Hey guys I've been out of the dev field for about 2 years and work in a more physical engineering role. Due to out of control circumstances I'm looking to leave this job and am considering trying my hand at dev again. The only fears I have are I consider myself to still be entry level and I never finished college due to financial reasons. Would anyone be willing to help me roadmap or offer advice on where to start up again to get ready for interviews? I'm really hoping to reach out to someone that wouldn't mind having a chat with me to help me solidify my short-term goals.

I initially left the field because most of the positions I found were in startup culture, and I frequently found myself to be a bad fit with my development team in said startups. I also really struggled with the lack of guidance that my seniors offered; I don't mind learning something myself, but there were many projects with very open-ended concepts with not-as-open deadlines that would lead to confusion and bad product delivery with no input in between. A lot of my peers claim that what I experienced was just a streak of bad companies, and after working at my current job and experiencing solid leadership and well documented training/procedures, I believe it and want to try and find a good company again.

I know a decent amount of Java and PHP, and I had an internship doing LAMP dev for a year while in college. I also recently helped my friend with his startup in Rails, but I only really got to touch i18n stuff so there wasn't too much "development," but I did do a really deep dive into Rails architecture to get ready for the position and do technically have a recent project to talk about. I've also never been to a meetup for any kind of coding stuff. There are two positions within my area (S.Valley) that really catch my eye: LAMP and LEMP positions, but I've always had this innate fear that I would be looked over for more qualified people with degrees. I had been studying some Angular for my current job with the hopes that I could move from engineering to software later on but that won't pan out and I abandoned the MEAN studies halfway through.

My JS is good enough from Coursera classes, but oddly enough my jQuery was the weakest skill during my LAMP internship. I only also have about a year of solid Linux work tucked under my belt (thanks to that darn college internship) and feel I wouldn't be up to par for an entry level position, but was hoping someone could provide feedback on me working towards a CompTIA Linux+ cert to balance that out? I plan on studying my heart out for a month or so and would like to move onto a new position by the end of the current work quarter at best, hopefully by end of Q1 next year at worst. I also don't have a website yet, but plan on purchasing a domain and working on it during my next days off. It'd be great to hear words of encouragement or guidance from more experienced peers (this would be best!) that would be awesome. Thanks in advance!

  • Questions asking for advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions (e.g. "what job should I take?", or "what skills should I learn?") - Sorry, career advice is off topic, and I can only see cert/technology specific points, I don't see a relevant question here, voting to close. – The Wandering Dev Manager Aug 1 '16 at 11:15
  • You may want to edit your question to make it more general, rather than referencing your specific skills. Right now, this question is too long and too confusing, and likely to be closed. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Aug 1 '16 at 13:17
  • Even if you are nervous (and of course you are!), don't focus on reasons "why not to hire you." As for the lack of a college degree, that's becoming "the new normal" in the United States, where a four-year diploma at the local State university this year will cost $375,000.00. (This according to their own web site!) Millions of people are refusing to put the albatross of student-loan debt around their necks at all: they're taking their high-school diplomas, applying for jobs, and getting them. (Today, the only sure way to get "college educated" is by hiring L-1 or H1-B Visa holders.) – Mike Robinson Aug 2 '16 at 14:21
  • P.S.: the above comment is not "a political rant." It is the present situation in the United States. Mind you, it will not continue to be this way, nor should it be, but this is the shape of the labor market today, especially at the entry level. When college education once again becomes "affordable and encouraged," as it used to be, you might wish to get one. But, don't be concerned about not having a diploma now. – Mike Robinson Aug 2 '16 at 14:25

Why not take the middle way? I am a Software Engineer working in mechanical engineering, I occasionally program one or the odd thing but rarely ever do software engineering. I did this, because I wanted it that way. However going back might be hard, I figured.

Have you checked whether there was any vacant position of interest within your company? Applying internally is mostly easier because people can easily get information on your working attitude.

Otherwise: apply to trainee positions (if you can afford to "invest" the time with lower salary) or enrole in college (some late night, part time course) to show you got, what it takes and apply to a junior position.

  • Agree re the suggestion to try for an internal move. I went from circuit design back to programming by getting involved in the development of some circuitry CAD tools for a couple years; that leveraged and demonstrated both skillsets so I could move in either direction afterwards. – keshlam Aug 1 '16 at 12:12

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