Advice about career paths should always be personalized to each individual. I'm someone who has not had a traditional CS education, I am totally self taught and I don't have many certs at all, actually, I had taken a few courses and not taken the tests, and for all of those courses, the only reason I had taken them is that my employers paid for them.
I've had over 13 different jobs in the past 20 years and that's helped me to really figure out how the IT world works. I primarily work as a Gov contractor on the East coast, and rarely had a job I could not grow into provided I had basic knowledge of development, customer service, and project management. I am not a genius by any standard, but I have accomplished a lot over my career that has made me worth the money they pay me. People used to tell me to not "hop around" and that there would be unemployment eventually after doing that, but IT changed the traditional rules of employment. I am lucky to have been where I was in history because now there is a serious lack of supply for people who do what I do (Full Stack Dev, Dev Management, Cloud Architecture, Technical Project Management, Application architecture). I have also greatly benefited salary-wise within the past 4 years as I move into more management roles, and the only time I get substantial raises is when I switch jobs, not when I stay with an employer for an annual bonus. Actually, my salary growth year over year has been about +$20k on average for the past 5 years as the East coast begins to climb to West Coast standards, so I don't need to move to Cali and deal with Earth Quakes :P.
I started out learning the Internet and simple HTML in college (around 1995) when the Internet was just going public... That positioning probably helped me a lot. My first CS job out of school was making CD-Roms based on early JS, HTML, and graphics (pre-CSS) for a software development company that was making a tool which would later be killed off by message board software like PHP BB. I worked around real developers and learned their habits, and it made development in C less intimidating to me, back then development seemed like rocket science. The Dot Com boom (even citing it's collapse) convinced me that IT was a new industry I could stick with... It was really an amazing time. I interviewed with MTV, Microsoft, The Motley Fool, and turned them all down because they were offering lower salaries than small IT companies nearer to my home.
I graduated through many different companies as a web developer as sites got more complex, I embraced Google-Fu, which helped me to solve some really complex challenges, Learning concepts like Waterfall, Scrum, Rup, and Agile helped me to work my way into management.
I will agree though, maintaining personal (portfolio) web sites was what got me into the door ahead of my competition most times where no one knew me, it was shocking how so many people even now that I interview for jobs don't have any portfolio links in their resumes, or even a profile on linked in. If you're a developer, it's an easy way to bypass a code test on an interview to just be able to explain how you set up your personal portfolio. I used to have to back out of interviews that sent me code tests because they were never related to what actual company jobs were like anyway, and the tests were often geared towards people who were CS degree holders.
There is no substantial personalized advice someone can give you online that will be properly suited to your needs in a general format. The advice that works better is based on the process you follow rather than the programming language or specific decisions you should make career-wise. I've seen big companies and ideas grow and fail, like IBM and Adobe Flash... That is always guaranteed.
For people embarking on their career journey, I suggest that they take notice of the successful people around them and invite someone they really respect out to lunch and pay the bill (to compensate them for their time and so that you aren't remembered as a "mental burden" by them). Talk with that person intently, and tell them your ideas and goals (you should be able to trust them at that level of course, so choose wisely). Ask them for their take and listen intently without shooting their ideas, advice, or methods down, and then take all you learn from those conversations and design your own path in your mind, and follow it. If a path doesn't work, be sure to pivot to a new path before you're invested too far/deep... If a path that you're on does work, follow it for as long as it works, but also diversify your efforts, time IS money, never put all of your eggs in one basket. Eventually you'll succeed in time if you take note of what works, mirror that in your actions, and learn to negotiate money and your career properly. That's what has worked for me thus far.
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