Is Becoming A Developer Easy?

Lately i have been trying to mentor one of my friends from college. He is struggling with being able to find work and he asked my advice on how to switch to the technology field. One thing that he kept saying that began to frustrate me was that he wanted to do something easy. Most of the technologies that I recommended he learn, he simply responded with “that sounds hard. Can you tell me something easy?’. One day I got frustrated with him and told him point blank that if he was looking for easy answers, I didn’t have any. I told him that everything in life that is worth achieving and pursuing is hard by definition or else it would not be worth pursuing. This post is going to be a series of paragraphs of containing the pep-talks I gave my friend over many months.

No Such Thing As Easy

One of the first heart to heart conversations I had with my friend was on his insistence that I tell him some thing easy. Well, there is no such thing as an easy accomplishment. That is an oxymoron. Becoming a developer will be one of the tougher journeys anyone will undertake in their life and if they really want to pursue the path, they should be prepared for difficulty. One example I gave my friend was that of the last super-bowl. I did not watch the super-bowl. I had some learning I needed to catch up so I spent that time studying and I only watched the 4th quarter once I was confident that I had caught up on my studies. It was difficult not plunking down on the sofa and watching the entire game. That sacrifice was not easy to make but I made it. Why? Because I have a greater desire to succeed than that of watching football.

No One Is A Born Developer

My friend also seemed to be laboring under the misconception that there is some kind of ‘it’ factor that he was missing in order to become a developer. Some kind of secret that I knew and other developers knew (some secret technology or a secret handshake perhaps?) that he did not and he wanted me tell him what it was. I told him that no one is born being a developer. Every single developer I know including myself learned it over many years of dedication and commitment and if he expected to be a developer, he must be willing to put in the same amount of time all other developers did to learning their craft.

Overcoming Fear

Another mental block he was suffering from was the fact that he was afraid to code. I have seen people in my previous assignments that were afraid of technology. In one of my previous assignments, I worked with a woman who was deathly afraid of Excel. She was so afraid that she would not use Excel calculations and formulas but instead calculated using a calculator and then manually typed the data in Excel.

My friend was also suffering from a similar kind of code phobia. When the uninitiated look at thousands of line of code, they feel intimidated and I was once in that place too. The only way I overcame it was by facing my fear. I hunkered down and started coding, started googling the problems I encountered and started taking courses on the topics that I was not familiar with. With each step, I faced my fear and I told my friend that he would only learn how to code if he faced his fear of code. All it takes is to download Visual Studio code, install Python and he would have all he needs to start coding. I told him that he cannot let the fear of not knowing how to code stop him from starting to learn.

Technology Is Irrelevant

Another big mental hang-up that my friend had in regards to development was his fear that if learned one language vs another, it might become obsolete. I told him that the technology he chooses is kind of irrelevant. Whether he chooses to learn JavaScript, Python, C# or any other language, all the concepts that he will learn in order to master one language will be translatable to any other language and none of the effort will be lost. It would be like learning to drive a different car. Once you know how to drive one, you know how to drive them all. Sure some might be stick shifts, others automatic while others might be hybrids but the fundamental concepts on how to operate a motor vehicle remain the same. Similarly, once you know one language and the concepts, of classes, control flow and data structures in one languages, you can translate it in to another language with ease and that is what I told my friend.

You Must Be Willing To Suffer

He kept repeating the same mantra that he wanted me to tell him something easy. I finally had enough and told him that if he really wants this, he must be willing to suffer. I have lost count of how many times I got so frustrated that I want to toss my laptop out of the window but I kept at it. I took a break, I tried again, I asked questions, I did research and I kept working the problem until I figured it out. You must be willing to go through this gauntlet if you want to become a developer. It will be difficult so get ready for plenty of frustrations, difficulty and sleepless nights.

If you dear reader are thinking of becoming a developer, just know that every single developer was once where you are right now. They did not know but they learned. They were afraid but they overcame. It wasn’t easy but they persisted. They faced all the risks with courage and they succeeded and so can you. You just have to be willing to do what they did.

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