Shawn transitioned from finance to tech about three years ago and landed a job at Netlify and now at AWS!
Clearly, there are more than enough reasons to ask Shawn a couple of questions and find out his secret.
How did you pick up tech so quickly?
It was a massive journey, but I did Freecodecamp, and on the side did a Bootcamp. This gave me the confidence that I was good enough. I also started writing about this process, which helped me understand the matter more, and eventually landed me a job.
What tips would you give someone interested in switching to tech?
My main advice would be. It takes time, but it's a long-term investment. The tech industry is one of those industries where we will always have a job. That being said, you must never stop learning and improving yourself. The tech industry shifts rapidly, so you need to keep up with the latest technology.
Another main thing you can't start early enough is to market yourself in every possible way. Start writing, live streaming, being an active contributor, and promote yourself. With that comes networking. A network is so important, not just networking with tech people. Your neighbor or uncle might land you that super special job one day!
Lastly: push through it. Motivate yourself, it's not a simple game, but you've got to push through it.
You recently started live-streaming. What do you enjoy about it?
The cool thing about streaming is that there is no way to edit your content. It makes it more raw and easy to get started. It's also not hard to Livestream, anyone can do it, and it gives me more focus. I try not to have too many tabs open and focus on the one task that I'm doing.
Live streaming helped me find some bugs in AWS, where I could send the live stream to our devs and send them the timestamp to see the bug.
A good tip if you're live-streaming: Try not to be perfect!
Shawn, you wrote a fantastic ebook. What inspired you to write it?
I had two months between my Netlify and my AWS job and wanted to make that time substantial (You could say a Corona project like your blog). Another thing is that there is hardly any content on moving from Junior to Senior! Many people write about how to land your first job, but I wanted to address the follow-up from there.
You can find Shawns book here!
You're a big advocate for writing in public. Why is that?
Writing in public is the best thing you can do. It makes you understand the subject better. It's a way of organized learning, and people will point out your mistakes. When writing in public, keep your ego small, you are learning, and people will help you. You must also see it as a form of free learning. Some big names can help you. For instance, when I was learning React, some big devs at AirBnB helped me out, directing me to the perfect solution.
Some key takeaways for learning in public:
- Be active
- Ask for feedback
- Don't take feedback personally
- You will get some mean comments
Why should people start writing today?
Writing is a "friendcatcher", which means you can make new friends even when you sleep. It's all about building relationships and networking. I also find it gives me some positive karma. And! It landed me a job at AWS. I was in the interview, and like always, they researched me right there on the spot. All my public writing popped up, which got me the job. It shows you're good at what you do and how much you contribute, and that you're well documented and passionate.
Next up: Quickfire round!
Do you have any pets?
My former roommate had a cat, and I miss the cat!
Coffee or tea?
Tea! Mainly Chinese tea, it is supposedly healthy.
Introvert or Extrovert?
I'm an ambivert, but more the introvert kind. It takes a lot of energy from me to socialize.
What's your favorite food?
Singapore street vegetable rice! It's so good and super cheap!
What kind of hobbies do you have besides tech?
Watching movies, I recently watched Knives out, and love the plot thinking. I also was in a cappella group, but due to Covid, it's on a halt.
Shawn, thank you so much for this lovely interview and for taking the time for Daily Dev Tips!