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Muna Mohamed
Muna Mohamed

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

"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. :)

Top comments (101)

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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

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

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

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ryancarson profile image
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

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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damcosset profile image
Damien Cosset • Edited on

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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munamohamed94 profile image
Muna Mohamed

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 profile image
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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munamohamed94 profile image
Muna Mohamed

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

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guitarkat profile image
Kat • Edited on

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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munamohamed94 profile image
Muna Mohamed

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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karelus profile image
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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munamohamed94 profile image
Muna Mohamed

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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karelus profile image
Karel Kangro
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munamohamed94 profile image
Muna Mohamed

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 profile image
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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munamohamed94 profile image
Muna Mohamed

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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alexgwartney profile image
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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munamohamed94 profile image
Muna Mohamed

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 profile image
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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subbramanil profile image
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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munamohamed94 profile image
Muna Mohamed

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 profile image
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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kissgyorgy profile image
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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josewhitetower profile image
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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alexgwartney profile image
Alex Gwartney

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

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munamohamed94 profile image
Muna Mohamed

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

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munamohamed94 profile image
Muna Mohamed

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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peoray profile image
Emmanuel Raymond

One of the best IMO!

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adgabi profile image
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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munamohamed94 profile image
Muna Mohamed

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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