Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cody Coaching update - 23 days left!

September 16th is fast approaching.  Last time I gave you an update Cody had 1 job lead,  I am pleased to say that he has 4 job leads 6 days into the coaching program.  Of course non of those job leads matter if we can't turn one of them into an official job offer!  Follow along and watch as Cody lands an entry level QA position!

One of the scariest things for people learning how to code is simply having the courage to set a goal and announce the date publicly that you will achieve your goal.  I feel the same way myself, trust me I have the same evil voice in my head that constantly tells me I can't do something or am a failure.  There is no cure for it, the best thing I have found is to simply push through the voice and achieve the goal anyway.  It also helps to surround yourself with very encouraging supportive people in your life.

People who start coaching with me are always surprised by how hard it is to actually study 3 hours a day for 4 months straight.  Learning to code is only 50% of the equation, the other 50% is how to actually go about getting a job.  If you think you want to learn how to code, I recommend simply coding everyday for 3 hours a day for a week and see how you feel.  If you fail that challenge, you don't need a coding boot camp, you need to decide if you have the willpower to learn how to code.

Another coaching client in Denver who is going to start interviewing this Monday, I'll let you know when he actually lands a job :-)  I am impressed with how hard he has worked everyday to be starting to interview 34 days after starting coaching with me.

With coding, you don't have to be a genius you just to want to learn and realize that the journey will be long and hard.  If you think writing 4 - 5 commands and generating a Rails app with get you hired, you are only kidding yourself.  Everything good in life takes effort, usually way more effort than you originally think.

The good news is the reward.  After getting kicked in the face by a donkey I promised myself that one day I would carry around in my head all the knowledge and skills I would need to make money.  Never again would I have to lift my 72 pound anvil in and out of the truck multiple days a day, I would only need the Internet and a computer.

One of the reasons I never moved away from the Northern Virginia area 7.5 years ago when I was first married was I would have to restart my entire farrier practice from scratch in another state.  I've been in Apex North Carolina for 5 weeks now and love it!  I never could have made this kind of a move with most other types of jobs.

If you are learning how to code, keep on keeping on!  Don't slow down, or think that you can't get hired.  Companies are hungry for passionate people who know the basics of coding and want to grow!

Keep coding peeps, you can do this!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Coaching Cody Countdown - 29 Days

Remember I told you that I had finally convinced my younger brother Cody ( who is a natural coding "savant" ) to quit his crappy retail job and to move down to the RTP North Carolina area?

Well so he finally did, and as I promised you all that I would let you know how it goes.  I am giving myself 30 days to get him hired.  I've been super busy so I didn't get to write a blog post yesterday, so I will start on Cody's 2nd day.

I have given Cody a QA coaching plan, and daily actionable steps to take, while I am at work.  In the evenings, I review with him how his day went and what areas we need to "tweak".  So far I am happy to say he has 1 QA job lead for this Thursday.

I have received more emails than lately, alot of them are from students at a very well known coding boot camp.  The students say that they liked the experience and training, but they weren't able to land a job after graduating.  They now are faced with having to pay back the loan and try to find a job.

I think we are hitting a new era with coding boot camps, they are so popular, prevalent, and generally excepted.  Boot camps no longer seem to have same level of pressure that they once had to actually get their students jobs at the end of their 12 weeks of training.

I agree 4 college is mainly a waste of time if you want to learn how to code.  Why though do you skip 4 years of college and replace it with 3 months of coding school?  The problem with college has been that they don't actually make you "job ready" at the end of 4 years.  I wonder if coding boot camps are starting to head that way as well, as they are becoming more mainstream.  Will they become a place to simply learn coding skills, but not actually get you a paying job at a I.T. company?

Either the coding boot camp industry is changing, or I am simply getting more emails from former coding boot camp students, that simply can't get hired.  Am I the only one seeing this?

Anyway, I am loving the RTP area and loving my job using Javascript everyday as a Software Engineer in Test :-)   I will keep you all up to date with Cody's progress and anything else that I think will be beneficial.

