4 things I learned from becoming a lead developer in my first year as a self-taught professional programmer

Sami Hamed
7 min readMar 30, 2019

This essay goes out to all those who decided to jump on the developer bandwagon a little later than most of their peers. Maybe you’ve just created your first `index.html` file and are interested in what professional software development looks like. Maybe you’ve just landed your first job in web development. Maybe you even have a few years of experience and are now considering moving to a more senior role in your company. Here I humbly share some things I learned while becoming a lead developer in my first year as a self-taught programmer without any formal education in computer science 🐣

Photo by Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash

Entering the world of professional software development without an education in a relevant field is not exactly easy. I had my first experience with the development of an enterprise web application in my role as a working student in a huge law firm I was working for while studying for my degree in social anthropology. At some point I was asked to supervise the results of a new onboarding-system which the internal ‘IT’ team was developing for new clients. In exchange with a QA manager I tested the new application for months before it would become ready to be released to the public.

Seeing what was possible in the scope of a ‘modern’ (🤦🏽‍♂️) web application made me realise how much I would enjoy being able to make things move on the screen on my own. So I started searching for online courses on web development, diving into Javascript tutorials, figuring out how to make buttons move with jQuery and how to create a simple blog with Ruby (on Rails) and my SPA-framework of choice, AngularJs.

I got lucky and had the chance to join a local startup as a working student. The company was just looking to hire new frontend developers for the further development of their web applications. They gave me the chance to prove myself and so I did. Even without much work experience and extensive technical skills I was promptly hired as a full-time frontend developer. Eventually more and more developers and interns joined the team and had to be organised across our three core-products. The CTO, who at this point had become a good friend of mine, asked me if I would feel comfortable to lead the team for one of these products as a…

Sami Hamed

Engineering Manager & Product Engineer with a background in Social Anthropology