This is the most common description programmers give for their training. Even those who have had formal ComputerScience
educations consider the bulk of their job skills to have been obtained informally and individually.
Interestingly, it seems that the best programmers all teach themselves the same things.
This is by necessity. The programming languages and techniques one learns in school are often not applicable to the real world, and the set of marketable real-world skills changes every couple of years. So staying on top of things and taking charge of one's own education is essential to a programmer's career.
Also, many programmers learned how to
in their teen years, before any formal instruction in college. Since people learn best what they learn first, learning how to program is a skill which predates driving for some.
But note that there is nothing shameful about being self-taught; a fair number of acclaimed inventors, scientists, mathematicians, entreprenuers, etc, were self-taught (never forget Ramanujan(http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Ramanujan.html
), the most dramatic example in history! fascinating
) Conversely, the average college graduate soaks up relatively little of the education they were theoretically exposed to.
- Ramanujan frequently wrote only his results, not his methods nor proof, in his mathematical notebooks, and to this day work continues on studying his results, reconstructing his probable methods, and supplying missing proofs (one such was finally completed in 2003). "Kanigel [Kanigel, R. 1991. The Man who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan,] called Ramanujan "intuition incarnate" and he was perhaps the personification of creativity, if we take into account the thousands of original results he churned out of nowhere and that too, when he was either in search of a benefactor (1907 - 1913), or working furiously with failing health while at Cambridge (1914 - 1919), or deathly ill (1919 - 1920)." Mathematical paper at http://allserv.ugent.be/~gvdbergh/files/publatex/gr_hyp1.pdf
Corroborating stories on FirstLanguageLearned
See also HowMuchDoYouLearnInSchool