I'm struggling to come up with a way forward as a software engineer. My path to my job today has been VERY unconventional. I failed out of computer science at my university. I still have a degree but in an unrelated field. Did a lot of hackathons and got internships and finally a return offer from a decent ecommerce firm as a software engineer. I know the market is really bad right now but I can tell that I have a lot of prerequisites I'm missing. Trying to do better and I've started taking courses again. I want to craft a self taught dev path. And I want to do well but I just don't know where to begin
Learning in an academic setting is different than learning the skills needed to succeed at the job: the former works in isolation while the latter requires working in a broader environment under some amount of time constraints.
If you want to succeed as a junior engineer from a non-traditional path, the problem you need to solve is "how I do I succeed at my job" and not "how do I succeed as a student studying computer science". Work with your manager to establish clear expectations for your current level and your next level, your timelines targeting your next level, and the growth opportunities you're interested in. If you try to approach the real world with an academic/student mindset which biases towards hoarding/collecting classes, there will be a high chance of failure (imo). You need to work with the people around you and figure out their expectations for you. Only by understanding and working to meet/exceed those expectations will you succeed.
That's an inspiring journey so far! Congrats on landing a great SWE role.
One question for you to reflect on: is your self-taught background holding you back at the ecommerce company? If the answer is no, do you really need to take courses?
I've frequently found that engineers take action because it makes them feel better, but it doesn't practically help them in the job. i.e. your peers/manager wouldn't care if you had a fancy degree. I'm skeptical of courses and more bullish on building.
What are the prerequisites do you think you're missing?
I highly recommend going through these relevant resources: