Inspirational Success Stories from self-taught web developers

Finding motivation from the experiences of others

Credit: Austin Schmid

How can you stay motivated while learning to code?

Studying web development is a path with many ups and downs. You might have one day where you figure out a tough problem and feel absolutely amazing. But the very next day you get stuck on a seemingly easy problem for hours. You end up feeling completely defeated.

It’s often hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But when you’re in those tough, dark spots, try to find the motivation to continue and not quit.

You might remind yourself of your ultimate goal in learning to code. Maybe it’s to get a better job, to provide for your family, or to find a more purposeful form of work.

You can also find encouragement from others who are in the same boat as you. Knowing that there are people who struggle with the same issues can be hugely encouraging. And seeing them fight their way through could be all the motivation that you need to continue.

Because you’ll know that you’re not alone. That’s one of the greatest benefits of groups like freeCodeCamp. It’s not just about coding lessons. It’s about being part of a community where others have the same dreams and goals as you.

To that end, I’ve gathered a collection of stories on freeCodeCamp. The authors are people like you, who’ve fought their way to their ultimate goal — finding a web development job.

Reading these stories, I hope that you find inspiration and encouragement.

The stories

How I went from selling food in the street to working for top firms in tech — Alvaro Videla

If you read just one story from this list, choose this one. It’s a very well-written narrative of what’s possible if you put your mind to it.

Alvaro Videla taught himself PHP via the local internet cafe and some books sent to him by a relative. After endless nights studying and practicing, he landed a job with a tech company.

My journey to becoming a web developer from scratch without a CS degree — Sergei Garcia

Sergei Garcia wrote a very in-depth account of how he began learning web development and got a full-time job.

He wrote not only about his journey, but wrote about what resources he found most helpful on his journey. And he shared his experiences at his first job and the lessons he learned.

How to Go From Hobbyist to Professional Developer — Ken Rogers

Here’s another story that’s both inspirational and practical:

Ken Rogers taught himself web development while working a full-time job in landscaping. After requesting an informational interview at a web dev shop, he was offered a full-time job.

Ken shared his story and also wrote out a roadmap for how to become a professional web developer.

How I went from programming with a feature phone to working for an MIT Startup — Elvis Chidera

This story has been trending on freeCodeCamp for quite a while.

Elvis Chidera learned that continuous practice helped him in improving his reading and writing in school. He applied that same idea to learning programming and built his own real-world app projects.

All as a teenager without a laptop! As the title indicated, Elvis is now working for an MIT startup.

How I convinced an employer to take a chance on me and pay me to learn to code — Rick West

Rick West’s story is intriguing:

While working as a plumber, he started learning web development on his own. He later considered enrolling in a bootcamp, but realized after running the numbers that that simply wasn’t feasible for him and his family.

So he used some ingenuity. He emailed some companies for informational interviews, and ended up getting hired by one of them!

How I Landed My First Job as a Web Developer — Gwendolyn Faraday

Gwendolyn Faraday was working full-time at a restaurant and helping her grandmother. In 2015, after dabbling casually in coding tutorials, she decided to go all in.

She enrolled in Treehouse and later on freeCodeCamp while constantly learning and participating in the coding community. One of the keys that helped her land a job was expanding her in-person and online network.

How I landed a React developer job during my #100DaysOfCode challenge — Danny Huang

Danny Huang had always wanted to learn coding. He started on the freeCodeCamp track and did the 100 days of code challenge.

He practiced 2–4 hours per day and invested in making his GitHub profile appealing to employers. On Day 97 Danny got his first job offer.

What makes Danny’s story stand out is that he kept track of his progress and accomplishments.

Takeaway lessons

In reading through these stories, I found quite a few common threads. These are principles that many of them put into practice in order to reach their goal.

Commit to learning.

All these people committed to learning to code, sacrificing sleep and their social lives. They spent hours per day (or night!) dedicated to learning and practicing.

  • Elvis learned HTML and CSS every day after school from W3Schools.
  • Sergei continued to learn more web development on his own even after getting a job.
  • Gwendolyn decided that 2015 would be her year to learn to code, and set aside several hours per day to learn.
  • Danny committed to studying coding at least one hour per day.
  • Ken started work at 6AM and studied PHP and Laravel in the evenings and on weekends.

Follow a structure.

Whether it’s a bootcamp, a book, or an online course, try to follow a preexisting structure. Doing so will make your progress easier to track and will make the end goal more feasible.

  • Sergei created his own learning path based on the most common job listing requirements.
  • Danny latched onto the #100DaysOfCode challenge.
  • Alvaro had a vision for a local maps app and gave himself a deadline to complete it by.
  • Gwendolyn finished a Treehouse track and the front-end portion of freeCodeCamp.

Build things.

The best way to transform your class knowledge into practical knowledge is to build things. They might be terrible, and full of spaghetti code. But what matters is that you’re creating stuff in the real world and learning from them.

  • Ken built PHP and Laravel apps as he learned.
  • Elvis built a social media app, a group SMS app, and Android apps.
  • Alvaro created a local maps application that he used in his job interview.

Be bold.

You will never feel truly ready for the next step. But that doesn’t mean that you aren’t ready. Don’t be afraid to take risks that could pay off by advancing your career.

  • Both Ken and Rich reached out to companies for informational interviews, and ended up getting job offers.
  • Alvaro asked a relative living in the U.S. for a favor to send him some programming books, and she bought and shipped them to him.
  • Elvis put himself out there by creating real live apps and finding users for them.

Build your network.

One of the best ways to find a job nowadays is through your network. If you invest in people and organizations today, they may invest in you in the future.

  • Gwendolyn received multiple job offers through building up her in-person and online network.
  • Alvaro first heard about the tech company that he ended up working for through a friend who encouraged him to apply.

Make it work.

Things won’t always go the way you want. But don’t give up! There’s always another way.

  • Rick didn’t give up his aspirations after realizing a bootcamp wasn’t a possibility — he worked around it by reaching out to companies.
  • Elvis’ first app failed, but he kept trying and found other projects to build.
  • When didn’t work out for Gwendolyn, she moved on and ended up using freeCodeCamp to learn.
  • Danny had tried and failed to teach himself web development, but then worked through the #100DaysofCode challenge.

What does this mean for you?

Reading and enjoying other people’s stories of success is great. But we can sometimes be lulled into inaction by living vicariously through others.

Try to learn from what these web developers did. Can you apply any of their strategies to your own life? Did any parts of their stories spark an idea of something you could try? If so, leave a comment below!

To the original authors of these posts: thank you for sharing your journeys with the rest of us!

Are you interested in learning to code? I write about learning and problem-solving in web development on my site,

Inspirational Success Stories from self-taught web developers was originally published in freeCodeCamp on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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