How to Become an IT Specialist? Complete Guide 2022

Education
Contents
  1. 01. Introduction (what the article is about and for whom)
  2. 02. People will change 2-3 professions in the course of their lives
  3. 03. Pros of working in the IT-sphere
  4. Only for the young? (No)
  5. 04. Motivation (at the start)
  6. 05. Avatars
  7. Avatar – Adam. Action Plan
  8. Avatar – Mike. Action Plan
  9. 06. Steps of the IT– profession
  10. Junior – from 0 to 2 years
  11. Middle specialist – 2 to 5 years
  12. Senior – 5 to 7 years
  13. 07. The goal and the three pits along the way
  14. 08. The Pit #1 – Determining What You Like
  15. 1. Key areas in IT
  16. 2. Descriptions of IT professions
  17. 3. How do you choose a direction that’s to your liking?
  18. 4. My personal search experience
  19. 5. If you began to learn what you ended up not liking
  20. 6. How does “liking”/”disliking” affect growth?
  21. 09. The Pit #2. Preparing for the Junior position
  22. 1. Expensive courses VS free/cheap courses
  23. 2. Find and take free courses at sites like coursera.org
  24. 3. Expensive courses
  25. 4. Ask the community for links for free self-study
  26. 5. Gaining practical experience
  27. 6. Form the environment
  28. 10. The Pit #2.1 Finding your first job
  29. 1. Remote or office
  30. 2. Drafting a resume
  31. 3. Learning how to go through interviews
  32. 4. Where and how to look for 20 interviews?
  33. 5. Test assignments
  34. 6. Should I go to an IT company or a factory?
  35. 7. Employment in an IT company
  36. 8. Work at a factory
  37. 9. Subject matter
  38. 10. Psychology
  39. 11. What to do if you’ve had 20 interviews and haven’t gotten the job?
  40. 12. Freelancing – Gaining experience and the first money through freelancing
  41. 11. Pit #3: From Junior to Middle
  42. 1. A Mentor or Coach
  43. 2. Community
  44. 3. Google = search for information on your own
  45. 4. Start your own project for testing and experimenting
  46. 5. Share information: Start your own blog or video blog
  47. 6. Learning new things—1 hour/day
  48. 7. Importance of learning: How to learn new things
  49. 8. Professional development courses
  50. 9. A selection of tips from Captain Hindsight
  51. 10, In 1.5 years you need to move to a Middle position
  52. 11. How to spend your wages
  53. 12. Conclusion
  54. To express my gratitude

01. Introduction (what the article is about and for whom)

In this article I will take a detailed look at the issue of retraining for an IT specialist position. This step can be taken after the age of 30, when the chosen direction in youth turned out to be uninteresting. I want to please the reader: it is possible to train for the IT profession after 30 years old from the physiological point of view, from the point of view of brain work – there are no obstacles. In a year or two you can become an IT-professional with the proper approach and overcoming three barriers, which I have conventionally identified.

Barrier No. 1 is to determine the direction you like and are comfortable with. This is one of the most important issues. Since success depends directly on diligence, the motivation is a genuine interest and feeling that this is yours. Barrier number 2 – to gain knowledge in the chosen IT direction, to be able to get a job as a Junior (entry level specialist). Barrier #3 – overcoming the Junior position and moving to the Middle level. After the transition to this position, your environment will have no questions about how old you are or what you do in IT.

In this article we will analyze in detail the problems which stand in the way of the future specialist and the ways to solve them – of course, taking into consideration the position and responsibilities of a person at the age of 30, when he/ she has some responsibilities (family, children) and most likely has a current job which provides the closure of these issues. Also, this article will be helpful to young people who are on the lookout.

How this article is required reading

You should not try to read, comprehend, and understand this article in one go. We recommend that you set aside a couple of evenings for it. Make some tea/ coffee, and let’s get to grips with the questions at hand.

02. People will change 2-3 professions in the course of their lives

50-70 years ago, young people chose a profession once and for all. Whether they liked it or not, they worked. Rarely did anyone change their major.

This was due to the fact that technological progress was slower than today, professions did not become obsolete. They certainly are not obsolete today, but there are already signs that routine occupations will disappear in the near future. For example, stores without a cashier. It may not be going as fast as the media are suggesting, but the trends are there. It takes constant training to stay on track. We will return to the issue of constant training in this article.

