Looking into a career in web development? Wondering where to focus your efforts? Our team shares their advice for the next generation of web professionals.
Chromatic uses Know Your Company to help our team learn about each other and to improve our business. A recent KYC question asked, "What advice would you offer to someone looking to enter our field?". Our team's responses are below.
tl;dr – The recurring themes from our team's advice are to:
- Find a mentor.
- Focus on the fundamentals.
Get involved in local meetups and online courses! There is so much free and low-cost instruction available, from blogs and webinars to classes from Ivy League schools. Start googling. Meet people, find out what's available around you. Bootcamps are an option that seem to work for some people, but I think that really depends on the person, their skill level, and how they learn - and whether they are looking to rapidly learn. I think meetups are invaluable because you'll make connections with people and companies while learning.
As much as I value my education, I would not personally, in 2017, go to school for a degree in web development, especially not if that means debt.
Just start building stuff.
Explore all of the different roles.
Don't try to learn everything at once.
Think about edge cases. Good luck.
Use a liberal amount of empathy in everything you do: When writing code, think about how clear it will be to someone reading it for the first time. When designing a layout, think about how accessible it will be to someone seeing it for the first time. Often times, that someone is you weeks or months from today.
Your programming kung fu can always be improved, but since your clients have no clue what you actually do, they most value your communication and people skills.
Fundamentals over frameworks.
Find a mentor.
Understand the how and why when you get it to work.
Learn languages before tools.
Throw yourself in the deep end.
Work with smart people.
Fake it till you make it.
Take advantage of your local library and other free resources online.
Go to user groups or meet-ups in your area.
Don't be afraid to reach out to people as mentors.
Be skeptical of bootcamps that charge a lot and promise the world.
Check and see if there are people local to you that are interested in taking a free course online and create a study group.
Attend a startup weekend or local civic coding groups before you feel ready.
Attend conferences or camps even if they're intimidating, there are always other individuals new to the field and people ready to welcome them.
Be patient, the pieces will start to fall into place.
Find mentors wherever you can!!
Be prepared to not know alot of things but rely on your ability to sleuth and problem-solve
Don't be afraid to ask questions and ask for help when you need it - it's way easier to preemptively avoid problems than have to fix them afterwards
Confidence comes with repetition and practice - dive into the trenches you bloody legends!!
Just do it.*
** If you really want it, you will get to where you want to be.
Looking at the job listings out there, it's going to seem like there's so much you don't know. Don't worry about this. Half of what organizations list as requirements won't even be actual things in 6 months.
Focus on learning the foundational elements. If you're looking to get into front-end, learn HTML, CSS and JS through and through. This will get you really far and since these technologies aren't going to be replaced any time soon, it will certainly be time well spent.
Never stop learning. Our industry has, and continues, to evolve so quickly that a genuine excitement for evolving your skills and learning new technologies will serve you exceedingly well over your career.
Learn with other people, whether it's mentors, clients, or peers.
Work with and for smart (and above all, ethical) people.
Don't specialize too much.
Make sure you understand clients' needs, but (gently) resist uncritically accepting clients' engineering suggestions. :)
Google is your new best friend. There are so many great tutorials on HTML, CSS, and JS out there. Codepen is a great tool for someone just beginning - it lets you throw some code up and instantly see the results without being bogged down by code editors, files, and browsers.
Create a portfolio site, not only will it give you experience in actually building out an entire site, it'll also give you a place to brag and showcase your best work. Remember websites are about your users needs, not your own.
Have some advice of your own to share? Drop us a line on Twitter and we'll add your wisdom to our post!