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I am interested in programming since I was a kid, and when I was 8 my cousin taught me the basics (i.e. how to write a for in JavaScript). From that I would spend hours playing around with my own code and improving my own skills. Today I am 20, and although I never took a real course in programming, I am confident that I have a high amount of knowledge of Java, JavaScript, PHP, MySQL, and such. I learned everything on my own, searching the internet and struggling hours and hours with bugs and things that I didn't understand.

I am very thankful to my cousin for teaching me the basics, and very proud of being able to say "I started coding JavaScript at 8 years old".

I have never written a CV before. Is it appropriate to include that "I started coding JavaScript at 8 years old" or some variant of that in my CV?

I tried writing simply

Considerable knowledge in programming, especially in Java and JavaScript, but also in PHP, MySQL, HTML5, C, JASS2, and basics of Shell Script, LaTeX, C++, Matlab, VHDL, SageMath and Windows Batch files (DOS).

But that alone doesn't feel perfect.

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    @PeteCon that depends on your locale. My company would most likely love to hire him. – Erik Jan 26 '17 at 7:12
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    You could write that you where intrested in programming from an early age and that from there you self-taught yourself. As an 8 year old you will learn a lot of "wrong" code. Before I studied webdevelopment I was thinking I could code anything, but I did so much wrong and did not know what function was best to use ect. ect. – S.Visser Jan 26 '17 at 8:34
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    Aim to graduate with a CS degree, you may have picked up bad habits as others have mentioned – bobo2000 Jan 26 '17 at 13:27
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    @JoeStrazzere: Mentioning the old stuff helps drive home the point that you've been at it a long time and have the burn marks to back it up. CP/M still gets a mention on my resume for that reason. – Blrfl Jan 28 '17 at 15:49
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I would not include the fact that you started programming at age 8 on your resume.

Every item you list on your resume should be something that demonstrates your value as an employee. You list your previous jobs because it demonstrates that you are experienced, you list your certifications because it demonstrates that you are knowledgeable, you list your work organizing a charity drive at your previous job because it demonstrates that you can take initiative and be a leader, etc.

With that in mind, you need to consider what you are trying to demonstrate by mentioning that you were 8 when you first learned to code, and also what prospective employers might perceive that as demonstrating. Presumably you see that fact as demonstrating that you have a lot of experience around programming and are good at learning things on your own. However, as Vietnhi Phuvan's answer shows, prospective employers might interpret that fact differently. Given the potential for potential employers to draw negative conclusions from that fact, I would not include the fact that you first learned to code at age 8, but rather find a different way to communicate the values you wish to demonstrate.

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  • Thank you very much. You helped me realize what is the purpose of putting things in the resume. As an inexperient resume-writer, I didn't have this idea as clear in my mind as I have now. I couldn't agree more with your third paragraph. You not only answered the question I asked, but you also immensely helped me with the natural follow-up question: "if not, what do I write instead?" - And for this I am giving you the green checkmark, although this is not the highest-voted answer. – Pedro A Feb 25 '17 at 23:48
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It's your resume and you can say anything you want in your resume. Whether I like your narrative, that's another story.

You started coding at age 8? What bad habits did you pick up? You never took a real course in programming? How do I know that your code is not spaghetti crap or that your code is so brittle that it will collapse the minute someone makes a trivial modification? What do you know about algorithms and theoretical computer science?

You are 20? How good are your communication skills, both oral and written? Are capable of working as part of a team?

It may be unfair to you, but I treat anyone's claim that they started programming at age 13 as a strike against them. And you say you started at age 8? Some people may like it that you started at age 8. Others are like me in that they don't.

Your starting at age 8 is not a deal breaker with me but it's not a deal closer either. I need to see your contemporary skills and experience.

I started writing at age 6. Don't think for a minute that I write today the way I wrote when I was 6.

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  • @ypercube - I don't care that he did not claim or imply that he is writing code as he did at age 8 - that's the perception he gives ME given that he never took courses in computer science or showed anything explicitly that his code writing style matured. His claim that he started writing code at age 8 is exactly why I don't claim to have started writing at age 6 - I don't want to give that same impression. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jan 29 '17 at 11:40
  • @ypercube - I have written code for 25 years and up. I am struggling with the challenges some iterations of the latest and greatest in code design philosophy are giving me, even as we speak. I don't want to claim that I've been writing code for decades because the first word that gets associated with such a claim is "ossified". I don't use the word "hack", "hacking" and "hacker" in my resume anywhere near any mention of the computer languages I know. I'd say that even in my case, any claim hat I make that I have been coding for a long, long time creates perception hazards for me. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jan 29 '17 at 12:00
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    @ypercube - the world is probably not kind on widows and orphans. It's probably not kind on older software engineers either. Or on those who started coding at age 8. We all have our own issues to manage. If I am going to admit that I started coding more than 25 years ago, I'd better have publicly accessible repos where I show my proficiency with state-of-the-art software engineering. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jan 29 '17 at 14:46
  • Thanks for this answer. You helped raise awareness of how bad this might look, rather than good. Although I think you exaggerated quite a bit, I know that whatever I think won't change the thoughts of others, so that's why I think this answer was very helpful. – Pedro A Feb 25 '17 at 23:28
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I can tell you that I am/was in a similar situation like you. With 11 I started teaching myself some basic dialects, also some OOP. I always thought "huh, I can program stuff, I started early, that should make things easy". And I was wrong. When I started my studies in Computer science, I learned that I knew nothing except for syntax and how to solve some programming issues. But I knew nearly no Algorithms, few about structuring code or design patterns. And all this is so important. Knowing languages does not help. But knowing how to design, structure and finally implement software in a maintainable, clear, readable and extensible way does help. Because once you can do this, the language you use (and you know) is far less important. In my opinion a good programmer, or rather software developer, has this skills and does not care so much about the language as this is the thing which is easiest to learn once you know the concepts.

So Phuvan is right: You should know what skills, aside from knowing languages, you have which are valuable in the job/position you are reaching for.

I do not mean to demotivate you, but coding is something many many people know how to do. But a lot of those people are missing the important basics in structure and design, which is far more important.

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  • Thanks. This answer helped me realize that knowing languages is far less important than knowing programming concepts. And I was not demotivated by your answer, don't worry. I will put in the resume was concepts I know. – Pedro A Feb 25 '17 at 23:30
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In this generation and industry, it is quite common to start coding (badly, of course) at that kind of age. Heck, I'm close to retirement age and I "started coding" (in a dialect of BASIC) at age 13 or so.

So I really doubt this is an especially interesting or informative fact.

I want to know what actual skills you have at a professional-or-better level, and what you've done that demonstrates them.

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  • This. I'd take it as a given (or at least, more likely than not) that a good developer was interested in coding and doing some before they had professional training anyway, and possibly when as a child. – J Bramble Jan 30 '17 at 16:20
  • Thanks, I see your point - the "starting age" alone isn't informative at all (as other answers suggest, it might actually be seen as a bad thing). – Pedro A Feb 25 '17 at 23:37
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Your root problem is that you have no way to substantiate your skills, and your idea of beginning programming young is not a way to substantiate your skills.

I'm glad you recognize that but your resume will need some work.

  • Can you list technologies paired with accomplishments?
  • Do you have code samples, open source contributions, demo websites, etc.?
  • Include lines of code at least?

Being able to demonstrate code samples is probably a requirement if you do not have schooling or a tech job. Beyond that they're taking a shot in the dark with you.

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  • Thanks. Among other things, I ended up including a link to some lines of code :) – Pedro A Feb 25 '17 at 23:49

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