By John Sonmez July 5, 2018

Am I Ready For A BIG Programming Project?

A lot of developers sink in fear when it comes to improving themselves and getting bigger projects. I receive a lot of questions from them asking if they're ready to tackle a big programming project.

The impostor syndrome is definitely something that takes on lots of programmers and this is big. They start to question themselves about their worthiness and if they are really able to take on bigger projects. How do you know you're ready?

How do you know you're ready for a BIG programming project? Watch this video and find out!

Transcript Of Video

John Sonmez: Hey, what's up? John Sonmez here from simpleprogrammer.com. I got a question from Zack about how do I know I'm ready for a big programming project. Zack says, “I watched an interview on how you got a $75 job at 19. How did you swing a gig like that and how did you know you were ready to get yourself into that?” The answer is I wasn't. “How did you balance work and school? Over the summer I worked at my friends' dads company for an internship developing a cross platform application, is that enough experience to start actively looking for jobs? I'm 18 by the way, in college and spend all my free time teaching myself Objective C as I want to be a mobile dev/contractor on the side.” Additional info, he says, “I'm not going to waste any more of your time.” Well that's good. You did spell waste wrong, but that's okay.

All right, let's talk about me first of all. Yes, I did get a job $75 an hour at 19. No, I wasn’t ready and there was a lot of luck involved. I'll be honest with you, there was a lot of luck involved. I didn't have shit figured out when I was 19. You are 18. You probably don't have shit figured out. You probably have more shit figured out than I did because you're watching these videos. I mean I wasn’t doing anything like this at that time. Again, I don't want to paint too bleak of a picture of myself. I was smart. I was a hard worker. I always liked learning things and improving myself in some ways, just not to the level that some of you that are watching these videos are, especially some of you, I'm impressed, you're like 14 or 15 and you email me. I'm like, “Man, to be that young and to think like this. Oh gosh, if I could do that I could rule the fuckin' world.”

Basically, I want to give you the background here because I want you to realize that what you have to do is you have to have hard work and you have to have luck. The more hard work that you put in the more prepared you are for opportunity, the more likely that you're going to get the hit. It's really important. It's better to be—I think Les Brown says this, maybe he's quoted someone else, but I last heard him say it which was that, “It's better to be prepared and not have an opportunity, than to have an opportunity but not be prepared.” Preparation is key.
Now, with that said, when I got this job at 19 or 18, I didn't really know—I didn't have—I didn't even have a lot of preparation. Sometimes you just get dumb luck and it guides you on a path. I didn't know very much about C++. I had some experience. I was a hard worker. I had done some preparation. I had improved my skills. I had some pretty good people skills and talking to people so that probably helped for it, but it was also just a crazy time when they were hiring developers for ridiculous prices because every—pep.com was going insane and buy.com and all this stuff. It was during .com bubble. A lot of it was luck that was involved.

But here's the thing. Here's what I did do right is I knew the job was way over my head, but I took it anyway. Some of you are crying foul right now. You're like, “Ah! You can't do that. You can't represent something that you're not and then whatever. It's not fair. It's not good. It's not principles.” Here's the thing. I didn't represent anything that I wasn't. I just said, “I could figure this out. I could do this job.” I conveyed confidence. You should always convey confidence. You should have confidence in yourself.
Maybe you're going to fall flat. Maybe you're going to screw up, but it's better to live your life that way than always taking the safe route. Too many people take the safe route. They do the thing that they're comfortable doing, that's easy. I've done a video—I did this really long talk at Xamarin Conference, you can check it out, Five Soft Skills Every Software Developer Should Know. Go check that out if you haven't, and it talks about how—I talk about the whole idea that like in order to grow in life you've got to be uncomfortable. You've got to put yourself in uncomfortable situations.

When I was 19 and they offered me this job, it was a really uncomfortable situation like moving—by myself, loading everything up into my car and going to California where I knew no one and everyone told me that if I looked at someone in the eyes I was going to get shot, because I was in Boise, Idaho at the time. It was scary. It was uncomfortable. The job, I didn't even know if I could do the job. But I'll tell you what, as soon as I found out I had that job I read that book cover to cover and I did it again and I just went through all the exercises in the book. I was like, “I am going to show up at this job and I am going to figure out how to get this stuff done.”

That's what I did. I'm not going to say that I was a superstar at that point or that I could make up for a lack of experience, for years of lack of experience in C++ but I did it. I swam somehow. I made it. it wasn't pretty. It wasn't pretty, but I made it. I learned a lot, not only about the technical skill in that case, but about myself. Also, just about money in general. It was great that I was able to make that kind of money at 19 and make 75 bucks an hour because I realized that that's not something to aspire to because you're not going to be rich, never, it's going to take you forever.

If you want the whole story you can check out my—I've got a playlist on real estate stuff. Click the card, by the way, it's always in the description below. The whole point was that like it guided me down this path of realizing that I need some other way.
What I'm saying, why am I—it seems like a couple of scattered things here, but the whole point of this, like to bring this all together is that just go out and do it. You're ready—you're never going to be ready. You're never ready for anything in life. If you're ready for something it's too easy. If you're ready for something you're not going to grow from it. It's a waste. Always do things that you're not ready for. Sometimes you may fail at them, but most of the time you're going to rise to a new level and you're going to rise to the occasion and you're going to find out what you're really made of and it's going to stretch you and it's going to grow you and it's going to be uncomfortable but it's okay. It's okay to fail.

I think in school they teach you it's not okay to fail. It is okay to fail. You get back up and you keep on going, and you go again, and you go again, and you go again. Sometimes those experiences, just like with my experience, if I had not taken an opportunity, if I said, “Oh, I'm not qualified for this job. Oh, it's crazy. I'm not going to make it.” Then I wouldn't have made that money. I wouldn't have learned about the real—figured out that I need to go down the real estate path and I wouldn't have realized what I was capable of. I would have just taken an easy job and maybe would have taken me 10 years, 15 years to get up to the point where I was finally comfortable to make 75 bucks an hour and then I would have realized that that's not the path that I want. That's small potatoes as far as making money and having passive income and actually becoming wealthy in life. I wouldn't have figured that out early had I not taken the chance, had I not done something that I wasn't ready for.

Are you ready? Yeah, you're ready. You're as ready as you can be, as you should be. You're 18? Go ahead! Go apply for jobs. GO for it! As far as school and work, you know what, when I took that job I said, “You know what? I don't need to go to school. I'm going to take this opportunity. When am I going to get an opportunity to make 75 bucks an hour at 19? I'll quit school and I'm going to take this opportunity.” Your parents might not like that advice, but hey, you know what, I don't know about you, but I haven't seen a degree being really valuable nowadays. It seems like it's a lot of money and most people that I know that have degrees that are recent graduates, they have a lot of debt and they're not happy about the degree.

Again, I don't have time in this video to talk about the—in depth of that, but check out some of the videos in my channel, search on college and whatnot and you'll find videos where I've talked about this in depth.

I hope that helps you. I'm glad that you're thinking this way, but you've got to take action. Just go ahead—you feel uncomfortable, it's fine. You're never going to be ready, like I said, but you've got to move forward anyway. That's all I've got for you today. If you have a question for me, if you want me to do a video, you can email me at john@simpleprogrammer.com. I'll send you my form that you can fill out to get on the YouTube channel, on the queue. Make sure you click that Subscribe button if you haven't already. Click the bell to make sure you don't miss any videos. I'll talk to you next time. Take care.

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."