So You Want to Code a Thing for Money

Careers in Software Engineering

By Lydia Katsamberis / @llkats

who am I?

JavaScript Engineer at craigslist ☮

mai kitcat


HS Degree

Bachelor's Degree

Master's or PhD


skills for programming

  • things you need
    • a capacity for critical, logical thought
    • detail-oriented, because spelling and punctuation really matters
    • a capacity for being really, really frustrated and ability to hunt down bugs
    • good writing and communication skills for working with others and documenting your code

  • things you don't
    • advanced calculus/algebra skills!!!

skills for a successful career

contrary to popular belief, people skills are super important

software is written collaboratively and teamwork is essential

contribution, tutoring, and mentoring are also very important

finding a job

  • having an online portfolio (like Github) is super helpful
  • social networking: Twitter, meetups, word-of-mouth


junior-level dev in the Bay Area: $60-90k

typical day

mornings: usually emails, meetings, planning

afternoons: programming hours

evenings: more programming



pros: pretty flexible w/r/t working from home, taking time off

cons: working nights? weekends? holidays? sometimes! ಠ_ಠ

not to mention meetups, classes, conferences, volunteering, side projects...


  • management
  • architecture
  • entrepreneurship
  • research

employment outlook and competition

competitive for top jobs, but plenty of jobs to fill too

ways to enter: internships, programming accelerators freelance, building a portfolio

not-so-awesome things

(i.e., challenges)

  • staying current
  • work/life balance
  • managing deadlines
  • doing my own projects
  • focusing interests in a broad field

awesome things

  • creating new things
  • puzzle solving
  • always learning
  • exciting to be in a growing, evolving industry
  • flexible work schedule
  • good perks
  • can work remotely and live almost anywhere

would I do it again?


please join me

to learn more

these slides: my career day slides!

big list of learning resources

learn javascript: JS the Right Way

learn node: Node School

learn HTML: Dive Into HTML5