03. Pros of working in the IT-sphere

I will not write a lot of words in this section.

I will distinguish the key advantages:

  • Interesting work and tasks;
  • The possibility of working remotely;
  • Ability to move to Europe, the United States or other countries;
  • Good pay (from $500 /month and even up to $20000/ month. (Senior Google USA));
  • Demand for IT professions in the next 20 years.

Only for the young? (No)

Yes, IT companies take young professionals to the Junior (entry level) position. This is a fact. 

But, as we see, in the world now there’s a shortage of IT-specialists and, of course, an acute shortage of professionals. 

Let’s figure out how to become a professional in IT.

04. Motivation (at the start)

Ahead of you awaits:

  • Challenges;
  • Downgrade to a Junior position from an experienced position (if you are currently employed);
  • A corresponding reduction in salary. All of these difficulties must be overcome.

Without a strong motivation, it is almost impossible to go through them.

Before you go any further, you need to stop, take a notebook with a pen, and ask yourself questions:

  • How would your life proceed if you don’t go into IT?
  • How will your life be if you go into IT?
  • Why did you decide now to change your profession and go into IT?

Try to get written answers to these questions. Think about it. 

Descartes Square
Descartes Square

05. Avatars

So, when we say “become IT after 35,” we’re not talking more about age, we’re talking about accumulated commitment.

Avatar 1 – Adam:

  • 35 years old;
  • Married, 2 kids, office worker.

Avatar 2 – Mike:

  • 25 years old;
  • Not married, no job.

Avatar – Adam. Action Plan

  • Realistic timeline for transitioning to IT (1-1.5 years = 12-18 months).
  • Requires systematic study and dedicated time to IT. 
  • Weekdays – 1-1-1.5 hours and one weekend day – 3-5 hours.
  • If there is no consistency, the transition period may stretch for 3-4 years.

As a result, a life of a year and a half in the format of “basic work + IT training”.

This is quite a tangible load on the body, nervous system and brain.

After work, especially if stressful, do not be surprised that the study will be tight. Don’t get upset and don’t blame yourself for laziness and procrastination. With this feeling and mood to help you cope, it will be your interest and direction that you will love.

An important point: you need to be able to rest. Usually the average person does not know how to do this. And this must be learned separately – how to rest properly. If you do not provide yourself proper rest, the information will be assimilated poorly. And this will lead to breakdowns and the cessation of classes.

Remember that 1.5 years to the goal – it’s a marathon, and you need to correctly calculate your own strength. Otherwise, you may face burnout and withdrawal.

If you are Adam, but you have a financial cushion for six months, then look at the following scenario.

Avatar – Mike. Action Plan

  • No main job. 
  • The realistic time frame for going into IT is 0.5 years = 6 months. 
  • It is required to fully devote all your free time to IT.
  • Ideally, 6 days a week for 6-10 hours. 

Yes, the workload will be substantial, but since there is not much other work-related responsibility in your life, go for it.

And yes, you need to be able to rest/switch. See above.

06. Steps of the IT profession

In short, the path of professionals in IT is as follows:

Junior - Middle - Senior

Let’s elaborate a little more on the timeline of becoming an IT professional, what to do, and the salary. This is general data, it is given for a better understanding of the overall picture.

Junior – from 0 to 2 years

What does a Junior specialist do? Performs the tasks clearly assigned and described by a senior specialist or supervisor. That is, performs some small volume and most routine tasks, which are part of a project managed by a senior specialist. In fact, is in the role of an apprentice. In two words: routine and simple work.

Salary (as of Spring 2022):

  • U.S. – $50,000 /year
  • Europe. – €50,000 /year

Middle specialist – 2 to 5 years

What does a Middle specialist do? Quickly and qualitatively solves typical tasks (leads typical projects). Key tasks and responsibilities – to do typical projects/tasks in an excellent manner and on time.

Salary (as of Spring 2022):

  • U.S. – $90,000 /year
  • Europe. – €65000 /year

Senior – 5 to 7 years

What Senior specialists do: solve the most complex and unusual business problems (leading non-typical projects). Think through and find the right solutions to difficult situations (right – from a business point of view). Their vast experience and deeper understanding of the subject area (as opposed to Middle) help them in this. Understand which tools need to be developed/implemented to speed up the work of Junior and Middle specialists.

