About 2 years ago, I switched careers from marketing to web development. I won’t bore you with the whole story of why or how I did it. Find any other millennial that attended a coding bootcamp, and I’m sure my story is very similar.
However, I will say that the switch to web development has been without a doubt the greatest major life decision I’ve ever made. But it hasn’t been without its struggles. This post is for aspiring and newly minted web developers to pass along whatever knowledge I’ve gained in my first couple years as a web developer.
Learn the Basics
The first step towards becoming a web developer is to learn the basics about programming. Strings, floats, variables, arrays, hashes, objects, loops, etc. You have to start learning the vocabulary of developers and how to create simple programs that solve simple problems.
Here are the resources I highly recommend:
Practice Coding Exercises
After you’ve got the basics down, the next step is to practice the crap out of coding exercises. If you plan to attend a coding bootcamp, you will most likely have to take a coding assessment as part of your application. That assessment will consist of several coding exercises that will test your ability to solve problems using code. If you don’t plan to attend a coding bootcamp, these types of coding exercises will come up in job interviews. And even if you just want to learn to code as a side hobby, coding exercises help you learn about algorithms, data structures, features of the language, and how to write efficient code. Practicing coding is so important.
The resources I’ve used for coding exercises are:
Start Building Web Applications
This step is a little more broad than the others. I count my time at my coding bootcamp for this step.
Learning about databases is also good. Learn the differences between relational and non-relational databases. And definitely learn some SQL, as many many companies use relational databases such as MySQL and PostrgreSQL.
Some good places to start learning web development concepts are:
Level Up with Computer Science Fundamentals
This last step should probably be done continuously and while doing the other steps. But I’m putting it last because CS fundamentals are often tested during job interviews.
By CS fundamentals, I’m talking primarily about data structures and algorithms. Data structures such as linked lists, binary trees, binary search tress, and graphs. Searching and sorting algorithms such as binary search, merge sort, and quick sort.
To get more practice with CS fundamentals, try:
- Khan Academy: Algorithms
- Harvard CS50 @ edX
- Cracking the Coding Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell
These are roughly the steps that I followed for my transition to web development. I don’t claim to know the best way to learn web development, but I found these resources useful, and I hope you do, too.