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Self-taught developers in Startups

We often hear in France "only diplomas count" . No diploma, no money. Obviously, this is not true, here are the reasons why.

12.08.2016

Intro

If you are interested in computer development, you can observe that the traditional actors, the major groups and the IT services companies, remain quite attached to the diplomas. Those of the engineering schools, ideally. The startups much less. A history of mentality, no doubt, and pragmatism. Because, as the good old Deng Xiaoping said, "it does not matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as he catches the mouse." And to design an API, it's the same! In startup, what matters is to move forward together, to build and improve a product in which the teams believe and to which they adhere. The diploma comes afterwards. To sums it up, when you are a self-taught developer and you want to join a startup, we do not say it's easy, but there is a real opportunity to be hired in these kind of structures.

If we want to be even more optimistic, one could add that the trend seems to be to the "startupisation"  (oops, it is a barbarism) of traditional groups. There are more and more business units, autonomous and agile, trying in large groups for more innovation, more flexibility, more responsiveness. Thus, the startup culture is broadcast gradually in these traditional actors. And we take the bets: this trend will go crescendo.

How do I start learning?

A real passion for computing since the childhood, a desire for professional reconversion, a mystical revelation following one of your dream, more and more people are starting to change paths to learn to develop. .

Becoming a developer does not improvise and requires a good dose of investment. You must be curious, persistent, rigorous and resourceful. Without that, it's complicated. The beauty of computing is that things are constantly evolving. Are not they Angular2 and Swift?  You have to keep up to date and to keep training because the achievements of today will be obsolete tomorrow. As a result, there is no bad time to get started and it is never too late to join the dance.

The first step is to learn the basics of development. Do not start ten languages ​​simultaneously: prefer the understanding of basic principles (procedural, then object, then frameworks, etc.), how to build a static site, to begin with. The rest will follow. To sum up, take it step by step.

The good news is that there are numerous tools for self-training. Books exist for every languages ​​and every levels. Then there is the web where there are many useful things: MOOCs, like those of Coursera, edX or Udacity, and which often give a certification. In France, the famous OpenClassrooms website is a reference and can even be used by very beginners. There is also a growth of e-learning platforms dedicated to web development: CodeSchool, Codecademy and the most playful Codingames or CodeCombat, for example. A good developer is someone who knows where to get info when he is blocked. you will most likely find the information on StackOverFlow. Same for Github. The open-source communities are very active and there is a goldmine. Otherwise, well there is Google also. Quite simply. Learning a language also means reading its official documentation and practicing with concrete examples, even simple ones. you must practice, make mistakes, start again, exchange, ask for help, and so on. We highly recommend you to exchange a maximum with more experienced developers. For this, many meetups exist, for every technology: you will meet enthusiasts, companions of learning, even mentors. It is also a tip: finding a better-capped mentor can greatly accelerate the learning curve.

There are more and more structures that offer training, adapted to profiles in reconversion, curious, etc. If each one has its specificities, you can take a look at the Wagon (rather specialized on Ruby), a very relevant bootcamp coding. On the other hand, we can also mention the Wild School or the 3W Academy. Obviously, Xavier Niel's School 42 is a must in the landscape: no diploma is required for application, whatever your previous experiences are. the only required field is the age, indeed you have to be between 18 and 30 years.

That's it, you've posted your first "Hello world"? Well it's won! Or not quite. Joking aside, even when their learning is consistent and at a time when they might be operational then employable, self-taught profiles have to overcome some difficulties. Indeed, they are less visible on the market and companies may remain a little more cautious when comes the time to hire these profiles.

Self-taught and without a degree, it becomes even more important to be able to show what you have worked on, even if it is small personal projects. This justifies your passion and show your skills. A personal website, open-source projects or libraries on Github, a mobile app deployed, etc. You can also participate to hackathons. We insist heavily: the less you have professional experience and diplomas, the more employers will look at your passion, your personal accomplishments, your initiatives and tutti quanti.

If the market does not respond right away, do not forget: learning, and therefore improvment, are constant. A good way to boost your profile may be to start working as a freelancer to develop concrete projects and build a portfolio that will become your showcase.
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