My perception could be biased through my own experiences, but over time I’ve found for me that knowing people is frequently a huge factor in landing jobs, probably moreso than being the most highly skilled person possible. Employers often seem to be more comfortable with someone they know plus often that’s quicker and easier and less expensive than going through a recruitment process, and many jobs are never advertised. The path for getting into many workplaces is completely unfair.
And for those with ASD & SAD and other ‘non-people persons’, connections are often an alien concept to them. Which is where organisations like Specialisterne and Aspiritech fill the void, to a large degree of success. In NZ, there’s no such equivalent, and even the nearest matching agencies like Workbridge and Emerge have had too much staff turnover to be of any use. I’ve basically thrown away a few hundred dollars on an industry mentorship that didn’t get anywhere far, and another few hundred on what's basically a certificate in buggy whip repair.
I refuse to accept my lot in life, and yet the ladder of opportunity is missing more than a few rungs.
Thank your mum for the observation. With a 0 b'day looming in few days the wider family is a little perplexed as to my decision to essentially not celebrate it in the manner they expected. My last 0 birthday was big event and what followed was major upheaval in life that bought my first and v. scary look at own mortality (brain tumour) and a rapid but ultimately successful for all in our family move of cities. This time round just want to have time with my immediate family and day off probably walking around Titiri with my camera.
and I suspect that most people with the aptitude could learn coding at home for negligible outlay
It could take quite a long time, though. But possibly not longer than learning it through a paid course. It has always seemed to me that if you can't really teach it to yourself, you probably aren't going to make a good programmer, because it means you don't really love doing it, and don't do it just for fun. Which does not mean that doing a course is valueless, of course. I've spent many years doing them. But I also taught myself programming first, in my teens.
It’s much easier to get a semi-fraudulent mortgage on a shack in Avondale, paint the walls and reseed the lawn and sell it for a 20% profit. That’s the hardworking keewee way
A brother can do both, even! But yeah, it's scary that my shack in Avondale has now earned me at least as much as ten years of solid paid employment as a programmer, considering that it's all tax free.
It has always seemed to me that if you can’t really teach it to yourself, you probably aren’t going to make a good programmer, because it means you don’t really love doing it, and don’t do it just for fun.
I don't entirely agree. Teaching yourself programming de novo requires some kind of mental infrastructure to hang the ideas on, and there is nothing intrinsically unworthy about not already having that infrastructure.
By teaching oneself I pretty much meant "using books and the internet, for the most part", rather than from first principles. Even with some formal training, the bulk of the learning is done on project work, and most of the programmers I know who stuck with it as a career choice were the kind of people who had projects of their own on the boil all the time. If they're in full time employment, those projects might be on semi-permanent hold, but the moment it ends, they're upskilling themselves at very little cost. Their latest work is added to the CV.
The first "in" can come from their qualifications, but a qualification that most employers looking to hire programmers will be impressed by is an actual program they can look at. One thing about software that you write for yourself is that you're at least allowed to decide for yourself if you will show it to anyone. And of course it's your choice if you bring any libraries that you write to a new job - but even having something like that in your hand is a bonus.
I know there's an educational school of thought that most teaching is self-teaching and teachers are mostly the guides to show the way. I'd say it's true to varying degrees - some subjects mostly have to be drilled into you, like the Law. But computing seems to be an area where that school is particularly true.
But a course will also require that “infrastructure’, and if you don’t have that background, you might pass the course, and you might get a good idea what programmers do, but you won’t be a productive programmer, or ever get out of being a “junior”. (The industry is full of such people).
One can of course learn numeracy and comprehension of systems (I'm not sure if one can learn a habit of accuracy, if, as an adult, one's never thought it as of value before). Programming might be a way of improving ones general skills in this area, but maybe not at the level of imminent professional entry.
I’d have to agree that self-teaching is a blunt instrument, even with the tightest self-discipline. One can read all the books they can on the latest coding technologies, and still get nowhere fast. Unless of course, they set up their own biz, which not everyone is up to. As for myself, I’m too autistic and inattentive to self-teach to a large degree.
Where schemes like DevAcademy stand out is the direct links with industry and what is basically a revival of the old trade apprenticeship approach. From my recent past experiences, an apprenticeship-style approach is the one thing that can fill the missing rungs at the bottom of the ladder where it’s needed most.
One of the better policy platforms to come from the Labour caucus is the Digital Apprenticeship program, but sadly Prostetnic Vogon Joyce – a big fan of survivorship bias – wasn’t interested, instead reinventing the wheel with the ICT Grad Schools. It’s yet another reason why I’m angry at tax dollars being denied to those who need a hand up, while going to those who are already loaded and know how to game the system.
In my current job, I’ve done HTML/CSS/Visual C# on a very informal basis, but it’s just an add-on to my usual work (building and fixing PCs and laptops) and I tend only to use them when I have to. I’m still doubtful as to whether Web coding is the way forward for me, given my past grief with concepts like pointers in Pascal and Modula-2, and bombing out horribly with final year papers involving Java and CORBA. Or maybe those doing the teaching were at fault? Deep down, maybe I’m really a designer over a developer at heart.
Do you think you would like testing, as they do at Aspiritech?
Do you think you would like testing, as they do at Aspiritech?
It’s one area that’s been recommended to me. Unfortunately, NZ has nothing closely resembling Aspiritech or Specialisterne that caters for autistic jobseekers. At least last time I checked.
I had a year’s worth of mentorship with an NZCS/IITP mentor, and it didn’t get terribly far. What I was hoping would fill the missing rungs in the career ladder turned out to be little more than pep talk. So unless you have a degree, IITP membership is time and money down the drain.
And what I’m absolutely sure about is that I’m best suited to a trade apprenticeship training approach. Trouble is, DevAcademy seems to be the only player in town.
I wonder whether we could have a separate thread for people to give advice about alternatives? Russell?
Can't come soon enough. An apprenticeship approach offers mentorship, networking opportunities and immersiveness that self-teaching doesn't.
The longer I remain in a dead-end rut, the more I develop a bitter and cynical view that the future could be one of techno-feudalism where only the neurotypical able-bodied with post-grad degrees have gainful jobs, if the prevailing winner-takes-all orthodoxy remains in place.
Here's a blog post about another ICT training possibility, called Industry Connect (based in Auckland).