Keep coding peeps, you can do this!

Monday, August 10, 2015

How coding bootcamps are ripping people off

50% of all the emails I recieve are from people who are brand new to coding, and are struggling with how to learn the vast amount of knowledge required to become a web developer.  Their email starts off with why they don't think they can learn to code on their own, and why they need a coding bootcamp.  They go on to say that if they find the "right bootcamp, they can be making $80K  - 12 weeks from now!"

 I get so many emails that tell the same horror story about going to a coding bootcamp, and then being shocked and depressed when they couldn't land a job afterwards.  They ask for my advice and how they can stop waiting tables at the local restaurant.

Case in point, one of my QA coaching clients asked me to look into a coding bootcamp for them called Betamore. To the unexperienced eye who knows nothing about coding, and who doesn't actually know what companies are looking for in a web developer.  Betamore looks fine.

Here's the deal, I am going to help you cut through all the coding bootcamp hype.

Ready?  Let's go!

First off let's get clear on the objective.  What's the objective?  To land a paying web developer position!  It doesn't matter whether or not it's front end with Javascript or back end with Ruby on Rails.

Here's what you are not paying for:

You are not paying for a college education.
You are not paying to learn how to make websites.
You are not paying to just have a good time.
You are not paying to learn how to code.

Let me walk you through what in my opinion is a bad or certainly not a good bootcamp.  If you go to Betamore's site, you can see the typical "red flags".  First any bootcamp that doesn't really help you land a coding job, is not worth wasting your time on.  You can learn to code on your own, no need to drop a crap load of money on that.  You can go to local meetup groups yourself, you don't need to pay money for that.

On Betamore's site, you will notice that they make sure not to promise you a web developer job.  They will however put statistics on their site, about how much the average web developer in Baltimore makes: $87,000.  They also put on their site that the course is best suited for business owners.  They also promise to teach you how to make websites, not web apps.  Of course 'noobs' don't know the difference yet.

Here's an assignment for you, learn the difference between a website and a web app.  Don't feel bad, I didn't know the difference when I first started learning how to code.  Companies will pay for people who know how to make web apps, not websites.  If a coding bootcamp promises to teach you how to make websites, you should run!  If you find conflicting messages on the coding bootcamps website,!  If you aren't sure if you can get a job after attending the!  Right now wherever you are, you aren't sure if you can get a coding job, why pay a bunch of money to still be unsure???

If the course only has 6 hours of classroom teaching per week, for a grand total of 60 hours of in person instruction.  Ask yourself: "how are you going to be job ready in anything with only 60 hours of training???"  I'm sorry to be picking on Betamore, I'm sure for someone it's a good choice, just not for developers.  We've hit a coding bubble, 3 years ago I applied to the only coding bootcamp in the world for their 2nd ever camp.  I was one of 60 applicants that was chosen out of a pool of 600.  I never went to the bootcamp because I couldn't scrape up the money, I'm glad I didn't.  If you want to learn how to code, it will take lots of time and hard work and that's not a bad thing if you love learning.

Hopefully this post saves someone money and helps them cut through the coding bootcamp hype.   I'm sure I'll get a bunch of mean emails, so what.  If you want to go to a coding bootcamp, that's fine just be clear on what it is that you are actually getting.

If you want a great free online course look at Epicodus' free online coding bootcamp coursework:  Epicodus

Or for Javascript check out Free Code Camp, again I don't think this is the best way for beginner's, but check these places out before going to a coding bootcamp :-)

Friday, August 7, 2015

How to know if you are good enough at coding to get hired?

I still suck at coding.  Yes, I'm hired at a "mid level" Software Engineer in Test position, but what does that really mean?  I got addicted to fishing on my 12th birthday.  I couldn't stop, I would do anything to go fishing.  Whatever it took to get my parents to take me fishing I would do, no questions asked.

I sucked at fishing.

