5 tips to webdevs

so, you wanna be part of building the web.

as beginner web app developer, you’ll have to face a difficult but very rewarding path ahead of you. you’ll have to master (or at least try) the intricacies of scripting languages, learn to build web apps the hard way and network your way into job opportunities.

as we all did, you will have to decide whether you’d like to work as a freelancer, a startup employee or a developer at a company.

here go a few tips and words of advice that might make your path a bit easier and hopefully a bit shorter.

go open source

put in some time on open-source projects. the hands-on experience will challenge you, educate you and help you build your body of work.

aside from code for just coding, this is a good way to meet other devs and do some networking. you’ll be able to work with people who are much more skilled and experienced than you are yet: be a sponge.

sourceforge and github and good places to start. follow blogs around the web and see what projects might need a few extra hands.

when working on open source apps, not only will you get great practice and be able to learn from some really excellent devs: you’ll also be giving back to the community.

“fish where the fish are”

if you want to meet, influence or “catch” a particular group of people, you have to be seen and heard in the places (real or digital) where they are.

hacking news sources like this or this can be great resources, getting advice and learning about the ecosystem.

github’s gistforrstusethesource and codesnipp.it are places where you can see and post code samples. be open to critique and don’t be a show off. lurk a bit until you’re ready to post your most attention-catching hacks, as this place is intended to be a repository for exceptional code.

other sites to check out include sourceforge, stack overflow and google code.

network, network, network!

locate a few like-minded, highly skilled professional web devs: they will be able to guide you in your career as you deepen your skill set.

join a few facebook groups and check out developer-oriented twitter lists you follow and respect. then go back to tip 1 and see how you can offer your time and skills to any open source projects those people might be involved in.

the golden rules of networking still apply: give as much as you’d like to receive  and be a good resource and connector for others.

show your code

once you generating great functional code, you’re going to want to show it off. after all, github is the new “résumé”.

use github or sourceforge, release your code into the world. be sure to blog about any clever hacks or efficient new ways of doing things. make sure your code samples are good in architecture, documentation and versatility.

showing others your code is equal parts giving back and self-promotion. it’s a win-win scenario.

market yourself

you’ll need to learn how to gracefully and effectively promote yourself as a web applications developer.

you’ll want to put the full force of your coding skills into building an elegant website, as in the intersection of simplicity and functionality, in form and function.

create a good portfolio that shows a a variety of projects. your apps could be entirely open-source. make sure this experience is attractively highlighted on your résumé, along with any languages or frameworks you know and your proficiency in each.

once you have a great website that showcases your skills, make your email signature and online profiles link to it and show your twitter and facebook friends when you add a new item to your portfolio or update a section of your website.

bonus: tiny things mean a lot

  • be a great developer with communication skills.
  • always comment your code.
  • be as good at reading code as you are at writing it.
  • learn about design, ux/ui, business and web economics.
  • if you don’t get a job, ask why and what you can do to improve.
  • make sure your code is built with scalability in mind.
  • commit to perpetual self-education.
  • don’t give up!
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