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Front-end web development is not what you think it is.

munamohamed94 profile image Muna Mohamed ・4 min read

"My name is xxxx and after studying with TreeHouse for six weeks, I got a job as a Front-End Developer."

How many times have you seen this advert play on YouTube? The number of times I’ve seen this advert, I have lost count.

There are so many stories out there of people who’ve learned to code in 6 weeks, 6 months, a year and now work in the tech industry (or any industry that requires coding). And you know what? Good on them.

But, here is the problem; a lot of people have been led to think that this is true for EVERYONE. Including me, in the beginning.

In reality, it is not.

After almost a year after deciding to take on Front-End web development, here are some truths I’ve come to realize.

It will take some time

There are a lot of topics to cover in Front-end web development and at times you will feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things that you have to learn. And with new frameworks being released in what feels like every day, it can feel like a never-ending struggle.

You’ve heard stories of people who have managed to learn HTML, CSS and JavaScript in a matter of weeks or months and wonder what you are doing wrong. Trust me, I’ve been there too.

However, don’t let this discourage you. This is completely normal.

It has been said that in order to master a new skill, you’ll need to put in at least 10,000 hours of work. Whether or not this is true, it is to be expected that in order to become better at something you must put in the work and Front-end web development is no different.

The bottom line is, everyone learns differently and you are no different. Put in the time; it’ll eventually pay off in the long run.

You will make mistakes — a lot of them. Get used to it.

To all those who have just started, about to start or are already learning to code in HTML, CSS, JavaScript or whatever it may be, mistakes will be made and will continue to be made. They will frustrate you, stress you out and discourage you from continuing and moving forward.

They may even bring you to a point where you will feel like quitting.

Almost a year in, and I still make stupid mistakes pretty much every day. In the beginning, the frustration alone would discourage me. I’d feel stupid and feel like quitting. Eventually, I’d go back and try and figure it out. The more I figured out, the more I felt like I was getting somewhere.

Mistakes are a part of the journey. With every mistake, there is a lesson to be learned. Learn to embrace them.

The learning never stops

Once you start learning, you will come to realise pretty quickly that front end development is not as simple as you may have thought. It’s not just simply HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

There are a ton of preprocessors, frameworks, libraries that you will come across like Sass, jQuery, Bootstrap, a whole host of JavaScript frameworks where literally a new one comes out daily. And that is just scratching the surface.

You will learn that things in the tech world are pretty much ever-changing, which can be seen as a gift or a curse depending on how you look at it. On one hand, learning new things may feel time-consuming, a constant burden even. But on the other hand, it can make life easier. In my case, after learning SCSS (a CSS preprocessor), I wouldn’t go back to coding in CSS if you paid me!

Practice, practice, practice

There is no way of getting round this, I’m afraid.

In pretty much everything in life, you will need to practice in order to perfect it, right? Front end web development is no different.

Say you miss a day or two, maybe a week of practising to code . You’ll still be able to remember most if not all of the stuff you’ve learned so far. How about a month or more? Will you still have retained all the knowledge you accumulated before that?

Therefore, the more you practice, the better you become. It is as simple as that.

Google will become your best friend

Google has all the answers. Well, at least 99% of the time.

Whether it be troubleshooting your code, getting advice on front-end web development related questions from frameworks to learn to interview tips, Google has it all.

So don’t be afraid to utilize the tools you have at hand. It’s not cheating. Unless you’re copying chunks of code without understanding what they mean… (I joke).

Switch up your method of learning

For some topics, doing courses on websites like CodeAcademy and FreeCodeCamp can be all the resources you need. But there are a ton of other resources you can make use of that will enhance your learning experience.

I completed the JavaScript challenges on FreeCodeCamp twice and it still didn’t click. Now don’t get me wrong; this is of no fault of FreeCodeCamp, I absolutely love the website. This method of learning for JavaScript just didn’t work for me but, videos did. (Check out EJ Media for basic JavaScript; it’ll change your life).

Resources such as blog posts, video tutorials, books, even podcasts can really enrich and solidify your knowledge and allow you to understand some topics on a much deeper level. The internet is a goldmine of resources so use it!

In conclusion,

The journey is different for everyone so do not feel discouraged. It’ll take time and perseverance but overall, it is all a part of the ride!

