Out of the frying pan, into the fire

Well, today it finally hit me: I just quit my job and dropped out of school to become a web developer. You’d think I’d be terrified (maybe I should be), but I’m more excited than anything. Coming hot off the heels of HackerYou‘s part-time web dev course, I feel like I’m at a stage somewhere just passed “web n00b”, but not quite at “l337 web ninja” just yet. Hopefully over the next 9 weeks I’ll end up closer to the latter, but until then the internet will just have to deal with me stumbling through the web.

It’s been an interesting first few days at the full-time bootcamp, there’s a distinct sense of community already within the first few days, which is something that only formed in more or less the 11th hour of the part time class. I think it’s mostly due to the fact that all of us are more or less fish out of water, which is not a bad thing at all, and I’m definitely embracing.

So far, there’s been a lot of review – which, while it may seem boring, has actually been amazing! While I was doing the part-time course, I was constantly trying to juggle between working two jobs, school, and coding in class or the few precious moments that I had free time. As you can imagine, there wasn’t much time to really absorb the content – now I feel like I can really process the content, fix any bad habits, and help out with other people who might not be as exposed this web voodoo as I’ve become over the past few months – which is rewarding in it’s own way.

Since we’ve got our first project coming up at the end of the week, I decided to take a look at the first project I did for the part time class. It’s hilarious. Hilarious in the “looking at pictures of yourself in middle school” kind of way – a little cringe-worthy, but still awesome. If nothing else, I can say that I’ve made progress away from being that clumsy with my code in the past few months, but I’m still nowhere near where I’d like to be. Even my final project, which I finished just says ago, has a number of flaws that I’ll most definitely touch up before I pitch it to the intended client.

With that said, here’s a list of things I’ve picked up along the way for anyone just getting web dev to consider:

  • Don’t try and design while you code – This is a terrible habit that I have, and it makes absolutely no sense as to why I picked it up . There are plenty of free online resources to give you templates, use them, but don’t copy the code. Ever.
  • Good photos make your website look infinitely better – There are plenty of online resources like Unsplash that give you awesome photos for free. Hire a photographer if you need head shots  or specific photos taken. Whatever you do, you need to promise me that you will never ever ever use a photo from your phone on a website.
  • More complex ≠ more awesome – Have the content speak for itself. Too much information can be disorienting and lead to terrible user experience, as well as leaves a large margin for messy code
  • Don’t be afraid of Javascript – After hearing about how complex Javascript can be, I was pretty terrified of it. Then I reached a point where I realized that I would need it. As it turns out, it’s not so bad. It has an odd syntax, and it’s a bit of a pain when it doesn’t work – but it’s no worse than your Python program not working, and much less worse than accidentally getting yourself stuck in a “for loop” in the Python IDE (for those of you who are lucky to have not have done this yet – you need to restart the program to get it to stop)
  • Take a break – I’ve encountered a few times where I can’t figure out what’s stopping my code from looking the way I want it to. Thinking I could somehow brain-muscle the code into working, I would spend hours trying to tweak it to get it to work. When my smarticles had been exhausted (I have precious few), I’d end up going to the gym, where, of course, the answer to my problem would come to me (usually mid-squat or some other equally unfortunate time)
  • Learn to say “no” – This one is probably the hardest to learn. Telling your friends that you can’t come out, or your significant other that they can’t come over, because you’re “in the zone right now” or “are really trying to nail floats” goes over about as well as trying to tell people that rollerblading is cooler than skateboarding (I tried this when I was 11 – 0/10, do not recommend). Unfortunately, part of getting awesome at anything is actually taking the time to get awesome at it in the first place, and that means that at times, it might eat up other parts of your life. Tough break, kiddo.

Anyways, I feel like that’s probably enough of my ramblings for the evening. I’ll try and keep this thing updated as often as possible, until then – keep your stick on the ice.

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One thought on “Out of the frying pan, into the fire

  1. Pingback: HackerYou Spring '14 Bootcamp Student Blog Post Roundup: Week 1 | HackerYou

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