Why don’t you become a programmer?

Why don’t you become a programmer?

Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to change careers and become a programmer? For so much information, online courses and books. Why is such a small percentage of those who wish to achieve their cherished goal – their first job?

You can’t just take it and become a programmer

Few numbers

According to statistics, attendance at lectures in universities is 15-17%. On free online courses, 4% of students reach the middle of their studies (in the case of paid courses, the percentage is higher). And how difficult is it to get a job after studying? The competition consists of approximately 80 people per place for a junior level vacancy. Among other things, from 2021 to 2023, the situation with the hiring of novice specialists worsened several times. The foreign market was closed, the outflow of senior and middle-level specialists abroad first increased, and then slowed down. Declining churn has slowed the social elevator for startup developers.

Survivor’s mistake

Relying on the depressing figures of statistics, we can draw a conclusion – a small percentage of people out of the total number of applicants will be able to successfully enter IT. I think everyone has read success stories. They sound great. But it is impossible to repeat them. So what’s the matter?

The reason lies in the infamous survivor’s mistake. I will tell briefly for those who are not familiar with it. During the Second World War, not all planes returned from combat sorties. And those that came back usually had a lot of damage. The damage was concentrated in those places that allowed the plane to return to the airfield. Accordingly, the goals were critical places. The designers made the correct conclusion that it is necessary to book the parts of the aircraft that were not damaged. Because planes with damage to these parts simply did not return to the airfield.

The mistake can be extrapolated to the professional sphere of life. You hear the lonesome voices of those who have succeeded, but you don’t hear those who have failed.

Reasons for failure

I tried to repeat success stories. But it didn’t work. I imagined what result I wanted to get. But how to get to him – he had no idea. Moving forward helped me understand that with each new attempt I reduce the probability of failure.

That is why I will not tell you the secrets of success. In my opinion, success is a probabilistic concept. You can eliminate the most likely risks and thereby increase your chances of a successful coincidence. I will list the main reasons for failures that I have encountered myself. What price did I pay for them and what conclusions did I draw.

The first reason is that it is not your calling

Why did you decide to go to IT? If only for money, I have bad news for you. Most likely, your motivation will not be enough to reach this money. Nowadays, you can earn similar money in a very large number of areas. Just going into IT because everyone else is going is a bad strategy. To choose your field in life, I advise you to be guided by the principle: you need to do in life what you do from idleness.

For example, since childhood I loved microelectronics, inventing and constructing something. In university, I could not decide for a long time what I wanted to do in life. I really enjoyed coming up with algorithms and implementing them in code. But I did not realize the relationship between passion and vocation. Then I did not hear about this principle and spent many years in vain. Instead of getting into programming right away, I worked as a server administrator for six years after graduating from university. And only when I was finally burnt out, I decided to change the field of activity to programming. If I had known this principle earlier, I would have saved many years.

The second reason is a lack of motivation

I started and stopped reading many books. I threw it away either because of a lack of motivation, or because I understood that the information provided would be of little use to me. In the era of online courses, the situation has become simpler – you are given fresh and relevant information in a well-structured form. But here too, people lose motivation and do not even reach the middle of the course. Do not do test tasks. They do not feel feedback and support. Sounds depressing, doesn’t it?

Why is motivation so bad? Let me start by saying that 95% of people do not have proper internal self-discipline. I can also count myself in that 95%. Therefore, when I was going to go to the gym again, I hired a coach. We practiced with him three times a week for a year. This is an example of extrinsic motivation. And for the vast majority of people, it works.

The situation was similar when trying to become a programmer. For example, I wanted to study Robert Lafort’s book on C++. My mistake was trying to get through the whole book as quickly as possible. After about 200 pages, I burned out and put the book in the long box. Returned to her in 4 months. I realized that I had forgotten everything and started reading from the beginning. This cycle was repeated several times. Also, in order to get through the material as quickly as possible, I ignored the test tasks and reflection questions. Of course, I did not try to retell the studied material and did not even repeat it (hello, the forgetting curve)!

What is the bottom line? According to the results, it took me 1 year to study one book. And the practical mastering of the acquired skills stretched over five years. If there was a person in my life at that time who would motivate me to study and give me advice – I would have saved many years and nerves.

The third reason is lack of plan and habit

I’m sure many of you have heard that athletes mentally rehearse a shot or reception in their head. Surprisingly, it is a substitute for a real workout. The same neural connections are formed that occur during full training.

If you are afraid and sabotage a big task, two techniques will help you. First – Start right now. Although a little, but now. This is how you will form new neural connections and convince yourself that it is powerful. Second – break all the work into small steps. It is better if you make a plan on paper with root points and sub-points. Then play the whole plan in your head. Get to the end and reach the goal. Then imagine how you celebrate the victory. What gift will you give? It is necessary to thank. Both for the final result and for intermediate ones (very similar to gamification, I agree). As a result, having worked out the plan in your head, you will form the necessary connections in your brain, if you were already doing it.