Salary (as of Spring 2022):

  • U.S. – $130,000 /year
  • Europe. – €80,000 /year

If you idealize, the bottom line is that in 10 years, you are a sought-after IT professional. With the right effort and desire.

Sources:

07. The goal and the three pits along the way

It is possible to set a goal to become a middle specialist (Middle-level) in the IT-sphere. Once you reach this level, no one cares how old you are or who you were before.

If everything is OK with your motivation (we analyzed the question of motivation above), and there is an understanding of what you need it for, then it is time to review in detail three problems, which stand in the way of becoming an IT specialist.

How to Become an IT Specialist? Complete Guide 2022

08. The Pit #1 – Determining What You Like

On the one hand, this is a responsible question. Because you have to see a lot of different things, expand your horizons. Your brain will encounter areas that are new to it, but you don’t need to dive deep into them. At this stage, you will have a sense of excitement.

At some point, you must decide which of the IT-spheres is more preferable to you? And then move further in this direction.

Is this choice important? Yes and no.

In IT it will not be superfluous, if you have some related knowledge. For example, if you learn a little bit of programming and it does not suit you, you can go into business analysis. And that’s where the programming knowledge you’ve gained will come in handy.

1. Key areas in IT

Design:

  • Interface Designer (UX/UI)
  • Graphic Designer

Programming:

  • Backend Development
  • Interface Development
  • Mobile development
  • Testing (QA)

Management:

  • Project Management
  • Product Management

Marketing:

  • Internet Marketing
  • SMM
  • SEO

Analytics:

  • Data Analytics
  • Data Science

2. Descriptions of IT professions

Interface Designer

Solves user and business challenges: develops the look and feel of websites and mobile apps, designs user experience and analyzes target audience.

Project Manager

The manager organizes the team, negotiates with clients, and makes responsible decisions to create products that change people’s lives.

Backend Developer

The developer creates the backend of websites: the brain that receives requests, communicates with the database, and relays the right information to the user. The developer designs the algorithms for interaction of the site with other Internet services.

Frontend developer

The frontend developer is responsible for the appearance of the website or mobile application: they typeset templates, arrange text and images in a beautiful manner, and improve user interaction with the interface.

Mobile developer

Development of programs for mobile devices based on Android and/ or iOS.

Test Analyst (QA)

A tester creates test scripts, predicts failures and finds bugs in products.

Internet Marketing Manager

An internet marketing manager has an in-depth understanding of key internet marketing tools, although they often don’t run ads themselves.

SMM Manager

An SMM manager is a professional who promotes businesses, namely companies, brands and individuals in social media (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and others).

SEO Specialist

The SEO Specialist optimizes websites for search engines (Google, Bing). Analyzes competitors, selects keywords, participates in content development and promotion.

Data Analyst

A data analyst extracts meaning from data: structures it, formulates and tests hypotheses, finds patterns and draws conclusions. Their work helps make decisions in business, management and science.

Data Science

A Data Science specialist structures and analyzes large amounts of data, applies machine learning to predict events and discover non-obvious patterns. They help create and improve products in business, industry and science.

Example. To release a website (or an application), this is the kind of team we need:

  1. To program something, you first need to understand, who this product (site), is for and what problems it solves? What are the pains of the target audience? The Product Manager is responsible for this. 
  2. Next, you need to write good texts, which will catch the target audience. This is the copywriter. 
  3. Next, you need to wrap the text in a convenient form, this is the responsibility of the Designer.
  4. Next, you need a programmer, who will program all this, and ensure the buttons work.  
  5. Then you need a marketer, who will bring target customers to the site.
  6. Then you need an analyst, who will analyze and give feedback about what’s wrong, why something doesn’t work and why people aren’t buying the product?

And that’s just the general strokes. If you take marketing specialists, there are about 10-15 divisions, the same goes for programmers and the rest of the fields.

Of course, the site can be done by one person (when there is no money and you have a startup), and even 1000 can do it (when the site is needed for a big business, such as Amazon). 

15 years ago, there was little choice (programmers, designers and SEO). Now in IT, everyone can find a field to their liking.

