Recently, our front-end website developer, Mike Jackson, had the opportunity to speak to students at his old school and share some career advice. He wanted to pass along a few things he wished he had known when he was starting out his career in web development, as well as things he’s learned throughout his journey. Keep reading to explore what Mike wants budding developers to know about how they can get noticed and hired as a professional developer:
Create a Portfolio
Step 1 is undoubtedly to create a digital portfolio. Web developers have to show a working knowledge of their skills, and this can best be showcased in an interactive portfolio. Show examples of work that you’ve completed and provide live links so that potential employers can take a look at your ability and even dig into your source code. If you don’t have any client work to show, don’t sweat it. One of Mike’s favorite practices for portfolio development is to create sites for fictional businesses. Create a site that you would like your potential employer (or client if you’re a freelancer) to put into production. Another practice is to recreate websites that you think are great. Similar to how a developing artist may trace an inspirational illustration to serve as practice, you can do the same with a website.
Blog about your process
This goes hand-in-hand with Step 1. Writing about your process can help you out in several ways. First of all, it makes you mindful of what you’re doing. This forces you to think about the “why” of your development process and also provides more content for your portfolio site. Now, not only do you have example sites to show, but you also have a way to provide insight into how you think. Sharing your decision-making process and rationales can be just as important as your technical abilities.
Networking and meeting people is important in many areas of business and web development is no different. Go to your local meetups and follow people on social media. Get to know people in your industry and have them get to know you. Meeting like-minded individuals is a great way to keep up with the industry and learn about new technologies and tools. Not to mention, being involved and in the loop can also be a great way to get yourself in the door for a new job opportunity.
Find a mentor
Finding a mentor in the industry is another way to find success in web development. A professional working in web can inform you of the technologies that are on the rise, what you should know, and what you should learn next. They can point you in the direction of great learning resources and are a resource of knowledge themselves. Since they are someone who is where you want to be, it is great to tap in and talk shop with a more experienced person.
Lastly, a bit of advice…
One last thing, don’t get intimidated by job postings – always be willing to throw your hat in the ring! It never hurts to apply even if you feel underqualified. Web development is an ever-changing job and a good employer understands this. If you are teachable and can demonstrate a passion for your work, you can find a good opportunity. Or you might just meet your next mentor!