A Tech Career in Python: From Hobbyist to Professional

When I surveyed my users recently, two of the topics they said they most wanted to learn about were “How to go from knowing Python to a career”, and what skills would be needed to make this transition.

At the same time, I’ve been looking for ways I can connect to more people and bring more value to my readers, so I’ve been looking into creating a mini-course for exactly this topic. In the spirit of “Building in Public”, this is a really early peek behind the scenes at CodeSolid to see what I’m thinking about for this course.

Broadly speaking, turning software as a hobby into software as a career means putting three things together

  • Approach (or Attitude)

  • Learning

  • Publishing

If you like Three Letter Acronyms, you can think of these as your PAL or you can conceive it as running a LAP, or scaling the ALPs.

Approach: What The Course Suggests

Picking the Right Beatles Song: Money Can’t Buy Me Love

The British rock group, The Beatles had two songs about money, “Money Can’t Buy Me Love” and “Money (That’s What I Want)”.

On the one hand, wanting to be paid well rather than poorly is fairly uncontoversial. There’s nothing wrong or pathological than wanting to have a decent standard of living. That said, the folks who are the happiest in a tech career are ones who enjoy solving problems and enjoy using coding and automation as a kind of creative outlet.

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How Hard Is It Anyway

The approach turning a software hobby into a software career that I suggest is very different from what I see promoted by many bootcamps. Bootcamps encourage two contradictory views of softwaer as a career:

  1. Bootcamp Software as Career View 1: “Software engineering is really hard, so you can’t do it without a bootcamp.” I suppose in fairness that if I were selling bootcamps this is what I’d say, too. Why would you pay $13,000 (on average – some run much higher) for something you could learn on your own with a little occasional help?

  2. Bootcamp Software as Career View 2: “Software engineering is so easy. All you need to do is a bootcamp.”

These two views reveal that it’s possible to simultaneously hold two opposing views, and yet be wrong both times.

Let’s consider the view that you need a bootcamp to be sucessful. I’m a self-taught developer, and though like many folks I had a completely unrelated degree when I began to teach myself to code, one of the best developers I’ve met only got a degree of any kind after he’d already established himself in his software engineering career. Neither one of us went to any kind of bootcamp.

On the other hand, I have met plenty of folks who’ve been through some kind of bootcamp who still had a very hard time finding a job.

Instead, here’s the approach I believe has worked for me and others that I know who have turned a software hobby into a technical career:

  • Realize that software engineering is a difficult skill (which is why it pays well), but it’s not so difficult that you can’t learn it on your own.

  • Understand that it’s going to take time to develop this skill. I’ve met folks who broke into the field after a two years of experience, or after four years. For me it took three. If you have mad sales and marketing skills, you may be able to do it in less time than that, but in general you should expect to spend at least a year on it or more.