In life, if you wanna play basic games, expect to win basic prizes. I’m writing this article because I ran across some clickbait crap on Medium now retitled “How I went from zero to San Francisco software engineer in 12 months” which originally stated Silicon Valley not San Francisco. As a true tech expert in this field, I never read some utter garbage in my entire life about the tech game and can tell that nonsense article was phony and manufactured to generate views and clickthroughs instead of actually help someone like you break into the tech sector.
It’s sad we living in a world where unethical freelance writers are trying to focus more on going viral with clickbaiting than focus on fundamentals to uplift and educate each other. I’m willing to bet the majority of these garbage clickbait writers are polluting Medium with clickbait to turn around and sell their clickbait writing skills on Fiverr or whatever. Medium is a great venue but it is being overran by content creators who use formula-based writing to see if they can get the most clickthroughs and I thought this was not the vision Medium wanted to go. But when I saw that BS clickbait article on some guy selling yall a story about him becoming a software engineer in 12 months from zero, I’m not going to let that clickbait article slide.
Let’s get some major points out the way. First, no one is going to become a real software engineer in 12 months, it takes years of real-world work to get to that level. If clickbait article guy went to a headhunter talking about he is a software engineer with 12 months under his belt, that headhunter would pause, pick up the phone and call the local circuses and ask if one of their clowns gone missing. Second, the whole clickbait article was a joke because the guy who wrote it and the people behind it who wrote it were basic and generic and their output to you is end up having a good tech job.
The real technology scene revolves around tech talent, not tech jobs. We got opportunists out there selling yall some BS like this tech game is about working a good tech job. So-called garbage entities like code academies, learn to code, girls can code and stuff like that. These coding academy stuff are all crumb snatchers trying to pick up crumbs DeVry and ITT left behind. This tech scene is not coding or a job — it is talent and skills solving problems, addressing challenges and producing value.
Your goal should be to become a tech talent producing value where you are highly sought after, respected and living that life where you call the shots. So what I’m going to show you real quick in this article is how to become tech talent, not some BS crap about becoming a coder or learn to code or all that other nonsense out there that basically trying to make you believe the end game is get a tech job.
Trust me on this — you don’t want to work as a joe coder or a code monkey where you work in a room full of brogrammers sending racist/sexist emails to each other sitting in cubicles and situated in some generic corporate building away from everything — you’ll hate that life real fast. Especially if you are black or a woman, you will hate that brogrammer corporate park work environment with a passion, just keeping it real. But the major reason you want to avoid joe coder in a cubicle at a corporate park is you will be likely working at a no-name firm just hoping to be acquired one day. Eventually the little firm will be acquired or shut down and you have to look for another coding gig and recruiters have to ask you what you actually done at that corporate park firm you spent your time coding away at. Don’t even go into this tech scene like this.
The only way you enter the tech scene is by becoming sought-after talent. You operate just like sought-after actors, sought-after musicians and sought-after athletes and sought-after fixers. You first establish artifacts to demonstrate skills and value, you seek to get headhunters to work your resume for you and you take the calls and give the thumbs up and thumbs down where you want to be at. You don’t look for a job and if you looking for a job in tech, you already lost the war choosing to have a dull and basic career in tech not going anywhere special except lying on your resume to get another 1099 gig somewhere where the full-time workers find any excuse to fire you because they hate contract coders.
Let’s go through the steps but before we do, you are going to need skills. I do not recommend you learn to code and I’m an expert coder, top of the game. I recommend you learn to reverse-engineer solutions and design solutions and when you do master reverse-engineering and designing, the coding falls right into place. Too many of you worry too much about the hyper details not realizing all the stuff on creating database connections or population of collections are already documented online to copy and paste — you focus on solution-building and design skills to move forward as tech talent.
Link Up with Headhunters. This is the most important thing you will do in your career. Notice the other clickbait article the guy did not mention this, he stated he sent out applications looking for a callback. You need to find headhunters who know the market, know the demand because they have relationships and the Rolodex with hiring managers around town. Here is what you do — you search the job ads for tech jobs and collect contact names and create your own CRM or lead database. Then you invite these headhunters out to the bar or golf and have a conversation on how to break in the industry. Then you work to quickly learn the skills the headhunter need so they can sell you. You work with headhunters the same way a movie star work with a casting agent. You keep these headhunters always throughout your career so when you need to switch jobs, that headhunter will know you and quickly get to work to put you somewhere else. I know all my recruiters and headhunters and their birthdays and vice versa — they are the key to you being marketed as talent around town.
Produce at The Interview. At the interview, if you have a headhunter presenting you to the employer and you have artifacts, you basically got the position. What you do during the interview is focus on the industry saying clearly and bluntly this is the industry you want to work in and state the value you want to deliver to the industry with their firm. When it comes to your skills and talent, do not talk about PHP or whatever, you state you know how to move large files and manage big data or you know how to perform defensive programming and you worked in Agile and DevOps environments or like exposure to work in one. At the tech interview, if you cannot answer a tech question tell them you don’t know off the top of your head but will definitely look it up to show you don’t stumble but will still find the answer. Always show you are talent and you going to produce value and that’s how winners get selected.
Connect With the Real Talent. Once you get a tech gig, the one thing you need to do is hook up with the real tech talent. The real tech talent will be the old guy in their 50s and 60s who knows how all of this really works. They are the ones who been divorced 3–4 times and not seen their kids grow up because they were coding all the time and warn you to put the family first before coding. They are the ones that tell you don’t become too passionate to change everything with code and to listen to exactly what the customer is asking for. Ignoring the true old school is the biggest mistake tech coders make and why the young coding cats are not making the kind of moves others make to move up fast.
One last thing – always reach and teach to those around you even if they are not tech. True tech talent is always outputting real value and real solutions for others and over time, more and more people know you and can vouch for you. Real tech talent operate like a rock star by having artifacts (audition reel) to show proof of work to deliver value, have a headhunter (agent) pushing them to the market all the time, even as a poach deal and that tech talent is growing from the wisdom of the elders (old school) and being a teacher to others.
You don’t want to code and get a job coding in this tech game — you want to be tech talent in this industry and talent will have you working on assignments worldwide and considered for interesting projects lined up for you to pick and choose from. You don’t work in places like London or Singapore or Tokyo because of a job history, they give you work visas and work because you are sought-after talent.
In summary, do not even try the code learning stuff where they want you working a coding job at some one-story corporate park off the highway somewhere. Instead, look to position yourself on high-demand projects like the blockchain or AI by creating artifacts, find the right headhunters who can work your name out there and constantly demonstrate you can deliver value and return on investment. Then you will see the true awesome tech life where you make your own moves and feel good knowing you are considered sought-after talent worldwide.