"Self taught" coders (non CS/math-major), how is your career going?

Thomson Reuters zerosandones
Jul 9 27 Comments

I worked my way from frontend to software engineer over 3 years after leaving a fairly lucrative (but incredibly demanding) career in management consulting.

Have been taking CS courses via coursera/edX for the last 1.5 years (current job is way too chill), and have been leetcodin' for the last 2 months almost full time. About to start interviewing and still have no real sense if I'm just about there or way off the mark for big N, whether I'll be dismissed for being a non-CS major (seems the case at Google), etc.

Any inspiration / thoughts on the journey would be much appreciated!

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TOP 27 Comments
  • Apple / Eng 🐒codemonk
    Friend was a biology major, joined FB after graduation, promoted to E6 in 4 years.
    Jul 9 6
    • Google Styx
      Well the question was: how is your career going?
      Jul 9
    • Apple / Eng 🐒codemonk
      :( Just a data point to show it’s possible. I graduated with CS/math.
      Jul 9
    • Thomson Reuters zerosandones
      OP
      @codemonk still appreciated
      Jul 9
    • Microsoft / Data 🙈🙉🤷‍♀️w
      Sorry just wanted to say getting promoted is only one dimension of career progression
      Jul 9
    • Apple / Eng 🐒codemonk
      It was. He got lucky (won’t elaborate but legitimate skills, no BS, no as*kissing) to move from E3-E5 in 2 years. He slowed himself down a bit (cuz he felt he was not ready for E6) so another 2 years from E5-E6
      Jul 9
  • Amazon / Eng L6SDE
    L6, possibly L7 soon, no degree.
    Jul 9 4
    • Thomson Reuters zerosandones
      OP
      That's awesome, has it been all on the job learning or do you seek out ways to expose yourself to new problems?
      Jul 9
    • Amazon / Eng L6SDE
      I started programming when I was 8 and never stopped, basically.
      Jul 9
    • New dBBO43
      You mind sharing your age?
      Jul 9
    • Amazon / Eng L6SDE
      Above 30, below 35
      Jul 10
  • New / Eng tAcq10
    Gonna throw some cold water on this thread... I'm a former math/physics major and the last three years since breaking into software have been an uphill struggle. However, it's still early in my career so hopefully things will get better.

    Fwiw once you have experience, you can get your foot in the door with the big N.
    Jul 9 3
    • Reliable Software / Eng (. .)
      But you have an epic math degree so why?
      Jul 9
    • New / Eng tAcq10
      Employers don't really care about the degree. What I'm starting to understand is that knowledge + experience + soft skills >> raw intelligence. It's been a real struggle to pass interviews, my first two jobs have gone really poorly, and my current TC is below market. However, it's still early in my career and I've improved a lot as a developer in the past year, and managed to gain some valuable experience so hopefully things will start looking up.
      Jul 9
    • Thomson Reuters zerosandones
      OP
      It's definitely a journey. I'm 5 years in now and while I've grown substantially it wasn't until year 3 or 4 that things started to come together -- and that too primarily to teach me acutely what I didn't know. For me I had very strong soft skills from consulting so got the jobs (non big N of course), but struggled with complex technical work that required prerequisite computer science knowledge. If I can leave it on a positive note I think we'll both get there as long as we keep struggling / pushing in the right direction. And practically speaking, for soft skills I would definitely pick up a book on the subject of career progression (there are some software industry specific ones), read HBR articles about managing your career, and make friends with some consultants/bankers to learn how they approach things like communication, office politics, etc as they get professionally trained to do so. As an aside, my biggest surprise moving into software was how low everyone's EQ was, but I think that just makes cultivating those skills a huge plus (ie: managers with high EQ will vastly prefer working with you over others even if their technical skills are superior).
      Jul 10
  • Capital One __dirname
    Got my associates in music. Currently working my third job as a developer. Nothing’s impossible dude. You should be good.
    Jul 9 0
  • Amazon / Eng
    JzQk40

    Amazon Eng

    PRE
    IBM
    JzQk40more
    I’m a SysDev at Amazon and I’m learning on the job, you’ll be fine. You never stop learning in this field.

    L5, no college.
    Jul 9 1
    • Thomson Reuters zerosandones
      OP
      Yeah that's one thing I've realized haha. After 3.5 years in consulting I was managing a team of people and feeling pretty adept... after 5 years as a dev I still feel like I don't know shit
      Jul 9
  • Airbnb / Eng ⬇️⬇️⬇️
    Going well. Fuck taking courses online.
    Jul 9 4
    • Amazon / Eng
      JzQk40

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      IBM
      JzQk40more
      It would help OP if you provided your path to placement.
      Jul 9
    • Airbnb / Eng ⬇️⬇️⬇️
      I did a coding bootcamp and then worked at a shitty startup for a while. I learned a lot of it on the job.
      Jul 9
    • Thomson Reuters zerosandones
      OP
      And you haven't taken any courses re: algorithms/data structures, networking, operating systems, etc? I got a job as SWE and was just way out of my depth the first year and a half. Taking courses has been incredibly rewarding actually because it's done a tremendous amount to fill in the gaps. Ie: when I moved from "full stack developer" to SWE I couldn't conceptualize what a byte stream was or why it was called a stream, let alone getting things like writing highly concurrent code right or profiling the GC to optimize my application. Huge kudos to you if you were able to pick all that up just on the job -- would love to learn more about your specific process(es).
      Jul 10
    • Amazon / Eng L6SDE
      On the contrary - online courses can be awesome. Andrew Ng’s ML course was incredibly useful for me.
      Jul 10
  • Apple
    ST8Pr1d3

    Apple

    PRE
    BT
    ST8Pr1d3more
    ICT5 here with no degree. Things are going fantastic
    Jul 9 0
  • Reliable Software / Eng (. .)
    Wait Google doesn't consider self taught people? I think that's not true.

    Brad Traversy apparently got a chance to interview or was it an offer but he rejected it? Not sure if he was 100% telling the truth
    Jul 9 1

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