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Help My Friend Become a Developer

OK gang, this is a personal request. I've found in my time in the dev space, that you folks are some of the most engaged readers I've seen in my journalism career. So I'm reaching out to you today for help.

A good friend of mine is struggling to find a job in this economy. He's quite talented -- a good mind (math major way back when) and a quick study. He's also a very hard worker, and really personable. In fact, his situation is like so many others out there; downsizing continues, companies aren't hiring, and the current outlook is bleak. He's employed right now, but doesn't expect that to continue. And "employed" in this sense means he has a job, but it doesn't pay the bills.

Because of those things, he wants to learn development, and I'm fully convinced he'll be a great developer. The question now is how best to help him get there.

He has a wife and kids, and can't go to school full-time. He can study and learn on a part-time basis only. He has no programming background, although he does know a little HTML and is very comfortable with computers. He also doesn't have much money to spend on education and training. He's willing to do whatever it takes, however, to learn this field.

What would your recommendations for him be? Should he get certified and look for an entry-level job? Should he buy some books and just start coding, write a few programs, then offer himself to employers? Should he concentrate on a specific area like Web or mobile development? In other words, where do you start, if you're starting from scratch?

If you're an employer, what would your recommendations be to someone in my friend's place? What would make someone like him hire-able by your company? How much do you care about a certification vs. a degree? What should my friend have accomplished before he interviews with you? My friend knows he'd start at the bottom, and he's willing to.

Let's see if we can help my friend out. If we can, I bet that we'll help others out, too. Please send your requests to me directly, or post your thoughts and advice below.

My friend and I thank you.

Posted by Keith Ward on 10/24/2011

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