October 14, 2022

How to become a software developer if you are starting with no experience

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Hello, welcome. 

If you are reading this blog, you have obviously been having some pretty big thoughts recently. Maybe thoughts about taking your career in a different direction; or thoughts about where to start your career in the first place. 

I’m sure you are excited, and I’m sure there are also a few nerves at play here. 

When you are at the start of an ambitious journey, I always like to explain this as scaling your Everest, it can be daunting. You may be looking up from the bottom of the mountain, thinking about all the climbing you have to do. And I’ll be honest, it is a lot, but there are many ways to go about it and many places where you can start. 

So where do you start? Well here are the best paths forward: 

- University (Bachelor of Information Technology or Computer Science)

- Code Academy (Certificate in Development)

- Self Teach 

The way that you choose depends on how you want to learn and be held accountable for your learning. Here at Moonward, we definitely do not prefer one method over another, for us it always depends on the person. But I also appreciate that not every company has the same method of hiring, and you may need a degree of some sort in order to get in the door. 

BUT, before you take the big leap, here are a few things you can do to make sure you are on the right path. 

Testing the waters

For anyone who is at the very beginning of their journey, even just contemplating whether or not they want to be a developer (before you sign up for University and put yourself into any student debt), I would encourage you to try to do some code basics. 

The code itself is very logical and linear. If you write something incorrectly it will throw an error and potentially crash your entire product if you try to run it. To enjoy writing code and constantly face errors, you will need to be a certain type of person and I will be the first to admit, it is not for everyone. Not every personality suits being a developer, and that’s fine! So before you go and commit yourself to a four-year degree, try it out. Here is the first place that we like to direct budding developers: 

- Learn Javascript https://learnjavascript.online/app.html?id=1435

- Learn React https://reactjs.org/tutorial/tutorial.html 

Jump in here and see whether code actually lights you up, and you get enjoyment out of achieving the tasks they set for you. 

Make your own basic project

At Moonward, one of the first projects that we recommend young developers trying their hand at is their own web portfolio. Through the learn Javascript and learn React resources you will make a shopping list, etc. When you make a portfolio you can combine a multitude of skills that you have learnt. You can also create an awesome place to direct any potential companies to when you are looking to get hired. 

Make your own more advanced project

Now you have a good understanding of the basics and your portfolio is ready, it is time to start populating it with some more advanced projects. 

This is where you creativity truly happens in development. Although the code needs to be structured in order to achieve it’s intended functionality, you can be creative in the design of your products. What I would recommend you put in your product to challenge yourself is: 

- Authentication (create account, sign in)

- Forms and form validation 

- Google Places API 

- Image upload and storage

Be super creative with your product, but definitely remember the intention of creating these more advanced products in the early days is to test a wide range of functionalities. There are great resources online that you can leverage to give you a full understanding. 

Study your tech stack

This is where the rubber meets the road. Whether you choose to go through University, a Code Academy or completely teach yourself, software is a journey and a hunger for learning will be your constant companion. When you are studying you will have the opportunity to try many different languages, frameworks and development types (backend, frontend). A valuable developer knows a bit of everything (you need to know the basics of backend to write a great frontend), but a valuable developer also hones their skills in one area, especially to start with. When you are in this learning curve, this is where you can really fine tune yourself and your offering. 

In development, it is all about reps, the more and more you do something, such as Authentication, the easier it will become. This means you can tackle more complex challenges with more tenacity. 

There are so many great books and resources out there that you can engage with to bring your skills up. As well as amazing universities and teachers who will impart your knowledge. 

At Moonward, clean code is the basis for everything. If you are writing dirty code, you will find it so much harder to refactor your work, or diagnose any problems - because it’s a mess. When you write clean code, it is a pleasure to rework and look through because you understand it. Now, of course clean code will come with time and experience. But when you are looking to make yourself production ready, you will need to focus on clean code in tandem with functionality. 

Take the leap

There needs to be a point where you take the next step, you cannot live in limbo forever. And that means you can start sharing your resume and portfolio around to companies and see who bites. 

Apply for a company that suits your personality, style of working and tech stack. Most tech companies will ask you to do coding challenges, even if they do not hire you, take this as an opportunity to really apply your skills and learn. If the company encourages you to ask questions, do so, these are real developers who are working on a production level. 

Hopefully it goes amazing for you!

Keep learning

Albert Einstein said, ‘once you stop learning, you start dying.’ This is especially relevant for technology. The rate of technological advancement is crazy. You only have to look at how we used to carry around a separate iPod and phone only a decade ago to understand this. 

Software development is one of those industries where you will always be learning on the side of your job, and if you love it, then you will do it. All of the developers at Moonward are writing their own projects and trying new software constantly, this is the way of the industry. There is so much to know, so much more just around the corner. 

I hope this article helps you. Remember when climbing Everest, it is not done in one go. It is done camp by camp, step by step. 

If you are looking to become a developer, I am very excited for you! 

Follow our Linkedin for any job opportunities, and subscribe to our Youtube for more tips on developing

Check out our video about some of our team members journey into tech below

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