By Anna Rettberg
Casey Muratori
One of the questions I get asked all the time on Handmade Hero is, “Do you have any advice for someone considering switching careers to software development?” And sadly, my answer has always been, “no”, because I have no experience with switching careers at all. I’ve always done software development, ever since I was a wee tot, so I feel like I have no worthwhile insights to share on the topic.
But last month I got to thinking that perhaps the folks out there on the internet at large might be able to help answer this question. I posted a request for stories about switching careers to software development, both successful and unsuccessful, and figured if I got anything back I might be able to cobble together a small page of advice to which I could direct folks who asked.
To my surprise, I got back many wonderful stories from people who switched careers from all sorts of disparate jobs  —  disciplines that often had nothing to do with software development, like journalism, military service, architecture, and restaurant management. I found that each story had a uniqueness to it that made it worth telling in full, so rather than aggregate them into an abstract page of advice, I decided the best thing to do would be to just read them aloud so everyone could experience them unfiltered.
I hope these stories help folks out there in similar circumstances, either by providing useful guidance and resources, or simply as a empathetic reminder that other people have gone through similar transitions and made it through. So without further ado, here’s my two-part reading of the unabridged submissions:
For quick reference, I’ve collected all the resources from the stories here.
First off, if you’d like to talk more about these stories, the folks at Handmade Network have dedicated a forum to it. There’s already been discussion going on there even before this blog post, so I suspect it’s going to be a very popular topic!
Second, here’s links to all the resources mentioned by people in their stories. Keep in mind most of these are not resources I have any personal experience with, so I can’t vouch for them one way or another:
 —  Harvard CS50
 —  The C Programming Language
 —  Introduction to Algorithms
 —  Operating System Concepts
 —  Cracking the Coding Interview
 —  Elements of Programming Interviews
 —  Project Euler
 —  Linkers and Loaders
 —  Linear Algebra Done Right
 —  The Audio Programming Book
 —  Code Complete
 —  Don't Make Me Think
 —  Game Engine Architecture
 —  Game Programming Patterns
 —  Fundamentals of Computer Graphics
 —  Adrian Courreges website
 —  Gayle McDowell's resume advice
 —  US News article on job search myths
But wait, there’s more!
If you’d like commentary on the stories, at the end of the two-part reading I did a brief follow-up where I talked about some things I saw as common threads. I suspect it’s not very valuable compared to the stories themselves, since as I mentioned at the outset, I have no personal experience with career changes and don’t feel like I have much of value to add. But, if you’d like to take it with a grain of salt anyways, here it is:
Many thanks to everyone who wrote in and shared their stories!
None of this would have been possible without so many great folks taking the time to write down their experiences and share them with us. A big heartfelt thank-you from all of us to everyone who wrote in and wanted to remain anonymous, as well as those that included attribution: Andrew Osthoff, Max Liani, Curtis Poppe, Daniel Reilly, Vittorio Patriarca, Jesse Meyer, Brian from the forums, Erik Perttu, JR Smith, and Christian Floisand.
Thanks everyone! Until next time, best wishes, and we’ll see you out there on the internet.
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