From Hobby to Career

Web development might be one of the most misunderstood professions I’ve run across. When telling people I want to be a web developer, there first thought is that my job would be putting together websites for Pet Grooming companies that have 3 pictures, a contact us page, and hold your breath…links!

While its a sad misconception, it’s also a credit to the web designers and developers, who’ve made highly complex systems so commonplace, people forget it actually takes an inordinate amount of code, knowledge and experience to make them work.

We are currently seeing a tectonic shift in the landscape of software. Before, the most ubiquitous names in software were things like Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop. These were giants that inspired software developers to create amazing things. Today, software is quickly taking a backseat, to web applications. We’ve started to leave Skype behind and embrace Google Hangouts. We use Facebook to stay in touch instead of Outlook. We’ve stopped seeing a browser as software and simply a conduit to real applications. Today is an unbelievably exciting time to be a web developer, but most people don’t really get it…yet.

The demand has led to some strange new industries. When starting as a hobbyist, the options for getting started as a web developer are dizzying. The need for developers has caused quick-fix programs to pop up like weeds. But what does it really take, to make that change from hobby to career?

The answer, is to take things seriously. Learning one language, be it Python, Ruby, JavaScript, takes serious dedication. It means using that language to solve increasingly complex problems. It means getting to a point where you are comfortable, and then tearing all down, picking a new language and starting again. It also means being curious, but not off-hand curious. Your curiosity needs to be a hunger, something that never goes away, no matter how much you feed it. There is always more to learn as a developer, and you have to WANT to know it all.

Just remember, at the end of the day, the sad truth is you can’t know it all, no matter how badly you want to. The key is to strive for it. The effort will take you were you need to be, to make the shift from wanting something, to having it.

Good luck!

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