Learn Software Like It’s 2009
Which no, doesn’t mean you need to go teach yourself jQuery.
Web-development has always been quite absent and, I’d dare say, even looked down upon in academia, one of the reasons why it has also accommodated a high percentage of self-taught people compared to other disciplines.
I remember how about 10 years ago, introducing yourself as a “web-developer despite your CS bachelor degree” was a very in-vogue joke in programmers circles, and that alone suggests how powerful the trend of non-formally-educated people being in the field was.
Bootcamps, code learning platforms (Codecademy, Udemy, Freecodecamp, to only name a few) are a recent addition to the landscape, and even online code editor platforms weren’t as sleek as today’s (see Codesandbox or Stackblitz). Besides, mentoring as a profession wasn’t really a thing and there were no platforms that facilitated meeting and paying someone to become your coding-big-sister. That bears on the question, how the heck did people learn to code back then?
It’s actually simpler than you’d think.
- They read documentations
Documentations are great, besides the ones that are absolutely terrifying.
But even the ones which are absolutely terrifying teach how to absolutely not write a documentation.
The passable to excellent ones, on the other hand, are filled with examples that you can try out yourself.
Above all, documentations are pretty much always up-to-date.
Whenever the new version of a software comes out, its documentation is updated. What’s always updated with a consistent lag instead, are the code learning platforms, the material bootcamps offer and last but not least, the mentors. Which brings me to the second point.
- They mistrusted their mentors
If you were a developer who started their career in the 2000s, your profession wasn’t as well-defined as it is nowadays. You were most likely in this dreaded limbo filled with a little bit of general computer expertise, a hint of system administration, a table-spoon of programming and some web-design as the cherry on top. Overall, a generalist who had to strive to be taken seriously. Nowadays, the joke is on ☠ t̸͇͉̟͍̖̕h̵̢̧͖̳͈̊̈́̆̈́͝e̶̾̽̂͊͜m̷̧̨̻̱͑͘ͅ ψ: the two hundred hours you have spent on #react Twitter may be more economically valuable than their master degrees in Cat Pictures Labeling (vulgarly known as Machine Learning).
Naturally, old-ass web-devs mistrusted their mentors, because their mentors were the actual “programmers” who thought they had earned their tag as One Trick Pony with hard academic work, and preferred to distance themselves from the Jacks of All Trades.
Mentors mistrusted you, so you learnt to mistrust mentors, hate on them, masterly hack their email accounts and call it a v̶i̶c̶t̶o̶r̶i̶o̶u̶s̶ day. Mistrusting your mentors allowed you to become an independent coder, which is still very much sought after nowadays (they call it “you can take responsibility over the codebase” and “no-juniors policy”).
3. They coded a lot
They coded and lost precious sleep hours.
Sometimes something wouldn’t work, so they had to venture into the dreadful meanders of the ☠ s̵̹̱̫͍͍̾̈͆̐͘ǫ̴̠͎̗͊͋u̸͉͛̄͠͠r̴͕̫̮̲͒̈ć̴̲̟̪̜̽͒̒͂e̸͚̫͕̭̞̎͊̓͘ ̷̡̘̭͔̹͊̎͒͝ċ̸̛̜̗͚̼͘͠ö̶̪̬̳̮̙́͌̃d̶̼̿e̵̬̣̹͕̾̏̌ ⛧. If something wouldn’t work in the ☠ s̵̹̱̫͍͍̾̈͆̐͘ǫ̴̠͎̗͊͋u̸͉͛̄͠͠r̴͕̫̮̲͒̈ć̴̲̟̪̜̽͒̒͂e̸͚̫͕̭̞̎͊̓͘ ̷̡̘̭͔̹͊̎͒͝ċ̸̛̜̗͚̼͘͠ö̶̪̬̳̮̙́͌̃d̶̼̿e̵̬̣̹͕̾̏̌ ⛧, the bravest ones would muster all of their courage and propose a change with a PR.
They weren’t looking for shortcuts or trying to learn programming in 2 weeks, that was not really seen as a realistic possibility, partially because the tooling was lacking, but also because it is, as a matter of fact, unthinkable. They would give themselves the opportunity to mess up their code, fix it, messing up other areas of their code while fixing it and having to fix it all again, hitting a bug that nobody seemed to have ever searched for on the internet, eventually having to redo the whole thing again.
And while doing so…
4. They had fun
Seriously. They had a lot of fun because learning to code wasn’t sold to them as the only antidote against unemployment by the learning-to-code-in-12-days industry.
They had genuine, reckless fun.
And if you do not have fun, you are bound to be a mediocre coder, so why would you even try it?
5. They used Stackoverflow
Ok nevermind this, don’t do this, it’s too long to explain, just trust me on this.