“I quit my business and became a developer at 43”
Sergey told why at the age of 43 he quit his business and became a developer in an IT company, and described what difficulties should be prepared for.
How I decided to leave my own business for development
I graduated from the institute with a degree in Information Systems and Networks and for the next 20 years, together with my partner, I developed my own business for the supply and maintenance of legal reference systems. We did not have developers as such, but had our own technical support, which established reference and legal bases for customers and eliminated problems in their work. I did everything from recruiting new employees to interacting with suppliers and customers. Over the past 20 years, I have accumulated a very large technical outlook: it began to work back in the days of MS-DOS, floppy disks, and the first versions of Windows. I understood and knew a lot from the IT field, but I didn’t have any systemic and in-depth knowledge in order to make money by programming.
Since relatively recently, all reference and legal systems have switched to the online format, and we stopped working directly with the databases themselves. Thus, our business began to shift towards consulting accountants and lawyers, our main customers. I did not like this: I am not interested in consulting, and I do not consider myself a professional in this field. As a result, my partner and I decided to leave the business. At that time I was 43 years old.
It was necessary to think what to do next. I wanted to do something with my hands, work independently and not depend on strangers. Many have the mistaken idea that a businessman does not depend on anyone, but this is not so. You depend on your employees, customers, partners, suppliers, the state and a dozen other factors. One way or another, programming has accompanied me all my life, and I began to think in the direction of this area. There is quite a lot of demand for developers on the market, and I realized that I can jump onto the “IT train” and achieve something, even if I am over 40. I had before my eyes examples: several of my 33-35-year-old acquaintances time completed in Innopolis Java courses. Now they are all experienced developers and successfully work in IT. I wanted to repeat their path. After all, since they were able to change their profession, the same was possible for me. I was greatly motivated and encouraged by JavaRush success stories. I dreamed that someday I could write about my own successful experience, and now I'm telling you about my path.
In programming, I like the fact that every hour you spend reading educational literature or watching video tutorials takes you one step closer to the goal. It seems to me that IT is generally such an area where all investments in personal growth pay off with a high probability. In business, it’s more difficult to see the results of your work, unlike development, and for me it has always been important.
Of course, it was scary to end the business that I had been running for 20 years, and it is completely unclear what will happen next. But literally in a few weeks the fears disappeared: I looked at the vacancies, saw the popularity of development languages and evaluated my prospects in a few years. All my life I just did that I was learning something new, so I quickly realized that there was nothing to fear.
The former business partner doubted this whole undertaking and said that young developers would “crush” me and it’s too late to change my life so radically. But I didn’t especially listen to him. It’s necessary to think not “I am already 40”, but “I am only 40”. Ahead is at least 20-30 years of active life, so I did not discuss where I am now, but thought about where I will be in a few years.
For me, the most important thing was that my family fully supported me. At that time, we lived in Orel, but my eldest daughter was finishing 11th grade and wanted to go to a Moscow university. She was actively preparing for the exam, participated and won at the All-Russian Olympiads and in various competitions. I was motivated by her desire and efforts, and I just could not retreat. In addition, the financial pillow left over from the sale of the business allowed me not to work for several months and devote all my time to training.
It only remained to determine the language. The choice fell on Java. This is not the youngest language, so it already has a large community formed and you can find many courses and resources for self-study. And the number of vacancies hinted that it was worth studying.
How I studied: on my own, with a mentor and in courses
In the summer of 2018, I started learning Java. At that time, I did not have work as such - I already transferred business matters, and I was able to devote 4-8 hours to studying daily. Started with a JavaRush resource. I solved problems, watched instructional videos, read. I independently reached level 20 out of 41. There were no problems with materials: you can always find something useful on the Internet. No wonder they say that the main skill of a programmer is the ability to google. You can learn yourself, it would be a desire and, most importantly, time.
But I soon realized that without support and a mentor, development is not going as fast as I wanted. You seem to have done everything, but you are not sure that you have chosen the right solution and, perhaps, you could do better. I was tormented by doubts that I was missing something, but there was nobody to ask.
Mentorship program and first projects
Soon, I found the Java Mentor project, and learning went faster. I spoke no longer with the bot on the site, but with a living person. Experienced mentors gave feedback on assignments, conducted a code review, and explained errors. In February, I even visited the two-week Java Bootcamp hackathon in St. Petersburg, where I finally worked as a team on a small project.
After the hackathon, I went through a selection on the Java EE Online Course at Innopolis University . Everything was serious here: a very busy schedule of classes, a mentor from an IT company, a real and big team project (we developed an analogue of a virtual trading platform).
Thus, I already had two projects behind me. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t production and they didn’t pay for them. In any case, it was my real job. I advise all newcomers to IT: do not write a “training project” in your resume, better indicate exactly what you were doing and what results you achieved, for example, “implemented a data sorting system”, “improved system performance from 50 to 100 requests per second”. In the same way, do not evaluate yourself as a specialist and indicate in the resume that you are a jun or middle. Write simply: "Java developer." They will appreciate you already at the interview, which may be a dozen, and in one company they will give “juna”, and in the other - “signora”. Therefore, it is always better to focus on your real achievements and results.
First offers, moving to Moscow and working at EPAM
After the course in Innopolis, I received a state diploma on professional retraining. In September 2019, they started calling me for my first interviews with Innopolis resident companies. Life hack, which I remembered as a businessman, even if you don’t know the answer to the recruiter’s question, you shouldn’t say “I don’t know.” It is very hard of hearing, and it seems that as a specialist you are not very. Try to reflect on the task out loud to show the course of your thoughts, or say that you will definitely deal with this later.
It turns out, a year after I quit and started learning Java, I had three job offers on hand. I was called to the position of the middle, but in Innopolis I did not want to work - it is very far from Orel. But even in my hometown there were no suitable vacancies. There was a question about moving.
One fine day, EPAM recruiters came to me. I myself did not even respond to the vacancies of the company, because I still doubted my abilities. At the interview, he tried not to be nervous and set himself up that there was nothing wrong with the interview. Everything went well, and I was invited to work in the EPAM Moscow office. The company gave time to search for an apartment, partially helped with the relocation, and we moved with the family. For the first three weeks, I calmly studied internal materials and systems. It was lucky that my manager worked almost at the next table, and I could turn to him for any question.
Most of the guys in the office work under 30, and sometimes young colleagues looked at me, saying that this uncle is doing here. In addition, I did not pass JavaRush is a very good resource for beginners, where there is little theory and a lot of tasks. To understand whether Java suits you or not, what kind of language it is, how it works and how complex it is, it is better to find a resource. All my friends who once came into programming started exactly with JavaRush.
EPAM regularly runs free Java courses .
- Learning Java, Katie Sierra and Burt Bates are a book for beginners not only in Java, but in programming in general.
- The Philosophy of Java, Bruce Eckel.
- "Java. Professional library. Volume 1 and 2 ", Kay Horstmann and Gary Cornell.
- "Java. The Complete Guide, "Herbert Schildt.
- "Java. A Beginner's Guide, "Herbert Schildt.
- The Basics of Java, Nikolai Prokhorenok.
- “Grok algorithms. An Illustrated Guide for Programmers and Curious Ones, ”Aditya Bhargava is a very good book for understanding basic algorithms.
alishev - YouTube channel with video tutorials.
Free Stepic course on the basics of Java web development.
letsCode - YouTube channel.
Lecture “Java Development Fundamentals” .
Author: Eliza Ilyazova .