3. How do you choose a direction that’s to your liking?

And how do you choose a food that you like?

Choose the right way

What tastes better to you? You have to try it. It’s a good idea to try different things a little at a time, and you’ll find what you like best.

4. My personal search experience

  1. In the beginning, I went to work as a webmaster and was engaged in the development of websites on CMS. My task was the following: I was responsible for creating the site, namely, a finished layout integrated into the content management system (CMS). The output was a functional working site.
  2. This direction turned out not to be right for me. I could not stand 8 hours a day at my PC and my eyes often closed in front of the monitor, although I was 18-20 years old and had a lot of energy.
  3. Six months later, I left the web development department for the SEO department, all within the same company. As it turned out, the SEO direction was right for me, and I spent just over 5 years in the SEO position. It wasn’t that I didn’t have my eyes closed on the SEO position, my days flew by like 1-2 hours, I didn’t have time to do everything I wanted to do and I was completely absorbed in the process. I didn’t want to go home. And when I came home, I was doing SEO)))

5. If you began to learn what you ended up not liking

Bottom line: if you started doing design, spent 3-12 months, realized that it’s not your thing and went on to look for something else- you think that’s bad and all that time is wasted in vain? 

I’ll make you sad and happy at the same time. That time was not spent in vain. 

Any professionals in IT, who, in addition to their knowledge, know related fields, are always valued more.

Why?

When designers understand how to layout their design, they make the design more convenient for the layout designers. They don’t make mistakes that the layout designers are bound to come back to them with.

When the marketers know how to fix the color of the button on the site quickly and not call the programmers, they can do it themselves and save their time and the time of the programmers.

Tip: Try, dig, figure it out, go from one area to another until you find yours

Time you spend on something that is not your own, will turn into something that is yours! (If you know what I mean.)

6. How does “liking”/”disliking” affect growth?

Before setting a direction, you need to realize that success in IT can only be achieved after 5-10 years of hard work (10,000-hour formula). Now it is important to understand that it will not be easy.

But it won’t be hard either, on one condition: if you enjoy it (your business).

This is important.

Do you like your work?

You have to choose/find a direction that you like.

Then when there are mistakes, failures (which is the experience), you will find the strength to move further forward. If you don’t like it, you will procrastinate (do nothing) and avoid difficult and unclear situations in every possible way.

09. The Pit #2. Preparing for the Junior position

The Junior position requires knowledge and experience in applying that knowledge.

We will break down several ways this knowledge can be acquired, so everyone can choose the most convenient method that suits their needs.

1. Expensive courses VS free/cheap courses

There are plenty of courses on the market today.

  • Expensive courses start at $2000.
  • Free ($0) or cheap courses go for about $20.
  • There are good quality courses among the expensive options as well as the cheaper options ($0-$20 price).
  • Similarly, bad courses can be found among both expensive and cost-effective options.

The fundamental difference between a good expensive course and a cheaper course is the support of teachers; the opportunity to ask questions, and get answers; group communication (communities) for course participants.

In my opinion, it is risky to go for an expensive course with little to no knowledge, for the following reasons:

  • It may not be your direction.
  • If you have zero knowledge, the course may run ahead and you won’t have time to study and do your homework. As a result, you could fall far behind the group.

Try to build a foundation of knowledge by using free courses ($0-$20). 

And then, if the direction suits you, you could try the expensive courses.

2. Find and take free courses at sites like coursera.org

The key: since you don’t know any good teachers or good courses, you can look at reviews and course popularity (among students) and make a decision based on that data. It’s fine if you don’t like the course, since the cost of the course was minimal or it was free.

You can go straight to a site like https://www.coursera.org/ and use the search to find the right courses for you.

How to Become an IT Specialist? Complete Guide 2022

The site has a variety of courses, both useful and not so useful.

Note:

  • The quality of the course – Number of grades and average score.
  • The popularity of the course – How many people have completed the course (registered)

On “Coursera”, there is an opportunity to take courses for free. Another good site with courses is https://www.udemy.com/

Not free, but for a nominal fee of $10-$20 you can find a suitable good course on this site.

3. Expensive courses

A few words about expensive courses (from $2000).

