I started my first job as a web developer / design with a government agency almost two years ago and I want to share that experience with you.
I want to start with a background about how everything started. I wanted a website to post my Spanish Christian devotionals in the web so the people could read them. No, I did not want to use Facebook for that purpose as a lot of people was pointing as the solution. After a small research I found Weebly as the CMS to go for reasons that I actually don’t want to point out. So I made my first website. During that time somehow I fell in love with graphic design and after some more research I found web development the way to go and was determined to learn the most popular programming language in the world, Java Script.
As a full time employee, married man, father of three and christian religious committed I found myself in a dilemma. I have to give up something in order to make up the appropriate time to learn. Something I could never do! Really, deep in my heart I knew I had the cognitive capacity to learn a programming language, even at my after 35 age years old, age was not a limitation at all, just the time I did not have. So I found ways to learn at my own pace. After a couple years in the process I finally landed my first job, exactly what I needed to put what I have learn into action and still learning new skills. Keep reading for some tips and advise if you are in the self taught developer path.
Do not jump into a boot camp too fast
If you are just starting, there are a lot of free resources as cheap courses where you can learn great skills. One of my biggest frustrations was that I completed a master degree in Curriculum and Instruction for what I could never got a job related. While doing some research I found web development and programming in general a great field of growing, so I went for it until I could land a decent job. And if I my age I could make it, you young people reading this, you can make it as well!
Just take your time to learn the basics and when you feel comfortable enough, and you can afford a boot camp, go for it!
Take advantage of the free resources!
There are a lot of organizations doing great things for beginners web developers, they have plenty of free content that you can take advantage of right now!
- Freecodecamp – I believe this people are the creators of Medium, which is another great resource and they are making an enormous contribution to the web development community with their free resources and learning curriculum. Big kudos for them!
- Udacity – this page offers a lot of free courses and premium degrees at an affordable price. I believe Google is their main supporter, go and give it a try!
- There is a lot more – the web is full of free resources that can be very helpful for starters. Check out this page listing 100 free resources for web development.
If you go for the free resources as a beginner, I believe is the right first step to take, also, as an added note into that, once you start a course, please completed, I remember at the beginning I was desperate to learn how to do something specifically and tried to skip throughout the course or look into another course to find out there are hundreds of way to accomplish the same goal.
Finally, another good resource is YouTube, with so many good developers teaching the basics and some more about web development. Go check it out! Once you get the hang of the fundamentals, go ahead and prepare for the bootcamp if you will. Check out the following resources where you can learn more in depth by paying.
Don’t be afraid to spend money for learning
Either paid subscriptions, or courses for a flat fee, it will still be cheaper than going to college or a boot camp. Here are some of my recommendations for learning if you are willing to pay a fee for learning. I assure you they are not only code along, but great instructors.
- Wes Bos – This guy is very popular on the web, he has great resources about web development, if you are willing to pay for his work, you won’t regret. He also has a very popular podcast with the latest topics and web development conversations.
- Kevin Powell – Kevin specializes in HTML and CSS, if you are into that, is worth to spend the money in his work.
- Level Up Tutorials – Level Up tutorials is run by Scott who also offers great value for the money into the full stack web development.
- Brad Hussey – I like this guy and the way he teaches, I have learned a lot from him if you want to go and check it out. Even though he teaches web development he has a big focus on how to success in freelancing.
- Academind – they recently released their own learning platform, Max is an awesome and very savvy web developer.
- Brad Traversy – Brad is one of the more helpful developers, even though he does not have his learning platform yet, his youtube channel offers a lot of free quality content. Give him a try!
There are a lot more of great resources, I did not include any subscription service, just because I never used one, since sometimes I could spend a weekend learning also sometimes a month went throughout and all I could do was to read and listen to podcasts due my time limitation.
Find your preferable learning method
As an instructor, on my field for now, I know there are different type of learning methods. Some people can learn by watching videos, others learn by drawing in a board while others grasp better by reading books. That is something that only you can find out.
I realized a lot of the free videos and resources are code along style, even though that is not teaching, you still can learn some about it. So my point is to encourage you to find your learning method as to find a great instructor where you can get the most.
Web development is not about sitting down and copy paste what you created coding along, you need to sit down with some ideas, and start coding to create them. That’s when you learn the most. So don’t be afraid to start your own ideas, and don’t expect to complete everything in one sit.
Create your personal portfolio
After some time (is relative) you will be able to find clients and make a good looking website for them, however is very important to create your own website with a portfolio of the best of your work up to date.
Create a notebook with clean notes
It is a great practice to sit down with a notes application to take notes as you take a course. Save snippets on how to do something, save instructions on how to create a setup for a specific library or on how to work with GitHub, etc.
Notes are very important and also you can use them as references for many purposes. With time, you will realize how helpful it is to type or write your notes as you take a course.
Make sure your notes are well organized so when you search for them be easy to find. I don’t stress enough notes are very helpful in the learning process regardless of your learning method. On my opinion, the best software to do this is Microsoft One Note. A real notebook with great organizational features.
So what I did to get the job
All of the above, during my little free time, all I used to do was to code, watch free courses, buy Udemy courses, read about web development, listening to podcasts, etc. Until I found my place in a government agency working as a bilingual Spanish web developer/design.
If you know and want to share your own story and or resources where beginners can learn for their money, please share and thanks in advance!