Working as a web developer since 3 months - Reflections and learnings

Working as a web developer since 3 months - Reflections and learnings
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Hello everyone. I was following the free code camp curriculum a few months back and landed a job in a small and new digital marketing company. I build simple static websites for businesses, so what I share below would be my learnings related to this.

Brief Background:- I graduated in 2017 in Electronics and Communication Engineering. My marks were too low to get placed into a company (placements are a thing in India) and I was clueless what I wanted. I didn’t do anything productive for few months and spent them in worry. Then I decided to do TRIAL AND ERROR to identify what interests me. I tried doing content marketing internships, but I didn’t like it. I decided that the purely creative side was not for me and decided to do something more logical like programming as I was good at it in school. I decided to learn Android programming. (I had built an Android project for my college project). I spent 1-2 months doing Google’s Udacity course and one day realized that I hated Java, and left it all aside and began learning Front End Development (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript). I very little prior knowledge of many programming languages, but never really practiced the skills so it was pointless. I had a list of Udemy certificates but didn’t apply the skills learned so I forgot it all and it was a waste of effort.

I was applying for jobs like crazy and not getting a single interview. It was like an uphill battle. No amount of reading or posting to forums can’t help you much, since you can’t go deeper into a conversation in an online chat.
Fortunately, my cousin was in town for few days and I shared my problems with getting a job with him. He was also in the same boat as me, and it was good to get another person’s objective perspective on my situation. After our discussion I realized I was supposed to be spending my time 80% on learning and 20% on applying to jobs/networking. And as I got more skilled, that ratio would alter accordingly. (Basically, I wasn’t skilled enough and still applying to jobs).

I started following Freecodecamp’s curriculum religiously in January and February. I got a job while just before I completed Freecodecamp’s Front End Certificate (old curriculum). I had 3 projects left for the certificate.

What resources helped me learn:-

  1. FreeCodeCamp
  2. Colt Steele’s Web Developer Bootcamp

While solving FCC, focus on UNDERSTANDING how you solved the problem. Don’t just keep solving challenges back to back, because you need to know how to solve problems like that if they arise in the future.

Colt Steele’s course on Udemy is cheap and really well explained. To effectively learn those skills, think of it in 2 steps.

  1. Learning
  2. Applying

Watch the video, then applying the skill. Focus on UNDERSTANDING how it works, not just replicating the output.

What I think helped me get the job:

  1. Honest about current skill levels
  2. Ability to self-learn and attitude towards coding
  3. Awareness about the big picture of coding (different parts of building a website)

Few realizations from the Interview:-

  1. Employers care only about the OUTCOME, not the technologies you know
  2. Solving FCC challenges/projects is good, but what matters MORE is practicing WHAT YOU’D BUILD IF YOU WERE WORKING.

I had tried duplicating websites from dribble but it was too hard. Now that I’m few months ahead, I realize I should’ve used w3layouts and download a free theme. Then try to duplicate that content. If I can’t make it happen, I’d read the code and learn how to do it.

The people at my company have little technical knowledge and basically wanted to know if I can handle the work they were doing. So telling them I know ‘Front End Development’ or ‘HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Bootstrap, etc’ is all pointless to them. My portfolio page lacked building actual website, but fortunately for me I was selected because of my communication skills and ability to learn and attitude.

Portfolio page is a MUST for everyone. Keep it updated with your projects and contact information.

Thoughts on Resume:- The ideal resume doesn’t exist. I’ve heard opposing opinions for every kind of resume i’ve made. So I’d go with WHATEVER WORKS IS RIGHT. Keep iterating till it starts getting you interviews.

I started with a 1 page resume, but recruiters told me it was too brief. Then I built a 2-3 pages resume, it got me few interviews, but my KEY SKILLS/ACHIEVEMENTS got blended within all that text. I read a blog post on FCC called opinionated guide to resume writing and adopted the template he shared there. It was brief and allowed me to let my KEY SKILLS/ACHIEVEMENTS to stand out.

And last point I’d like to talk about is Imposter Syndrome, yes it’s real and everyone feels that way. Don’t let people ahead of you intimidate you, but try to learn from them and improve yourself better than your past self.

In Summary,
Career choice = Trial and Error + Self Reflection
Divide your time between Learning and Applying for jobs, based on current skill level
If you are stuck at any stage, try getting objective feedback from a person you trust in real life. (THIS IS HUGE)
Learning a skill happens in 2 parts:- Learning + Applying
Focus on UNDERSTANDING how the code works
Practice building stuff you’d be expected to do at work (try w3layouts if dribble is too hard)
Follow FCC along with building websites for fictional customers (same as above step)
Portfolio page helps sell yourself.

Hope this helps