facebook. You grind a minor shift that when extended into time, turns into a dramatic outcome. And more big outcomes are a comin'!

Look at what you did...

  • Taught yourself a high-leverage skill, with demand.
  • Built yourself some serious capital to pursue higher leverage opportunities, businesses, etc.
  • Built yourself a "safety net" when things go south in the economy (they will)
  • Most important, built yourself a future with the possibility of divesting from time.
All of this and it didn't cost you $90K in a college degree.
Yes! Ready for all of it, including the economic downturn (I mean eventual buying opportunity). and Nope, no student loan debt here. Just hard work, process and persistence. Hopefully, others realize they can do the same.
Congrats. Stories like this remind me why I write.
I know I said it in my last post, but thanks again. I imagine your books follow the same long process that any journey has to follow.

Release book, immediate negative feedback (cover, title, blah, blah), it's not until many months or years later when people have had time to put what you said into action in a long string of process that you get to hear the stories like this come from it.

It seems to be a common thread in all things that are worth it. They just take time.
This is actually what I love most about your post.

Taking ownership! A lesson everybody needs to learn.
It was at that moment I realized I matured. Haha, thanks for the comment.
 

GrayCode

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Great story man, I went the college route but it sounds like our paths are coming closer together now. I'm another software guy and you posted in my other thread recently about moving into greater things.

Anyone can take the path you took and it's a great reminder that you can always leverage yourself with grit, brute force, or whatever you want to call it.

Software still has a lot of good paying jobs because the barrier to entry is high. For those willing to surmount that barrier, the benefits are really good on the other side.
Exactly, too many people give up far before making it to the other side. If they just persist, they'll be ok. Thanks for sharing.
 

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What a great life story GrayCode and really inspiring. Amazing process!

Im hacking away at coding 3-4 hours a day for the past 6 months and this is on top of a 40 hour job. As of Friday I have a six week vacation booked (Freeeeeeedom!!!) to really get stuck in full time at my own work and excel. Your story will be printed, framed and hung above my computer screen to pick me up when feeling down ;)

Thanks so much for sharing!

Does your day job include coding?

If not, what gap do you need to bridge to make that happen?

You'll likely be making at least 2x as much, and will be able to spend 8+ hours working to learn, rather than working to earn (as Kiyosaki puts it!)
 

GrayCode

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What a great life story GrayCode and really inspiring. Amazing process!
Thank you!

Im hacking away at coding 3-4 hours a day for the past 6 months and this is on top of a 40 hour job. As of Friday I have a six week vacation booked (Freeeeeeedom!!!) to really get stuck in full time at my own work and excel. Your story will be printed, framed and hung above my computer screen to pick me up when feeling down ;)
Man, I know that grind. Keep it going, you'll get where you want to be before you know it. If you actually print and hang it, send a screenshot :)

Don't get down when the code gets hard. Keep your plans at the forefront of everything you do.

When I was struggling through something, I would take a deep breath, ground myself and remember what I was working for (my Fastlane lifestyle). You know what yours is, keep going. Always. Keep. Going.
 

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GrayCode

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Amazing story man. I hope you all the best in your life.
Thank you. You as well.
If I read this story 4 years ago when all I was thinking: "I'm going to become a millionaire next year because I believe it and I have the mentality which most people don't", I would of thought you're just a slow-lane slave to the system.
Ha, If I read this 4 years ago, I'd think exactly the same. It's not the case at all, I don't think lots of people realize if they just stop focusing on short term dollars as you mentioned above, they'll open the path to something much bigger in 3-5 years time.

Now I'm 28, and like you said have a world of opportunity in front of me, with $ to devote to projects, and the skills to see them through. It's not overnight, but it's as close to a sure thing as you can get.

I was active in your other thread and this one explaining your process has me fired up! Unfortunately I wont be able to commit 8-14 hours a day as you did, but I'm looking at hitting 3-5 a day - I worked out I have 43 hours a week spare a week.

168 hours in a week
108 after work
102 after travelling for work
97 after gym
48 after sleep (7hrs a night)
43 after miscellaneous (life happens)

So 3-5 hours a day coding would leave me with 8-22 hours a week to maintain my relationship and eat and chores etc

It'll be tight but worth it getting out of my job that's killing me physically and mentally.

Thanks for the inspiration @GrayCode.
For sure @Benji90. 8-14 was typical, but there were plenty of other days where it was just 3-5 hours. Just to be clear it wasn't 8-14 hours straight of programming (I'm not a robot). There was plenty of surfing and doing other things in there, blog posts, etc as mentioned at the end of the post.

