August 14, 2023

Skills Over Degrees: My Atolye15 Story As a Self-Taught Developer

Three young men sitting on a couch, smiling and looking at a laptop held by the man in the middle.

A lot of aspiring developers think you need a shiny degree to make it in the tech world. I felt the same way, thinking my lack of formal education was a deal-breaker. But that was until I bumped into Atolye15, a place where your skills and passion speak louder than any diploma. So, here’s how it all went down:

Growing up, I was that kid messing with computers, making small landing pages, and just having fun with it. Knowing how to talk to a computer, getting it to do things that other people couldn’t, always fascinated me. But I never pursued this fascination because I was led to believe that I didn’t have what it takes. So, I went off and studied English Literature instead. Even though I loved it, coding always lingered in the back of my mind.

When the COVID lockdown hit, I was an unemployed English major with dreams of becoming a farmer. Then I stumbled upon someone who made websites for a living with no related education. It changed the course of my life! I decided to use the lockdown to my advantage and study code every day.

I followed the Odin Project curriculum every day. I got some help from other sources like FreeCodeCamp and Execute Program. I also read a lot of programming books, and most of them were free. The generosity of the developer community always impressed me throughout my studies.

It was around the first-year mark when I saw Atolye15's job posting. After checking out their website and social media accounts, I immediately felt this was the right work environment for me. It was clear from the beginning that they seemed to care more about who you are and what you bring to the table rather than some degree or just the number of years spent on the job. As a self-taught developer, this was a refreshing perspective! But I still didn't feel ready for a job like this with only a year under my belt. I wanted to revisit the idea in a year and come back stronger. And yes, a whole year is a long time to stay motivated! But if you love what you are doing and finally have a clear vision of where you're headed, you will always find a reason to keep going.

With my eyes set on Atolye15, the goal became clear. I kept pushing and learning more every day. After a year of preparing and finally feeling ready, I gathered my courage and finally applied. Guess what? A day later, they called me back! The interview process wasn't just about testing my coding skills. Sure, the technical part was important too, but they also wanted to know who I was, my passion, dedication, and willingness to learn. They recognized the value of a diverse skill set, including my previous work experience, social skills, and language proficiency (I guess my English degree paid off after all!). All this contributed to a well-rounded approach to problem-solving and collaboration within the team. The best part? No one made a big deal about that missing computer science degree.

A four-photo collage showing a man coding on a laptop, celebrating with a trophy, and carrying an Atolye15 flag.

Once I joined Atolye15, I received a lot of support from my team during my first few months. They were also very open to providing me with all kinds of online courses and books during this process. With their education budget, I purchased Epic React by Kent C. Dodds and Beyond CSS by Kevin Powell. I was also able to complete previously purchased courses in the company library, such as CSS for JS Developers by Josh W. Comeau. All these courses and the help I received from my teammates on a daily basis played a tremendous role in my self-education journey at the school of Atolye15.

If I learned anything from these past 3 years, it's that it's never too late to pursue one's passions. And with hard work and dedication, you can turn anything (even an old childhood dream like mine) into reality! Today, I’m living proof that you don't need a fancy piece of paper to find where you truly belong. At Atolye15, I found a team that values continuous learning and personal growth. And I’m thrilled to play a part in our shared success for many years to come.

Oğuzhan Ertaş

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