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I am a 26 years old man from Turkey. I started programming at very young age, but didn't pursue it. I dropped out of college, worked at various jobs, like warehouse worker, barista, even construction worker. Until last year. Last year I decided to pursue a career in programming. I've always been 'close' to the tech, especially to computers. Since last year, I learned HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP and Python to some degree. I can work with Bootstrap, Jquery, Codeigniter and Laravel. I know how to use git. I'm teaching entry level programming lessons at some 'average' course couple hours a week.

But... I really don't know where to go from here. I can't scale myself at programming. At the same time I feel too old to start now.

What would you do?

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    Do you have a public portfolio (github repositories / personal site)? Dec 26 '19 at 0:28
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    Have you ever tried freelancing or contract work side by side? Dec 26 '19 at 14:37
  • I do have a gitlab account.But I don't have any public projects, just a few personal projects.Also have a website, a very simplistic one ( mtweb.xyz)
    – mtepe
    Dec 26 '19 at 18:38
  • You have perfect experience for front-end dev work, and there are plenty of jobs out there for that. It doesn't really require that much expertise compared to many other development positions. Perfect for someone in your position. At 26 you're barely past being a baby, it is not too late to do anything. Not everyone graduates college at 22 and starts working right away. 26 is a prime age, you aren't slowing down at all from age yet but you should have maturity that your 22 year old self didn't. If Eddie Bravo can start training BJJ at 26 and become one of the best in the sport, you can code.
    – Josh
    Dec 27 '19 at 19:02
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I would honestly suggest getting a junior level position, then after a 2 years moving into a mid level one. Be prepared not to have the salary your competency deserves. Even if you are a good developer, unfortunately employers and recruiters would measure your salary worth in terms of years of experience. So feel free to move into a junior level position and mention that you're teaching programming. You will have to convince them you're good at it, possibly even showing then any pet projects you've worked on.

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    This. Short answer: Start applying to entry level/ junior positions and you will go (know yourself) from there Dec 26 '19 at 15:49
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    As you said, I applied to some Jr.Web Developer jobs.In the meantime, started a project to complete, publish, put on github and gitlab.I started lots of projects that are left unfinished, not published.This time I'm very determined to see this done :) Thank you very much for your comments and advices.
    – mtepe
    Dec 26 '19 at 18:38
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But... I really don't know where to go from here. I can't scale myself at programming. At the same time I feel too old to start now.

Speaking as someone who started off programming from absolutely nothing (not even the most basic web knowledge) at 25, no, you are not too late.

However it depends on what you mean by 'starting'. I had the rare chance to afford years of studies before I started working, despite starting so late. I was also willing to undergo a certain degree of pain/effort to learn the difficult stuff.

If you are willing/capable financially to take years of studying, yes, it is entirely feasible. You wouldn't be the first one to realise that programming is a better branch than your former jobs (even qualified ones).

There is also the question of how much you are willing to push yourself. I would advise trying projects and seeing how rigorous you can be with your job, because that's the truest metric when it comes to programmers. Knowledge is ever expanding and intelligence/capacity at understanding things is always second to how much effort you are willing to bring into your projects.

What would you do?

If I were in your spot, go back to college. If not applicable, I'll give you the same advice I gave a friend not long ago:

  • learn the basics of one craft (web, devops, gaming, whichever suits you best), enough that you can try yourself at a first project
  • make that project come to life and make it unambitious at the start
  • once completed, either expand on it, add new features to your website/game, or start a new one
  • see how much easier it is to redo the things you've already learned, and work on the things you have not learned well enough to do them with ease the second time
  • put the project on github or the like, and test yourself against the market. Send your resume to companies offering jobs in your craft, and show them your code. Programmers have this rare quality that they judge on code quality, so if your efforts show, you do have a possible way in.

