Transforming a staggering career into a good run

Six months ago, Victus was staggering through his dream of becoming a self-taught software engineer. Today he is having to apply the brakes to slow-down for a while.

Transforming a staggering career into a good run

Six months ago, Victus (Third-year Mechanical Engineering) was staggering through his dream of becoming a self-taught software engineer.

"I have always been a hustler but there were many mornings that I just wanted to give up because I spent the whole night coding, and nothing worked as I had expected," said Victus.

This experience is the same for many self-taught software engineers at the beginning of their journey to enter this new field.

"It was difficult to systemize some of the concepts in my mind. Things tend to move fast in the software world, and the whole thing could become blurry if you are not careful. I remember using a recent tutorial to learn front-end tooling with Webpack, only to find out after many long hours of studying that the version used in the tutorial is no longer supported. It was very frustrating," he explains.

Victus enrolled in the front-end program at Lakeside in January 2023, and his fortunes started to take a turn for the better.

"The front-end program gave me access to senior programmers who shared their real-world experience, and many of the concepts that I had initially struggled with began to fall into place," he added.

Victus usually combined resources from YouTube tutorials, books, and online forums, so this was the first time he was learning in a class setting.

"The class made a lot of difference. I could draw a facilitator's attention to specific questions that I had. You cannot do this when using a book or a video to study, and when I started explaining my approach to solving a problem in my own words, they would immediately point out the lapses in my understanding of the concepts. Working with other students in the program also allowed us to compare approaches and get feedback from one another," he explains.

The classes use a hands-on and project-based approach to reinforce the theory learned.

"I enjoyed the hands-on approach as we tackled different problems while building projects. One of the projects we worked on was to recreate Apple's website, and before long I began to understand how one of the world's most successful companies approached their web design process. When I completed the project, I promptly added it to my Upwork profile as part of my portfolio," he said smilingly.

Upwork is an online marketplace that allows individuals to bid on web projects posted on the platform by businesses. Before joining the Lakeside program, Victus's Upwork had been a placeholder without any activity.

"I had the Upwork account for several months before joining the class, but I was not confident because I knew I was not yet very proficient. The class gave me the confidence I needed to give it a shot. I bid for a project using the class project where we redesigned Apple's website as a reference. The client loved it, and they gave me the job. A few weeks after that project, I got another job from Upwork," he explains.

Combining school with work can be challenging, and the students in the Lakeside programs get help to overcome this challenge by teaching them how to adapt the pace and energy of their career development with their school work.

"The class holds once a week and it became a forcing function to keep me on the path of progress. I had to prepare quickly to cover the material and update my class assignments on Github. Many of my friends find it hard to sit down and code because they are overwhelmed with school work but it is possible. However, during the school exams, I don’t touch the laptop," Victus adds.

The software industry is growing and there is a massive opportunity for software engineering talent as there is a lot of demand for their skills.

"After school, I am looking to become a professional software engineer, and starting early would be an advantage even though I am not going full force at the moment because of school. I used to walk the path to becoming a software engineer, and now it feels like I am jogging and hopefully, I can start running very soon."

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