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Brian Barbour
Brian Barbour

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Learn Webdev: Researching Techs To Learn

Imagine an enormous hole opens up in your hometown, so deep that its seems nothing more than a bottomless pit. You are given the task of exploring the hole to see where it leads and what's inside. Now you have to think up how you will pull that off.

There's nothing you can see but inky blackness.

Picking up a rock and dropping it down into the hole is probably a good start. You can listen to see if there's a splash or how long it takes to clatter to the ground.


You do something similar with learning code. Get a preliminary idea of the expedition you're about to embark upon. You can't get somewhere if you don't have a destination in mind. You can't explore the darkness of the unknown and navigate the winding paths of the caverns of knowledge without a firm plan. Plans keep you grounded, and best of all--focused.

Set tangible and achievable goals and execute them. It's a self inspired task, one with a decent amount of time put into it. Sure, I could give you a long list of languages and frameworks you should master. But, I don't think that will help you. The most important part is following your own interests and understanding your motivations. My personal list may not work for you. Also, there's a good chance that said list is made irrelevant pretty fast, with the way the industry changes.

The way we built websites today in 2019, is not the same as it was in 2014. And the way they were built in 2014 was not the same way they were built in 2010.

The good thing about starting now is that every few years things change. New frameworks, new ways of doing things, are being hefted upon us all the time. The caverns you're stepping into are ever changing and always opening new paths towards unforeseen directions. Tech is unstable, malleable, easily impacted by the industry surrounding it.

Type "Learning Web Development in 2019" (or whatever year it is) into your favorite search engine of choice and jump into tons of videos and articles out there on the subject. I encourage this type exploration. In fact, if you're reading this you probably already have done that to some degree. You may even have a nebulous plan about what to learn and what resources to use.

That plan, if it's not written down, do it immediately. Make a list, a sticky note, or a spreadsheet. Whatever works for your brain, something you can use to track your progression. This is going to be an expedition that is driven by results, not by whimsical curiosity. You need objectives, they are stepping stones along the path.

With your list in hand, open up a job hunting site--LinkedIn, Careerbuilder, Indeed. Basically, any resource where you can look up postings in your area or that are remote. You're going to study these job postings for a long while.

Compare your personal list to the requirements for Web Developer jobs. Keep in mind that they are keyword-centric (they're ads after all). Also, they may not be written by developers. That's okay. The things you're looking for will still be in there, somewhere, with a little sifting.

Use different job titles like: Web Developer, Frontend Developer, Fullstack Developer--just to get a bit of a range of roles and responsibilities. In these ads, if you see a technology you didn't have on your list, jot down separately from your own list.

After you've done that for a few hours, you may be confused or at least overwhelmed by random terms and software you've never heard of before. If you're just starting off it will all sound like gibberish. That's normal. I felt that way at first myself. I remember seeing the name React for the first time and having no clue what it was.

I encourage you to do research next. Look those technologies up, and figure out where they stand and what they do. Determine their prerequisites. Iron out the details next so you have a baseline set of technologies you must understand to be relevant and desirable as a new hire later.

Note: Do not erase technologies that you find interesting or fascinating, even if you didn't see them in job postings. Bold them, underline them, whatever works for you. Those will be your keystones, the reward-based self learning lifeblood. Sprinkle them in through your grind. In the end, you want to make coding fun. To have fun, curiosity must run wild. Otherwise, you will get bored, stuck, and ultimately quit.

Being flexible and analytical is really what is important when learning new technologies. Early on getting bearings is important to standing on somewhat of a stable ground.

Knowing your path lends you confidence and enables you march forward, even when in doubt.

Action Items

  • Look for recommended Web Development learning paths.
  • Write out what you want to learn.
  • Study relevant job postings and add common technologies to the list that you don't have. Figure out prerequisites.
  • Mark tech you're excited about. Use those as a way to reward yourself and ease up the grind.

Interested in learning code? Check out this brand new Facebook group.

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