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February 8, 2018
Breaking Tech: How I Became a Software Engineer with Zero Experience
February 8, 2018
My name is Eric Green, I'm a junior software engineer at Cybrary. I'm a San Diego native who has made Washington, DC my new home.I was inspired to write this blog in large part as a response to Phill Kimpton's Soldier to Cyber talk at BSides Leeds. In his presentation, found here, Phill credits his newfound position as a pen tester, having zero previous experience, to the wealth of knowledge he found using free online resources, one of which is Cybrary. I found many similarities between Phill and I. I also imagine relating to many more of Cybrary's users, some who are determined to change their lives and enter the cyber security industry.Let me tell you a bit about myself: I graduated from California State University San Marcos in 2013 with a degree in mass media. After graduating, I became a CELTA Certified English Language Teacher. After teaching abroad and traveling the world for over a year, I moved back home to San Diego and then to Washington, DC to take my professional career to the next- level. Well, that was the idea anyway. I stumbled upon a customer service job that took the happiness straight out of me.I was fortunate enough to be roommates with Casey Gil who had just completed 11 years serving in the Navy. I had met him when we moved in together and he was beginning his demanding career in cyber security. It was Casey’s determination and drive to get into this industry that inspired me so much. He suggested I teach myself the fundamentals of web development and encouraged me to join the General Assembly's web development immersive course just like he did. It certainly paid off for him; Casey is now a Cyber Defense analyst. Seeing firsthand Casey’s success in the industry motived me to further my career.Now, I know amongst computer science majors, coding bootcamps can be frowned upon. But, just like in cyber security, there is a talent gap within the web development field that bootcamps seek to fill.Unfortunately, indecisive as I am, I sat on this decision for nearly a year. So while working at the customer service job, on the weekends I would traverse the infinite web searching for free web development learning resources.I finally pulled the trigger on enrolling in General Assembly's web development immersive course and started in January 2017. It was a three-month intensive program that taught me current front- and back-end technologies, programming languages, frameworks, tools, and methodologies used in today’s market. One of the biggest challenges I faced with the program was building my last individual project, which was a full stack MEAN (MongoDB, Express, AngularJs, NodeJs) web application. It was my chance to build an app with create, read, update, and delete functionality.At the time, I had difficulty understanding how the back-end spoke to the front-end, and vice versa. It was moments like these that I was thankful for being a Google search pro, a documentation wizard, and best friends with stackflow.com. I was better able to understand data binding, Ajax requests, and MVC (Model View Controller) architecture.As someone new to web development, my advice to those starting out as well is that there are many others in the same position as you. The community, both online and in your local cities, are huge. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, join a meet-up, and review someone else’s code to make sense of it for yourself (**Don’t plagiarize!**). That’s how you learn and grow.A few months after graduating and after a many job applications later, I caught Cybrary's eye. They saw something in me that I at times I forget I have because it's like second nature: the drive to learn. It’s important to keep learning. Many of us want to break into tech and cyber industries because we felt our lives stagnate. We don’t want to carry that stagnation over once we’ve broken through, particularly in these two industries where the technologies and threats are constantly changing. You can’t afford to stay still and be complacent with your current knowledge.Working at Cybrary and hearing stories like Phill's keeps the drive of learning and continuous growth alive within me. Similar to Phill, that drive is what it takes to succeed in the field of your choice. Web development, like cyber security, is a constantly evolving industry. With emerging technologies and new security threats, it is individuals with motivation and determination like Phill and many Cybrary users like him, to stay on top of it all and to disrupt the industry.If you're interested in working at Cybrary, you can view our current openings here.I’m a Junior Software Engineer here at Cybrary. You will usually find me breaking shit. I’m down and dirty with Cybrary’s platform code hoping to build and deliver a new and improved user experience all Cybrarians will enjoy. I love to learn, I love to build, and I love to be creative. I am passionate about web development and creating user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing applications. Besides coding, I love reading comic books, playing video games, and traveling the world. Favorite comic: I’m really enjoying a wide variety of DC’s Rebirth, particularly Trinity. Currently playing: Monster Hunter World on the Xbox One. Favorite country I’ve visited: Japan.