Naguel

I'm Nahuel, and these are my work experiences, ideas and thoughts as a web developer working on the eCommerce industry.

#Work experiences
← Go back to the front page

How to become a web developer in a lot of not easy steps

How to become a web developer in a lot of not easy steps

I'm being ask that a lot! No, for real, I'm not saying that for the sake of a cliche moment in the post, but the problem is that the answer is not that short nor that simple, hence this article.

Decide what's your thing

While the idea behind this how-to question is kind of the same, the answer depends exactly on what kind of developer you would like to be, because the offer is extensive out there.

I'm a web developer, a Full Stack developer that works with eCommerce platforms, so there lays my expertise, but maybe you are looking to become an iOS developer, Java developer, a videogames creator, or something else.

Clearly, the first thing you need to do is to decide that.

Take into consideration that if you are planning on making a living out of this job you will need to like it, and second you will need to investigate the job prospects of that choice you are now making (I don't think COBOL is really wanted these days, considering it's a language from 1959, for example).

Not all developers are the same, and not all guys and gals you see with code on theirs computers are creating a program for a PC (which I tend to think it's the general assumption when I say I'm a "programmer").

Start with some courses

I have to be honest here and say that I'm not impress by courses when I see them on resumes, because them alone tell me nothing. But I will assume here that you have no experience as a developer whatsoever, and that you are starting from scratch, therefore is safe to say that while a lot of courses won't land you on a job position, it's for sure the way to start.

It's the starting line not the finish line.

Based on what you decided on the last section related to what kind of developer you would like to become, now you can filter out some of the courses available all over the world.

My suggestion here is to go local, meaning pick a course provider from your city or country because they tend to have partnerships in place with IT companies in a way you can ended up as a trainee there after completing a course.

Investigate that. Not only find a course you would like to follow and suits you, but try to do it on a place (school?) that IT companies then use to recruit from.

Play around, play a lot

Courses usually end up with a real project you would be uploading into GitHub or similar.

That's not enough. From my point of view, practice beats theory.

After the course you will be on your own. Yeah, I mean, you can start a new one, but as I said before I'm not impress by courses as I expect "real" practice.

This is when you need to start building up your portfolio, meaning a GitHub with small projects, practice code, snippets, something to show, something not just only to tell others you are more than theory but also for applying that theory into real stuff, for actually keep on learning.

Do not forget courses will provide you with the basics, and you won't become a Senior developer following courses. It will be up to you, and that's with practice.

The way it happened to me is that I had a WordPress blog (not this one, another one, ages ago), with a basic theme that I wanted to customize. So I started doing small changes, then wanted more complex ones, and one thing led to another. That's how I started.

Land a job no matter the salary

With courses on your resume and a portfolio to show is time to become real. Bye bye training wheels!

Unfortunately, this is not easy, not because of the opportunities out there that I think are plenty on the IT sector, but because you will need to escape your comfort zone.

If you are reading this you might as well have a stable job already and this idea of becoming a developer is a plan for the short term future, so at some point, with courses already finished and code already uploaded into GitHub, you will need to decide how much salary you will be willing to let go in order to start on the business.

A trainee position won't pay much. Actually, if it pays at all that's a win already, but you need to start somewhere. For example, you can be a lawyer now and there's no chance your first job as a developer will match your current income. Accept that.

Take your first opportunity on the real world as a way to learn how a company operates for real, how working on a real project looks like. This is your chance to learn the real stuff.

Your first job might be a sacrifice in terms of money, but after this, with one job experience in your resume, the opportunities will increase exponentially.

I know, it's scary, but come on, you first job won't be a Senior position. Get real, face it, it will be worth it.

No more bs against working from home thanks to a pandemic

No more bs against working from home thanks to a pandemic

It's still amaze me, you know, and hit me by time to time when going to sleep or taking a shower, a "...wow" moment, like a slap from reality: the world pressed pause a few months ago.

Not a bunch of countries, not a far far away continent. The whole world stopped because, well, you know what happened: Coronavirus.

Companies reorganized quickly to continue working with their employees from home... Well, they were forced to act quickly to be honest, not like they went through a deep analysis about the pros and cons of a remote scheme for their staff, no meeting between HR and the business management branch happened at all.

The bs was cut immediately, the scepticism towards having people working from their homes disappeared. It had too, because Plan B was to close until further notice, so the discussion about it became pointless, and frankly nobody has nothing to lose. Wasn't that beautiful?

Month ago this was considered only a benefit a company would offer, or a sometimes exception for particular circumstances. Internal company processes would decide how and when somebody could work from home like, for example, one day a week after three months in the company, and two days a week after a year.

It sounds crazy now but we all, at every level, agreed to that scheme.

Work from home forced itself and nothing bad happened, nothing catastrophic at all. Objectives are still being reached, and, most important, employees don't sleep the whole morning pretending to be online on Slack, which I believe was the biggest fear of them all.

I found it interesting that even on very objective-based companies, when thinking about offering the possibility to work from home, the mindset changes to a time-based one. In an office we thought about what to accomplish when (objectives), but then when talking about remote working we thought about how the time was going be consumed without direct supervision.

We trust developer with Live server side credentials, but oh no home will make them Facebook too much.

And even today, with a lockdown in place and a forced work from home scheme, even if an objective is not reached you know that's not because the employee is working to close to the bed. It's always something else.

You are quarantining yourself now, and everybody in your company is doing it too. Work from home is happening whatever you planned it or not, so it might be time to fully embrace it. Take the (forced) opportunity and make it a permanent thing.

