Hi, my name is Alissa, and I am a Web Developer. Phew, it took me years to be able to say that. You see, when I graduated college I wanted to be a project manager. I wanted to interface with clients and turn their wants/needs into actionable milestones/projects for Web Developers. It seemed like a really sweet job, but unfortunately in the job market, you can't always find the job you think you want, so I took a job as an assistant for a company that trains employees in the medical field.
I started working with some Software Developers at this company to update their training program. Little did I know this was my first step into falling in love with development. I didn't know how these people used their magical fingers to conjure up websites, but I was obsessed with finding out. I started learning and researching on my own time to learn basic CSS/HTML, and I started bugging people I worked with and people online to help me understand this magic.
After a few months on the job, I heard about an opening for a Web QA at a video game company. Jackpot!! This would be the perfect opportunity to get some hands-on experience in the coding world, so I decided to apply. After a few days, I heard back from the team's manager and was brought in for an interview. I don't remember exactly how the interview went, but I remember promising all of the team members that no one would work harder than I would to be successful in this position because I desperately wanted to become a Web Developer! Somehow I talked them into taking a chance on me.
I worked for the company for 3 years as a Web QA, and I bugged every developer in the office to help teach me what I needed to learn to be a developer. They threw me a few simple challenges throughout the 3 years, and I worked nights and weekends to learn and understand the intricacies of Web Development. I learned A LOT QAing other people's code. Finally, after 3 years, they brought me on as an Associate Web Developer.
I am now going on 7 years working for this gaming company as a Web Developer, and I could not be more proud of the work I have put out and the challenges I have overcome. While I continue to work on projects that test my skills and require me to always continue learning, I have also started teaching and mentoring other individuals on my team. I sincerely enjoy facing daily challenges with a group of individuals that respect each other both professionally and personally.
Here are a few things that I have learned throughout my journey to my dream job:
- Imposter Syndrome is real and it never really goes away, but you are absolutely not the only one experiencing it.
- Challenging projects that test your skills (and your stress levels!) are always difficult in the moment, but they will pass, and you will learn something valuable from them. If it were easy everyone would be doing it!
- There are so many resources out there to get you started and/or keep you going. Web Developers are amazing people who are always willing to share knowledge or point you in the right direction in forums, comments, and especially on Stack Overflow, so take advantage of all of these things!
- Don't give up. It may seem like you are never going to reach your goal or get that dream job, but sometimes it just takes time to get to the right place for you.
- Ask for code reviews. As a new developer, it may be scary to ask a more senior person to review your code, but it will help you tremendously in the long run. You can't fix what you don't know is wrong.
- Always keep learning. Web Development is continuously changing and adapting. Learning about new trends and/or technology is essential for your career.
I hope this post helped you in whatever stage of your journey you are in. Whether you are taking your first step, restarting your journey, or hearing no from the 20th hiring manager, YOU CAN DO THIS! You are stronger than you know, and hard work and dedication will pay off! Thank you for your time. :)