The nuances and advantages of such courses (compared to conditionally free courses):

  1. Closer interaction, support, checking homework, answering questions. A tailored approach is why the course is expensive.
  2. A certificate of completion for the “expensive course”. 
  3. Time. Since we are paying a substantial amount of money, it is important to properly prepare for the training and free up your time for studying and doing homework. Often, your money is spent, but there is no time to study. =(

Who is recommended to take expensive courses:

  • If you can’t form an environment or don’t have one, then you have no one to ask, and no one to advise you. 
  • If you can’t get a job. Taking courses at reputable campuses will be a serious benefit to your resume.

Caution: 

There are a lot of expensive courses on the market, but frankly bad quality! 

The schools and authors of these courses are mostly concerned with marketing and promoting their courses, not the training programs and students. 

Be sure to read through social media reviews about the course/school you want to buy. 

You can often find real reviews from students on youtube.com.

There is a lot of content on youtube.com. Separating good content from inferior content is very hard for an entry-level professional. This is where you need to reach out to the community with an appropriate request:

Ask the IT community for links for free self-study

Someone got a great link to the course =) Introduction to Data Science in Python

It’s important to understand that these courses and youtube.com videos deal with the simplest, most abstract example problems. They are only needed for an initial understanding of the toolkit.

No one will ask about them at the interviews. You need to look for and solve specific examples that may already arise in real life.

In summary: it is already advisable at this stage to find communities of interest and join them.

5. Gaining practical experience

As a rule, you will be confronted with abstract examples while taking the course. They certainly help you to absorb the theoretical material, but have nothing to do with the real business cases that you will be asked about at job interviews.

IT experience

A potential employer wants to see that you know how to apply in practice something from the theory.

Your job is to look for application of the new knowledge you have acquired to real business problems.

Gaining practical experience in IT

Yes, we can get our first real practical case study by doing something:

  1. For friends,
  2. family,
  3. ourselves.

We need to ask all relatives, friends, and acquaintances whether they need your experience. As a rule, 1–2 people in need are found.

It is for this group of people, there will be no barrier of Trust. A priori, friends and family trust us, and do not assume that we will take the job and “throw” the customer.

Regarding the project for themselves (3rd point), if you cannot find anything for friends and family, then you need to come up with a case and do something for yourself. That is, you are in the role of both customer and performer.

What can you do for yourself?

  • A blog or website about your hobbies;
  • Write or translate a longread (a very large article) and publish it on some reputable site (e.g. medium.com);
  • Make a game on Android;
  • Make a design for a website, a branding, or a logo.
  • …..

There are many options. Combine your passion (the customer) with a desire for experience (the doer). This approach often results in something workable.

One famous designer, first thing for his portfolio drew 10 logos of nonexistent companies. He made up these companies.

Make one for free

There is another way to gain practical experience: it is to do the work for a third-party customer (which you can find on freelancing sites) for free. I’m not a proponent of doing things for free for the market (and people I don’t know). As a rule, there won’t even be a thank you there. For this reason I do not want to write something on the subject. But a fact is a fact. Someone gets experience and cases this way.

6. Form the environment

Try as early as possible to form a new environment of people who already work in the area you are interested in.

Living with more experienced professionals helps and motivates. Experienced comrades will tell you what to pay attention to in the learning process and what you can skip scoring.

How can you form an environment?

  1. Attend local conferences, mitaps, seminars, courses;
  2. Join IT communities;
  3. Sign up with all the key IT people in your region on social networks.

10. The Pit #2.1 Finding your first job

First employment is certainly a hurdle, but I can’t make it into a full-fledged pit. Since employment is a consequence of your training process for the Junior position.

1. Remote or office

It is recommended, of course, that you get a job in an office. But because of COVID-19 there are significantly more remote offers and job openings. If you don’t have a choice, then it is worth looking for a remote job.

How can you make up for the downside of working remotely for Junior? A community and/or a mentor.

Once you start training (“Avatar-Adam” training schedule), after 1-1.5 years, you can already think about interviewing.

If there is no job (training schedule “Avatar – Mike”), then in general, after 0.5 years you can go to the Junior position.

2. Drafting a resume

I don’t really want to write much about the resume.

Apparently, it’s because I was mostly engaged in entrepreneurial activities. Done a resume only once in my life, and that was fifteen years ago.

Register on indeed.com (and linkedin.com) and create your resume by the template that is in the system.