You'll get there, just don't quit and be sure to go to bed better than you were when you woke up.

This is awesome, OP.

I work as a software engineer at a huge tech company and I have been trying to get my friend to believe this is possible. I figured it might take 6 months of self-study to learn enough to do your own personal projects so you could have some experience to show, but I had not seen anyone do it. This is even better than I expected.

Please send him a link to it, and tell him to join the forum and message me. Happy to help. Get him around focused people.
 

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I started another thread recently about my first fastlane month and I got a question on how I was able to get hired as a software engineer without a college degree. I feel like this is information I WISH someone shared with me as I was about to jump into coding. So, I figured rather than share it pages deep in the other thread, I'd make it standalone content incase someone specifically searches this out. (Hail the almighty SERPs ;))

How I got hired as a software engineer without a college degree

I'll break it down by paragraph based on key timelines and decisions I made, feel free to skip anything you aren't interested in. Hopefully, this is helpful to you. If you have a question, feel free to ask.

Deciding to learn 'how to code' (Oct 15' - Aug 16')
I was a personal trainer making maybe $30k a year. I was on the whole self-improvement journey before I finally bumped into MFL in late 2015 - maybe Oct 15' (based on me joining the forum in Nov 15'). I was hooked after reading the book, I knew I needed some kind of recurring revenue stream independent of my time. So... here's what happened.

I wound up coming up with an idea for software for gyms (since I worked in one) and took all of my savings at the time ($14k) and sought out 'engineers' to help me build it. Well, turns out 14k isn't enough to hire good, talented, trustworthy engineers and I got screwed.

I hired overseas developers, they beat around the bush, wrote some code, filled with typos, did like 1 feature and over the course of a few months my money went to zero and I was broke with no product. For a while, I kept it in my head that it was their fault, but really it was mine. I had no business spending my money on something I knew nothing about, thinking I was going to get rich. I was looking for an event (get rich quick) when I should've been all-in on the process.

So, that project would come to a close around March 16' or so. I was annoyed and confused but not bankrupt on motivation. I re-read MFL and continued my journey of listening to loads and loads of podcasts and youtube videos. I was a 'success zombie'. Finally, I decided the money was in software and I wanted out of my 30k per year job. So I said, screw it, I'll teach myself to code.

Learning to code (Aug 16' - Dec 17')
I dove in and at first, I wasn't too excited about it. But I dug in hard, 8-14 hour days depending on the day. I missed lots of 'chilling with the friends' nights, but I was able to see the other side. I only worked minimal hours as a PT, literally just enough to pay my bills and every other week I would routinely see my bank account go into negative balances for a day or so. But I knew I was getting a quick $100 from a client the next night so I shrugged it off.

I joined a coding Bootcamp that cost $7k at $1k per month payments, I put it on credit. The Bootcamp assumed most people would dedicate 2 hours per day so they estimated it would take 7 months. But I was going hard, remember? I wound up finishing all the content the Bootcamp had in 2 months' time and went on my way. The total cost of the Bootcamp was actually only $2k financed on credit.

I finished that at the beginning of Nov 16' and I knew I enjoyed coding but was definitely not yet hireable. So I dove into personal projects, I came up with random ideas for things and just built and built and built. I used google as my personal assistant and that would lead me to stack overflow. I would repeat this process until around Dec 17'.

At this point, I had built 4-5 web-apps (nothing insane, some were clones of other popular apps). Going into 2018 I knew I wanted to start looking for a job.

The decision to Look for a job (Jan 2018)
At this point, I was still doing oddball jobs and random business ideas that never worked. If you looked at a zoomed out graph of my bank account balance this entire time on a 2-week time period breakdown. It was never above $500, and if it was, it wasn't for long. But I was ready to get a job.

STOP! (this is important)

For anyone thinking:
  1. "wtf, this takes 2 years and you were broke and you got a job, how the hell is this Fastlane" OR
  2. "Yeah, cool bro, sounds great, tell me how to make $100k next month"
If this is you, you might not be ready for what I'm sharing. Sometimes, the teacher presents itself when the student is ready to learn.

I think I heard @MJ DeMarco say this in an interview once that - That you can still be living Fastlane in a job or working towards it and you really don't need to always burn all the ships and jump off the deep end (something like that). That was all I needed to know because I was about to go from making $30k per year to more than triple and if you read the post I linked in the opening sentence, 10x that.

