Am I really a senior dev? Looking for job, afraid i'm not as good as I think

I’m not sure where to start, so here it goes: (sorry if it’s too long)

I’ve been working 14 years as a web developer. I graduated from college older then most people. I was 27 when I graduated. I started a music major at the normal age, then took some time off, and went back to school later. I got a degree in CS and did very well. It seemed to come naturally to me.

I got a job right away, but freaked out having to work in a cubical all day. I ended up leaving and started freelancing as a web dev. Took 2 years, but eventually ended up doing pretty well. Eventually so well one of my clients hired me on full time.I worked remotely for a company pretty far away. I was working on a small business e-commerce site. I wrote it from scratch for them. It has all the features of the big out of the box ones. It used smarty templates. It didn’t use a frame work. The classes were WAY to large. (could have used a lot of refactoring, but I never had the time).

Cut to now, 10 years at the job, they are moving on to a new e-come platform with a local firm. I have 5 months of so of notice. (cause they are nice and like me). I’ve been applying to senior web dev jobs. But i feel like a phony sometimes. I have never used a framework. I never have done MVC work. I don’t do unit testing. I’m sure I could learn and figure out all that stuff if given the time.

I code things that have a measurable impact on the bottom line. Maybe it’s not the best code you have ever seen. But what I do works.

I am getting about a 30% responsive rate to my resume. Meaning I get an interview 30% of the time. I have some good inteviews lined up. I’m worried about the coding test. I found a site “Interview Cake” where they ask you typical programming questions, and they help you thru finding the answer. I’m finding it very helpful. I almost never know the answer without getting some hints. Once i see the answer it all makes perfect sense to me of course. But trying to figure out the answer to some without the hints I feel like my mind is going to explode.

I’m worried. I have a family to support. I need to make a certain amount. Places i’m interviewing can provide it. Do I stink? Am i a bad developer?

I hope I can talk to someone her. I’m sorry this post is all over the place.

1 Like

Hey buddy.

I’m a bit younger than you (34 years) but I know exactly what you’re feeling. I made a post here a while back with a lot of the same problems:

Frameworks are just tools. If you have a strong background in the fundamentals, which you should have after 14 years of experience, that’s what’s important. I use Backbone at my job now, but didn’t know it before I started. In a previous life, when I was a Java developer, I learned Spring hurriedly in the weeks before a job interview. It can be done.

It’s totally normal to feel like a phony. But keep this in mind. Most people who are actually lousy, are so lousy they don’t realize it. They think they’re good. It’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect.

I hope you can find some comfort. I know exactly how you feel, I feel that way a lot. Particularly when I have coworkers ~10 years younger than me who are way better engineers. That’s pretty humbling.

But think of someone who’s just trying to break into a web dev job for the first time. They have a steep hill to climb. You’ve already been doing this for 12 years - you got this.

I think for now you should concentrate on passing the interview. Depending on what sort of companies you are interviewing for, they might ask you to solve algorithm or data-structure related problems, maybe using a particular programming language. Working through websites and interview problem books seems like a good approach. Think of it as preparing for an exam or taking a class.

Since you are an experienced and competent developer, I don’t think you’ll have trouble picking up whatever frameworks or tools you need at your new job.