I'm gonna be real with you - I've been struggling the past few days.
I'm learning to code as a second career. So far in my life, I've only worked as retail associates, customer service roles, or admin assistant spots. Nothing code-specific yet.
I'm completely self-directed when it comes to coding - no college (for CS, anyways - I did go for music), no boot camps, no mentors. Just me, stumbling onto interesting courses and diving in. I definitely feel like a newb, but I also think I'm vaguely getting the hang of things.
Last year, I was given the chance to complete a Udacity nano-degree on a Google scholarship, and went through the mobile web track. It was challenging, and interesting, and I felt really accomplished when I completed the course. I chatted and met up with my first developer buddies. I learned things I hadn't come across yet. It promised that we'd have a mentor through the course, and that there would be career help afterwards.
Well, the mentor thing fell through pretty early on, and the career help was mostly little online courses on writing your resume and polishing your GitHub profile. Which were not completely unhelpful, but also didn't really feel like the guidance I thought I was going to get. None of it was personal. That's okay - that could be my misunderstanding. It would be an ultra amazing thing to have personalized coaching and help for so many students.
The thing is - I'm very ready to move forward with the "getting a job" thing. I want to be working as a developer. There's still a ridiculous amount for me to learn, but I honestly think I've got enough of a handle on things to start being of some benefit to a team. I know how to solve my own issues; I can ask for help when I need it; I'm a bit slow at writing code but I can pretty consistently get it done; I'm open to learning from everyone around me, and I want to dive in and get better and be around other developers on a daily basis.
But man.....the job search is ROUGH. I don't feel like I qualify for 95% of the postings I find. And while yes, I think there is merit to applying for things you don't fully qualify for....when the entire posting reads like a foreign language, it's pretty clear that you wouldn't really have a chance. I don't want something that feels too easy, but I don't want to be drowning, either.
I haven't been applying to a ton of jobs, but I have applied to some that I felt I could get a good handle on and do well at. Only two so far (out of 10 or so) have said anything back to me personally, and both were rejections. The most recent one was last week, when I'd sent a follow up email to check on it.
It's never personal, the job rejection. Places will get multiple applications, and they don't actually know me. Still - it hit me hard, and I'm honestly still reeling a bit from it. I'm wondering if programming is actually a field I could fit into. I'm feeling like I still have years to go before I'll be "ready" enough to actually stand a chance. And unfortunately, personal situations in my life are such that I really need to be able to move relatively soon. My current job doesn't pay enough for me to move anywhere, and is a constant source of stress and unhappiness on top of that. So the need to find a new job is very real, and relatively time sensitive.
And the thought of applying for other customer service or office assistant positions....it makes me want to cry. I don't know that my soul can handle many more of those positions. It feels like surrender, like failure, like all I'm good for is a pleasant face and surface level work.
Don't get me wrong - dealing with customers and running offices is tough work, and requires a lot more skill than most people realize. Still - I'm very ready to be done with that kind of life. And yet, very likely not ready for something more, something new.
Or maybe I am, and I just don't have my head on straight right now.
I have so many ideas for things I want to build, and ways I might be able to reword my resume and portfolio site to really start to showcase the best traits I have. It's just that so little of it is code, which seems like the main thing a company will want to see from me to hire me. It's so difficult to prove you're worth the risk, when you don't have any professional experience yet. (Yes, that old Catch 22.)
I have hope, too. Not far under the surface, I've got the determination and perseverance to get back to the search and find more positions that seem possible. I've got the desire to build cool, helpful things; to keep learning and improving; to keep moving forward. My future isn't over; my path isn't a dead end. It just feels like it at this moment, while I'm feeling lost and without direction. A path will show itself soon, I'm sure of it.
Until then...well, it's time to focus on the coding part of all of this a bit more, and try to distract myself from these down feelings. Making progress in learning and projects will inevitably help me feel better, which in turn will give me the brain space I need to make tweaks to my game plan and get back out there.