- Apr 25, 2020
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:
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.
- "wtf, this takes 2 years and you were broke and you got a job, how the hell is this Fastlane" OR
- "Yeah, cool bro, sounds great, tell me how to make $100k next month"
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"
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.
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 C0VlD-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?
Dislike ads? Remove them and support the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.