Every developer has their own superhero origin story on how they got into development. I wanted to share mine and give you some takeaways, so you don't do the same mistakes I did. Enjoy! ❤️
Video games accompanied me since I can remember. And when I say “since I can remember”, I mean it. “Finding Nemo”, the video game from 2003, is one of if not the farthest memory I can remember. My 4-year-old-self was happier than ever to get first to the family computer to play some mini-games with his favourite cartoon characters.
Just four years later, I got my Nintendo DS and “Pokémon: Heart Gold” which is still one of my most favourite games, probably because of nostalgia. Staying longer after school and swapping Pokémon from one friend to another? Sign me up!
And when you're passionate about something, it won't take long before you want to find out what's happening behind the scenes…
Besides learning how to turn on the computer and type in Word, let's not talk about this informatics class, I had another informatics class where we made games with different game engines / programming languages, one of them was Scratch.
Scratch is a high-level block-based visual programming language and website aimed primarily at children as an educational tool for programming. – Wikipedia
As someone who gamed a lot, I quickly realized that Scratch is way too limited on what you can create with it. We coded some basic programs in Visual Basic as well, but nothing from that hooked me to pursue programming as a hobby, not even talking about doing it professionally.
First Developer Gig
“Wait… first programming gig? But you didn't even like programming? What has changed in two years?”
One word: Minecraft.
Minecraft is an extraordinary game. Whether you like combat, adventure, building or whatever activity, you can find it in this game. I found… programming.
There are many big public servers where anyone can play mini-games on. These servers and mini-games are maintained by fully fledged teams of builders, supporters, moderators, and developers. I was very intrigued when I discovered an opening for the position of a developer on one of these servers. One of the most important requirements was Java.
I made myself on track learning this programming language. I didn't get the job. Fair to say, I haven't even tried. Instead, I discovered a group of Minecraft YouTubers who took part in an event. This event needed some plugins, so I contacted the organizer and started supplying them with features they wanted for their event. I was paid miserably compared to the work hours and sleepless nights I've been putting in. But I got the feeling of acceptance and my first programming gig, my teenage-self was seeking.
Afterwards, I found out about HTML, CSS, and even later about frontend frameworks. Then I joined Twitter and Hashnode, so basically without the lockdown, I would've not written this article.
First Developer Job
I got my first developer job not that long ago, June 2022. Even though I received some interview proposals on Twitter, I typically felt underqualified, or I was lacking time because of my studies. It was LinkedIn that got me my first and current job. I work for a legal information service provider as a working student (part-time) which doesn't clash with my studies, so it felt like a perfect fit. I mostly fix bugs in the company's webshop and implement small features using React. My probationary period ends this month, so let's see what the future holds.
It's rarely love at first sight — it took me some time to fall in love with coding. If it feels hard or boring, try to use another learning method or learn another programming language.
Know your worth — I worked sleepless nights for barely any cash. Don't put hours of work into something for someone without getting a proper payout.
Apply, apply, apply — I felt underqualified more than I should have. You will never meet all the requirements for a job opening. And that's a good thing, you'll learn something new as you go.