For all those who are beginning this long (and ongoing) journey into the world of front-end web development, remember that you are not alone.

If you liked this article, like, follow and share! I would greatly appreciate it. :)

Discussion

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melissa profile image
Meli

Amazing read! Thank you for sharing your insights! :)

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munamohamed94 profile image
Muna Mohamed Author

Thank you for your kind words Melissa!

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al_khovansky profile image
Alexander Khovansky

In pretty much everything in life, you will need to practice in order to perfect it, right? Front end web development is no different.

This. A thousand times this. When people start learning to play an instrument or music theory in general, they don't expect to start playing in some famous band within next few weeks, or to create a hit song that would make them a millionaire a month after the beginning.

And honestly frontend development in particular is only getting harder. 7 years ago you had to know weird hacks to make that damned footer stick to the bottom of the page and you had to be comfortable with jQuery to get paid for creating websites. Now you have to know how to configure a whole bunch of tools that do different things to your code and that is even harder for a beginner since you don't yet understand why they exist and what problems they are solving.

I don't intend to discourage anyone; in fact - if you are a beginner and you started with JS - there are lots of exciting things you could do with just it. 3d graphics, games, console emulators, mobile apps. Not just web interfaces.

Like Muna said in the article, the learning never stops, so it's not about waiting 6 weeks and then transforming into a unicornpaid developer. Just be persistent. Oh, and one more thing. We're all programmers here, we tell computers what they should do, so we have to learn not just how to tell them things (language) but also how they work so that our instructions can be more efficient. More things will start to make sense once you know what's under the hood.

Good luck everyone.

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munamohamed94 profile image
Muna Mohamed Author

Couldn't have said it better myself, Alexander! Thank you!

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Ryan Carson

Hi Muna - I'm the Founder of Treehouse.

Thank you so much for posting this. Several months back I asked the marketing team to delete this ad as I believe it's misleading. I was frustrated that this ad got created at all because, as you said, it's not realistic for 99% of people. I apologize.

I believe it typically takes 6-9 months to go from no knowledge to apprentice level as a Developer, which pays around $55,000 annually to start (pre "Junior Dev" which typically starts at $75,000).

You are an amazing example of grit and hard work and I admire you.

Thanks again for the honest post.

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munamohamed94 profile image
Muna Mohamed Author

Hi Ryan,

Thank you so much for your comment! I appreciate you reading the post and sharing your personal thoughts about the ad.

I admire your openness about the decisions that were made regarding this particular ad and find it commendable that, as the founder of one of the largest learning platforms for web technologies, you not only acknowledge this ongoing issue but have actively tried to do something about it. It is something you don’t really see other platforms or online course providers doing so I respect your efforts to make changes happen. I only wish that other online course providers would do the same.

When I was writing this post, my intention was not to single out Treehouse in particular but learning platforms and online course providers in general. I get it. It is completely understandable for learning platforms such as Treehouse, Udemy, Udacity etc, to intensely market their courses to the masses. With the surge in demand for people with coding/programming skills in the tech industry, particularly in recent years, online course providers such as Treehouse have helped bridge the skills gap with accessible and affordable courses for people wanting to gain these highly sought after skills. However, at the end of the day, these are businesses and one of the goals of a business is to make profit. However, as important as the provision of these resources may be, it is just as important to highlight and be more transparent about the reality of what it actually takes to become a developer/programmer. Otherwise, as you said, it can lead to people being misled.

In terms of how long it takes and the salary, I’ve noticed that where these two questions are concerned, opinions can differ which is interesting. But generally, I do agree with you somewhat.

I must say, this is kind of surreal. It never crossed my mind that this post would resonate with so many and that you’d stumble upon it too. The internet really is a small world!

I am truly humbled by your kind words and appreciate you reaching out. Although I’m not a user of Treehouse myself, I have heard a lot of good things about the courses that the platform provides and hope that it continues to flourish and help bridge the gap between the affordability and accessibility of tech education everywhere. You have done an amazing job so far and I wish you every success in the future!

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Damien Cosset

I guess it’s a big part of our culture now. Instant gratification, ‘get rich quick’, ‘you could buy the car of your dreams right now’, ‘that mansion? Get it today!’

