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Blog: Is development a good career for people with no experience?

Another one from Quora (look in the comments, ‘cuz for whatever reason it wouldn’t show me the box to write an answer):

Is software development a good career for people with no experience?

Every career has to accept people with no experience at the start, as we’re not born with experience in anything.  So I’m going to ass-u-me you mean something like “is it a career where a lack of experience is less of a disadvantage than usual”.

And yes, yes it is.  A career in software development requires that you be continuously learning new things.  If you do that, a developer with experience in general but not in what you just learned will have far less advantage over you.

For better or worse, most employers want to hire people with experience in the specific tech stack they’re using — it’s a running joke that they demand ten years of experience in something invented last week.  Among more enlightened employers, who believe that people can learn things on the job, the one with more general experience will still have a bit of an edge over you — neither of you have experience in the specific tech stack but the other has more experience and therefore will probably learn the new thing faster.

However, “enlightened employers” are few and far between.  All the more so when you stick third-party recruiters in the mix — generally speaking, they are even more clueless about the technology than the hiring company’s managers or HR staff, and do nothing more than tick off a list of boxes based on a nearly literal string match of terms they don’t understand.

It’s also one of the few fields where you can gain [what enlightened people would consider] significant experience on your own.  You can do your own side projects, or contribute to open source projects.  These and blogging are great ways to show that you actually do know something, even if you haven’t been paid to do it yet.