Self-Taught vs Graduate Developers – overview

Self-Taught vs Graduate Developers – overview

author: Jonathan Moran


As discussed in my previous article, there are no hard and fast rules regarding the best route to becoming a software developer. I’d say with the people I speak to every day, there’s a pretty even split between the number of self-taught developers and those that have gone to university. What I want to focus on here is how some employers are shifting their job requirements for entry/junior level roles and how this could influence younger developers’ decisions when it comes to working in tech.

One thing I always notice as a recruiter is that employers want to see genuine passion from junior or graduate developers, the type of people who code as a hobby as well as a job. Be prepared to demonstrate this; some examples might be a simple hack for a computer game, a website built for a family business or some online courses. Whether you’re a graduate or a self-taught programmer you should always have an eye on what your next step will be and how you can stand out when you’re about to enter the job market. Below are some points to consider.

  • You might have focussed on a particular language at university or in your spare time, but be open to learning new tech and make that clear at interview – good code is good code in any language.
  • Salary in your first role shouldn’t be the key factor. Yes, we all have bills to pay, but think about going somewhere where you’ll develop and learn at an advanced rate. There are some employers in Manchester that will pay above the average rate, but will you be one of 10 new hires that are siloed and working on the same tasks for 12- 18 months… Is that worth the extra £2,000 -£4,000 per year?
  • Get some commercial experience, even consider a week or two of unpaid internship if you can’t find any paid work.
  • Have a portfolio/code repo – employers want to see code. The more, the better.

Really interested to hear people’s thoughts on this topic, and feel free to add your own hints and advice. If you’re a graduate or self-taught developer don’t hesitate to connect and get in touch, I’m always open for a chat.


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