I’ve Made It To My One Year Coding Anniversary

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Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a year since I’ve made the decision to learn web development.  Time flies by when you are doing some thing you love.  Yes, I’ve said it…I love web development.  If you would have asked me two years ago, my answer would’ve been totally different.  My husband has been coding for as long as we’ve been together…19 years.  He used to try to get me to look at projects he was working on.  I would glance at them and keep on walking.  Why?  At the time, it all looked liked a foreign language to me and I just wasn’t interested.  My interest was in science and biology.  My degree is in biology and my background is biomedical research.  Even though I’m no longer in the field, they are still a part of me just as coding has become apart of me.

What changed you may be thinking? Well…six years ago I had to give up my job in research because we’re a military family and we moved from the area where I was employed. Due to husband’s deployments, post grad pursuits, and helping my special needs son get the therapies he needed, I decided to become a stay-at-home mom.   Fast forward to 2015,  my husband is now approaching the end of his military career and my kids are older.  I now had the opportunity to either restart my old career or start a new one.  I chose the later because going back to research wouldn’t allow me the flexibility to give my special needs child the time and attention he needs.  Also, there was no room for income growth.   At this point, I had to figure out what career path do I want to pursue.  A friend and I were having conversations about the tech field.  She was very interested in entering the field and the more she talked about it, the more it peaked my curiosity.   I knew the tech field was growing and it offered the opportunity for remote work.  I mentioned this to my husband, who was pleased to hear this after years of trying to get me to take a look at his code.  One weekend, my husband mentioned to me that Code School was allowing people to try their JavaScript Road Trip courses for free. I decided to give it a try.  I spent the entire weekend working on the courses and found that I liked it.  I understood the basic concepts and it no longer looked like a foreign language to me.  When I finished the courses,  I decided that I would learn how to code.  I was able to find some free courses through my library.   I decided to start with HTML and CSS.  After finishing those courses, I decided to enroll in their JavaScript course as well.  I did well so I keep going with learning how to code.

This past year, I’ve dedicated a lot of time to various web development courses, as well as coding projects to learn and develop my skills.  They have consisted of some free courses and some inexpensive ones (I’ll tell you more about them in the next paragraph).   As a result, I’ve earned a few certificates to put on my resume. Most importantly,  I have mentally and skillfully grown as a web developer.  And now I have a nice portfolio of projects to start showing potential employers.

advice      Now that I’ve told you about my journey…let me share some advice that I hope will help those of you trying to decide if this career is right for you.

  1. Try a free or very inexpensive ( I do stress inexpensive) web development course or workshop.  Another thing you can do is watch videos on YouTube.  This will allow you to see what web development is all about.  You’ll get a sense of what HTML, CSS and JavaScript are and how they work together to form web applications.
  2.  When you have decided this is the career path you’d like to explore, sit with yourself for a bit and contemplate the situation.  Make sure you are mentally ready to commit to the process.  Coding takes patience and a lot of perseverance.  You’ll have days where your code is running perfectly, everything is looking beautiful, and then you’ll have days where nothing is working right.  You’ll want to pull your hair out.  Also make sure you have the time to dedicate to learning and writing code daily.
  3. Now that you’ve determined that this is what you want to do as career beyond a shadow of doubt, pick a learning program that fits your needs.  There are lots of bootcamps out there that can help you develop your skills.  Bootcamps for the most part are not free.  It depends on the bootcamp as to how much they charge.  In addition, some help you find a job after completion.   If you decide to go this route, do a lot of research before making a decision.  Find the bootcamp that will fit your needs.  If paying for a bootcamp is not something you can do, you can follow a similar route that I’ve taken and find online courses that are either free or very inexpensive.  I highly recommend enrolling in the free courses on Codecademy.  They really help you get a good foundation of various program languages.   Next, I would recommend using Free Code Camp’s curriculum.  It’s an open source online community that helps you learn coding.  You’ll learn through algorithm challenges and coding projects. It helps that it’s a community because you’ll find a lot of people who are welling to help you when you need help. My final recommendation is trying  “The Complete Web Developer Course” by Rob Percival.  It gives you a great overview of  HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Python, MySQL.  You’ll get to build websites and mobile apps which are great to add to your portfolio.  This is offered through Udemy.  Enroll in this course when you have a good foundation of at least HTML and CSS. Udemy offers great courses and they have sales on their courses.  My suggestion is to wait until they have a $10 course sale and enroll in the courses that may interest you.
  4.  Make sure to dedicate some time each day to either reading something coding related or writing code.  This will help you grow as a developer.
  5. My final takeaway is find your own niche.  After you have gotten enough exposure to the fundamentals of web development.  Pick what you would like to learn and grow in.  That could be for example, front end development or back end development. Don’t feel the need to learn everything that is out there immediately.

Good luck to all you who are starting your coding journey.  I wish you much luck and success.

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As I sit here and reflect on the past year, I’m very proud of how far I’ve come along.  It makes me excited for what the next year has in store.  As of now, I’m getting into freelancing, taking more courses and building more applications to strengthen my portfolio.

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