Because it worked in any other industries, marketing people do it for programming. Learn this language in 24 hours and get paid that much for your first job! The thing is you can’t buy your way into a good job, or into being a good developer. As you said, it takes time, patience, dedication. Anybody who tell you otherwise has an agenda and tries to make as much money as possible.

I love Treehouse, spend a lot of time with them at the beginning of my learning. But I’d rather hear stories about people’s countless struggles to get a job than short-term amazing success. Teach them that failure is part of the process and dedication, practice, commitment are crucial to one’s success.

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Muna Mohamed Author

Thank you for your comment Damien. I agree with you. The aggressive marketing of programming has led people to believe that programming is easy and that putting in a few hours, weeks or months is enough when it really isn't. It completely skips over the bad and the ugly parts of the process (which accounts for somewhat of a big portion of the process) which is essential on whether you "make it" or not.

As important as it may be to get people into programming as the job market evolves, it is just as important to show and teach them the reality of programming (the good, the bad and the ugly) too.

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xoxocrystyle

I've been beating myself up for not learning JS as quickly as my peers. This article was a reminder that it's okay to be slow and steady.. and definitely has helped me feel better about myself. Thank you :)

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Muna Mohamed Author

Thank you so much for your wonderful comment,I'm so glad that my article helped you feel better!

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Kat

As a front end dev, when you start branching out into the programming side, the design side, or UX... it's really crazy how it all fits together and it's one of my favourite parts of programming.

At the end of the day, and it's something I know, it takes all kinds to ship. And it takes time to ship.

Learning a musical instrument is a great analogy. It took me like 2 years for me to be considered probably good at the flute. 2 years! I was woefully behind for a bit of that too... things weren't working out till it did... kind of like that for programming too.

It's just front end dev is home for me, generally. :)

This is a great article. Thank you for writing!

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Muna Mohamed Author

Thank you Kat, your kind words mean a lot! I totally get what you mean, it's a bit like the pieces in a puzzle coming together!

The musical instrument analogy really is a great one! It gives people an idea of the difficulty of programming.

"things weren't working out till it did" - This is (and still is ...occasionally lol) me! Front end dev has a way of growing on you though, despite the ups and downs. I'm glad you found home in front end dev :)

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Karel Kangro

hahaa, my TH score is almost 7K points, but I've not landed any FE job yet ... obviously it is all about me ... and it is all about having rock solid JS skills that I do not have yet. TH is very good environment for beginners with 0 experience (like me back in the 2013 autumn), helped me a lot to kickstart my freelance career I still hold today

after having applied to some cool FE dev jobs in last 10 months and failed to solve too many test assignments within given time I recommend to learn vanilla (just plain) JS along with some cool and easy to understand framework like React + invest your time to learn Node.js server side part because it is also in JS and because you need some (used to be) backend skills like ss form input handling/validation, async data fetching and processing when you really want to land a job as a front-end dev on these days :)

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Muna Mohamed Author

Hi Karel, thank you for your feedback! And thank you for the advice, I really appreciate you taking the time to give advice based on your experience, it helps to know what is to come in the process from someone else who has gone through it. I've been doubling down on my efforts on JavaScript so I could become better at it. Are there any particular resources you would recommend that have helped you with JavaScript?

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munamohamed94 profile image
Muna Mohamed Author

Hi Karel, thank you so much for the resources! I'm sure that a lot of people would benefit from these resources that you have provided, I know I definitely will! Thanks again :)

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Dankwansere

Very good read. I'm a fullstack developer so I have both the experience of the back end and front end. To be honest I find front end a tad more difficult than the back end. Maybe its because of the loosely style of JavaScript compared to the static languages like Java and C#. Also with the large amount of JavaScript frameworks available and new one popping up, it makes it really difficult to keep up. But like you said practice and practice will always yield result.

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Muna Mohamed Author

Thank you, I really appreciate your feedback! I hear you, it does feel like a new JavaScript frameworks comes out every day which makes it hard not only to keep up but also to know which ones to learn. However, trial and error is a part of the learning experience and eventually you improve!

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Alex Gwartney

You know I really wish more people would make a post like this. Because as you mentioned it really is not the reality of how it happens. I mean its probably like 1% of people. And I personally have come from tree house and while its a great website in my opinion the videos lack a specific amount of in depth knowledge. I would say that personally if you want the best chance of landing a job you will defiantly need to put in the time to learn the more in depth knowledge from other resources and not try to take the short cuts. And as you have said it will take time to do.

