From student to teacher: how to understand web development if it’s not your profile

Anyone can become a web developer – the main thing is not to be afraid of the computer and have a desire to try yourself in the profession. This profession does not require deep technical knowledge at the entrance: mathematics or algorithms are more of a bonus than a necessity. I didn’t notice a cardinal difference between how techies and humanities are trained, it’s just that the former have a little more knowledge at the start. But this difference goes away in a matter of days, the main thing is to overcome laziness and get busy.

To master the profession, it is important to practice at least one or two hours every day. Alas, not everyone understands this, it seems to some: to become a developer, you just need to listen to a couple of lectures. But this is not the case.

Never postpone learning until tomorrow: set an alarm clock, for example, at eight in the evening. Most people by this time have time to get free from work, get home and even have dinner. If it rings, sit down and study until nine or ten. And so every day. Missed it? Add the missed hour to the lesson tomorrow.

Of course, 8 pm is not a panacea. The main thing is to optimize the schedule in order to effectively combine training and work. When I retrained as a developer (I’ll talk about this later), I set the alarm for six in the morning, studied, had breakfast and went to work.

Who retrains as a developer

People about 30 years old most often decide to change their profession to a developer — they have already graduated from university, worked in their field, but they did not like it. There can be many reasons to change a specialty — low salaries, uninteresting tasks, lack of opportunities for development. A person may just want to do something else, more profitable and comfortable. Among my students there are lawyers, builders, doctors, economists, teachers, engineers and many others.

It is easier for adults to learn than for children: they are not motivated, they come to study as consciously as possible, and sometimes they perform tasks faster than already established specialists at work.

I had to change my specialty myself. Eight years ago, when I graduated from university, it turned out that there were only 8 vacancies on the market in the specialty “Computing machines, complexes, systems and networks”. I didn’t have enough experience for four of them, and they didn’t call me back for four more. As a result, I got a job as an engineer at a factory and after a few months of work I realized that this is not what I want to devote my life to. Then I took web development courses from scratch and found a job at the end of them. Now I am a Front-end developer в Group and teach at GeekBrains.

Another example is my student Pavel Litvin. He did not finish his studies at the university as a security guard, worked as a sales manager, then in SEO, eventually learned frontend development and began to earn 4 times more than before the courses. And there are many such stories.

The idea of the profession for beginners is often far from reality. Some people still think that a programmer is someone who stays at home, does nothing and earns a lot. When I encounter this with students, I have to explain exactly what I will need to do, how much time to study and how then I will have to work.

To understand whether a specialty is suitable for you, you just need to try. In online schools where they teach development, there are free intensive courses for several hours. During this time, students are invited to make a small project: this way you can understand whether this area is suitable for them. If you have tried a couple of such intensive courses and nothing works out or you don’t like the process, perhaps this is not your vocation and it is worth continuing the search. The profession of a web developer is suitable for many, but it is not a universal recipe. Surely you will find something else for yourself.

In addition to intensive courses, there are introductory webinars about what to expect from the specialty, how much it is in demand, what salaries are in it, what needs to be done at work. Similar videos and texts are full of the Internet, it’s easy to find them. Take a look to understand what you will be doing if you choose this path.

Independent learning

In principle, you can try to master the profession yourself — there is enough material on the web. But sooner or later there comes a moment when the code does not work, the program does not start and it is unclear what to do next. You’re stuck in a dead end and you can’t get out of it because there’s no one to tell you. The teacher helps to avoid this problem. He will talk about the most effective technologies and solutions, share his experience — this is a big plus in employment. Thanks to such tips, the same project can be completed twice as fast.

At the moment when I went to the courses, my friend decided to study on his own — he read something for three years, looked on the Internet. As a result, during this time he reached a salary of 50,000 rubles. If he had taken courses, he would have achieved this result in six months or a year. Thinking he was saving, he lost money.

Another common problem of self-learning web development from scratch is the development of outdated technologies. I had to retrain students who had learned irrelevant information. There are things that are no longer used, have been optimized and need to be removed from memory or reconfigured. For example, earlier in the layout, the float left command was used to move an element, but this is a rather cumbersome and complex solution. Then they started using display: flex instead. Now this method has become obsolete and display: grid is now relevant. The appearance of all these methods will be the same, but the latter solution is more elegant and faster to implement.

Probably the biggest misconception when learning a profession independently is the lack of an idea of how technologies are connected to each other and can work in conjunction. Without a curriculum, all knowledge is chaotic. There is also a high probability that after self-study you will not have a portfolio (there will be one at the courses) and a clear understanding of the ways of development in the profession (in order to develop it, you need to communicate with those who understand this).

I recommend everyone who is studying development to watch review webinars and intensive courses, where they tell how one project gathers several technologies together. The benefit here is not so much in the technologies themselves, but in creating a holistic picture of how and what works together. 

After listening to the theory, you often have no idea how to use it. To master the development, you can practice in online simulators like this. Such things offer a minimum of theory and a maximum of practical application.

To keep motivated when I do something new, I use this technique: I record a video in which I voice the goals and motives of current tasks. If after a conditional three months there comes a moment when my hands drop, I look through it. If you don’t like the idea of the video, try writing an inspiring letter.

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