How To Prepare Yourself For Any Future Programming Career?

Written By John Sonmez

So, you wanna become a rock star. You want to be so proficient in what you do that you wanna prepare yourself for any future programming career.

Is it even possible?

In today's video, I've received a question from a reader asking me how he could prepare himself for any future programming career… What path should he following that would give him a good skillset so he would never feel “replaceable” or “out of the field”?

Watch this video and find out!

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Transcript Of The Video

John Sonmez: 

Hey, what's up? John Sonmez here from Hey, I just want to give a quick thanks to one of our sponsors at Simple Programmer which is DevMountain Bootcamp. You should go check them out. The link is in the description. They are a coding bootcamp and they can teach you web development, iOS development, UX design, a lot of good stuff. I get a lot of feedback from a lot of you out there that email me have told me about DevMountain, so I decided to check them out myself. I like what I found. I like their programs. They offer some 12-week intensive programs. They also offer some after-hours programs which I know that some of you will like. Go check them out. You can see the link in the description below, DevMountain Bootcamp. A big thank you to them for sponsoring Simple Programmer.

I got a question from a 15-year-old in the UK. This is pretty cool. I love that you guys, so young out there and you're watching these videos, and your parents are like, “Did that guy just say fuck?” You're watching a video—no, no. It's cool. What I'm saying is that I like the fact that you're interested in software development, and becoming wiser and improving your life at this age. I wish I had the kind of perception like the—I wish I was doing what you're doing when I was 15 instead of just playing on the computer game on a Mud.

No, I mean I was doing some programming and it's tough, but not to the level that some of you—some of you impress the hell out of me and I just have to say that. All right, so William says, “What should I spend my time?” or he says, “What is the best path to achieve a good career? What should I spend my time doing to make sure I am prepared for any future career? Should I be focusing my effort on learning and managing the top languages like JavaScript or Node.js or should I get some experience behind me making programs or portfolios of the languages I am familiar with? I am a 15-year-old secondary school student living in the UK.”

I mean this is crazy to answer this question at 15 like you're so—it's so good that you're thinking this far ahead. I'm really impressed. I love this. My hat is off to you. I really commend you on this way of thinking. I wouldn't worry too much about learning the new hottest technology. I mean you're 15. I would more worry about creating the portfolio. I mean given those two choices: Create the portfolio or create the apps that you're—or in the languages you're already familiar with. I always say this and I'll say it again. I'll say it so many times that you guys will get sick of it, but learn X to do Y.

Don't learn JavaScript and Node.js just because they're the hot and cool stuff and you feel like that will help you the most in the future. It seems like a good reasonable reason, but if you're not actually going to build something with it, then learning it will not only be more difficult, but it will be a waste of time. You don't know. I mean by the time that—I mean I don’t know when you're looking to join the professional development world, but maybe you're going to go to college, maybe you're not, but three years from now you'll be 18. Maybe you'll become a developer or you go into your career then. Node.js might not be around. I mean JavaScript might not be around. I mean JavaScript will probably be around, unfortunately, but you know what I'm saying? You can't predict that. What will be valuable is having a portfolio. I don’t know what language that you're developing in. Maybe it's C# or Java, or something.

I mean if it's some obscure language that's really like something like VBScript or something like that, okay. In that case, yeah, learn something else but still build a portfolio. Build the apps. This is going to be the thing that's going to be more impressive, right?

Think of it this way. Let's say that, you know, three years down the road you're trying to get a job and a perspective employee, you've got no experience because you're 15. I mean you're going to be pretty impressive just by how much that you have, but you go in and let's say they have two options. Two paths of life that you could choose. In one path of life, you decide to use whatever languages that you've got. You build this portfolio. You build like six or seven apps over the next three years. You got a couple of them in the App Store. You're actually making some money from the apps and you've got some web applications up there. You've got the source code. You can demonstrate these apps to people. You've got that on your resume, all the stuff that you've built, or you've got a resume that says that you learn Node.js. You haven't really built anything. Maybe you've got one app and you've played around then you spend this time learning Node.js and JavaScript.

Which is going to be more valuable to the employer? Which one are they going to say, “Oh, this guy is more competent and I should hire this guy?” To me, it's always function. I talk about this idea that the only credentials that matter to me are the ones of success, of what you actually accomplish, of action, of what you have done in the world. It doesn’t matter if you have Ph.D. It doesn’t matter if you know all this stuff or technology. It's like what have you actually done, what have you actually accomplished, okay? That's the credentials that I care about. Not everyone is like that, but the people that you want to work for are going to be like that and that's what's going to matter most. Go out there and do stuff. Build applications. Get your portfolio built up. That's going to be way more beneficial than just learning some technology and kind of picking it at random.

Now, if you're going to build an application with Node and JavaScript and you want to go that direction, totally cool. Go that direction. The worst thing you could possibly do, I'm telling you right now that you're 15, is to spread out and try to learn everything, that you have the temptation to do that and you feel like you got to learn all this stuff because it's all out there. Don't. Specialize right now. Pick something. Go deep with. It's going to be so much—you want to be the Doogie Howser, right? I'm dating myself, but you want to be the Doogie Howser where people are like, “Man, this guy is a kid genius at the medical profession,” or whatever it is, or you want them to be like thinking of that of you, not that you're just a generalist and you can program in 15 different programming languages. That's not nearly as beneficial as someone who has actually built real applications in one programming language. That's always going to be way, way more beneficial than the theoretical, than just the academic exercise.

All right. Congratulations. I mean just for what you're doing already, keep going down the path. It's not always going to be fun, I'll tell you that. You're young, but keep going. Everything that is worthwhile in life is going to be difficult, but that's what makes it worthwhile.

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