I my self have done a mix of self taught/college and If I had any advice to give I would say like you do not let thoughs 1% story's of people saying hey I some how managed to get x job in x months discourage you. If any thing apply when you feel ready. I would also say at the same time do not try and short your self on knowledge because you feel like you need to have a job in x months. Because in reality its probably going to bite you in the long run when you end up having to do a bunch of back tracking and have to play catch up to the wholes in your knowledge. At the same time I would also say find that balance to where you can feel comfortable enough to apply and go for it and begin your career and continue learning on the job. As well as not letting the impostor syndrome get to you and know that there are others in the community going through the same thing who are willing to help.

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Muna Mohamed Author

Thank you for your kind words and encouraging advice Alex! I really appreciate you taking the time to share some of your experiences and giving some really good advice and wisdom for others to learn from. I'm sure there will be many people reading your comment who will feel comforted by your words. I wish I could click the heart button more than once!

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XynanXDB

It is not only on front end development. Websites like Udemy advertise "Coding your own games is easier than you think", but in an actual creative development, it is a whole different story. I'm taking an honours degree in game development, I have been through it and I know. After 3 years of studying and practising, I still feel I rather newb. However, experience and practise makes perfect and both of them are all that matter.

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Subbu Lakshmanan

Fantastic Post Muna!!

There's lots and lots of websites calling themselves, "Online university" to learn any technology. The content being provided may be adequate in learning the technology but it doesn't grant anything more than that. Especially when it comes to work, it's the practice of the technology/language that you put in matters more.

Kudos!!

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Muna Mohamed Author

Thank you Subbu, I appreciate your feedback!

Yes, despite the wealth of resources on the internet, sometimes that isn't enough. Adequate content only scratches the surface which is where I think people get misled in thinking that that's all there is to it but then find out the hard truth later on.

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Bluebell Lester

So the entire point of this article was to inform the reader that mastering a new job might take more than 6 weeks? I don't think many people seriously expect to be good at something after 6 weeks of tutorials.

Furthermore the title claims that front-end development is not what you think it is (whatever that may be) but in the end the article treats it like some sort of a coding job and provides no additional insight into it.

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Kiss, György

But, here is the problem; a lot of people have been led to think that this is true for EVERYONE. Including me, in the beginning.

You are on point, but I would even go a step further: This is NOT TRUE for ANYONE! It's just a marketing stunt or overstating facts or lies or whatever. Learning one simple language/technology properly take years whatever it is.

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Jose Torreblanca

Good to read! Actually videos really work for me, Wes Bos and Shaun The Net Ninja got me in love.

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Alex Gwartney

You should also check out LevelUpTuts+ He has some pretty good resources as well

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Muna Mohamed Author

He does! I'm already subscribed to LevelUpTuts+ Youtube channel :D

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Muna Mohamed Author

Thank you Jose! Yes, Wes Bos's JavaScript30 videos are really awesome. I haven't heard of Shaun The Net Ninja, I'll definitely check him out!

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Emmanuel Raymond

One of the best IMO!

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Gabrielle Duarte

Very nice post! As someone who is going through this journey, I identify with your point!

I feel like articles that say they studied 6 weeks in some site and landed a job don't take into consideration some important factors such as how many extra hours were put there, what type of networking (and privileges) you had/had to have for landing that first job.

When you are struggling for the first job and you see a lot of posts that don't show how hard it actually was or you see someone who was already in the business and got it easier, it can make people quit or doubt themselves.

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Muna Mohamed Author

Thank you Gabrielle, I appreciate your feedback! I'm glad you enjoyed the article :)

I understand where you're coming from. It can get really frustrating, especially for people starting out because those types of articles can sometimes do more harm than good. Hopefully, people will start to realize the full struggle of becoming a developer and not feel as though they are alone in the journey, no matter how long or difficult it may be.

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Jegede Ayodeji A

Hi Muna, many thanks for this wonderful piece. It might be seems late but I actually agreed to all your points here 100%.
I've learnt is myself like 3times and it just doesn't sticks, I think things happen for everyone at different time intervals and it's just best if you go with the flow.