MY approach to getting a job without a college degree
It was Jan 2018 and I knew I was good, but there were definitely things I didn't know. My entire approach was this:

This is a numbers game, I know that if I get 100 interviews, I'll eventually land one. My goal is to get a job earning 6 figures and still work on my own stuff on the side. If I'm asked something I don't know the answer to, that's OK, I'll write it down and research it after. I'll also openly admit to not knowing the answer and ask them to explain it to me.

So here's what I did, I started reaching out to anything that caught my interest. I took all the interviews and used my approach above. By the time the 7th and 8th interview rolled around I was answering all the questions, easily, because I wrote down what I didn't know and researched it.

My goal was to get a job within 100 interviews and using this approach it took me exactly 12. I do not have a college degree in computer science but what I do have is persistence.

On interview #12 I was on the final stages and I believe it came down to me and 2 or 3 other engineers, all of whom had college educations and many more years experience than me. Here's what I did to seal the deal.

I took 2 hours out of my 'oh so busy day' and redesigned their home page based on what I thought would perform better (they mentioned this was something they eventually wanted to tackle). I emailed them the design and listed out my reasons for the changes, I ended that email with: "If you're looking for a confident engineer who tackles things head-on and gets stuff done, I'm your guy"

Then I waited, it took 2 hours to get a response and their response was that they were impressed and they decided to go with me, I'd have a formal offer letter in my inbox by Tuesday morning. I believe it was a Thursday when I did this.

True to their word, on Tuesday morning I had an offer letter and that's the story. I got hired, above other engineers, without a degree and I honestly believe anyone else can do this. They just need to get ok with things taking some time. My life is totally changed now. I would always tell myself when I first began learning and shit got hard and I felt like stopping:

"Dude you're 25, (28 now), so what if it takes you even 5 years. 30 is still young as F*ck and you'll be making great money with the potential to explode that income, be patient, trust the process"

Finally
Through all of that time, I was learning other things too. I learned about money and how to have it make money for you. A good post that probably should be read more is this one that MJ did - long before the 'paycheck pot' was even in a book How to Never Work Another Day in Your Life, The Money-System Portfolio – Fastlane Entrepreneurs.

In the last 3 years I probably:
  • Read 25 books
  • Listened to 50 books (audible)
  • Listened to over 2,000 podcast episodes (no joke)
  • Read 500+ blog posts (Money, SEO, Marketing, Coding, etc)

Things take time, trust the process. Good luck on your journey, I'll be around if you have questions that I can help answer.
Sweet! Thanks for sharing!

sounds so much like a freelancing prospecting process haha.

I love it that you actually learned from interviews that didn’t go 100% well-and asked how you could do better for the questions.

It’s a lot more productive than just walking away grumbling, ‘That interview/interviewer/company was shit anyways.’
 

spirit

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Hey @GrayCode, I’m sort of in the same position right now.

I want to go from my burger flipping job to working at an agency as a web developer, and to learn a fastlane skill. Currently taking courses and thinking of joining The Odin Project too.

Im not necessarily interested in coding but I like designing and building websites/things, which is why I’ve chosen web dev.

What would your advice be for someone in my situation?

Hey, I'm in the same situation. Well, I don't flip burgers, but I make around the same pay.

I initially wanted to start my own thing, but I don't really have any good skills that would add value. I think getting a web development job would really help me out. First of all, I'd finally make more pay, and second I would learn a Fastlane skill.

I'm learning front-end development right now (HTML, CSS, JavaScript). I'm actually at the point of making a portfolio. I've completed a bunch of courses on Udemy and Codecademy, plus I've read numerous books on coding. It's time to start building!
 

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quicksort

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This is awesome, OP.

I work as a software engineer at a huge tech company and I have been trying to get my friend to believe this is possible. I figured it might take 6 months of self-study to learn enough to do your own personal projects so you could have some experience to show, but I had not seen anyone do it. This is even better than I expected.
 

GrayCode

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Does your day job include coding?

If not, what gap do you need to bridge to make that happen?

You'll likely be making at least 2x as much, and will be able to spend 8+ hours working to learn, rather than working to earn (as Kiyosaki puts it!)
I should've co-authored this thread with you. You're giving great advice every time I turn around. :smile: @Brewmacker this is spot on.
 

Walter Hay

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I congratulate you @GrayCode on being among the top inspirational members on the forum. What a story.

I loved reading it, and am now enjoying reading your helpful and encouraging responses.

