I’m a 3x dropout and coding gave me purpose. AMA!

Yes, 3x.

But after years of trial and error, I decided it was time to give programming a shot.

I mean, why not?

I've always been the guy that gets the "can you fix my computer?" request. I've spent whole weekends and summer holidays playing videos games. I rooted and (almost) bricked my Android phone several times.

Programming would only be another adventure into the tech world.

But it turned out to be my passion. A purpose for my life.

I loved it from the moment I started writing my first HTML tags. I felt like an artist when I made that background green. And I became a founder-in-training when I built my first React app.

Have you also felt that? Like the sky is the limit?

It feels good.

Recently I launched a project called Dev Resources (https://devresourc.es). DR is my collection of developer-related material that I gathered over the last years, which is now also collaborative.

It received great feedback from the dev community, but best of all, it resonated even better with beginner developers.

And that brought me something I wasn't looking for this time around: another purpose for my life.

Now I want to inspire and help other dropouts, career-changers and anyone else to become a programmer.

I want more people to find their passion. I want more people to wake up excited about their day. And I want to see these people building their own Dev Resources.


  1. 3

    I am happy for you. Sometimes we just have to take deliberate efforts at finding our own happiness.

    1. 1

      Thank you!

      Indeed, taking action is hard at first, but well worth once we find what we love. :)

      1. 2

        very well said, wishing you the very best moving forward.

        for now what would you say are your challenges?

        1. 2

          I've quit my job to start working on my own ideas, so the challenge now is to build a sustainable business, while encouraging more people to become developers. 💪

          1. 2

            That's great man, looking forward to what you would be building and more of your posts here.

  2. 2

    Same boat here bro. Dropped out twice and finished my 3rd time (IT). That feeling when you pursue something you don't enjoy or are not passionate about is really disarming and breaks your spirit.

    1. 1

      Yes, it just makes life hard when we're doing something we're not into. We're fortunate to live in a time where pursuing passions and finding information is (more) accessible and accepted.

      1. 2

        defs! I don't know how the situation in Brazil is, but college here in Germany is also almost free, so the cost of dropping out wasn't too high.

        1. 1

          Depends on the institution you're attending. It can be private or public. Public universities are, most of the time, harder to get into, so even though there's no "waste of money" concern, there's the "missing out an opportunity" one.

          1. 2

            there's the "missing out an opportunity" one.

            That's a general problem of our generation though. You're constantly overloaded with opportunities, because the info about them is so easily accessible at all times.

  3. 2

    Hey Marcel, thanks for sharing your story. Question for you – dropout from what? High school? College? Grad school?

    1. 1

      Hi Steven.

      My pleasure, I just want to inspire other people that might be unsure of what to do as I was a while ago.

      So, my attempts, all college, were:

      1. Business (~1 month; influenced by my brother)
      2. Marketing (1 complete semester; influenced by friends)
      3. Veterinary (4 complete semesters; this was my childhood dream)

      Then I moved from Brazil to Ireland, decided to get serious on my (until then) hobbies, and guess what, I went to college there, so I graduated in IT in 2018. 🎉

      How's your story?

      1. 2

        devresourc.es looks great! Gonna have to bookmark it for later, otherwise I'm going to end up spending the entire day on your site instead of working 😝

        One piece of feedback – you probably should work on optimizing your email signup. I almost missed it, it blends in too well at the bottom of your page. If your goal is to monetize this project, I think building your email list will be invaluable.

        1. 1

          Thanks for the feedback Steven, I'll make a note on that.

          And yes, I do intent in monetizing it. As of now, I'm doing so through selling featured products slots and sponsorship, though it didn't get so much traction yet.

          I'll soon start adding more features (after implementing auth), and some things will be behind a paywall. I wonder if this type of project will suit monetization...

          1. 1

            Maybe affiliate commissions? I would guess that a number of the services you list on your website would pay you an affiliate commission for a referral.