Thanks

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Muna Mohamed Author

Hi Jegede, I appreciate the feedback! Exactly, everyone learns differently and at a different pace. It's just a matter of focusing on your own journey, learning from your mistakes and enjoying the journey as you go!

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Edwin Castro

Great read, thanks for sharing! As a 40 year old, husband and father of 3, I'm attempting a career switch into the Front End Dev field and I couldn't agree with this article anymore. Though I'm comfortable creating sites using HTML, CSS, Bootstrap and basic JavaScript and jQuery I find it very hard to land that 1st Front End job. I'm currently trying to use my years of experience as an account manager to get that illusive 1st Front End job. I still love the field and I love learning new development skills and I'm gonna continue to push for that opportunity. Once again, great read and very inspirational.

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Muna Mohamed Author

Thank you Edwin, I'm humbled by your kind words and appreciate the feedback! Trust me I know how you feel all too well,I'm currently too. The illusive first Front end role is essential to opening the doors and a big step into the industry. Continue to push and eventually, all that hard work will pay off!

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Steven Myers

It has been said that in order to master a new skill, you’ll need to put in at least 10,000 hours of work.

Yes, but it depends on the quality of work. One has to spend those 10k hours consistently striving to better oneself. If those 10k hours are spent blindly copying patterns in the existing codebase or copy+past from StackOverflow, then expertise should not be expected.

he one that showed the top tier had practiced more than 10,000 hours — Ericsson found the experts did so with full concentration on improving a particular aspect of their performance that a master teacher identified.

brainpickings.org/.../daniel-golem...

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Olumide

Hey Muna, Thanks for reminding us that being a developer(Front-end or whatever-end) is an unending journey which is to be embraced.
And that part of the treehouse ad, i guess we now know that the journey is not the same for everyone.

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munamohamed94 profile image
Muna Mohamed Author

Hi Olumide, thank you for your kind words. The journey is definitely not the same for everyone but, we should all enjoy the ride all the same!

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straleb profile image
Strahinja Babić

You are so right, perfect article.
My friend told me to be devoted to front-end and to learn it, in February it will be one year since i started learning i finished the FreecodeCamp as well but some projects are needed to be made to get that click :)
During all the learning and projects i have advanced so much, and mostly because i enjoy what i do and i hope that you do as well :)

Again Thumbs up for the Article 10/10 :)

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Muna Mohamed Author

Thank you for your kind words, they mean a lot!
Your friend is a wise one! Wow, that a great achievement, well done! I'm still working through the challenges myself , but so far so good!
That is key; enjoying what you do. It took the longest time to figure that out but now that I've realized how much I enjoy to code, it really is a blessing!
Best of luck with the projects and if you ever need help, you have the BEST people in the dev community who can help! :D

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Ece

Wow, I've never felt so understood since I got into tech. It's been about 7 months since I finished my course and I felt like I was getting nowhere with my daily practice, until I read your post. It's so intimidating seeing how much more I need to learn even when I haven't fully mastered (which is literally impossible) the basics yet, and it DOES push me to quit sometimes. But everytime I think of quitting I honestly feel like there is nothing else I would rather do, and even though it will take me longer than I expected I will keep pushing and failing and learning. It's really good to know I wasn't alone after all. :)

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Muna Mohamed Author

Thank you so much for your kind words Ece! It makes me so happy to know that you enjoyed the post and that it spoke to you. I was exactly the same - for the longest time I didn't feel like I was getting anywhere, particularly because coding was something I did in solitude. Platforms like this and the dev community on Twitter allowed me to see that I wasn't alone in how I was feeling and it was so reassuring! You don't have to know everything, even though it feels like you do all the time, remember to explore and have fun along the way :)

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Dominic Duffin

Thank you for this article - it raises some important points sorely in need of discussion.

As a society I think we are far too obsessed with speed. If you want to learn something properly, it is going to take time. And, as you say, mistakes are an important part of the learning process. It is about time we were able to accept, maybe even value, mistakes. Unfortunately too many of us are embarrassed by mistakes and scared to admit to making them, or try to pretend that we don't make them.

On the topic of search engines - they are definitely great resources to help you with coding - DuckDuckGo with its programming Instant Answers is even better than Google.

