The 12 Stages of a Hero’s Journey: The Non-Traditional Developer

Many people want to become software developers. Some of those people, like me, have decided to change their career in order to pursue that passion. The great news is that it can be done!

However, it is by no means easy. I wanted to share my non-traditional process of becoming a professional software developer through something I call “The Hero’s Journey” to show you that no matter how tough things get, you can be victorious!

The Hero’s Journey

1. The everyday world

At the beginning of this saga, the hero exists in the ordinary, mundane world. They work their non-software job day in and day out. They are not worried about losing their basic needs, and they can get by just fine.

2. The call to adventure

Something changes the status quo. The hero is introduced to programming or engineering through a workshop, an online video, or even a friend. They find a sense of satisfaction and joy that they haven’t experienced before.

3. Refusal of the call

The hero hesitates to accept the call to adventure. They do not have the skills to be a programmer. Leaving their comfortable, familiar life in order to face the unknown future with a potential for failure is scary.

4. Meeting with the mentor

The hero meets a wise older mentor who guides them by providing the supplies and knowledge needed to embark on the adventure. This mentor can be found through friends, career counselors, or members of an online community.

5. Crossing the first threshold

The hero commits wholeheartedly to the adventure and enters the new world of becoming a developer. There is no turning back now.

6. Tests, allies, and enemies

The hero explores this special new world. They face many trials that test their knowledge, and they make friends but also enemies along the way.

7. Approach to the innermost cave

The hero draws closer to the center of this world. They are at the top of their education, wrapping up projects, and preparing for job interviews.

8. The ordeal

The hero faces the greatest challenge yet. This can come in many forms including imposter syndrome, in which the hero starts to doubt their accomplishments and fears that they may be a fraud.

9. The reward

The hero survives the ordeal and walks away with the object of their quest. This reward is likely in the form of graduating from a school or program.

10. The road back

The hero begins the journey back to the outside world with their new set of skills. Sometimes, this comes with a final challenge such as getting a new job and moving to a new place.

11. The resurrection

The hero finally emerges from the special world, fundamentally changed by their experiences.

12. Return with the elixir

The hero brings back the object of their quest, which they use to improve the ordinary world in some way–perhaps through teaching others or community outreach. In the end, the hero realizes that the journey was worth it and wants to share their experience with everyone.

Call to Action

If you are thinking of changing your career and becoming a developer, realize that the journey is not won without fighting some battles. Work toward getting a mentor, meet some allies in the field, and start gaining professional experience (even if it is unglamorous). Go all in, and be the hero of your developer journey. It won’t be long before you start to see all the hidden greatness you hold within.