So I landed my first web developer job after only 5 months of learning code. I didn’t think I was anywhere near ready to start applying but it was time to move on from my previous line of work and I was starting to make some progress in my learning so I started applying to about 5 jobs a day. I was surprised to get some calls and emails back pretty quickly and started thinking maybe I have a chance. Not long after, I was offered an internship at a great company with an amazing team, which I gladly accepted. Just 3 weeks later, I left the internship for a salary position that was offered to me at another great company. The reason I am sharing this experience is in hopes that it will help beginners like myself understand what they can do to stand out among other developers.
Building a page for a small business using Bootstrap. It was built mobile first, responsive and just one page. This helped me learn how the grid works and how to use media queries while learning a popular front-end framework. I did this after about 2 months of learning HTML and CSS so it helped speed up my learning by tackling a project with no deadline (I built it for free so there was no pressure). You may be wondering how you find a small project like this so early on with no portfolio. Well since you are excited about learning code and pursuing a career as a web developer, you should be spreading the word! Let others know you are looking to build a site for free. If you are having a difficult time finding a project, make one yourself. Build and deploy a sample website for a small business, let’s say a pet store or a local pub. It doesn’t matter, make up a company and just build. It’s not about the content on your site, its about showing your abilities.
Using Jekyll to deploy a developer blog via Github Pages. This showed I am on top of current web development trends while sharing some of my learning experiences. Since Jekyll sites are deployed via GitHub Pages, using it helped me learn Git while building my personal site which helped my GitHub profile look super active. Obviously you don’t need to use Jekyll, but it has helped me in those ways. Any other blog platform will do, but the key here is to get yourself familiar with Git. Link your resume, Twitter and GitHub profile on your blog and now you have yourself a portfolio. Any learning projects or tutorials should be committed to GitHub to demonstrate that you do have a few builds under your belt, no matter how small and insignificant you think it is.
Applying to any job I thought I was even slightly qualified for. Both positions I got offers from were not planning on hiring an entry level developer and they created the positions just so I could be on the team. If they are asking 3+ years, apply anyway because sometimes that is just a preference and for a candidate that truly stands out, employers may be willing to make exceptions in certain areas. Your curiosity and motivation to learn everything is essential to being a junior developer on a skilled team. Learn to talk like a developer, be motivated and show that you are on top of the latest trends and your phone will be ringing. Besides building your skills and abilities as a developer, establishing a web presence and marketing yourself as someone who can learn quickly and has a passion for web development will make you stand out among the rest.
Any questions, added bits of advice, experiences or stories? Don’t hesitate to comment below!Tweet