You’ve probably seen articles with headlines like: “I’m unsatisfied with my career! I want to make money! What do I do?” In most cases, “Just learn to code!” is the answer. However, breaking into the web development field can be overwhelming, and many people don’t know where to begin.
I remember, I was there! Before I started at CQL, I was very unhappy with what I was doing, and felt little satisfaction for the work I was putting into my job. Fast forward to today; I am a front-end developer for an outstanding digital agency, and I don’t dread coming to work (well, you know, remotely).
One of the best things about web development is that you don’t need a computer science degree (although it helps). It’s possible to get your foot in the door with a good foundation of self-education, experiential learning, and a self-starting mentality. This article will not guarantee you a job, but it can at least give you a place to begin.
Starting the Journey to Becoming a Front-End Developer
First things first; where do you start? The good news is, you are not starting from ground zero! One of the most important skills a developer can have is the ability to use Google intelligently and the willingness to experiment. There are other transferable skills, too, like experience dealing with clients, narrowing down the boundaries of a project, the ability to manage multiple deadlines, and the ability to collaborate. Even experienced developers may struggle with that last one.
Start a GitHub Account and Get to Know Git and the Terminal
So, you have Google pulled up and your heart is open… what now? A lot of people jump into learning HTML and CSS right away, and those things are important. However, I’d get to know the terminal and Git (the version control system that will save your sanity).
Git is a source control system that tracks any changes made to a project. If you break something, you don’t need to freak out. As long as it was properly committed to Git, you can always go back to your working version and debug what you broke. This is a powerful safety net, and all modern development projects use it.
Have you heard of GitHub? It’s a site where you can store your Git projects and visually see your changes (and do a few other cool things, too). When you apply to a development job, they’ll want to take a look at your work on GitHub. The terminal is the primary way you’ll be interacting with Git, and a lot of other developer-related things. If you can download Git for your operating system, create a GitHub account, and then create a fresh, empty Git project that allows you to commit and push up to Github.
Understanding and Utilizing the Building Blocks of the Web
Tutorials are great, but the best way to learn is by experimenting on your own and creating personal projects. CodePen is a great site to use for small code experiments, and your GitHub account is an excellent place for larger ones.
Get to Know Advanced Libraries and Dig Into the Data
Once you’ve become confident with the basics, you’ll hear terms like React and Sass. One of the pains of working in front end development is that all these languages were created 25 years ago, and the web needs to do a lot more now, which necessitates the additional languages and libraries to add functionality.
Now, there’s an infinite amount of libraries, and it’s all pretty advanced. However, if you’re looking for recommendations to Google, try Node, Sass (it’s easy!), and a simple package manager like parcel.js. Once you’re comfortable with JS and you want to start digging into data or playing with single page apps, you could look into frameworks like React, Vue, and Express.js.
Contact the Experts at CQL for Front-End Development Opportunities
Remember: if you want to get into front-end development, you should first become familiar with git and the terminal, and create a Github account. Next, learn HTML, CSS, and JS, and then build some stuff on your own. Finally, look into some advanced languages and libraries and keep experimenting. Hopefully after all that, you have a few solid, modern web projects you can show off.
Interested in knowing more about front-end development, and want to get hands-on experience building web projects? The development team at CQL is here to help. We have summer internships where you can learn about new and interesting ways to learn more about coding and can show off your talents. All you have to do is contact us below.