We live in a world of unlimited possibilities, mostly thanks to worldwide Internet access and open borders. A variety of things that seemed impossible for many years now can be done in a minute and it’s only up to us if we reach for them. In any moment, in the blink of an eye, we can get in touch with a friend who is thousands of kilometres away from us. Moreover, if you fancy Thai cuisine, why not to try delicious pad thai served in the streets of Bangkok? It’s up to you, as well as for sure your savings. Anyway, these are just examples, but there are more and more of them.
Therefore, when beginning a professional career, or even if we have had some experience already, we can choose a job that seemed completely unreachable. More so, when it comes to web development and working in a software house, numerous people still link programmer profession with stereotypes. I was one of those people before I’ve decided to become a Front-end Developer.
Is it easy to begin with programming?
Web developer against bootcamps
Some of the things I want to discuss were introduced before in a comprehensive Audrey Watters’ article, who spoke not very kindly about code schools and bootcamps. However, there are factors I’d like to include in this conversation. There has been a huge, constantly increasing hype for working as a programmer throughout the last few years. Like everything, it has its pros and cons.
Nevertheless, it’s good to ask yourself a simple question. What’s the reason for programming being so popular when for years it was seen as a mysterious job that only a few had the access to? Undoubtedly many of you were nagged over and over by your parents about how much time you spend on that "goddamn computer". For them (and apparently for many of you as well), spending time using the computer means nothing else than playing video games. However, for many of us those games uncovered something even more fascinating - programming. But why we find it so interesting?
I’ve seen a lot of opinions on how beautiful and easy programmers’ work is and how much money they earn just for doing trivial work. Moreover, frequently authors of those statements decorate these with pretty charts or diagrams that show unbelievable numbers of how lack of programmers is increasing year by a year and how all over the world it's supposed to reach a number of 1 billion until the year 2020.
About a year ago I attended code schools’ webinars and, lo and behold, before the presentations started organizers showed us the aforementioned diagrams. But should've they? Do they really believe it or just want to attract viewers attention while not actually telling attendees the truth?
Let’s once again focus on our careers, or even on our lives in general and ask another question: where did an idea of becoming a programmer come from? If it’s only because of pretty statistics and a recent trend I’ve mentioned previously, you will be completely disappointed and facing the reality may be vastly harmful and discouraging.
However, if you have made your decision because web development was something you wanted to do for a long time, then you've made a good decision. Maybe you were like me and every single morning before becoming a programmer you wondered how to survive another day at work? Then the switch to IT industry will make you once again feel satisfied with your work.
So let’s try to answer my main two questions: What you should do to become a web developer? Is it a job suited for everyone? I’ll try to answer this from the perspective of someone who's been doing something completely different for ten long years.
Beginning your journey with programming is quite easy. However, there are few things you need to be familiar with since there are some beginners’ mistakes that can be easily avoided. I’ve already experienced them so I’d like to give you few pieces of advice and make you look at everything more carefully, maybe with a bit of suspicion - facing reality may not be as pleasant after all.
How to succeed and not to lose all of your money
First of all, let’s focus on how to start programming while still keeping some money in your pocket. The answer may be trivial, but the truth is that we can learn everything by ourselves. Some people may wonder how this can be possible without graduating University or a code school. Well, it certainly is.
What I’m going to say now is crucial, but let’s make it clear, it’s my personal opinion. I think that it's important to talk about self-efficiency when learning coding since a lot of potential programmers may not be aware that it's possible to achieve. As far as I’m concerned, a “DIY approach” may be worth considering instead of spending thousands of dollars on sometimes pricey training.
I’m aware that for some it’s really tough to find enough self-discipline, determination, and motivation to learn everything by ourselves. In those cases only working with a dedicated mentor is effective enough because they are the ones responsible for tracking the progress of learning.
