It’s no secret that software developers or engineers can make a really good living out of their craft. No matter if you work as a freelancer or are employed in a big corporation, when you have the skills, people are willing to pay a lot to get your help. But how do you get to this point? Well, as always, there are many different ways.
Get a degree
The classical way would be to stay in school and go to college or a university after you graduated. When you study computer science you will learn everything you need to know to become a software developer from the ground up. Lots of theory, basics, design patterns, different programming languages, object oriented programming, different tools and hopefully lots of opportunities to get your hands on the keyboard and create software out of nothing. It really is a great feeling. If you are able and willing to travel (and if you are not from Germany) you might have a look at international universities. Let me give you just one example: to get a master’s degree in the university of applied sciences in Frankfurt, you have to pay only around 500$ per semester. There are no other fees. How much is such a degree in your country? Of course, you still have to pay rent and you might want to eat something, which leads us to the next section.
If you are not sure whether software development might be the right thing for you or not, internships are a great way to find out. They are also a great way to get your foot in the door of a company if you already know that you want to work as a developer. The downside of internships is, that you might not get payed if you don’t bring any skill or value for the company. Being an intern during your studies on the other hand might be very beneficial for you and also the company you work for. Since you bring knowledge to your team and are usually highly motivated, people are willing to pay you a good amount of money which is much for you as a student but just a little for the company and you will learn a lot. With a bit luck you will experience how to work in a real life scenario and write code that will actually be used by customers. This is a great feeling and certainly was for me the first time I realized that. Now there are different outcome scenarios of an internship. If you are a student, you might get a job as a student trainee or even get hired as soon as you get your degree. Another result could be an apprenticeship or you just go separate ways. Whatever the end of your internship will look like, it will help you to learn, get experience and make decisions for your personal future.
There are lots and lots of ways to learn the craft of software development completely by yourself. Open your eyes and look for all tutorials, videos, books and courses you can get. Portals like code.org, codeacademy.com and Udemy deliver many useful resources – also for free. Use these resources to build apps, websites or games, add them to your portfolio and showcase them on your personal website. As soon as you think you are ready to get hired, start to apply with your portfolio. There are many freelancers out there who get requests exactly that way.
What do I recommend? All of it. I started to learn QuickBasic at a very young age, chose every opportunity I got to learn programming, web design and making games, studied computer science in Frankfurt, took freelance jobs and internships during my studies and even before I got my Master’s degree I already got hired – in the same company I was a student worker. So as you can see, going for internships and low payed student-jobs may get you the “real” job without any effort afterwards.
The most important thing is this: take action and get some experience. You don’t even have to get out of the house. Try the self-taught way and if it doesn’t work out choose another one. Or go all-in, start to study computer science and while doing that apply for internships by calling the small companies in your town. That’s how I got my first student job. Now stop reading and call them.
What can happen? Maybe you finally make your first step to getting your dream job? I’d love to hear your story.