Join LinkedIn Learning Developer Instructor for an in-depth discussion in this video Derek Peruo, part of Career Clinic: Developer Insights.
- I went to undergrad for theater. I have a BFA in theater. While I was in college, I worked at the gym. While I was at the gym, working front desk, I ended up being a personal trainer 'cause it paid more. I was doing the personal training thing and that was working pretty well and I decided, you know what? I want to turn this into a business. I want to work for myself and I want to make it into something larger than it is now. Two things happened simultaneously, the first was I learned a lot about how to run a business, and the second was, how to write code 'cause I didn't have enough money to pay somebody to do all the websites and do all that kind of stuff.
It all started because all I wanted to do was make my WordPress site look better, that's it. I ended up learning HTML and CSS and I reached a point where it just became easier to write it myself from scratch. I'll do it myself, it's fine. I'll do it myself. All of that was happening, fast forward a couple years, I meet my wife and we want to go traveling. The trouble with a personal training business is you have to be there to train clients and so you can't really travel. Somebody said this great line and I always forget where I heard it first, but the line is the thing you do when you procrastinate, is the thing you should be doing.
I thought to myself, well, of all the things I do when I procrastinate, which of those are mobile? Which of those could I travel and do stuff with? Which of those could potentially be a new job? I was thinking about it and I thought well, I work on the website stuff quite a bit. I work on the website for the company, so I'll do that. That's how I ended up in technology. At first, I called myself a web designer, 'cause that's what I thought everything was, I thought it was web design.
I'm going to design a website. That's how I positioned myself. That's how I positioned my resume as a designer. I wasn't getting very good feedback from that. I wasn't getting the response rate I was looking for. I did some research and that was the first time I realized there was a difference between design and development. It's a different skill set, it's a different way of looking at a project and I thought okay, let me position myself as something else. Let me try it a different way and so instead of calling myself a designer, I called myself a developer.
I recreated my portfolio, my online portfolio to focus more on the code and less on the design. That got a much better response rate. That's what led me to the recruiter, that landed me the first gig. When I went in for my first job, the biggest fear I had was people were going to think I was a phony, that I was a fraud, and that they were going to call me out on it because I had nothing to compare it against. I only had my work and the work I saw on GitHub, other people's open source projects, which were a huge inspiration.
That first day I went in and it really was a matter of just faking it till I make it, conveying that confidence. I do have a skill set. I do know what I know. Let me see if that's up to par and it turns out that it pretty much was up to par, the company I was contracted with at the time, their code looked like a Jackson Pollock painting. It was very comforting because once I saw that, once I saw it on the screen, I was able to say, oh, this is okay.
I'm going to be all right. I've seen this before, I know what to do with this. It's going to be okay. The first job was a skill set I had. I came to the job with those skills. I didn't have to learn much onsite. Once that contract ended, I went to another job, another contract where I did have to learn the skills. It was Angular, it was an Angular project. This was early in Angular's history. I had heard of Angular. I knew what it was, I played with it once or twice.
I'm in the room with the hiring manager and they say, we're working on this big Angular project, do you have any experience with it? I said, well, I played around a little bit with it. He said, oh, that's great. That means you know more than us. We're going to hire you. I thought he was crazy. One of my first takeaways from that was that, there is always someone that knows more than you, and there's always someone that knows less. All I could do was go into that, that meeting with the truth, which was I'd played around with it.
It turns out that that was enough of an advantage to get me to the next step. Now that I'm at the next step, I'm at this next level where I'm learning about Angular, that's when a lot of the on-job training right, on-the-job training is the best training. You're getting paid to learn these new skills, to experiment with all this stuff. How do you do it safely though? And that's were version control came in for me. I would not be where I am today without version control.
Version control has allowed me to blow things up, to absolutely destroy the code base in a very safe way that I can always undo. That's an amazingly powerful thing to be able to do that. Version control hands down.