So, you’re considering a career in web development? And you’re wondering what you need to do to get that first job in the field. Perhaps you’ve been working in a different industry for a number of years now, or you’re straight out of school / college / university and caught the coding bug.
There are many things that will help you as you uncover the path towards your chosen career. There is of course, no single path to becoming a web developer as each person’s experience will be unique in some way and there are many routes available to you.
Here are a few popular choices that could help get you that first web developer job:
Enroll in a web development bootcamp course
There are many bootcamp schools available to you. They have different costs, and time commitments, but are a fantastic way to learn the foundations of being a web developer in an intensive training format. We hire many junior developers from such bootcamps (check out Juno College, General Assembly and Lighthouse Labs for instance). Take the time to research and read reviews on bootcamp schools to ensure that you find the one that is right for you.
Online self-directed study
Online courses are a fantastic way of picking up new skills and working at your own pace and around your own schedule. There are many great courses out there and some fantastic platforms including Codecademy, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning and more! However, self-directed study can be more challenging, as you don’t have the benefit of peer review or mentor support from instructors, so choose this path if its a way of working that works well for you.
Personal projects are a great way to learn, make mistakes and test yourself. A suggestion would be to set up your own personal site, it could be a portfolio site, you could pair with a designer, or it could be a place for you to write some experimental programs - try building a basic web based video game - think Wordle or Snake. You can also keep it really simple and build a simple blog or a site for storing recipes. Most of all have fun, stretch yourself a little and keep at it! A domain name isn’t expensive, and there are plenty of free hosting plans for developers - do a little research, there are plentylots of good packages out there.
Set up your GitHub profile
Create a profile on GitHub and store all your projects there. It’s a great way for prospective employers to see you are serious and get a sense of your skill level at a glance. It’s also a great opportunity to get to grips with Git in general, whether using a command line interface or a graphical user interface such as Tower for Mac.
Learn to work with APIs
APIs are really powerful tools that give you access to a lot of data and functionality. Building a personal project that’s powered by an API can be a great way to learn how to integrate your UI with a backend service. We use both RESTful and GraphQL APIs at Digital, and both are great to learn and get to grips with.
Cookies, local storage and databases
Web development is a very broad practice and there are many aspects to it, whether frontend or backend. You will have opportunities in your career to focus on a specialty. With so many different tools, skills, and areas of expertise it is a career that will reward you with constant opportunity for learning. The field is always expanding, developing and technology changing so this will keep you on your toes.
Some other areas that are worth exploring as you set out on your career path are cookies and local storage. It will really help to have a grasp of these to help you build powerful web applications. Understanding databases, how they work, how to set data, and pull data from a database is something that will help give you an edge when it comes to getting that first web development job. A simple Wordpress site is a good way of having some exposure to databases - they use MySQL, you can either use a prepackaged environment as offered by companies like Digital Ocean and AWS, or build an environment from scratch (which is a fair bit of work, but will give you a lot of great experience).
What makes a good developer?
Developers are problem solvers by nature, who enjoy building and creating, solving puzzles and are curious about how things work. A good developer doesn’t give up at the first hurdle - there will always be hurdles, and they use the resources they have (the internet provides plenty), to build the best, most efficient, and most effective solution. Good developers love learning and growing their skills, and this helps them keep up with the latest trends in tech. Choosing a career in software development is a commitment to lifelong learning. Developers love writing code, and they love writing code that lines up with their principles - it is easy to read, uses as few lines of code as possible and performs the function effectively using as little processing power as possible.
The world of tech is your oyster
Most likely at some point, and you may already know, you’ll make a decision as to whether you want to be a frontend, backend or full stack developer. This is something that you don’t have to decide straightaway, and often becomes clearer as you have more experience in the field. It’s often a good idea to try both frontend and backend development, and commonly people start as fullstack and specialize as they become more experienced.
The world of tech really is your oyster. A career in web development will give you many opportunities as the tech field continues to expand and grow and businesses everywhere continue to go Digital. Starting as a junior developer you’ll have the potential to grow and different pathways will open up to you. You may choose to go the architect route, tech lead route or perhaps become a manager of a development team. Those are just some of the potential pathways that will open to you as you continue your path as a web developer. If you are choosing a career in web development - you are already on a good track. There are many resources readily available to you, so be curious, explore and get your Digital hands dirty!