            If you're going for paywall or paid product, you should see what @Janel has done with NewsletterOS – it's very impressive. Maybe you could do something like DevOS or StartupsOS.

            1. 1

              Yeah, I currently have 3 affiliate links there, which translated to 2 sales so far, but I still need to add more than that.
              I'll have a look at these projects you sent me, thanks for pointing them out!

      2. 2

        I think it's wonderful that you're sharing. I wish I had spent more time wandering and discovering when I was younger. Instead, I diligently worked hard on the paths that society and my parents set for me – getting good grades in school, getting into a top college, working in investment banking and private equity until I was about 37. Only then did I realize I didn't really enjoy finance/investing and I quit to become an indie hacker. I don't regret my journey, it was actually quite fun and financially rewarding and I learned a ton ... just wasn't my calling. Now I'm trying to carve out my own path as an indie hacker (I'm currently working on my 3rd try) while also trying to teach my kids to explore the many possibilities of life.

        1. 1

          Ahh, I totally feel you. In fact, that was one of the biggest challenges and fears I had until not so long ago: having to prove myself to my parents.
          I know that deep down my father wanted me to follow his salesman journey, and he could've given me a great heads up, as he did to my brother, but it just wasn't for me, and I had to find my own thing.

          I'm happy I followed my own path.

          Now, we can always wonder how things would've been if he had done things differently, but let me ask you something: are you happy where you are? If so, then you did exactly what you had to do. If not, no problem, at least you identified it.

          I'm really happy to know you built your base and you're now in this journey. Best of luck, and I look forward to hearing what you'll come up with.

          1. 2

            I would say that I am happy on the path I am on, though I'm still working towards my goal of building a successful saas. I'll be much happier (or maybe just relieved) when I achieve that goal. But looking back, I think I made the best decisions I could given what I knew at the time – so no regrets. Good luck with your journey too!

  4. 2

    Hey Marcel, here is my question for you:

    What made you kept quitting and keep coming back to school those 3x?

    1. 1

      Pretty much not settling down for something I don't love, combined with the desire of finding something I'm excited about every day.

      Yes, I know, it's a privilege being able to think and to act on top of this mindset, but I, thankfully, had the support I needed while being "lost", so I kept going, trying out different things until programming crossed my way, and that was love at first sight.

      1. 2

        Great story! Wish you luck for the future!

  5. 2

    Great work on this! I instantly sent it to a friend I'm teaching to code.

    Two questions:

    1. On the beautiful site design: did you get help on it or do it yourself?
    2. How long did it take you to learn to code?

    P.S. I'm always happy to spot my game Flexbox Defense in the wild! 👇


    1. 1

      Thanks, Channing, that really means a lot! 🙏

      1. I did it myself. The MVP was a bit ugly, so I hired someone on Fiverr to do something better. It turned out to be bad, and late by 2 weeks. Then I started the Learn UI course by Erik Kennedy (https://learnui.design) and from there I applied what I was learning on the site. In fact, that's the best approach for indie hacking in my perspective: learn things as you need them.

      2. Everything started in 2015. I actually did go back to college. IT was my 4th attempt, and this one I finished 🎉. So while juggling part-time jobs and college, I spent a lot of time on Udemy learning things from HTML to Node. Last year in college (3rd) I was confident to start building out my own things. So, to build a complete app, front to back, I'd say a couple of years.

      I didn't notice that you created Flexbox Defense. Great job there, really! And I'm happy to include it there and let everyone else know of this treasure.

      1. 2

        It was my 4th attempt, and this one I finished 🎉. So while juggling part-time jobs and college, I spent a lot of time on Udemy learning things from HTML to Node.

        Congratulations on finishing!

        Was your degree (and subsequent job) in something related to software engineering? Or more specifically: while teaching yourself to code on the side, were you also getting "on-the-job" training that assisted your coding education?

        1. 2


          Yes, I now have a bachelors in IT. Hooray!
          And yes, just after finishing college (2018) I got my first full-time job as a front-end developer, which I quit last August to work on my own projects.

