This week, I published Jerome Hardaway's #DevJourney story on my eponym Podcast: Software developer's Journey. Among many other things, here are my main personal takeaways:

  • Jerome's DevJourney started only about 10 years ago, when he left the military, right in the middle of the 2008-2009 crisis. It all started with a advertisement on Facebook. Then he randomly picked up a book on SQL and started learning. That's how he got his first (boring) job in tech, as a database administrator.
  • If Jerome took one thing from the AirForce, it's the willpower. Whatever he wants to do, he does it. And this shows throughout his whole story.
  • During his second job, working for a non-profit organization, Jerome was running a one-man-show. That's how he had to diversify and learned - again out of sheer willpower - what he needed to succeed.
  • When learning Javascript, Jerome had the feeling that a majority of the content that was available to him, was tailored for people who grew up with tech and coding. This content didn't do well for him. What did work for him, was the Mozilla Developer Network, and that's where he spent most of his time learning JS.
  • After discovering lively (Javascript) communities in NewYork and subsequently in other cities, Jerome decided to find a way to help other veterans follow his footsteps. When he created #VetsWhoCode, Jerome didn't aim for what it became. But he decided on a few very wise constraints: veterans only, motivated individuals only, JAMStack-Only (with a little bit of NodeJs and React). This allowed him to even meet the former US-President, Barack Obama. Until recently, Jerome had 70 applications per day (with 52 spots / year to fill) to his program. This is again a proof that more constraints can help you build a better system.
  • At some point I asked Jerome if he had an idea of what kind of persons applied for and were successful in his program. He answered talking about focusing on empathy. The answer he gave me felt waaay off. I later realized what he meant. There is no ideal profile, he is really building on this "sheer willpower" he learned in the military. The vets who enroll are willing to do the work, this is the only common and necessary skill.
  • Jerome seems to be an always-on-person, so I asked him if he didn't fear burnout. His answer was pretty straightforward: he is a straight shooter, but when he takes time off, he is OFF! So he is balancing his work and energy pretty well.


  • Plan time everyday to do and learn something and be prepared to "pay the tax" (do the work)


  • "Doing deep work matters, preserve your time to focus on things"
  • "I don't set goals, I set habits, I focus on the reps, something good might come out of it"

Thanks Jerome for sharing your story with us!

You can find the full episode and the shownotes on

Did you listen to his story?

  • What did you learn?
  • What are your personal takeaways?
  • What did you find particularly interesting?