General Career Advice

Hello, I just finished doing the responsive web design course and have started doing the JavaScript course. I have a few questions.

For context I’m currently working full time as a ride share driver and learning how to code part time.

First, should I apply to IT jobs now or wait till I have JavaScript under my belt.

Second, are there a specific places on the web I should be applying or should I be searching for specific key words for jobs? It seems like everything I find is requiring 3-5 years of programming experience as a requirement.

Third, is there a web design course that I can look at? I feel like after completing the web design course I can riff off a template or follow the instructions of a client but I don’t feel like I have a real knowledge of the principles of design. I’m worried that if I’m given a blank slate I won’t know what to do next.

Last, should I be trying to freelance? To earn some money and build up my portfolio? This will take away from the time that I can drive but might actually be a career builder. If I go this way, should I move my portfolio off of codepen and host my own website?

You’re already in a great position to start talking to people – your ride share driving. We’ve had several Lyft/Uber drivers come to Turing (where I teach) because they met students in the car and started talking to them. Print some “aspiring developer” business cards and hand those out to people you drive around if you find out they work in tech. Ask them lots of questions about their career journies, favorite technologies, do they know anyone hiring entry-level developers, etc…

Many jobs are not posted online, and if you only apply to online postings then you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities to network and hear about possible work etc…

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If you see job postings that you think that you are qualified for, go ahead and start applying. Keep in mind that even qualified programmers who are dedicating a lot of time and effort to getting a job are often actively job hunting for 6 months. There is a whole process that transpires between qualified and hired.

I know that some regions tend to use some platforms more than others, but I would suggest hitting all of the significant ones.

One one hand, this is often an optimisitc requirement, rather than a strict one. On the other hand, this does indicate that the employer is looking for someone who can begin doing the work imediately and won’t need anything foundational explained to them. Being self-educated means that there is a pressure and burden on you to demonstrate that you have the same skills as someone who has been doing this full-time for a few years.

If you google around, you can find some good articles recommending courses or books/articles about UX (User Experience). This is the topic that you want to get some good foundations on. You don’t need to be a graphic designer, but you should understand core concepts of why things are built the way they are.

If you’re working for a company, it’s unlikely that you’ll be given a blank slate. If you’re working freelance, you will probably be building off of templates (your own or those that you purchase to adapt).

This is your call. I suggest reading some advice articles on freeCodeCamp News,, etc about what it’s like to freelance.

When you have a strong portfolio that you feel displays the quality of work you are capable of, yes. Have it somewhere besides CodePen. If you use GitHub, you can host it for free with GitHub pages. If you’re looking at freelancing, you might want to look into professional hosting, so you can get familiar with the process that you will need to do for your clients.

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