Walter
 

GrayCode

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First Congrats on your journey to this side lol....It isnt easy as you mention. But you are clearly a thinker. Something that you must have as a characteristic of a entrepreneur. Making these clone projects are very important as they are project builders but also you learn as you are constructing and deconstructing the project. Then as you mention things just click and you can begin to transfer these features into other projects. Also I like the 100 interview process you came up with. Its something that can be transferred to any job industry. During your journey you broke everything down as little detail as possible and became coming up with processes to get them done. I am going do this as well. Thanks.
Thank you, processes are important for everything in my opinion. Everything should have a gameplan and some measurable outcome otherwise what the heck are you doing?

Good luck on your journey.
I congratulate you @GrayCode on being among the top inspirational members on the forum. What a story.

I loved reading it, and am now enjoying reading your helpful and encouraging responses.

Walter
Wow, I appreciate you saying that. Thank you. Sincerely.
 

GrayCode

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I'd love to know what some of you favorites out of this list are.
Books
Millionaire fastlane
Unscripted
10x Rule
Be obsessed or be average
Sell or Be Sold
You Need More Money
Rich Dad Poor Dad
many more...

Programming Books
Well Grounded Rubyist
Javascript and HTML CSS books by Jon Duckett
Soft Skills by John Sonmez

Podcasts
MFCEO Project

There were others but I found Andy's mentality is similar to mine so I go back and listen to favorites now and again.

An ungodly amount of blog posts on SEO, Traffic, Money, Personal Finance, anything I could get my hands on.

---
I have my mindset down and strong as f*ck. Most of these books will do more for a beginners mindset than they realize. Most people have too much of an ego to listen or read books like this, the ego is large, but the wallet is small. Change it.

You cloned WordPress? There's a project you can take on.

I've been fighting WordPress for a few days on sizing images. WP can only set general boundaries. But if you analyze a site using GTMetrix, they will give you exact size dimensions you should have images set at for perfect (including other factors) optimal performance.

GTMetrix can figure this out - but just TRY and scale an image in WordPress that will ALSO convert to a different device (cell phone) and NOT download the original huge file, in addition to the resized one.

I've been fighting so many things, I'm thinking of taking on programming just so I can get around the constant roadblocks I encounter.

I just use this as ONE example for you to think about. If I had your skills - woooooooo - nothin could hold me back.

Thanks for such a great post, with superb detail! This is sure to be a roadmap for many to follow in your footsteps. You have done a great service!

THIS is what I hope to read when I come here. You are a force to be reckoned with - you are a force for change. I stand in awe.
Thank you so much for your compliments. Yeah as far as cloning wordpress is concerned I built many common features. Ability to set up websites, themeing, blog functionality per site, etc. Was tough, but a good learning experience.
 

EdKirby

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Thanks! I'm really enjoying this thread.

I had prepared a long response earlier as what I'm reading is resonating with me but I scrapped it in lieu of a shorter one.

I've read both of MJ's books and I'm re-reading them now because I feel I've lost my way a bit. I've been a software engineer for 20+ years but in a very nichey area of enterprise computing, even though I'm consulting/contracting, it's Slowlane. I've also been a game developer (Unity3d) for over 4 years now and I'm about to release my first commercial game to mobile. However, it's occurred to me that this is "candy" as opposed to a "pain killers".

So, why your threads, (I'm reading both ;-) ), are resonating with me is I'm taking a step back and looking at where I want to be and do and how best to accomplish it and your threads have a lot of gold in them.

Back in the day, 20+ years ago, I did a lot of web work HTML, early css, perl, apache, MySQL, PHP etc. I even built an Ebay clone from that stack. I think I want to get back to those roots because I believe building "painkillers" is the smarter play. Not that I'm readily about to give up the game dev as I'm making some money with occasional side gigs. I also have some prototypes for some hyper casual games that people seem to like so I'd like to flesh them out first. Plus I have to give my release the best opportunity for success. In other words, I want to try to leverage the last four years of learning and activity.

If nothing else I've decided to give ruby/RoRs another look. I have a buddy in Amsterdam that swears by it and recommended it to me several years ago.

Anyway, this still didn't end up that short but thanks for starting these threads and thanks for the list.
 

GrayCode

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Hey @GrayCode, I’m sort of in the same position right now.

I want to go from my burger flipping job to working at an agency as a web developer, and to learn a fastlane skill. Currently taking courses and thinking of joining The Odin Project too.

Im not necessarily interested in coding but I like designing and building websites/things, which is why I’ve chosen web dev.

What would your advice be for someone in my situation?
All good options, I'm confident you can pull it off and become a dev - you can learn a lot on Udemy, search Brad Traversy on Youtube, his tutorials are good, but don't watch every single one of them. Just search for the thing you're learning right now.