And then you can follow the instructions:

How to Make a Resume (With Examples)

3. Learning how to go through interviews

Don’t expect to be hired after two or three interviews.

Most likely, it may take 10-20 interviews. Of those, the first 10-15 will go so-so, not very well. You will feel different. 

The interview is also an experience.

Important: write down questions, where you have gaps in your knowledge, and tighten these points already at home.

4. Where and how to look for 20 interviews?

  1. Make an attractive resume.
  2. Post your resume on different sites.
  3. Independently write to companies you would like to work for.

5. Test assignments

You may not be ready for a full interview at first, but as preparation for it and to build up your base of potential employers, I recommend you start asking for test assignments. 

A test assignment is a filter for an employer to call only the candidates they need for an interview. 

And for you, the test assignment is a way to get specific assignments and understand the task level. And of course, to try to solve the problem, to think, to educate yourself, and to solve this test. If the task doesn’t work out, then use Google. Most likely, someone on the Internet has already described this problem and its solution.

6. Should I go to an IT company or a factory?

By factory I mean the client side, i.e., for example, a dental clinic or a plastic window factory that has a small IT department. They need IT specialists, too.

By IT company I mean a company which has more IT specialists than other specialists. It could be an advertising agency, a game studio, or an online service.

7. Employment in an IT company

Pros:

  • You will have a lot of work;        
  • You will have a lot of projects;
  • You will have different project topics and different tasks;        
  • You will have successful cases as well as failures.

Cons:

  • You won’t make a lot of money (market averages);     
  • Stress;        
  • Burnout is possible;        
  • You will not be able to sell the service, negotiate with the client, etc. (as a rule in IT companies you are not allowed to pursue clients, but there are exceptions).

In general, a good school builds competence FAST from the junior level to the senior level; it helps you to get a portfolio, and to build connections and acquaintances. Bottom line: they should teach you how to do quality work there.

8. Work at a factory

Few projects, few interesting and complicated tasks, no rapid growth as a specialist. 

Optimal for such a position to leave by retirement age, or when I want peace and balance between work and life.

9. Subject matter

Perhaps you already have work experience. You have some experience. That experience is related to some subject area. Expertise in this subject area can be a significant advantage for you, both at the stage of employment and at the stage of further development.

Let’s take an example to better understand what I mean. You have worked in a construction company at some position, for 7-8 years. In general you have a complete understanding of the construction business, the pitfalls, and nuances.

As an option, you can try to find a junior position in a construction company. Why is this an advantage? You will generally have a better understanding of cause and effect. Even if the company makes some kind of website/service, it’s a product for people and it’s a living world where the pains and problems of customers will be familiar to you.

Your previous experience in the subject is expertise and as a result, you will have an advantage over other applicants.

10. Psychology

There is a psychological issue that may cause some difficulty.

Your mentors will be younger than you. You may be 35 and your mentor may be 25. 

There may be some right and difficult philosophical answer or advice here. But the best is simple: just do not sweat it.

11. What to do if you’ve had 20 interviews and haven’t gotten the job?

If after 20–30 interviews you still can’t get a job (and this can happen for various reasons), what do you do?

You can go to study on expensive courses. Get more knowledge and experience. Try to find courses where there is more emphasis on practice.

Or move towards freelancing and (or) your own projects. And along this road you can get to a middle-level specialist. And it’s easier for a middle-level specialist to get a job.

12. Freelancing – Gaining experience and the first money through freelancing

There are many sites where you can look for an order. For example, http://upwork.com/ (or https://www.fiverr.com/) for those who are good at English.

  1. Register.
  2. Fill in the information about yourself. 
  3. Look for suitable projects and get feedback. 

Since at this stage the experience is primary, the question of cost is secondary. We are looking for interesting tasks. 

It is possible, that after your first response you will not be ordered =). Chances are, they will. Target 10–20 responses to get your first order.

When generating responses, try to immerse yourself in the task that the customer describes, and give a personal response, since many responses follow templates. Templates are what most people answer with, their job is to get paid and do average-quality work. But this is not your way.

The worst thing is to get stuck at this level, answering with templates, doing average quality work (or worse than average), getting some minimum.

