Have you been told you can’t be a developer because
- You’re not good at math
- You lack a college or university degree
- You have a degree but not in computer science
- You’re too old
- You’re a woman
- [Add more stupid reasons…]
Have you been given these reasons why you can’t become a developer or a successful developer? Right now, I want you to put all these stupid reasons into a trash can and delete them from your memory.
Here’s my story…
As a child, I used to play a lot of video games. Those games inspired me to become a software engineer. I wanted to learn to program so I could build games for myself exactly the way I wanted. See what a perfectionist I was as a 10-year-old?
My dream led me to study software engineering. However, in Iran, the educational system is rigged; there’s a prohibative test conducted only once a year. I tried in 2000, at a time when 1.5 million students took the test, and there were only placing 150,000 spots in universities. In order for you to study at a good university, you had to be one of the first 1,000 students. With a lower ranking, you couldn’t study at a government-sponsored university. Rather, you had to pay for your education. The lower your ranking, the further away from Tehran you could study, which meant paying for an education in a small town or rural area.
I failed the first time
I was rejected into software engineering the first year I took the test, but I was accepted to study applied mathematics in a small town. Of course, that’s not what I wanted. My passion was to study software engineering. I wanted to become a programmer, not a mathematician. I hated mathematics with a passion, and I still do.
So, I had to wait until the following year to take the test again. I had to study all those high school materials again in preparation for the next test. A year later I took the test and my ranking was 10,000. You may think ranking 10,0000 amongst 1.5M students is pretty good. But in Iran, not really. With that ranking, I couldn’t study software engineering in Tehran. I was sent to study at Azad University, Roodehen Branch, which is in a small town one hour outside of Tehran. To add insult to injury, this was a school that a lot of people used to ridicule.
I cared less about what people thought
My so-called “best friend” used to make fun of me for studying at that university. In Iran, it’s very common for 20-year-old kids to ask each other: “So, what university do you study at?” They really cared less where you studied; they only asked so they could brag about where they studied.
I was asked this question a hundred times and every time I said: Azad University, Roodehen Branch. People used to laugh. I cared less. I followed my passion, my dream, and that was programming and it is still something that I love to do.
My grades were awful
In Iran, our scoring system ranges from 0 to 20 with 10 being the middle point. Everything below 10 is considered a fail. Believe it or not, I graduated with 11. I didn’t even attend most of my classes. Why? More than half of our curriculum where topics that had absolutely zero connection to programming. We had to pass a lot of mathematics, physics, electronics and religious studies. I didn’t care about these subjects.
I used to attend the first class, charm my instructors and ask them if I could just come back at the end and take the test. Those who were open-minded and supportive, allowed me to do so. But there were a few bastards who wanted to feel the power and be in control. They said: “No, Mr. Hamedani, you should attend the classes!” Guess what? I refused to attend so, they failed me.
That’s why it took me two extra years to graduate. Many of these lecturers failed me for not attending the classes. So, I had to take the same subject over and over. I took my engineering math class five times.
My C programmer was a complete bastard
In our first semester, we had basic programming subject with Pascal. I had this classmate who was not good at programming. I helped her with her Pascal project… and no, I didn’t have a crush on her. I was merely helping a friend.
During the second semester, we had the advanced programming subject with C. Guess what? That girl who could not even do a basic Pascal project got 19 out of 20, I got 16 out of 20. Here are a few highlights about my project that was given a 16:
- I used linked lists (a topic introduced in year three)
- I wrote a part of the program with assembly (a second year topic)
- I designed a text-based UI language (you could describe the UI in plain text and the program would dynamically render it)
- I built a complete GUI library using object-oriented programming concepts
My lecturer gave me a 16 because I delivered the project one day late, yet he disregarded the sophistication of this project that was way beyond what the average student would do. Yes, I agree, delivering late is bad, but anyone who has worked in the software industry for even one month knows that 90% of software projects are not delivered in time.
So, a poorly-written program by a student who did not even do her basic programming project got a 19, and a sophisticated program delivered one day late received a 16. This is what happens when unqualified people are in power and work as teachers. They don’t understand the impact they can make (positive or negative) as teachers.
I expected him to realize the sophistication of what I did and help me grow. Instead, he bashed me by giving me a 16 for my C programming subject. If I showed my transcript to any potential employers, they would think I’m an average C programmer. And at the same time, they would think my classmate (the girl who got a 19) was a good C programmer. What a world.
Where am I now?
I have taught more than a million people around the world how to code or how to become a better coder.
I have published 20 online courses on different platforms, many of them have been best-selling courses.
My YouTube channel has been watched 9M times over the past four years.
Some of my videos have been watched more than 1M times. Here are a couple of examples:
Most of my YouTube tutorials rank #1. Search “Node tutorial, React tutorial, ASP.NET MVC tutorial, C# events” and see for yourself.
My Pluralsight course, Become a Full-stack .NET Developer, is a 5-star course and ranked #1 when it was published. It was my first Pluralsight course and I was competing amongst 5,000 courses created by industry experts. I never thought I’d even be one of the top 10. I was #1.
Every day I get at least 20 messages from people who have watched my courses, telling me how I helped them transformed their lives.
“I’ve actually landed my first job as a Junior software developer. I owe a lot of it to you because your courses have been EXTREMELY helpful. This has really changed my life from working as a security guard and doing websites for free, now I am a professional” -Danish Jafri
“Mosh, let me tell you I have been winning the code competitions here in India and excelling in my work and it gives me a great proud to say that you are my teacher. I have purchased every course you have uploaded till now and looking forward to learn everyday with you. Cheers!” -Karan Valecha
And the list goes on…
And that “so-called” best-friend of mine? Last time I heard from him, I found out he was driving a taxi. He was so proud that he was studying physics at a top university, and all his university and degree helped him achieve was driving a taxi.
What you should learn from this story
I didn’t tell you all this to show off. Those who know me personally know that I am very humble and grounded. I told you all this, to teach you one thing: Your grades, the university you study at, or whether you even go to a university or not, people’s opinion of you, mean absolutely nothing. You make your own future.
People find things in you to put you down so they feel better about themselves. Sometimes (vare rarely, to be honest) I get nasty comments on my YouTube channel from a bunch of stupid losers. Do I respond? Never. Do I let these comments stop me from doing what I’m doing? Never.
Don’t let the haters and losers’ opinion of you change your future. Their opinion only matters to them.
Pursue your dreams, your passions. You want to be a developer or a senior developer? Pursue that!
Don’t give a damn about what others think or say.
What’s your story? Share your comments below!