If you don't want to be a front end engineer (HTML, CSS, javascript/react) and want to focus solely on design - you'll want to learn HTML CSS & Sketch (a wireframing tool most designers know). If you haven't seen dribbble.com yet, go check that out. Lots of design inspiration there.

I think many web companies (the ones that will pay good money) will move towards designs like the ones you see on there in the future so it definitely requires some design chops with an artistic approach.

Personally - my Brother is in Lambda school at the moment, just started yesterday and I was looking at the curriculum. I feel like there isn't that one 'really good' web dev school yet.

They all have good info and courses, and can point you in the right direction, but I feel like no one is tying the knot yet with good, entertaining, enjoyable teaching and not having to tell their students to go search google every 2 seconds.

Engineers are always searching google and that will never stop. But I think online schools need to do a better job at putting together a curriculum thats one stop shop. Where students can go to learn everything about coding and come out of the the other side full-fledged ready to go.

When I came out of the bootcamp I did - I had a decent understanding but realistically was like 50% there. I then had to follow it up with all the other resources I mentioned and lots of banging my head on the wall.

Hope this helps.

Maybe one day I'll help set up an online software engineering school. But if I did it - I wouldn't want it to be from a capitalistic approach. Ideally if I did it, I'd already be set financially to not have to need that and can just focus on building the best schooling experience.

Teach 1M people software engineering - ;) A nice big lofty goal.
 

mon_fi

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Speechless.

It is a really good post, it shows anything is possible if you want it enough and put your mind to it. Also the fact that THINGS OF VALUE TAKES TIME is such a priceless lesson. Many people (myself included, and probably the most) are looking for GET RICH QUICK fix but besides winning the lottery that doesn't happen. Thanks for the post OP : ) i ll read it again many times in the future.
 
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WillHurtDontCare

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For so long, when friends were moping around saying how they couldn't find a job

As long as people with money are complaining (which will always be the case), there will be jobs.
 

GrayCode

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So much this. For so long, when friends were moping around saying how they couldn't find a job, I wish I had this write up to throw at them.
Yeah, I hear that. I think people just need to have a game plan with everything. I find most people search for jobs like this: "I'll just send out a few resumes and see what happens", then when nothing comes of it, The complaining begins.
Also, the quicker we figure out things like this in life, the better our lives get. Kudos, man. Great write up showcasing how to get shit done.
Yes, took time to realize, but you're 100% right. Thank you :)
 

Pat D. Rick

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For a while, I kept it in my head that it was their fault, but really it was mine.
This is actually what I love most about your post.

Taking ownership! A lesson everybody needs to learn.
 

Brewmacker

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What a great life story GrayCode and really inspiring. Amazing process!

Im hacking away at coding 3-4 hours a day for the past 6 months and this is on top of a 40 hour job. As of Friday I have a six week vacation booked (Freeeeeeedom!!!) to really get stuck in full time at my own work and excel. Your story will be printed, framed and hung above my computer screen to pick me up when feeling down ;)

Thanks so much for sharing!
 

Owner2Millions

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Sure, everything I've built had to do specifically with learning how to code the feature, not so much the project because I wasn't thinking "this will make me $100m" (i got over that slowing, poisonous mentality)

So if I code just to learn how to build a specific feature, what you'll find is that most features are transferable across many different products. Then there are domain-specific-features that are unique to the product.

Just keep in mind that with all the things I built I never fully finished, because it didn't matter, I wasn't bringing them to market. Just wanted the knowledge.

Examples of things I built (all because I wanted to know the features within the thing)

  • Twitter clone
    Learned: user profiles, likes, follows, mentions, user authentication, etc.
  • Wordpress clone
    Learned: Content Management System, AWS s3 (storing files in amazon), cemented design skills
  • Personal trainer/client marketplace
    online payments, 2 sided marketplaces
A few other things which I don't recall at the very moment, but you eventually get to a point where you say: "Oh, shit, all of these features are just building blocks"

Think legos, eventually, you can just take them apart and re-arrange them into any order you need to build a new thing.

Sharing response with @lobo


Thank you, and keep going!


So true, always a good reminder. Thank you!

First Congrats on your journey to this side lol....It isnt easy as you mention. But you are clearly a thinker. Something that you must have as a characteristic of a entrepreneur. Making these clone projects are very important as they are project builders but also you learn as you are constructing and deconstructing the project. Then as you mention things just click and you can begin to transfer these features into other projects. Also I like the 100 interview process you came up with. Its something that can be transferred to any job industry. During your journey you broke everything down as little detail as possible and became coming up with processes to get them done. I am going do this as well. Thanks.
 

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