Your way is to choose interesting tasks. Give an answer to the customer, point out some pitfalls or your experience that is close to the topic of the question. Sooner or later there will be clients—it’s a matter of time and the number of responses.

In general, customers go to freelance sites mostly for cheap labor. But not always.

The first time the deal is done through special tools like “safe deal”. In this case, the full cost of the project (task) the clients transfer to the exchange, and only after the order is executed do they receive the work, and you—his money.

Do not fall for the “do it today—I’ll pay for it tomorrow”. Or take the chance, but keep in mind that you might not get paid.

The nuances of freelancing:

  1. Here you are your own boss.
  2. You need to fully support the client from the sale to the result.
  3. You need to find a community to communicate and share experiences.
  4. You need to receive and share knowledge in a systematic way.

In companies, all of these points overlap. In freelancing, it’s not obvious, but points 3 and 4 should definitely be thought about.

11. Pit #3: From Junior to Middle

Middle is the level where it doesn’t matter what age you are, what matters is that you have practical experience, and you can already solve business tasks in a quality and timely manner.

The path from Junior to Middle is 1.5 years from the moment you start working in a Junior position with a schedule of 40 hours a week.

Let’s break down what tools you can use to make this transition.

1. A Mentor or Coach

In the Junior position, it is important that you have some sort of supervisor/mentor to whom you can turn for solutions to difficult issues. It is critical for a Junior to develop NOT alone. You need someone who can explain and provide direction based on real personal experience. Who can act as such a mentor?

a. A supervisor or senior professional at work (preferably offline)

In the right relationship, at work should not only set tasks, but also explain, reveal the complexities and possible pitfalls that the specialist encounters in dealing with these issues. 

And it’s through the mentor that the learning process takes place, the transfer of relevant knowledge. 

If at your job you are only given tasks, without any mentoring from the manager, you need to think about whether you can grow in such an environment. Perhaps you should consider changing jobs.

b. A private mentor.

If your company has no one to mentor you, there are guys in the market who are willing to guide you. Of course, it won’t be for free. Ask/question if the professional provides mentoring and on what terms?

2. Community

If you can formulate a question and get an answer, that’s invaluable.

Example of a question

How to Become an IT Specialist? Complete Guide 2022
https://stackoverflow.com/

And the answer to the question

How to Become an IT Specialist? Complete Guide 2022
https://stackoverflow.com/

Make sure you spend your time and take the time to search for information (hello, Google!) before writing in the community and wasting participants’ time.

3. Google = search for information on your own

Many questions have been formulated before you. Many answers have been answered before. Learn to formulate your query correctly and search for information on search engines. 

Internet Basics: Using Search Engines

4. Start your own project for testing and experimenting

Be sure to have your own project (within your field) in order to conduct some experiments, to hone your skills. 

The fact is that on client projects you can’t always do everything you want. And your own project is a project that will not add money, of course, but will allow you to realize all your desires. 

As an example: we had a team SEO specialist who during working hours promoted commercial projects (service sites, online stores), and in the off hours (personal), promoted information projects/blogs, including his personal blog. Thus, in addition to experimenting on his project, he had a change of activity that protected him from burnout. Doing the same type of project at work and at home is a direct path to burnout. I think the idea is clear.

You can have anything as your projects:

  • A game
  • A website
  • Application
  • Business of selling cats through message boards =)
  • YouTube channel
  • Facebook group
  • ……… a million different ideas of yours.

Anything—it doesn’t have to be a successful project, quite the opposite: the goal here is not to make money, but to gain experience. Even on the contrary, you will have to spend some of your own money =).

5. Share information: Start your own blog or video blog

Ironically, when we share something, we learn the material we’re broadcasting better. 

Create your own blog if you have the potential and desire to try your hand as a blogger and contributor. Share the results of your experiments, answer readers’ questions.

Create your own YouTube channel, if you have a desire for visual contact with the audience. Break down trending topics, invite more experienced experts in your field, and discuss the issues of interest. 

Plus a personal blog goes into the piggy bank of a personal brand.

6. Learning new things—1 hour/day

Don’t forget to dedicate time to theory as well. Take at least one hour a day to learn something new. To avoid wasting that hour, you need to make a plan for your studies for the next year/semester. What skills do you need to improve in order to raise your level to Middle/Senior?

