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Boring job to software developer with no computer science degree

Boring job to software developer with no computer science degree

Ryan has kindly shared his story about changing career from being a bored helpdesk employee to finding creative freedom and much better pay as a programmer. Ryan Warner, a Canadian programmer has been successful in web development despite not having a CS degree. Ryan gives lots of tips for self taught software developers including the fact that local networking and meeting other developers can help you find work.

Hey, so can you introduce yourself?

The majority of my time is spent on web development, working primarily with PHP, Javascript, and MySQL. I work for Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario where we serve over 600 websites on a custom Wordpress multi-tenant setup, to millions of visitors every year. The Web Services Department also supports the web based application software used at the university. Before I moved to Ottawa I lived in Kingston, Ontario and worked for Queen’s University, supporting the web presence of the Housing department.

How has your life changed since becoming a professional programmer?

Before I wrote code professionally I was very bored with my work. After working in a ISP helpdesk role for several years I was able to find work supporting network infrastructure, but I didn’t find much satisfaction in it. I love that programming is a creative discipline where my work has a direct impact on people. I have found programming to pay substantially more than the IT support work I was doing and the work to be much more plentiful.

Can you tell us what an average day looks like for you just now as a web developer working at a university?

Since the start of the pandemic we have been working remotely, but in terms of my day to day work that hasn’t changed much. I am a member of a team of five, and our work and skill sets are divided between a variety of projects. My skill set is quite broad, so my day’s work can vary quite a bit.

On any given day I might be working on the CSS for our design framework, a Wordpress theme or plugin, or a system that handles student interaction. Recently I’ve been working to containerize a new application the university will be using to manage exam accessibility accommodations. I am not an especially capable designer, so I am grateful to be able to rely on my teammates skills in those areas.

How did you get a job with no CS degree? Did you do any particular courses or coding bootcamps?

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