Web developers are in a pretty good position right now. The demand for this skill set is extremely high and the supply of quality developers is relatively low. That makes it tempting to get stagnant with your skills because you can probably switch jobs within a few months.
You have to stay at the top of your game or else you start to lose a lot of the value that employers are looking for. It's not about your technical skills or even your experience. You have to go deeper than that if you want to really climb in your career.
Here are a few things I've heard over the years that have kept me grounded on how to build my career and grow as a person.
Everybody complains about something, but time is the biggest complaint out there. There aren't enough hours in the day to do everything you want to do. It's just not. So you have to focus on the things you really want. You have enough time to learn a language, an instrument, start a new career, and take care of a family if you have a direction.
When you start to move with purpose and you have committed yourself to achieving what you want, you'll find out you have even more time. If you're thinking about learning a new framework or programming language, set aside the time and do it. Don't sit around with your co-workers and talk about how you wish you knew more about something when you could start learning about it right then.
For me personally, it took a while to fully commit to my goals because I felt like I would be giving up so many other things. As cliché as it sounds though, once I started working in one direction so many other things started to happen. Nothing is more powerful than moving with a direction.
This one is so simple that it's one of the hardest things to do. When you're at your desk struggling with a problem nobody around you has ever seen it feels like it's hopeless. None of the forums have answers. The documentation sucks. Plus you still have a deadline to make.
These moments are the ones that determine if you'll make it to senior developer status. They usually take some real fundamental understanding of how things work and you have to stretch your knowledge to make new connections so you can fix the problem. Some people reach this point too many times and they just give up.
They decide this isn't the right career for them and that's ok. But if you decide that you can figure it out, I promise you that you will. It's like that positive thinking stuff that sounds like crap, but it actually works! Once you start believing you can do things you'll figure out how to do them.
It's ok to not know what you want for your career. Keep working on projects and build up experience so that you can find what you like. After you have a year or so under your belt you can start to see what you want to learn more about or specialize in.
After another year or so you'll probably see something else you want to do. That's the whole point. You don't have to know exactly what you want when you start because you won't know all the options you have. You'll learn about things you've never heard of.
Your career is a massive part of your life so it should be something you enjoy or at least something you're kind of interested in. Over the years your interests will change and you'll be able to adapt to those changes better when you realize that the beginning isn't the end.
This is one that I only recently heard but it's so true. The mantra has always been, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." That's not really true. In the web development world you might know quite a few different developers. But do they know you?
You don't even have to go far out of your way to get a few key people to know who you are. Do things that are valuable to other people and they'll come find you. This is how you start to get random interview requests and it's how you start building your skills and creating a great reputation for yourself.
Having all of the technical skills is important, but people knowing that you have them is what makes you the big bucks. Share your knowledge with your co-workers or people online, especially on LinkedIn. That's how you build up a network of people that will be willing to help you. Give out value before you look for anything to come to you.
These are a few tidbits that I've collected that have helped me have a career in the first place. They've also helped me change the way I think about life in general honestly. Do you have any advice you'd share with somebody starting as a web developer?
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