For example, a plan might be this (imaginary Project Manager training plan):

  1. Study mathematics—probability theory, mathematical statistics (without deep knowledge, basic understanding about what probability is, how to calculate mathematical expectation is enough)
  2. To study the theory of strategic marketing (analysis of target audience, market, trends)
  3. To learn how to build a unit economy for the project
  4. Know how to conduct interviews and UX tests.

Master the tools: 

  • Master macros in Excel
  • Learn to build website/interface prototypes in Figma
  • Learn to work with graphics editors on a basic level
  • Learn to adequately perceive and respond to criticism (soft skill)

The plan is formed and with one hour a day this gives 250 working hours in a year. With a reasonable investment in training, the time will more than pay off.

7. Importance of learning: How to learn new things

Key:

  1. Systematic—allocate “X” time per week/day to learning.
  2. Repetition of material.
  3. Mandatory application of the acquired knowledge in practice. 
  4. Learning for the future (for the future will be useful), usually does not make sense, because 90% of the information is simply forgotten.

Learning how to learn (the course from coursera.org) is a skill you need to develop in yourself.

All in all, if we’re talking about training, you need to understand that you’ll need to learn something new all the time when you get into IT, to be an effective employee and move with the times. I don’t know about other professions, but in IT it’s directly very important.

8. Professional development courses

There is nowhere without courses. It is an understandable tool, one of the working ways to receive structured information in the short term. The main thing is to get to a good instructor(s). To do this, study reviews, ask colleagues.

Short courses of 3–7 days allow you to get a large pool of information in a short period of time. This is often useful for managers or specialists who are already in the subject, but need to structure the information in a short period of time, supplement it with some know-how of the course author, and then go into battle (in the project).

Long courses, starting from 3 months, are the optimal variant for mastering new information, structuring it, and using it in practice.

What is important, in addition to knowledge, is that the courses usually provide a community, a community in which the participants communicate with each other.

We went into more detail about the nuances of learning above (free conditional courses and expensive courses).

9. A selection of tips from Captain Hindsight

  1. Take responsibility. More responsibility means faster career advancement.
  2. Do your job WELL.
  3. Do more than what is expected of you.
  4. Take on challenging tasks and projects. (We grow faster by doing difficult things. But there must be a measure for everything; you shouldn’t take on impossible tasks at once).

10, In 1.5 years you need to move to a Middle position

It is highly probable that you will not be able to move within your company. You need to look for a new position, otherwise you risk spending more time in the Junior position. 

There is no point in hoping for a promotion at your current job. You need to go to your supervisor with this question. No one will come to you with a summons to raise your salary. 

That’s the market. Of course there are exceptions, which is very good :).

11. How to spend your wages

Where should you spend your salary? It is clear that in a Junior position you don’t have much opportunity to think where to spend it. But from the Middle position this question already arises.

Be sure to invest in their development (training, technology (a modern laptop, etc.), services (programs to work)).

If you do not put aside for your development, there are significant risks that sooner or later you will stop developing and your income level will not grow.

And if it is not growing, it means that it is falling, because there is inflation and devaluation.

Wise people recommend this gradation of income:

  1. 50%—housing, food.
  2. 30%—your development.
  3. 20%—for cushioning and investments.

It seems that this is an ideal picture. But at least 15–30% is worth trying to set aside for your own development, or, in another way, to invest in yourself as a project.

12. Conclusion

How old you are when you get into IT is not that important. It’s important to dedicate years to the business to get the results (goals) you want.

There is a formula for success: devote 10,000 hours to any business, and you will become an expert. This fact is described in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Geniuses and Outsiders. Why Some Get Everything and Others Get Nothing.”

If you convert 10,000 hours to years, it’s about 10 years. You probably won’t become a Senior in IT in 5–7 years. We all have different starting positions and life challenges. But in 10 years, with proper diligence, you will become one (an expert in your field).


Find something you like in IT and devote 10 years of your life to it. After all, dedicating 10 years of your life to something you don’t really like is not a good idea :(.

To express my gratitude

This article is about 6750 words, or 40,000 characters. What was done: researching the issue, writing the text, editing, preparing pictures, proofreading and layout of the text.

If you would like to say thank you to the author, just send a link to this article to your family and friends—anyone who might benefit from it. Or link to the article on social media.

Warm regards.

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