Supercharge your Web Development journey
As a freshman in the world of development, I have come across countless sources of wisdom that have and continue to help me thrive in this new and scary world of tech.
I began as a professional musician, graduating from London College of Music back in 2012 which eventually led me onto working behind the scenes in talent and management agencies for the last few years. When c*vid arrived, it put a halt to all live events, and thus, a break in my career came. Little did I know that, it would come at the perfect time. I was feeling burnt out, unchallenged and a lack of desire to go any higher up the ladder. I sat down one day and wrote a list of things I value, not only in my career but also in life. With the help of Paul Mort, James Clear and Jordan Peterson, I realised several things that ranked highly on my list of values, were things that could be found from a career in tech. Work flexibility, creativity and problem solving were just some of the things that drew me into this new adventure. Now here I am, loving my new role at Websy as a Full-stack web developer and all it has to offer in terms of development and being challenged.
‘Finding’ passion is a myth. I think you can find what compels you and what might enable you to live in a high quality manner, despite the suffering that’s associated with life. I think you can discover that and part of the way you discover that is by watching yourself and learning when you’re meaningfully engaged. You have to notice that. It’s something that happens to you in some sense, rather than something that you do. Then you have to work to expand the amount of time that you spend in that state.
I’ve taken what seems in today’s world as quite a ‘traditional’ route into the tech industry. I was self taught for the first few months before deciding to take the plunge and attend an intensive 3 month bootcamp. After those initial few weeks post-bootcamp, I could only see job listings all with minimum 2 years experience. Soon enough however, I found many resources to help me on my way and give me the helping hand, onto the next level. So…where does one go when they’re fresh out of bootcamp and ready to get their first job as a Web Developer?
Firstly, I recommend some time for introspection before hitting the accelerator and contacting everyone and their dog on LinkedIn. Introspection will help you remember why you began this journey in the first place, what your intentions were, how they might have changed and most importantly, what does the next step look like for you in an ideal world?
- Take some time to reevaluate your short, medium and long term goals. This will give you the chance to align your goals with your current mindset and overall current situation.
- Introspection is crucial not only because your goals may have changed, but because ‘what you think you want is usually very different from what you actually want.’
- Evaluate your top skills, do they align with your values? Either answer, will give you a clearer path on where your focus needs to go next.
After some valuable introspection, let’s look at crafting your Personal Brand. Why do I need a Personal Brand, and what the hell is it? Well…have you ever had an interview and been asked, ‘So, tell me about yourself?’ Usually what we think is the easiest question, tends to trip us up, because most people are quite bad at talking about themselves. It’s a question that requires some work and preparation. You should decide why it is that you’re doing what you’re doing. Luckily, this is where your introspection comes in handy, as we can see what our top skills and values are and with that, use them to stand out from the crowd.
Your Personal Brand is your tool to set yourself apart from your competition. Landing a job requires selling yourself. You’re going to be constantly selling who you are and why you are the right person for the role. Think about Tesla. Who’s the first person that comes to mind, Elon right? That’s because he built such a great personal brand and so people believe in whatever products he is involved in. So take some time to prepare your answer for that inevitable first question, because you’re going to be getting asked it a lot.
Moving into the digital world, like it or not, your personal brand is already out there. This is where we dive into the realm of social media and more specifically, LinkedIn. LinkedIn is going to be one of the most familiar platforms when it comes to getting your first role. Make sure your page is up to date, filled with relevant content, key words and most of all, stay active. The algorithm favors those who regularly visit the platform and engage with others.
Think of LinkedIn as your online CV. When a recruiter visits your page, you want them to see why you are qualified for the role, what makes you stand out from the rest and why hiring you would be a great decision. Use this tool wisely to sharpen your online presence and it will prove to be a useful tool. I’d also highly recommend building a portfolio. The number of projects you have to showcase is not necessarily important, but here, quality is everything. Do you want to work at an e-commerce giant? Perhaps look at how to build a basic e-commerce website with checkout functionality and deploy it with some basic styling. This will help you stand out above at least 50% of the other candidates, if your portfolio is relevant to the job you’re applying to. Everyone can showcase their Tic-tac-toe or Rock, Paper, Scissors games. And yes, whilst these are invaluable projects to help you in your development, they are most likely going to get tossed onto the pile along with the 20 other candidates who applied with some variation of these projects.
The goal in any sport is to finish with the best score, but it would be ridiculous to spend the whole game staring at the scoreboard. The only way to actually win is to get better each day. In the words of three-time Super Bowl winner Bill Walsh, “The score takes care of itself.” The same is true for other areas of life. If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.
…If you’re a musician, your goal might be to play a new piece. Your system is how often you practice, how you break down and tackle difficult measures, and your method for receiving feedback from your instructor.
James Clear — Atomic Habits
One final thought on the aspect of applying for jobs. Someone once gave me the advice to apply before you think you’re ready. Generally job adverts are a recruiters wish-list. They aren’t looking for you to tick all the boxes, but if you can say you’re familiar and comfortable with at least 80% of it, then go ahead and send your CV. Interview experience is so useful. Get over the fear of rejection, it’s going to happen, and it’s ok. It just means someone was better suited, and probably further along in their journey than you right now. There are many types of tech interviews, coding tests, take-home projects etc. The goal is not to know how to nail them all, but at least to experience each of them and, if nothing else, to build your resilience. When we do something, it’s not to hit the bullseye every time but to improve our overall average each attempt.
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” — Wayne Gretzky
So you’ve bagged that dream role, now what? Having a job where you can learn on the job is incredibly important. In your role, you’ll be given basic tasks to complete. No one is expecting you to understand the codebase and how it works immediately, but making a start and asking for help when you need, will help you grow in confidence and upgrade your skill-set quickly.
Focus on what you like. Keep it fun and interesting. Keep up to date with the tech community whether it be LinkedIn, Twitter, Hashnode, Reddit etc, there is a wealth of resources out there to keep your imposter syndrome fuelled for years to come! I joke, but really…don’t get overwhelmed. Learning should be light and consistent. This way you’ll stick at it.
There are a lot of ‘roadmaps’ you can use as suggestions on a particular path or topic to follow. Use them as guides, not gospel, but they are a great way to help your progression on a particular route in web development. For example a Front-end development path might look a little something like this.
Another useful tool may be to look at your short, medium and long term goals. I find this an invaluable skill to look at each year at least, and set yourself 1 month, 3 month, 6 month and 12 month targets. This can of course be in your personal development as well as your tech career and they may well be intertwined.
No one else can set these for you or give you a path to follow, because we are all individuals. But the point of this article is to show you the blueprint which has worked for myself and others in their journey’s. Perhaps have a look on LinkedIn or various other job sites, take a look at job postings that may interest you but are deemed too far out of your reach just now. List the skills that the post mentions and take a look to see if these skill sets or tech stacks could be something that interests you. The wonderful thing about the tech world is that we are blessed with ever-growing opportunities and technologies. Nothing is stagnant and the industry expects people to keep learning. I find that one of the most appealing things about the tech scene. Being challenged and having new things to figure out, keeps us growing.
To that end, if I had to encapsulate my take on ‘supercharging your tech career’, in other words, you came to the bottom of this article looking for the pot of gold, here it is…
- Find your motivation, remember your why.
- Measure your progress, the successes and failures.
- Be consistent. Aim for 1% improvement each day.
- Learn from people better than you & don’t compare. Everyone is at a different stage in their journey.
- Be proactive in the community. What’s new, what’s changing and what are people getting excited about?
- Explore and have fun. Try things, fail and keep moving.