So I spend quite a bit of time reading and replying to comments on youtube videos and one thing I’ve gotta say is that it’s pretty obvious some of you are struggling with some self-confidence problems.
And I get it, getting involved in the tech industry can be pretty overwhelming. It seems like there’s a mountain of things to learn and there’s no way you could possibly get through it all and call yourself an expert. You aren’t alone in that feeling. I’ve been in this profession in some way shape or form for 20 years and I still have times when I doubt my skills now compared to others out there.
But… if there’s one bit of advice I could give you on this topic, it would be to stop calling yourself a noob or a beginner or saying that you don’t know anything or are too dumb to do stuff or whatever inventive self-deprecating thing you can think of today. You wanna know why?
Well… I started the early years of my career doing the EXACT SAME THING. And I honestly wish someone would have given me this exact same advice back then. So let me tell you a story about myself, 15 years ago, so you can learn from my mistakes.
Before I got a real job in tech, I’d make websites for fun. I taught myself the LAMP stack and just made my own website in PHP that could look up stuff in a database. I learned SQL queries, I learned CSS, I learned HTML, and I learned how to make Apache web server go. It wasn’t easy and because of that, I assumed I didn’t know enough to get a real job in this field.
I spent years working crappy tech support jobs for cable internet companies and even delivered pizzas for a while just because I didn’t believe in myself.
At some point, while looking for another crappy underpaid job I applied with a small company for a tech support job. This place was a small eCommerce company that sold closeout tech gadgets.
In the interview for the tech support job somehow the topic of web development came up. I just mentioned that I had made my own website before and the owner of the company seemed to take interest. he said “you know how to access a database using PHP?” I said “yes” and that was the end of it.
So… they offered me the tech support job. And you know, I knew I would get it because I also knew that while I felt underqualified for a web developer job, I was overqualified for testing product returns and helping people get their USB devices working.
During just my first few months at that company, it became obvious that the owner was pretty overwhelmed since was, himself, the web developer as well as everything else he did day-to-day. One day there was a bug that got reported and I said to him that I would take a look and see if I could fix it. He didn’t even hesitate. He gave me access to the code and I, eventually, fixed the bug.
From there, I very quickly became the only person who worked on the back-end code of the site. Eventually, over my five years at that company, I became THE web developer and while it was a small place it was truly my “foot in the door” for my entire career.
There’s obviously more to this story but that’s not what this article is about. If you really want to know more about my career path leave a comment and I’ll write a full article about it. honestly, if it helps even one of you I’ll lay it all out.
But back to the topic.
Let’s go back to that original interview and an alternate universe. A universe where, when I was asked about my abilities in web development I just said “I’m a total noob” and “if I were you I wouldn’t trust me with your website”.
Not only would I never have been given a chance to prove myself by fixing some bugs, but I also may have never been offered that little tech support job at all!
The point is words matter and self-image matters.
I landed my first “tech” job the moment I stopped saying what I couldn’t do and actually said what I could do. Sure it took someone else pulling it out of me, but sometimes that’s what it takes.
My advice? Noob is a relative term. You might not know everything, but you certainly know SOMETHING and you should be advertising what you know and not what you don’t know. Don’t be like me in the early days. I knew way more than most but continued to tell myself that I wasn’t qualified. I undersold myself for years when I could have been building my experience in a real job. I could have gotten a job or even built a business based on just the basics that I knew back then before I got that first real coding job.
Honestly, everyone starts somewhere, and no matter how long you’ve been doing this you will always have more to learn. But let me tell you a little secret. The tech industry is probably the best place to be when it comes to learning new stuff.
And you know why? Because EVERYONE’s learning new stuff all the time. That new tech that just came out this year? Doesn’t matter what it is. Everyone wants it and guess what? VERY FEW PEOPLE know it well enough to call themselves an expert! But, if you walk into the room saying “I don’t know jack”, then you just set yourself up for people actually thinking that about you. Plus, telling yourself stuff like that every day is nothing but a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The truth is that you, just by being willing to learn are WAY ahead of most people. The number one skill in this industry isn’t knowing some language or some framework or some enterprise software, it’s being able to learn, and learn quickly.
Hell, just being here watching this video means that you know more than most people. Some people out there want nothing to do with code and learning and self-improvement. They would rather just go to work and grind every day until they get to retire. Just being here right now means that you are TRYING to better yourself.
And don’t get me wrong, you should ALWAYS be trying to better yourself, but that doesn’t mean that the knowledge you have now isn’t enough to get you somewhere you deserve to be.
So… please for the sake of yourself and your future self, give yourself a chance and stop telling everyone that you suck. Do yourself a favor and go write down what you DO KNOW right now! Seriously, make a list.
Then… make another list of the stuff you want to know. Nothing will make you feel more inadequate than trying to learn a million things at once. Do them one at a time until you know them well enough to talk about the subject. Then, move to the next. But… make sure to cross that thing off of the “to-do” list and add it to the “done” list.
Then, take that done list and put it on your resume and your LinkedIn profile. Go look for jobs that are looking for those skills. They are out there I promise.
I think ill leave it there for today. Until next time, happy coding!