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Muna Mohamed Author

Thank you Dominic, I appreciate your feedback!

My sentiments exactly! Mistakes are a part of life but we don't value mistakes as much as we should. If we as a society spent more time embracing mistakes and learning from them, people wouldn't be as embarrassed or scared to make them!

That's a new one, I'm not familiar with DuckDuckGo. I'll check it out!

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TheOluwafemi

I feel like you are writing about me, the beginner who is constantly being harassed by those treehouse ads lol. But we'll get there. What you said about switching up styles when learning is absolutely true, I used books and online tutorials for HTML and CSS, but on getting to JS i discovered that i preferred videos and quickly switched. Nice article muna.

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Muna Mohamed Author

Thank you! I really appreciate your comment. Trust me, we've all been there. Mixing up your learning materials really helps solidify your learning. There is sooo much content out there so it can get a little overwhelming at times finding what works but some trial and error is the way to go. And yes, we've got this!

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Olasupo Abdulhakeem Adigun

Thanks for posting this Ma. Actually I just started learning Javascript a week ago, and it's been really great. Moreover, I would like you to be a mentor to me on Front end development Ma. Cheers

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นี่ด็อกซอนไง

I, a 5 years old Frontend developer. I still make a mistake and feel some struggle nowadays. Reading your article makes me feel nostalgia the moment when I enter to the frontend world. Thank you for writing the encouraging message to all the people that might feel insecure and make sure they (including me) that are not the only one :)

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Muna Mohamed Author

Thank you for your kind words! I'm glad you enjoyed the article :)

You are definitely not alone and it makes me so happy that this post has helped you and others realize or remind you of that. We are all in this together!

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XynanXDB

It is not only on front-end development. Website like Udemy kept advertising "Coding your own games is easier than you think", it really made the knowledge very accessible but when in terms of actual creative development, it's a whole different story. I took legit honours degree in Game Development, I have been through it and I know it. After 3 years, I still feeling rather newb. However, experience and practice makes perfect. Hope I could get a job when I graduate haha. 😂😂

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Adam Szaloczi

Hey Everyone!
As a beginner, I can confirm, it's hard. But there was a time, when a simple HTML was a kind of alien script, I didn't know what's the matter of browser's devtool... This time is gone, nowadays I fight with the JS, and I will be there, JS will be part of my toolbox, not my nightmare fuel. Then (meanwhile?) new challenges....

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Sergiu-Lucian Petrica

Actually the main problem is the general misconception that getting a job in this field is the end 'goal'.

In reality getting a job is only the beginning since in this industry you're always learning, especially in fields where technologies tend to change fast (the web space in recent years).

Universities and platforms like Treehouse give you the basic knowledge required to get a job, nothing more. It's only from your first job that you actually start learning.

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StringsOfArrays

It massively depends on your background. I, for example have started with C++, learned that for two months, learned it from scratch by recreating all the common container types and stuff like bit operations and hex conversions, then hopped into unity, learned C# to a level where I was able to solve most problems in code and became somewhat proficient with using Unity. Since I don't have a CS degree and jobs with these technologies are rare, I picked up Front-End Web to get a foot in the door. And besides html and css make little sense at some points, I picked the whole thing up pretty quick and got atleast an idea how things work after two weeks and was able to literally browse through JavaScript and was simply amazed how easy stuff can be solved there.
Whats the reason I am writing this? To brag of course!! No joke, lul. I simply want to say by that don't always believe the stuff other people are telling you....
You never know what that guy who "made it" in four month

  1. Really did before that!! Maybe he had coding courses at highschool or was already proficient at stuff like html/ css etc.
  2. Maybe this person was working in a field that had a similar approach to solve problems
  3. Maybe that person really really really put in a HUGE amount of work! And you must ask yourself, did you really read about design patterns when you were on the way to work? Did you spend your school/ work break, to do coding challenges, read about algorithms? Do you really code every day? and I mean EVERY day for 3+ hours? If the answer to any of these questions is no, that's perfectly fine. But it also means that you are not the person who will get job-ready in 6-12 months.
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UZUMAKI

Wao, you hit in the nail, OMG thanks...

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Muna Mohamed Author

Thank YOU for reading it and for sharing it on Twitter! :)