          But unfortunately, during college, I didn't get any real real-world experience as a software developer, so everything had to be done at home, whenever I was done with all the rest.

          Those were challenging 3 years, but funny enough, the best 3 years of my life.

          What's your background Channing?

          1. 2

            What's your background Channing?

            English major with dreams (not yet dead) of becoming a novelist. Always hated math and science, which my grades reflected.

            Moved to SF in my early 20s, got a job in sales to pay the bills. After a couple years, wanted out so badly I tried out some coding courses and found them surprisingly intuitive.

            Flash forward 15 months: landed my first simple gig building a website for a few thousand bucks. A year later, landed my first full-time software engineering job. Two years, quit that job and built Flexbox Defense, after which tons of inbound "work for us" requests became the norm. Soon thereafter, partnered with Courtland to grow Indie Hackers.

            1. 1

              Impressive to see that many people, some way or another, find their way into programming and opportunities start coming their way.

              Any podcast episode on you both talking about how it is to build and maintain a product alongside a brother?

              1. 1

                Any podcast episode on you both talking about how it is to build and maintain a product alongside a brother?

                Nope! There's not enough interesting material with that small topic to fill an episode. But there are plenty of interesting stories we could share about the various twists and turns we've navigated Indie Hackers through over the years.

                1. 1

                  Definitely, would be super nice to hear about the Indie Hackers journey from both your perspectives!

  6. 2

    I’ve written about this before—that moment when you realized you’ve learned something that gives you superpowers. Coding is one of those things.

    Curious how you learned?

    1. 1

      Most definitely.

      I've always felt I could come up with solutions for stuff, that I could improve things where no one saw the possibility, and programming allowed me to put that into practice.

      Initially, I started learning online, freeCodeCamp and Udemy mostly, but then I actually went back to college for the 4th time, this time to study IT. And yes, this time around I finished it! 🎉

      What's your story?

      1. 2

        That’s amazing! I started trying to learn to code in junior high. Then in high school. Then in college. None of it stuck. It took literally 20 years of fits and starts before I finally learned through a combination of Treehouse, CodeAcademy, Freedcodecamp, and mostly Udemy.

        1. 1

          It's amazing the number of resources we have out there to learn how to code nowadays. I'm glad you found your way!

  7. 2

    What made you realise programming existed?

    And how did you start?

    1. 1

      I've always been a computer guy, online and checking what's happening out there.

      When I moved from Brazil to Ireland (2014), after the 3rd dropout, I decided to google how to program, and that's when I found freeCodeCamp, Codecademy and all these other treasures. So that's how I started.

      I quickly notice that I loved it, so I decided to go back to college (IT), and this time around I finished it.

      College was very focused in Java and MySQL (not my thing), so I went to Udemy, and it helped me a lot. As a beginner web dev, having someone holding your hand from concept to building a complete app helps a lot!

  8. 1

    At first glance, I must say the site looks fenominal.
    I gotta ask though, how long did it take you to get your first dev job, and what would you say were the top 5 most impactful things you did that landed you the job.
    And as a bonus side question, how did you format your resume to get the attention of the developer recruiters without dev experience?
    Both because I need help, and because I think these would greatly benefit this post.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the words!

      I found a job soon after I finished my 4th college attempt, this time IT. I wasn't very active on applications in the first 2 years though, but I went full-on on the 3rd and final year. Also, I struggled a lot with not having a working visa while applying (Brazilian living in Europe).

      All in all, it took me around 1 year of active job applying to land a job.

      I did a lot of Udemy courses, built a good base of knowledge and had a lot of material to go back and use as a reference for future needs, and that helped me get confident.

      My recommendation is to build stuff, really do it. Any side project will do, as it will show you can take action and be proactive. Learn all the things as you need them: learn and build some front-end, then maybe learn back-end to add auth and other features, then learn UI concepts to make it better looking.

      Best of luck, and give me a shout if you need any help!

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