Learning web development without breaking the bank

All you need is a short conversation with the programmers to realize that there is no magical course or article that will make a specialist out of you. As in any other field, in the IT industry you need to work hard, be self-disciplined, motivated, and spend many hours learning if you want to succeed. But, of course, there is no one right solution here. When for some people an ideal way to learn will be to attend the university or bootcamps, others will find the Internet sufficient enough. I’m not here to judge - as we all know very well, all recruiters care about is whether the candidates have required knowledge and skill, not how they obtained it.

DIY in the IT world

Success in the IT industry requires knowledge and experience. They are possible to achieve through the Do It Yourself approach, i.e. learning by yourself about all the topics that are required when working with a given technology. No matter how many courses you attend and whether you have a teacher - without hours spent working on the material and not just listening/reading about it, you can not get beyond the beginner's level. Understanding certain technology is not enough - you need to "feel" what you do.

Where can you learn?

First of all, on the aforementioned Internet! As you all already know, if you have a question, Uncle Google will probably have an answer. You can find countless sources on the web that will suit the need of any programmer, regardless whether they just started their career or needs to work on more nuanced elements of web development.

Blogs and YouTube channels

The obvious sources of knowledge are blogs and websites dedicated to web development. Any programmer can without the slightest problem write down a list of places they visit when they want to learn something. It is also worth to note that reading the comments on specific article/video can often add even more information on the matter! My colleagues’ list of interesting blogs/websites include:

This is just a sliver of what the Internet has to offer. Another source of texts worth reading will be software house blogs, which are usually filled with articles about the technologies they use. They are usually written by programmers who can show of their skills, which are based on a vast experience and detailed knowledge of what they are writing about. In addition to that, if you plan to participate in the recruitment process, reading articles of a given company will allow you to check which technologies they pay special attention to! I know something about it - after all, in Merixstudio I deal with, among other things, the blog you are reading right now!

Another extremely popular source is, of course, YouTube. It allows you to learn everything you can imagine - from changing a lightbulb to complicated actions in Django. Many programming channels help you to go through all the information needed to start working in a given technology, from the basics to the more advanced issues. It is worth to emphasize once again that (just like articles) tutorial’s main objective is only to explain the subject. A video that lasts only a few minutes can discuss a wide variety of topics that afterwards will take you many hours to go through and learn. In line with the DIY approach, you need to gain an experience of the discussed topic. The basis for gaining programming knowledge can be, among others, the channels that were recommended by my colleagues:

Web development community

Of course, web developers themselves are also a useful source of knowledge. On the Internet you can easily find a solution to your coding problems, you just need to know what question to ask. You probably know about such classic websites as StackOverflow, Reddit, or Wykop, but they are not the only places with the conversations about the programming that are constantly taking place online. Among the forums recommended by my colleagues are for instance Gentoo and Hacker News. Just remember that before you ask a question, first you need to try to find an answer in the already posted queries - nothing annoys Internet users more than laziness!

Spending time on Facebook can be productive

In addition to dedicated forums, numerous groups on Facebook are also a great place for the programming adepts. Not only can you participate in conversations on topics that interest you, but many of them also organize "dev challenges" where you can test your knowledge in a practical way and see how other programmers work on the same task as you do. During such a challenge, participants often share links to their projects on GitHub, which can be used as a great learning material. Active groups on Facebook include:

On Facebook (but not only there), it's also worth following your favourite companies, influencers, and programming websites. In addition to being up to date with the articles and tutorials they publish, you will also be able to participate in webinars that will not only broaden your knowledge but also allow you to immediately ask questions when you do not understand something.

What to do, when the Internet is not enough?

It's hard for me to believe it, but it can happen that you won’t find a solution to your problem or anything you deem worth learning. In that case, you can think of participating in numerous events that are organized in every major city in Poland and around the world.

Geek Girls Carrots, meet.js, PHPers, or our own Django Hotspot and Dev College Combo (the second edition of the latter is happening on April 14th!) bring together many programmers for whom work is a passion and who are able to share their knowledge in a great way. During the lectures (as well networking sessions) you will be able to acquire knowledge that professionals consider to be the most valuable.

None of the methods listed here will work without the aforementioned DIY approach. Only through time, effort, and determination, you will be able to ensure that programming is not only what you want to do, but also what you know well. Remember that Rome was not built in a day - all the best specialists started as juniors and achieved success only thanks to the fact that they were passionate about learning and constantly expanding knowledge.

Navigate the changing IT landscape

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