All day, I'd hardly get a bite.  I didn't care, just seeing other people catching fish told me that I could do it too.  Without bragging I can honestly say that I am in the top 5% - 10% of people who fish.

What happened?  How did I get better?  How did I finally know I was good enough???  I didn't.  I just slowly started catching fish.  By my 16th birthday, I placed 7th in a fishing tournament with over 100 other contestants.  The truth is you will never feel ready.  Someone will always be better than you, faster at coding and quicker at solving problems, so what?!!

Do you like coding?  

Do whatever it takes to code.  Write lots of terrible bad code, make every mistake you can possibly make as soon as you can.  Start interviewing, you will never be ready for that either.  You will never not be nervous interviewing.  You need to have a hiring manager laugh at you when he reads your resume.  You need a senior developer to laugh at you because your brain simply stopped working and you can't write a for loop .

You know how to tell if you are good enough??? 

When a company hires you.

You don't have to be good enough for every senior developer who has been coding for 20 years.  I've never been "qualified" on paper for any position I have ever gotten.  I have had 50% of the skills the company needed so I interviewed, that simple.

I've failed interviews because I didn't draw a 3D cube like the interviewer wanted.  Who cares.  If in the back of your mind you wonder if you are good enough, start interviewing!

If you fall on your "coding face" in 3 interviews, learn what areas you are weak on and then try again.

Everyone in their minds is amazing.  Everyone has hit the game winning home run.  How do you know if you are any good at coding?  How do you know if you are ready to interview?

Everything is simply theory until you make it happen.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

How come nerds can code, but can't actually land a coding job???

I love coaching people and helping them land jobs.  My dream is to to switch to coaching full time down the road :-)

I mainly get questions and emails from 2 different types of people.  1 group is brand new to coding, and has only ever written the command:

'rails new <app_name_here>'

and now would like to get hired making $80K.

The other group is the 'nerd group' they are amazingly talented and gifted people who can really code.  Unfortunately this group tends to be living in their parents basements, and working low paying jobs.

Why is that???

 The reason is simple and actually a fairly quick fix.  50% of landing a coding job is technical ability.  The other 50% is a combination of these skills:

People Skills
Interviewing Skills

I have a couple of clients that I am coaching that I think will be landing a job very soon.  I will post about it on the blog when they actually land their first coding job!  I really would love to talk to and help more people who are in the nerd category.  They are honestly easier to coach and to get hired.  Once I show them the above non technical skills and how to actually implement them in real life, they are a quick hire.

I have a really good friend who is a full blown nerd, he has 20x times the coding ability and aptitude that I have, yet makes $21K less than I do.  Nerds typically have a very hard time getting interviews, and when they get an interview have a difficult time, socially navigating the interview process.  When nerds fail an interview, they inevitably focus on improving their technical skills to an even higher level.  In reality they really need to focus on the social non technical skills.

Also coding ability is all relative, each company is different.  I've been told I suck at coding, I've been told I was at a "mid level" coding ability by a hiring manager, after breezing through their technical interview.

If the goal is to actually land your first paying coding job, then don't worry about being the best at coding.  Be proficient at what you do, and then focus on the above 3 skills.  If you know how to code but keep failing the interview process, this is what you need to fix.

On this note I am going to be putting my money where my mouth is.  I've mentioned in the past how talented my younger brother Cody is, and how he is a real life coding savant ( he laughs at coding challenges that I think are difficult ).   I've tried for years to help him and give him advice on how to land a coding job, all to no avail.  He has always worked a crappy retail job by day and then by night codes.

I've finally convinced him to come move into my apartment in North Carolina and let me coach him into landing his first coding job.  He won't be starting coaching until the 16th of August.  Follow along to see him finally break through and land a coding job :-)

I've given myself only 30 days to land him a job, so my deadline is September 15th, 2015!

If you are a nerd and can code, but haven't been able to actually land a coding job, send me an email at:

Keep coding peeps, you can do this!