How I Became A Web Developer

Back in May of 2016, a friend of mine was showing an interest in programming. He had started the “Introduction to Computer Science” course through Udacity and was loving every second of it. After he had gone through a little bit of the course, he started to tell me about it, which began to peak my interest. At this time, I began contemplating this question:

Is this for me?

At the time, the answer seemed to be “No”, due to the fact that I had no background in computer science or even shown interest in such a thing up until then. For my friend, it fit him like a pair of custom tailored gloves. Everybody knew him as the “Tech Guy,” which makes a career choice like this perfect for a person like him. Though I was happy for him, I was not met with the same approval when I told people that I was getting into a similar field.

It’s just not your thing

The response I got when I started to tell people of my career change was about 30/70. 30% of people seemed happy for me and encouraged me to go for it. The other 70% said things like “oh, really?!?”, “Isn’t that really hard to get into”, and my least favorite, “It’s just not your thing”. Even though the people who said things like this meant well, words like these, in my head, were translated to

“You’re just not smart enough for something like this!!!”

The good part is, I’ve never been one to let other people define my future. When I’m into something, it doesn’t matter how hard or daunting it may be. If it’s something I’m interested in, I’ll push through the blood, sweat and tears to accomplish it. Yes, it hurt getting those responses from people, but little did I realize, it was the thing I needed to push me in the right direction.

Where do I even start?

So now that I had come to the realization that this was something I wanted to do, the next question was, “where on earth do I start?” Not having any direction, I decided to take a look at that Udacity course my friend was going through. And for those of you who have never taken a look at it, the course starts you out with the basics of Python.

After a couple of weeks in the course, I realized how hard it was. Strings? Arrays? Concatenation? Loops? What on earth is all this stuff even used for? Not knowing the answer to that last question was what made it so difficult. I had no end goal in mind. I was learning all this theory with no real world application, which didn’t help me much. Luckily, after a lot of Googling and YouTubing, I found a better way to go about this programming thing. Or so I thought?

Which programming language should I learn?

Yes! The famous, yet not so helpful, question every newbie developer asks. Well, to no one’s surprise, I started asking this question. I thought that if I nailed down the perfect programming language, my course would be set. I came across countless videos on YouTube and countless articles online trying to answer this very question. The ones that were the least helpful where the ones who actually answered the question with lists of programming languages. Why? Because as a new developer, the last thing I needed was for someone to advocate for their favorite programming language that might not lead me to the career that suits me best.

A lot of these videos and articles mostly went on about the pros and cons of a bunch of different programming languages. They didn’t really go into detail on what they were used for and why I should learn them over other languages. Needless to say, it was the wrong question to be asking. Luckily I came across videos and articles that gave me a better question to be asking. I’m sure you’ve already guest it:

What kind of programs do I want to build?

At this point I was highly appreciative of those voices that told me that it was more important to focus on the kind of programming I want to do over the languages that I should learn. Programming is about solving problems, not learning languages. Your choice of languages center around the kinds of apps or pieces of software that you want to build. So if you are still asking the language question, I encourage you to consider the kinds of programs you want to build before making that choice. It will save you a lot of time and a lot of frustration.

Not only will nailing down this question help you get started, it will also give you a goal to focus on. One of the things I know about myself is that I’m a goal oriented person, which means if I don’t have a goal in mind, I’ll have a hard time getting anywhere. That new goal for me was becoming a web developer.

Why web development?

With all the cool jobs out there related to programming, web development, for me, was the most intriguing. This was around the time google was talking about how progressive web apps were the way of the future and how mobile apps will start to be a thing of the past. Even though this information seemed to affirm my decision to become a web developer, I had other reasons for choosing web over everything else.

One reason was that I personally enjoyed my experiences in web browsers more than I did in mobile apps. Mobile apps, to me, always seemed a little limiting and inconvenient. If I wanted to look up the cooking temperature of chicken, I would have to flip through pages and pages of app reviews to see if there is an app for that. I’m sure such an app exists, but with a web browser, all I have to do is “google it”. There are other reasons, but for the sake of space I’ll leave it for a later post.

Conclusion

This is my short little journey on how I became a web developer. Fast forward almost a year and a half and I am nowhere near regretting my decision. If anything, I’m more and more eager to learn all that I need to know to be a professional web developer.