However, even this can be substituted with a broad programmers community. There a lot of places on the Internet where everyone, both professionals and beginners, will find a brilliant feedback. Social media plays a significant role in this. There are numerous groups created for programmers that are looking for a support. Visiting those is even more important since sooner or later you will come across many problems that can be quickly solved with the help of the community. While those places are mainly for people who know what they are looking for, what about the beginners that have no idea how to make the first step? Well, the answer is as simple as it is effective.
Last Saturday we woke up early and went to the office.😴 Sounds awful, right? Wrong! It was the first edition of the new twist on our Dev College event - #DevCollegeCombo! 🎉This time it lasted a whole day and contained 12 presentations and workshops. Obviously, in the true Merixstudio fashion, it ended with beer and pizza.🍻🍕🍻 We couldn't be happier with how it went - hope to see you again on #DevCollegeCombo2! #devcollege #conference #workshop #presentation #webdevelopment #saturday #learning #knowledge #frontend #backend #projectmanager #ux #scrum #excited #programmer #levelup #networking #afterhours #ITindustry #happy #softwarehouse #poznan #merixstudio
For example, why wouldn't you try searching for the answers on YouTube? There are various channels dedicated for programmers, both beginners and professionals. An online course, on the other hand, has a wide variety of programming courses. If you are lucky, you can enrol in comprehensive, well-supported course that will cost you around 10 dollars. It’s worth giving it a shot, at least for starters.
Last but not least it’s very common for the programmers' communities or even software houses to organize open workshops, such as our own Dev College and Dev College Combo. You can also attend regular meetings like Django Hotspot or meet.js, where different topics regarding web development are put into discussion.
When familiar with the basics, you can try different challenges to consolidate your knowledge. That’s when the real fun begins. Only hours and hours spent on coding will make you understand what you’ve learnt and help you to start your career. Moreover, if you don’t get used to self-learning at the beginning, you may come across many difficulties in your first job.
Finally, let’s be clear. It’s not my intention to discredit code schools since for some people it’s the right solution. However, I’m afraid that there are rare instances when the school is not completely honest with their students, especially when it comes to finding a job after graduation. It’s not very common, but it happens. I intend to encourage people who consider beginning a programmer career to try learning on their own. This for sure will be noticed and appreciated. One thing is certain - check different sources to be sure that the information you’re given is true.
Working as a Junior Front-end developer
I’ll slowly move to the conclusion of the article and talk a bit about the current situation on programmer job market. You may have heard that your potential employers wait for you around every corner and you won’t handle all of the job offers you are going to receive. Well... actually it’s quite different.
I started my first Front-end development job around a year ago, but I still try to follow job offers, usually just for curiosity and especially when they are about entry-level positions. I guess that when you attend a bootcamp, you won’t hear that most of the offers refer to developers with at least two years of experience.
Moreover, getting hired as Junior Developer may take you even months! There are few crucial reasons for that:
- the number of candidates per a single Junior position is constantly increasing;
- the decline in the number of Junior job offers per job seeker;
- increasing and rapidly changing entry level on Junior positions starting their first job;
- candidates’ unreasonable demands and expectations.
It doesn’t seem like the disproportion between the number of vacancies for Junior positions and people trying to get it is going to decrease. However, I’m not going to deter anyone from learning programming languages. I want people to realize that beginnings are rather tough. However, I’m entirely convinced that with hard work comes deserved success and a lot of satisfaction after all.
You may be a bit confused now and ask yourself what you are actually doing here. Is learning programming languages even profitable for complete beginners? Are you going to succeed when seeking your dream job? Maybe you have expected something completely different from this article? Let me know if you did!
Anyway, I’m pleased that you made it to the end of this article and I hope that it will motivate you to achieve your goals. However, to answer the questions, if you’re hesitating and got any doubts, please remember that learning programming and working as a web developer, in the end, is a brilliant decision. It comes with a ton of enjoyable daily challenges and opens up plenty of good prospects for the future. If anyone asks me whether it’s worth trying, I will obviously say that it is. So give yourself a chance, be patient, determined, and good luck!