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How One Article Shaped My Career

mcgurkadam profile image Adam McGurk ・3 min read

As I'm now several years into a career that I never expected I would be in, (but loving every second of it) I've been able to look back at a few key moments that happened very early on and how they shaped who I am as a developer and a tech thinker as a whole.

It's hard to pinpoint certain actions that you take or certain things that you learn that really shape you as a person, but for me, this experience was one of them. And it all boiled down to me typing this question into Google:

How do I learn jQuery?

I was young and trying to make my business of being a concert promoter in a small town flourish. I was building websites for all of the shows that I was putting on, and also trying to make a little money on the side to fund my business, and there were a lot of things I wanted to do where I thought "if I just knew jQuery, I could get this, this, and that done" (obviously, this is a few years ago :) ). And so, I figured, "well, let me go learn jQuery". At that point I thought JavaScript was "too hard" for me to learn and I would start with something easier.

Well, when I typed "How do I learn jQuery" into Google...I got an interesting response that came up very high in my search results...and it was an article like this*: Why Beginners Should Not Learn JavaScript Through jQuery

I couldn't believe it. I read it. And I read it again. And I read it again. Everything in the article made perfect sense. jQuery is JavaScript. It would be better for me to know what's going on "under the hood" then only knowing an abstraction (a library). And on and on. It made so much sense. And it shaped so much of who I am as a developer today.

Language, not framework

Fast forward to today. After a few pivots in my career and a few blessings that I was super privileged to be able to get, I find myself as the lead developer for the tech arm of a pretty major solar company in the United States. And this idea of "learn JavaScript, not jQuery" has been something that I've tried to instill into all of the developers we employ at my place of work. And it's not just the idea of vanilla JavaScript vs. jQuery, but also this idea of "when should I reach for React?" or "Do I really need to import that NPM package when with a little more work I could do it myself and understand what's going on better to improve our development processes as a whole?" etc...

It's been many times where one of the developers who I employ comes to me and says "Can I use jQuery for just this one thing?" or "Can I pull in Bootstrap for this one project?" And you know what? Sometimes, that's not always the wrong question to be asking, and sometimes it's the right call to make on the projects we're given. But anytime that is asked of me, I take it as an opportunity to invite my developers to think about why they're asking to use it? Is it an example of lack of skill, or is it truly the best task for the job?

Wrapping Up

All of this to say...I'm not against frameworks. I think in some cases React, Angular, or Vue all have their merits. The tooling and the ecosystems provided to developers today can make our jobs so much easier, but I invite you the next time you reach for a framework you ask yourself "why am I doing this" instead of just doing what is the most comfortable and beginning to think in this way of "what will also improve my skills as a developer on every single project I work on?". I think when we begin to think that way, is really when our personal (and professional) growth begin to explode.

*(this is not the exact article that I read...but it was something along these lines. I searched and searched for the article, but I haven't been able to find it. I wish I could, and I'm going to keep searching)!

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melmacaluso profile image
Mel Macaluso

The exact same thing happened to me in the begging of my career, except I drew that conclusion by myself: "JavaScript is here to stay, frameworks come and go, if you have a solid foundation in a language learning a new framework is relatively "simple" "