The first time I saw html and css, I was 11 years old. Now I wish this was a story where I could tell you that I was some sort of child web development genius, but I, unfortunately, stopped programming. I guess video games won this round. It wasn’t until later years into college that I started to mess around with programming again. I did some basic java, but nothing more than really some basic hello worlds and console programs. While this helped me with the basic understanding of loops, programming logic, and general high-level development; it really did not help me professionally in any way as yet again I dropped it.
Fast forward to where I have dropped out of college and I am working in restaurant management, I decided to take to the plunge into starting my own e-commerce business. I did not build the store from scratch, but simply bought a Shopify theme and built it out from there. I enjoyed the process and it was cool to see the website come to life. While I used some basic html & css to change some things here and there, I in no way knew how to program or do anything. Everything I wanted to do came from google searches. The business did okay, I learned so much from it, but at the end of the day the time investment for the amount I was making did not seem worth it to me, nor did I find too much passion behind it.
Interestingly enough, however, I realized how much I enjoyed building the website and it got me thinking about programming again. I starting doing some research and played around with a few languages such as java, c++, php, swift, and basic web development. In the end, I found swift and web development to be the most rewarding for me.
In short, aside from moving to another city that had more swift developer opportunities, I only saw 1-3 job postings every few weeks for swift development in my area. There were some meetups in my area, but I just didn’t see the opportunity as much as I did web development nearby. When I search for web developer jobs, I found hundreds already there, and several being posted each and every day. Both I found passion behind, but I think from a realistic standpoint web development made sense for my situation.
As time grew on, I started getting a better understanding of all of the stacks, languages, and their uses. Upfront looking at all of the options I fully understand why it can be complex and daunting for someone new coming in. But as time goes on and you branch your way out of just html & css you start to see why they are needs for their appropriate applications. Other things that drew me towards web development was knowing I would have the ability to create websites for businesses, my interests such as this blog, and other applications that I want to pursue.
I used a mixture of tutorials, research, and googling to get to where I am now. I did a lot of research beforehand on what I should be learning and how I should go about it. A lot of people talked about tutorial hell and I wanted nothing to do with that. For those who do not know, “tutorial hell” is when you do all of the code along for development and just purely copy what the instructor is doing. The problem with this is if you are not engaging your brain and thinking about what you are doing, it is very possible for you to go try to recreate the same thing and not know how to do much if anything at all.
Knowledge retention is huge. I did tutorials, sometimes intentionally not completing them, up until I felt that I got all of the basic knowledge that I needed out of them. Once I had my “base” I would go and try to create my own projects googling and searching for the remainder of the information. This worked well for me because I actively was engaging my brain during learning and when I solved the problem myself, instead of just purely copying and pasting the code; I actually retained it! Figuring out how you learn is so important within web development.
In short, I think you need to stick to 1-3 tutorials at most and then do your own projects and push yourself to learn. If you continue to do multiple tutorials it will feel like you are not making a lot of progress, because well; you aren’t! Actively engaging your thought process and development are required for you to retain everything you learn.
Nope. I actually was a college drop out. I don’t think either way is inertially wrong, but college is definitely not needed to be a web developer. What college will give you is a degree that will help you get past the filter of some job applications. This gives a bit more security to those who feel it is relevant. But by no means does it hinder you from getting a job. What the most important thing is, is your portfolio. This is where you get to show off your work and ability. It is your chance to shine and show what you are capable of. I think without the college degree, one must try a bit harder to get into this field. This boils down to having to prove yourself a bit more. But nothing worth doing is going to be easy!
Just me, in fact; all of my family, high school connections, and various people I know are mostly back home, 2000+ miles away from me. Everyone that I knew out here worked within the restaurant industry. So I had to break-in by myself. The one thing I wish I would have done in the past to help would have been to go to more local web development meetups. These are invaluable as you never know who you are going to meet, and who they are going to become. Everyone starts with zero experience, so keep that in mind.
This really depends on how you want to look at it. It took me two years from starting the business and getting acclimated into the digital world to get here. Keep in mind, I did not code at all during the time of the business.
From a purely coding perspective, I focused on web development for just about 3 months before landing the job. Keep in mind, I had A LOT to learn on the job and at home when I first started out. But typically I like to tackle things pretty aggressively. I spent a good 3-4 hours a day coding on average and closer to 8 hours on my days off. This was with working a 50-55+ hours a week job. So most of my life consisted of coding to reach my goals during that time. It was tough, but if I had to do it all over again, I 100% would.
Getting into the web development world can be a daunting task, but is totally doable for those with or without an education. The path may not be so cut & dry for everyone but I think the general goals and milestones are the same. Pick a sector of web development (typically front-end is the most popular and easiest to get into) and practice, practice, practice. Get comfortable with what you are doing and when you feel ready, apply. There really isn’t a defining moment when it comes to web development that you know you are ready. Some would even argue to say I wasn’t ready when I got the job. Which is pretty fair, looking back at my code I think it is terrible now. Do not let old code get you down, it is a part of growing as a developer.
What is important to remember is this is a marathon, not a race. It is going to take a lot of time for you to get into the field. You will have days where it feels like you got nothing done and you will have bugs and errors that drive you insane. The important thing to remember is each mistake & problem is one more step towards your goal. They are learning experiences to help you grow. Growth and daily learning are important as this is what is going to help you achieve what you want. Feel free to reach out below on my socials and dm me! I would love to help you with your goals and experiences to get into the web development world!