They say that it takes 21 days to form a habit. I will not agree. Perhaps the necessary neural connections are just emerging. But it will take at least a year for the habit to become your nature. Returning, for example, with a trainer – going to the gym became as natural for me as brushing my teeth only a year later. Habit became my nature. She became a part of me.

The situation is similar with bad habits. Why is it so difficult to get rid of them? It is not so easy to take and remove those autobahns of neural connections, which have been lined up for years, and let traffic flow along a freshly trodden path. Only after the new path becomes the same autobahn – it will be the main course of your thoughts and actions.

The fourth reason is the bitterness of crabs and the bitterness of failure

Everyone around, seeing how you study new things day and night, will be skeptical at first. And when you don’t succeed and you give up, they will console you and say: “Well, where did you go?! Be like everyone else!”. I will give a wonderful analogy of a bucket with crabs. If there is one crab in the bucket, it will easily get out. But if there are many of them, they drag each other back to the bottom. As a result, no one will be able to get out.

In life, our environment affects us. And even stronger than we used to think! There is a good saying: “Tell me who your friend is, and I’ll tell you who you are.” Like it or not, most of us are conformists. We adapt to the environment, fearing to be rejected by society. And if there are no people in your environment who will constantly support you and set an example – it will be very, very difficult for you to swim against the current. You need like-minded people. Figuratively speaking, if you go to the gym – you need friends who go with you and share your interest in sports.

Failures reduce our confidence in ourselves and the chosen direction. If it was a series of failures, then self-esteem falls below the plinth. The most rational thing to do would be to keep moving forward. But what is rationality, if we all live by emotions? If there is no emotional reinforcement, then you can move on only from inertia.

Failures derailed me for many months and even years. It seemed to me that if I didn’t succeed right away, then programming was not my thing. So I am stupid and incapable, and being a developer is the fate of very talented people.

Of course it was a mistake. But it is very difficult not to fall into such prostration in moments of despair. I advise at such moments to praise yourself for your positive qualities and achievements. And it is better to write them in a diary. Praise even for small things – he went to the hall, cleaned the house, fixed the car and so on. Read this list again. This will greatly help you to feel the soil under your feet again.

Undoubtedly, the best solution here can be like-minded people who will support you. Especially those who have already passed this path and look at these troubles as temporary difficulties.

The fifth reason is inefficiency

If you have never walked this path and it is unfamiliar to you, then the road will be very winding and difficult. You will make a lot of mistakes, waste a lot of time, and as a result, you may end up in the wrong place. It’s like wandering in the forest without a compass. Or drive without a navigator through a big city during rush hour, not knowing where the traffic jams are now.

What should be taught, and what is useless? You need two points of support: goal and skills. First you need to mark the goal. In the world of IT, there is an incredible number of technologies and specializations. The easiest way to choose a goal is to open the vacancies of your dreams and see what skills are needed in them. The selected target will be your beacon. A lighthouse can be both very far away and relatively close. I do not advise you to immediately choose top vacancies for professionals. It will be a very distant beacon for you. It will be almost impossible to swim alone without the necessary skills. Try to choose a lighthouse closer – the vacancy is easier.

So, you have chosen your goal and it is relatively close to you. But how to reach this lighthouse through storms and troubles? You can try to swim by yourself. But do you have the skill to sail in a storm? I think not.

Skills come with time. On the way to your goal, you fall and, rising, move on. As for me, in moments of despair I said to myself: “You can leave everything as it is! But you don’t like how you eat. So get up and move on!” And I got up and went on. Because I absolutely did not want to leave everything as it was. I can’t say that it came out immediately and well. It took me many years and many books on psychology to learn to control my motivation and keep moving forward after another failure.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a mentor to help me shorten my path many times. There was no one around who had already walked this path and knew most of the pitfalls I would stumble upon. There was no one who could support me in moments of despair. And in general, help me understand, and what do I want from life besides money?! Therefore, my path was very winding and long. And the longer your path, the lower the probability that you will complete it. Most people just don’t have enough.


I believe that each of you will boldly cite even more reasons that lead to failures in building a career. Lack of internal motivation, lack of a plan and the right skills will put an end to a career in IT for many newcomers. If you have something to share – be sure to write about it in the comments!

If you want to make your way easier and faster, gather like-minded people around you and enlist the support of those who have already built a career in IT. Take it as a given that the path will be difficult and it is not so much about money as about calling. And for those who like stories about the life experience of programmers, welcome to my Telegram channel.

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