2016 will be the year of the new you. Whether you want to switch careers, launch a business, get in great shape, or make a meaningful change in your life, having the right mindset about change is half the battle.

Going with the flow is living life and reacting to what the world throws at you. Taking the bull by the horns is being proactive, making opportunities happen that wouldn’t have otherwise happened. Going with the flow isn’t bad, but you’re unlikely to be in a different situation in 2017 than you are today if you do.

First, let’s talk about big-picture strategy and making stuff happen, and then we’ll walk through how to apply the strategy to landing your first job as a junior web developer.

Hustle mode on!

To achieve any meaningful change in your life, you will need to go outside your comfort zone. Hustling is the act of going outside your comfort zone and doing things that make you feel uncomfortable.

Things that prevent people from hustling include:

  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of being judged
  • Fear of looking stupid
  • Fear of being perceived in an undesirable way

Want to make a significant change? The process may involve a certain amount of rejection, looking stupid, and making mistakes. It’s how we learn as humans.

People who are successful do things outside their comfort zone. You need to if you want to be in a different situation than you currently are.

Grind mode on!

Putting in the work matters. Here’s what the definition of grinding is.

It takes effort and energy to do hard work that doesn’t show an immediate benefit or improvement to your life. You, like Rocky Balboa, are going to need to out-work your peers.

go out and get what you're worth

Simple versus easy

Running a marathon is simple. It only involves doing one, single thing: running, for a long time (26 miles). This doesn’t mean that it’s easy; it is actually difficult. In order to have endurance to run for such a distance, people need to be in peak physical condition. Marathon runners train for months.

But there aren’t any shortcuts you can take, which means marathon runners have pretty simple systems to follow to achieve their results.

It’s human nature to over-complicate things by trying to make them easier. Working to avoid doing things outside your comfort zone and grinding through the hard work will be a waste of your time.

The Hustle and Grind of Becoming a Junior Web Developer

Step #1: Writing your first line of code

What do coders do? They code! You too must write code to become a coder!

Writing your first line of code can be a bit stressful though. What if you aren’t good at it? And what if you pick the wrong thing to learn? You don’t know what you’re doing, so you might feel stupid at some point.

Writing your first line of code will change the “idea of learning to program” into something you’re actively doing. People who take action generally have more success than people who do not. Don’t overthink things; just start coding. Do you like it? Do you think it’s boring? Do you think it’s exciting?

Hustle mode ON! You’re not going to have all the answers, and you’ll likely make mistakes. The first step to being good at something is being bad at it. Go outside your comfort zone and start writing code as soon as possible. Don’t make excuses.

Common Mistake: Some people will throw themselves into researching different programming languages and frameworks indefinitely, to avoid stepping outside their comfort zone and engaging in the hustle.

If two equally smart people set out to learn to code, and one person spends a month researching before they start programming while the other just jumps in and starts coding, the person who started programming a month sooner will get a job a month faster than the other.

Not sure where to start? You can start writing your first line of code today by applying for our free, two-week Software Engineer Intro Course.

Apply to our free coding intro course and get guidance from our code mentors.

Step #2: Becoming an employable programmer

There are certain ways potential employers will judge your ability as a programmer. But becoming an employable programmer involves two steps:

  • Being prepared for the Technical Interview, where an employer will judge whether or not you’re good enough to receive a job offer.
  • Being good enough at the job to not get fired (or even better, being so good you get promoted).

There’s really not a lot more to the this step. It takes work. You’ll need to write thousands of lines of code, and see hundreds of error messages. You’ll likely get stumped on how to tackle certain coding challenges.

But after hundreds of hours spent programming, solving coding challenges, and building real-world applications, you’ll be ready to start applying for jobs.

There are certainly some ups and downs on the path to becoming a programmer who is employable, but the key to this step is putting in the time, putting in the work, and working as hard as possible.

Common Mistake: Of the millions of people who embark on learning to code each year, much fewer of them will put in the necessary work. Most people are unwilling to put the work in and commit to 20 or more hours each week to learn the craft.

Step #3: Getting an offer to work as a web developer

The last step to landing a job as a web developer is to start applying for jobs.

If you’ve gotten to be skilled enough to be a professional web developer, you will have put in a lot of time programming. And at this point in time, it’s pretty common to love programming. People who don’t love programming generally realize it’s not for them within a week or two.

Before you get a job as a web developer, you will need to look for a job. And although there are tons of programming job boards and a lot of unfilled developer positions, you’ll need to apply and interview for the positions.

This last step involves both hustling and grinding.

Step 3A: Applying for Open Positions

The first part of this step is to apply for open positions. At first, this will make you feel a bit uncomfortable. What if they reject you? Or what if they tell you that you’re not good?

Hustle mode on. Even if you feel a bit uncomfortable applying for positions, step outside your comfort zone and do it.

It’s unlikely you will receive any negative responses. Instead, given that employers are pretty busy, if they don’t think you’d be a great fit, they’ll probably just not respond to you. Quickly, you’ll learn that the worst case scenario of applying for a job is that nothing happens.

After sending a few applications out there, you’ll quickly realize you need to step up your game.

Grind mode on. Rather than sending only a few emails out, find every job posting that could possibly be a good fit for you, and apply. There is no downside; only upside.

Step 3B: Interviewing

The first technical interview you go on, you likely will not know what to expect. This means there’s a good chance you will be outside your comfort zone. You’ll probably be a bit nervous. But if you know how to prepare for technical interviews, you’ll be ready.

If you don’t get an offer after the interview, don’t take it personally. Not getting an offer doesn’t mean you’re a bad developer, nor an unemployable one, but rather it only means you’re not the right fit for that company (or the hiring manager was just having a bad day).

Continue applying for jobs, use and learn from the experience you’ve gotten in the interviews that didn’t pan out, and keep going.

Step 3C: Accepting the Offer

Eventually in the process, if you stay motivated and continue to make progress week after week, your first job offer will come through.

Common Mistake: Rather than applying for jobs, some people just keep coding. While staying sharp and continuing to code is a smart move, going outside your comfort zone and starting the process of applying for jobs is a vital phase. Although coding is something you love doing, remember that the goal is to get paid to do it!

It’s remarkably simple to get your first job as a developer.

The steps you need to take to become a developer are incredibly simple. The question is: What steps are you going to take to make progress today and help you get to the next level?

If you follow these steps and reach outside your comfort zone, and are willing to put in the work, anything is possible.

Hear from our students about how they found their first job and the tips and tricks they used along the way, including:

  • Learning to code
  • Applying to positions
  • Getting an interview
  • Getting an offer
  • Accepting the offer
  • Working as a developer
  • Getting your next job

Learn the tactics Firehose graduates used to land their first coding jobs.

Hold yourself accountable: Share this post with someone who will encourage you through these steps and keep you fired up!

AuthorKen Mazaika

Ken Mazaika is the CTO and co-founder at Firehose. Previously, he was a tech lead at WHERE.com (acquired by PayPal) and a member of the PayPal/eBay development team in Boston.

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