How to Get a Job in Web Development: The Inspiration
The first couple weeks of my first enterprise web development job were rough.
Aside from adjusting to the formal environment of a typical 8-5 office, I also had to learn how a proprietary server worked, in addition to learning a variety of proprietary IBM coding languages and multiple front-end frameworks. I was also tasked with untangling platters upon platters of spaghetti code while taking client calls and building new sites for them.
I felt overwhelmed, and many mornings before work I seriously wished a natural disaster would strike the office, rendering our IBM AS/400 server into silicon dust.
The tornado never pulled through, and I ended up reporting to work every day.I thought, “Well, even if I totally fail today, at least I’ll learn something about enterprise development and get paid for it.” So I kept on. But even still, there were days early on when I felt defeated before I even started:
There was just so much to learn.
In many ways, it reflected many of the manual labor jobs I had worked in the past — the work was never done. You fix one thing, process an order, or scan one piece of mail, and there are 500,000 to go.
My web developer job paralleled this: you fix a bug, resolve an issue for a client, or add a feature to a project and there are hundreds more to go.
In the chaos of my newbie web developer status, I took advantage of my hour-long lunch breaks to build my YouTube channel. I edited videos, responded to subscriber comments, and caught up with my fellow web developers.
I was essentially a full-time enterprise developer and a part-time YouTuber.
As a YouTuber, I do a lot of listening: I listen to the trends, I listen to my subscribers, and I listen to my metrics.
Consistently, the number-one thing people want to know is about jobs.
Specifically: “How do I get a job in web development?”
I kept reading variations of this question over and over on my channel and others. One day, after reading a variation of the question on a lunch break, I looked up from my laptop in my little corner and said, “I need to answer this question…The right way.”
I needed to provide a detailed, step-by-step, practical, and actionable answer. The cogs in my brain were starting to churn for a book and video course — something that extended beyond the typical and often superficial YouTube video. Thus, How to Get a Job in Web Development was born.
As somebody who in participated in over a dozen interviews and drove over seven hours to interview with the data company I eventually decided to work for, I felt uniquely qualified to share my insights with finding the right web development job. From making my resume pop, to writing an attention-grabbing cover letter, to perfecting my portfolio and getting my GitHub page up to standard, the technical processes I engaged in weren’t accidental.
This was the reason I was getting callbacks, interviews, and job offers: Not because I had experience in the enterprise world (I didn’t) or because I knew people in high places who could get me a job (I most definitely didn’t).
It was because I had specific, organized processes that started with high-quality application materials and extended all the way to salary negotiation. My employer had to fight to get me to work for them, and it was all intentional — designed by me, exclusively for my benefit as a professional web developer.
The next day, my senior developer asked if I wanted to join him for lunch. We usually visited a sub shop and brought it back to the office, but I had a new mission. Writing How to Get a Job in Web Development would be my focus for my lunch breaks until completion. Hello, ham sandwich, apple, and LibreOffice.
After lots of productive lunch breaks and hundreds of hours of after-work production in my home studio, I released How to Get a Job in Web Development as a book and video course in August of 2018.
The course immediately gained traction, selling on platforms from Amazon to Udemy to my own website. I was ecstatic to see people respond so positively.
However, it wasn’t until Donovan wrote me that I realized the real impact it had on people. . .And not just newbie web developers, but others who were on their second or third web development job looking for some fresh insights and techniques for securing a job in the software industry.
So who is this mysterious Donovan?
A self-taught web and mobile app developer from Michigan, I met Donovan what seems like many years ago. In reality, it was less than two years through my YouTube channel. We got to talking and I found his story so interesting that I published it on my old website (which I hope to re-publish here soon since his self-taught developer journey is as interesting as it is inspiring).
Donovan wrote me recently telling me how he secured a new developer role.
He also shared that How to Get a Job in Web Development helped him secure that role. I was so happy to hear this, and he agreed to answer a few follow-up questions from me to share with the world. I am honored to share that story here!
Q: As somebody who isn’t new to the web developer industry, you’ve probably taken courses or at least seen a few blog posts/videos on job tips and whatnot. What motivated you to take the course, and what concepts stood out to you?
A: It’s you Candy; I’ve been a fan of your content for sometime now and your ability to communicate useful information while having fun and being yourself is a rare feat to have. Because of that fact, I knew I was in for a real insightful treat upon purchasing and investing time into your How to get a Job in Web Development Udemy course and it did not disappoint as expected.
Some of my favorite concepts that stood out to me are what you have dubbed to be “The Holy Clover” (Resume, Cover Letter, GitHub, Portfolio).
Sure there’s people who talk/blog about crafting good resumes and cover letters — there isn’t much insightful information out there that I have seen yet anyways that talks about using GitHub and Portfolio towards landing web developer jobs, The post-Application Process, The Interview, The follow up, and NETWORKING!!! It’s so hard to choose but if I had to pick one to be my top favorite, it’s probably the networking concepts for reasons we had previously talked about, don’t want to spoil to surprise. 🙂
Q: My next question, what actionable steps/techniques did you use from the course to put yourself ahead of the pack (whether in the application phase, interview phase, etc.)?
A: This role was presented to me from a recruiter so there wasn’t much for application phase for this particular role I was hired into. I remember in your Udemy course you recorded a phone interview and little to my knowledge the interview I had was a straight up one-shot phone interview where this ONE phone interview will ultimately decide if the company wants to hire me or not.
The phone interview section of that Udemy course stood with me in the beginning. I spoke about my experience, the results from that experience and eagerness to learn, on the fact that I lack experience with React.js and Vue.js but communicated to the interviewer that I was fully open toward learning both React.js and Vue.js if necessary.
Q: And finally what do you think the most important thing is to have when applying for developer jobs? (A positive mindset, maybe something more concrete like a solid resume, etc?)
That’s a very good question, I would argue the ability to solve problems. Not having all the answers is alright because nobody and I mean NOBODY has all the answers to everything all the time. That’s what Googling, troubleshooting, documentation, and StackOverFlow is for, even for developers with many years of experience use Google, reading documentation, troubleshoot & testing and use StackOverFlow.
These tools and abilities are here to help you save precious time, identify problems and turn them into solutions. Being able to communicate those problems and solutions to an Interviewer, Manager and or a Team Member is also very valuable.