It is a chance for us all to recognize that working from home is as possible as working from an office. And, sorry, my experience is always based on my role as a web developer so my focus is pointed in tech-related companies, but you can decide if this whole concept applies to you as well.

I worked, until now, as the only one remote developer of the company I'm part of, and the rest of the team was based in UK, working from a beautiful office in London. Now everybody is remote, everybody now works from their homes, and the office is entirely for a fridge they already planned to set on fire because God only knows what have been left inside months ago.

Again, nothing changed from the day to day operation of the company, there's no trough at all in the productivity graph. If anything, I think people is working more because nobody is used to work from home, yet, but that's a problem for a different post.

Having a successfully work from home lifestyle
Working from home is the new normal, get used to it and get ready, because what’s now a benefit will be a requirement in the not too distant future.

It was discussed internally, basically, the feelings towards this new forced normality, and while everybody misses the office and the social side of it, all of us are considering working from home a positive thing. Even one admitted that during lunch time takes a nap, which is fine because who cares if you are delivering at the end.

It was also raised that we might not seen us working from home, without going to an office, for ever, so I'm sure flexibility is what's coming after everything that's happening comes to an end.

Let me be clear that flexibility doesn't mean an extra work from home day to your now old internal company process. Flexibility means having an office, and go there if you want. Nothing less than that, which is perfect, which is good, fine, there's nothing wrong with that. We should have learn that already.

Imagine a hot seat scheme, with a few desks for those wanting to leave the house some day, or a more co-working spaces-based normality.

I don't know, I'm brainstorming, this is my first pandemic, but I'm sure that those, somehow still appearing, job offers from LinkedIn offering something like "2 work from home days a week" as a benefit are hilarious now and they should have gone already.

Suffering from the wannabe career plan syndrome

Suffering from the wannabe career plan syndrome

A career plan or career path (whatever you prefer to call it) is the way to have some motive to get up in the morning and go to the office. Without it we are just repeating each day in a loop without a long-term goal: get up, shower, go to the office, leave 8 hours later, eat, sleep, and redo.

Is it money what motivates you to get up each morning? That's fine, but that won't work as a stimulus for ever. If you're good at your job you might be able to get money in another company, so that's not the problem here.

When you put money aside and you don't have a career plan... why are you going to work? At some point you'll realize that even by redoing the same day for the next 3 years nothing for you will be different. Isn't that sad?

Have you ever gone to one of those places where you can play arcade video games like Daytona USA? Do you remember that game or any other racing video game? You might recall that countdown on top of the screen that you have to beat, by crossing a checkpoint, before it reaches zero.

That whole concept of going through checkpoints is the career plan, is the reason why you keep your feet on the gas and try to get better on each turn. So, it goes 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 aaannnd checkpoint, and now focus again to get to the next checkpoint having in mind that the following turns must be perfect to avoid losing those precious seconds.

By now you can expect that I'm going to say that not having a career plan is a bad idea for both the company and the employee (I'm not a best-selling author, my way of writing is pretty much straight forward), but you know what's worse than not having a career plan?

Having a wannabe career plan

Designing a career plan is always hard for a company, specially during this era of acceleration where things change too much too fast. So, when trying to accomplish one, companies end up half way with a sort of a career plan that meets nobody's expectations.

A good way to spot a failing career plan is when it's all about fancy titles for the employees but with no well-defined task or responsibilities. For example, in my line of work you can start as Junior, then Semi Senior, Senior... let's assume then Technical Leader, maybe Technical Manager later, following Architect, and finally Developer Ninja Evangelist (I don't know).

Sounds great, and usually each promotion deserves popping a bottle of champagne as it's really a great accomplish. The problem appears when you start getting new job titles but your actual day to day job remains the same.

Yes, that happens a lot. You get your paycheck saying that you are the Manager of All Employees in the company, but you're still doing exactly the same job you were doing for the last five positions (checkpoints). After three promotions you'll wake up one morning and go "Waaaaait a minute".

At some point employees realize that the company is failing at providing a real career plan so this whole concept becomes an internal joke.

The solution is quite simple for the people inside a company with the responsibility to came up with a career plan: sit the duck down, give this task the priority it deserves, take note of your long-term plans, listen to the employees, and create it.

Not having one, or having an incomplete one, is doing more damage than you imagine: employees without motivation, a high turnover rate, low productivity numbers, a lot of complains in the office... good people leaving the company without even submitting to a negotiation process because money doesn't even matter anymore!

Really, non-existence career paths or wannabe career plans will kill a company from inside, and I can't stress that enough.

If your company experiences some of the symptom above, then again people inside your workplace with the responsibility to came up with a career plan should start working on this.

Who? Well, you're part of this task too

The company you're working for won't be able to come up with a career plan by itself, and for sure they can't download a career plan from the Internet. So is essential that you take part of the making of.

No matter your current position, you can identify that there's no career plan in your company and instead of whining you can contribute with what you see is next for the company but missing a role to accomplish it, or what you want to do inside the company but there's no role right now you can aim at.

At the same time, when talking about a promotion or your next role, demand the exact task and responsibilities you will be taking on, and also demand specificity about the tasks you won't be doing anymore (that you would be leaving behind for other to take care of).

If none of that is clear, if so the company is suffering from the wannabe career plan syndrome, then it's up to you to come up with what you want to do next. Come on, don't expect everything on a silver platter.

Having a career plan is good for you as an employee not only for all the motivational purposes I mentioned but also because it will help you to build your professional profile, help you to improve your hard and soft skills. Even if you already thought of not having your current job for the rest of your life, for sure you'll need to show your resume in the next job interview.

And it will look much better if it evidences a career.