It took me around 5 years to learn to code and to switch careers.

Programming started out as a hobby for me when I was on parental leave. I enjoyed learning to code.
I didn’t feel confident that I could get a job as a web developer.

I had a decent-paying and secure job as a tax officer. One of the perks was being able to work part-time and to work from home, even before the pandemic.
It’s a good job if you have younger children.

Recently someone asked me: “What would you do differently if you could go back?”

I answered something along the lines: “More focus. I learned JavaScript as first programming language, but had trouble applying it to solve problems. So I tried different ways to learn how to solve problems programmatically. I learned Racket, Clojure, then went back to Python, took a tour of Elixir and so forth.
I could have changed careers earlier if I’d focus more.”

And on the one hand, that’s true.

And on the other hand, it totally neglects my situation.

I needed to have the confidence to know that I can create web applications. At the beginning, I was able to understand code when someone gave it to me. But I was not able to come up with solutions on my own.

I needed the practice, and I also needed to see how different programming languages approached the same problem (a CRUD web application).

My status quo job-wise also played a significant role in my decisions. Leaving the civil service in Germany comes with enormous down-sides (job security, pension).

My goal was never: “Get a job as a software developer as soon as possible.”

Looking back, I probably wouldn’t do anything differently. Every programming language I learned helped me to become a better problem solver.

Most people want to switch careers as fast as possible. For those, a more focused approach makes total sense.