Becoming a Web Developer

For quite a while now, I have wanted to become a web developer.

In 2000, I taught myself HTML and loved it. I loved how easy I could create an HTML file, write some code and then just open that HTML file and see what I had created. The web has a low barrier for entrance, and I think that is awesome. It allows anyone with a little gumption to start a project that they are interested in.

Unfortunately, I put that aside for about 10 years and focused on some other things, but I always admired how fast the web was changing, how first we had informational sites only, and then you could purchase items, and now the web is fully interactive. I can now manage my family’s phone plan and devices through the web, never walking into a store or calling someone on the phone. If I need help, I can log in, open a chat window and get, what I consider, better service than what I receive in the store.

In 2010, I stopped just admiring the web and decided to get involved again. I started learning about how to create websites again using modern methods (no more table layouts) and quickly took on a client that needed a professional website built. I created a professional, informational website for my client that helped him launch his dream. When we started working together, he had two clients and he performed work for them for free, trying to get experience and get his name out there. He had trouble, though, because people thought that since he did not have a website, he was not serious about his work. Since we published his website, he has contracted with college athletic teams, professional sports teams and is now sponsored by a regional bank. I’m under no impression that my website alone got him to where he is, but I did realize the importance of having a professional presence on the web for a small business.

Since that first website, I have dreamed of becoming a web developer. I have helped several small businesses obtain a professional presence on the web, and helped several people realize their dreams. I like the feeling of publishing something that anyone with an internet connection can access, but even better than that I like helping people. With each project I have created, I feel like I have helped someone get one step closer to realizing their dream.

But still, I’ll never forget that first project. Every time I look at that website I feel like I did something important, something special. Am I proud of the code? I am proud that I was able to create the website and write the HTML, CSS and little bit of JavaScript to make it work. But when I look back at it I see a lot of absolute positioning and no mobile strategy. But those are lessons learned.

In June of 2015, I enrolled in Udacity’s Front End Web Development Nanodegree. I wanted to learn how to develop more professionally, particularly in JavaScript, and I felt the structure of their program would be a good place for me to learn. I just built the fifth project, which is a map of Atlanta with places I think are interesting. It was developed using flexbox, with a mobile first strategy in mind. It interacts with Google Maps API, Google Street View, FourSqaure’s API and Flickr’s API. Code is organized using KnockoutJS, and has a much more professional feel than my first project. When I read the code I am proud of how much more professional it looks than my first website. But I feel even better when I think of how much more I am able to help other people reach their dreams now.

Which brings me to becoming a web developer. For these past few years I have thought about how great it would be if I could become a web developer. Just recently, though, I realized I am a web developer. I don’t work full time in web development, yet. And I don’t have any awards to my name, yet. But I have built websites for several people, and those websites have helped people achieve their dreams. I finally realized that building those websites has helped me achieve my dream: becoming a web developer.