How I got into Front-End Web Development
Monday 25 July 2016
TL:DR - Know yourself. Tailor your learning to yourself. Take responsibility of your life. Be relentless.
I wanted to make this post a how-to guide of how I made the career change to web development, however there are tons of these types of guides out there already. What I want to concentrate on is the mentality I had and the 'other' things that went into my career change. So if you were looking for a prescriptive post, then it may disappoint you, however, please stick around as you may use some of the material here.
I started learning Web Development at 28. I was unhappy with my current career path and needed to change direction. I already understood some of my strengths and tolerances to different types of work, just by the experiences I have had up to this point. So I started researching around for careers that could keep me engaged. I whittled my choices down to either Osteopathy (I have an undergraduate degree in Sports Sciences) or a Software Programmer.
I was successful in my Osteopathy application and interview/practical test and was due to start the program September that year. I then tried programming by signing up to codeacademy.com and freecodecamp.com. I started messing around with code, nothing serious before I decided to sit down with myself and really try to understand how I think, and how I learn best in order for me to be successful in whatever path I decided to choose.
I started researching the different ways we learn, and some pop-psychology. I discovered that my preference in learning is visual, with speaking and listening and kinetics as backup. This opened doors for me as if I were to learn code, I'd need something visually stimulating, and answered questions to me for why I had studied Sports Sciences, as a lot of the content in these degrees are heavy in the visual aspect (Human Anatomy & Physiology, Biomechanics, Nutrition, etc...)
As for pop-psychology, I came across Myers-Briggs and discovered that I am an ENTP. So now I further understood my flavour of ENTP and style of learning. One of the biggest things about ENTPs are their flexibility in learning, so long as they are passionate about it. I am already passionate about Sport Sciences so Osteopathy would be a natural fit, but coding? How can I find something that is visually stimulating and offers me something to challenge my intellect?
Thus, I researched different areas of programming. I knew quite quickly that I needed to see the results of what I was doing, so I discovered I had a preference to App and Front-End Web Development. As for material I found treehouse.com and signed up to their free trial month.
The videos and GUI were very visually stimulating which helped me to retain the information and better understand the concepts. I had a go at their Android App Development Track (like a curriculum) and found it difficult as I had no fundamentals in coding, much less doing apps, so I tried their Front-End Web Development Track. I knew I didn't want to do Web Design, as I feel that I am not as creative as logical, which narrowed down my options. In addition, Front-End Web Development has a lower barrier to entry than Back-End Web Development.
Tell people! Talk!
After making a good start into the Treehouse front-end track I felt that things were beginning to stick. In addition to this I started telling people that I am considering a career change and that I am self learning. I felt I needed to make this bold move as the closest people in my life started holding me accountable for my progress. They’d ask questions to see how I was finding teaching myself coding. This made it more real to me: I didn’t want to let down my family and friends. This plus my natural determination and drive helped me plow through. Lastly, after telling people that I am striving to become a Front-End Web Developer there was no way that I was going to quit.
This is the rest of your life you’re dealing with (or at least a significant part of your future life). Which means that you will need to make some sacrifices in your life. You may need to go hermit mode for a couple of months. For me, I naturally went into this phase as I was single and had no dependents. This meant for me a significant reduction in night life activities. It was literally, work, home, gym (3 times a week), and the occasional socialising on a Sunday.
In addition, check your habits! The MMORPG games had to go for me! Again, this was a natural change for me as I preferred to spend my time learning over wasting my time away on some pixels and random number generators. Check out this link and this link for a great way to unplug from these type of games. You may realise that you’re addicted!
You will never be perfect.
Also you will have more weaknesses then strengths in your life.
Again, I’m sorry.
Why I say this? Because you need to be easy on yourself because you will make crap stuff! Then you will release this crap to the world.
Be easy on yourself because you are a learner.
Are you a perfectionist? (Read: procrastinator). Release your work anyway.
There is good news in that you will improve very quickly, and after a couple months you will see that your first website was a stepping stone to where you are now. So long as you are giving 100% of yourself in your work now, then you are doing the best you can do. And if you continually do the best you can do, then you will get better.
So make the jump! Show and tell people what you have made. You will get better with time.
Am I ready now?
When will you be job ready? There are a plethora of articles and videos that will give you a list of things that you should know by the time you look for a job. So I won’t write my opinion here. However, what will be useful here is to understand how to write a CV for the tech industry. I found the information here indispensable. Before I found this video, I didn’t receive any interest or interviews, until I applied the knowledge found in the video.
Best of luck to you!
If you want anymore information, please feel free to contact me by using the social icons below.
Until next time!