If you consider yourself a junior web developer or even someone just learning to code, I can only assume that you are adamant about growing this year, reaching new goals, and moving forward (not backward) as a developer.
I know I am.
To do that we need to set goals. We need to learn from our past mistakes and then pave a way forward.
Given the struggles I heard from new developers last year and simply from my own experience, I decided to start this year off with some guidelines for junior web developers that I hope will help you start the new year off right.
5 Tips for Junior Web Developer Growth in 2020
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1. Get crystal clear about your goals
What are you looking to achieve this year? What are your top goals?
To land a full-time job as a remote dev?
To step out on your own as a freelancer or small business?
To master React? To grow your YouTube channel? To get AWS certified?
Whatever it is, you need to write these down and you need to put some action behind them. You need to measure them and assess your progress weekly.
Here are a few guidelines to help you set goals:
- Keep the number of goals small, preferably under 7. Too many goals = failure.
- Take each goal through the SMARTER checklist. Find out what SMARTER stands for and some great examples in this article by Michael Hyatt. Ultimately you want to put action steps behind each goal and you want to put in place some way to measure it.
- Don't get bogged down on dates. If you miss the first first week of January due to delayed planning, then start the second, or third even.
2. Get out of the "learning bubble"
Tutorials are great, don't get me wrong. But I'm convinced many people stay in tutorial-land because it's safe. You are doing something noble and are bettering yourself by learning some new language or framework, but it can often be an excuse for inaction or fear of taking that next big step.
"When I feel more comfortable with Angular, only then will I start applying for dev jobs."
The truth is, you will never be ready. You will never reach a point where you know it all or where you feel totally confident.
Sites like Udemy, YouTube, Skillshare, etc., are means to learn new skills, technologies, languages, etc. along the way.
Be sure it doesn't become an actual hinderance to meeting your larger goals instead of a supplement that you add to them.
3. Build stuff from scratch
After learning the basics of a language or a framework, build something with it.
Don't go and take 3 more courses on it so that you can "master it." You will not master it. You will get bored of doing tutorials and either get sucked back into the learning bubble (see above) or you will look for something else new and shiny.
This year I had to learn C#/NET at my job.
I did some online training and didn't feel like I was progressing fast enough to work confidently as a professional in it.
Then one day I came across this article that had a really logical Bible Memory plan.
In short, you study a verse every day of the week, then every day of the next week, then MWF of the next week, then it goes to T/Th of the next week, then once a week, then once a month, then once every three months.
And while this cycle is going on, a new verse is being introduced weekly such that you have a lot of new verses alongside of review verses.
I thought it a great challenge and decided to build it as a .NET Core web app, from scratch, and even integrate Twilio to text out the verses each week.
This took a few weeks and turned out to be a HUGE milestone for me.
Concepts that I had struggled with understanding previously, I was forced to learn when they came up in my app (and oh they came up a lot).
Concepts like threading, Tasks, dependency injection, database queries, the need for ViewModels, syntax, etc. I was forced to understand because I had to make my app work.
All in all, it allowed me to progress faster than I would have settling for watching another Udemy course.
Need some app ideas to build this year?
Think about it: If you are at a point where you can build a simple web app, then the opportunities are endless.
Aim this year to be a creator more than a consumer.
4. Start teaching what you learn
I believe every Web Developer should be doing this.
And no I don't mean speaking at conferences or teaching a live course.
I mean simply starting a blog or a YouTube channel and teaching the things you are learning.
Solidify the concept better in your mind by writing an article on it.
Even use it as a personal resource when you need it.
This has been one of the best outlets for me personally.
I'll learn a new skill or some nuance about a language, platform, framework, etc. and I'll write about it on my blog.
And I believe it will benefit you as well.
5. Find confidence in your current skillset
This was one of the biggest lessons that I learned this year.
I'm not a senior developer. Nowhere close.
Thus, it follows that I should not act like I am one.
I shouldn't cram as if I can become one in six months.
Becoming a seasoned developer takes time and experience.
Stop feeling bummed out because you don't know as much as they do. It's okay!
Stop taking tons of Udemy courses in hopes that you will know it all by the end of the year. You will not...and you don't need to.
Instead, continue to grow, of course, but more importantly learn to enjoy the level that you are at .... the stage you are at in your coding journey.
Become confident in how far you've come, and keep pressing on knowing that you will gain more experience along the way.
So there are my 5 tips for junior web developer growth in 2020. Take some time to think over these and see how they can affect you in a positive way this year.