Programming, in my (still) humble experience, is all about a combination of effort and rigour. You can become proficient, even good at things, only by giving it time and effort, but it is very hard to do with only yourself. That's why I'd advise a college/school rather than not have one. Rigour is something that grows a lot better when you're in an environment that requires it. Learning by yourself is entirely possible, but the mindset is hard to grasp, and it is best to take things with surroundings that push you in the right direction.

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    Just to expand on the second point: if you decide to complete a hobby/demonstration project then think about how you might be able to present that to someone speedily in an interview. Not every interviewer will have the time/ability/inclination to read your code but almost all will be impressed by a communicative picture. Dec 26 '19 at 15:00
  • Woah, thank you very much for your comment and advices.I thought about going back to college, but honestly level of education at universities in Turkey is a joke.So I decided to took your other advices.I started a project, when finished I'll publish it, upload it to github and gitlab, and start working on new version.Also i'll continue to teach for a while for economic reasons.Applied to few Jr.Developer jobs as well.So basically like what you said, keep putting the effort and see what happens.Thank you so much again for your comment.
    – mtepe
    Dec 26 '19 at 18:19
  • @mtepe Since you seem that eager, let me add a few pointers: - commenting your code helps - try stuff wildly, then correct what seems unreadable - never hesitate to waste time, it is the privilege of a tryer/student - if you get a job, let the more experienced members lead you before you give them your opinion Some may seem obvious, but I didn't do them correctly in my time, so I'm just giving them in case :) Dec 26 '19 at 19:49
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I could tell you what I did. I explored. Started with C# game dev, then graphic designing, then 3D modelling, then content writing and then settled as front end developer at a multi national. I still struggle with JavaScript, spend nights learning it. My advice try everything you can, and when you feel like this is it, then it is :)

Btw its easier to get hired for programming compared to other jobs, they usually give couple of exercises, you code them live or tell them the solution and if you are good enough - you are hired. I have a list of coding questions that were asked in interviews if you need them let me know!

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  • Thank you very much for your comments Terry.I did some research, read comments here and decided to get really good at PHP and React first.Then move on :) Also I would really appreciate to ask you more about those interview questions, if I ever called for one :)
    – mtepe
    Dec 26 '19 at 18:37
  • @mtepe sure thing. Always remember the key is to keep trying, Best of luck!
    – Terry
    Jan 22 '20 at 8:56
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You're not too late to start, and it's great that you've decided to pursue programming and have improved yourself. You can start applying for junior level positions from linkedin, kariyer.net and stackoverflow jobs. The answers here already provide the insight and good advices you need, but as a fellow programmer in junior level that's also from Turkey I can share some general and country-specific information that I've observed;

In Interviews

  • Be honest about your knowledge level. There's no need to feel nervous. You may not know everything and it's ok, but show that you're eager to learn.
  • Draw attention to what you've accomplished; that you're improving yourself in programming, learning new programming languages and teaching programming. If you don't have already, open a github account and put your projects there. Even if they're simple, it shows that you know how to use git and looks good on your portfolio.
  • Regardless of the position you're applying; it's very important to know basics of Object Oriented Programming(OOP). Be familiar with the terms interface, abstract,inheritance,polymorphism, method overriding & overloading etc.
  • If you're thinking front-end development, learning React,Vue or Angular is a huge plus; to know one of these libraries/frameworks will put you in front regardless of the position you're applying. But if you're not yet familiar with javascript, you can learn these later.

Applying and Salary

  • Unfortunately, if you don't have a university degree (any degree, doesn't have to be computer/software engineering); the salary offered to you will be lower than a programmer with a degree. Your salary will improve in time, but a degree will always provide you a higher income.
  • Your english is really good; add your language level to your CV, or prepare your CV in english. It'll be also useful in interviews as some companies interview you halfway in turkish; then want to continue the interview in english.
  • Hires are mostly done in specifics times (I'm not sure but around september,april etc.) keep applying and going to interviews, you might get a return in 1-2 month later from some companies.
  • You can also apply for programming courses and programs, or internships that promises job offers to the successful peers.

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