It’s that classic conundrum that many jobseekers and career-changers face. Lots of employers want you to have experience, but how do you get experience without a job in web development?
The great news is that developers and software engineers are at a particular advantage here. Because coding has so many applications and there’s so much demand for these skills, there’s a whole host of projects and ways that you can build up your experience.
A lot of these examples will be detailed more in the next section, but for now I’d like to talk about how career-change programs such as CareerFoundry’s Full-Stack Web Development Program are designed to build on this demand and allow you to walk into a professional job after you complete it.
Essentially, the program is designed to give you experience as you go through the program itself. We’ve purposefully chosen subjects and projects which are relevant to areas that are easy to break into as someone who has changed careers into coding.
If you’re fretting about this need for real-world experience when applying for web development roles, remember that as a career-changer you already have real-world experience.
By harnessing that experience from your previous career and combining it with the practical coding skills and projects you’ve worked on, you can develop your own personal brand to impress employers.
Not convinced it’s possible? If you any developers you might know how they got into coding, you’d be surprised how many of them came from surprising backgrounds. CareerFoundry have helped dancers, community managers, and Uber drivers successfully become professional developers.
Fortunately for web developers, there are plenty of ways to put your in-demand skills to good use. Here’s how you can get hands-on with programming before you’re officially hired:
Volunteering is a great way to gain real-world experience and add some interesting projects to your portfolio. Not only will you be gaining valuable experience; you’ll also be giving something back to the community. Win-win!
When you’re trying to establish yourself as a bonafide developer, freelance gigs will help you to build credibility.
Check sites like Upwork and fiverr for ad-hoc projects. It may also be worth approaching smaller local companies to see if they could use your services. This might not be the most lucrative endeavour of your career, but it sends a clear message to employers: you’ve got real-world skills and you’re ready to use them!
Open-source projects consist of publicly available source code that anyone can modify—and they’re great for new coders wondering how to get a job in web development.
As well as putting your skills into practice, open-source projects give you the opportunity to work collaboratively with other developers. You can find a broad range of open-source projects on GitHub.
When it comes to convincing employers that you’re job-ready, it’s all about getting hands-on and putting your skills into action.
Therefore, it’s really important to keep learning and building. The more projects you work on—be they open source, volunteer or freelance—the more you will have to talk about in the interview room.
Keeping up with projects and trying new things out is a great way to improve your coding chops. So get involved!
While gaining as much real-world experience as possible, you also need to come up with a solid job-search strategy.
Web development is an extremely broad field, and there are so many different avenues you can pursue. Before you start browsing for jobs, you need to consider what you’re looking for and use this to streamline your search.
Your job search should be tailored to both your existing skills and your goals for the future.
If you want to focus on frontend development, it makes sense to apply for frontend roles. However, if you have plans to branch out into backend development later on, check for roles that might accommodate this.
At the same time, think about the kind of setting you would most like to work in. Before you start searching, consider the following questions:
Also known as client-side development, these developers focus on what the users interact with on websites. If you’re interested in this path, created an article with all the steps you need to become a frontend developer.
Because a lot of their work is to do with building style elements for webpages and apps, frontend developers commonly find themselves working with UX designers. You can learn more about it in this guide to the UX-web dev relationship.
Otherwise known as server-side development, backend developers work more with the organizing and storing of information in databases.
If you want to learn more about how the two disciplines differ, we’ve illustrated the difference between frontend and backend development using…well…dog treats.
The final piece of the puzzle, these are developers who are expected to be able to carry out front- and backend development. Because of the wide range of expertise required, full-stack developer salaries are often quite a bit higher than their counterparts.
While these terms originally denoted different roles, they are used so interchangeably of late that it’s always worth checking out the rest of the job ad to see what skills and tools they are looking for.
We’ve created a guide to try to untangle web development from software engineering. Generally, engineer positions command a higher salary than developer ones.
Don’t worry, a programmer and a developer are essentially one and the same. However, programming vs coding can sometimes be different, depending on the context.
These are programmers who are skilled in working in Mobile App development, either Apple’s iOS system or the Android system common on the majority of smartphones and tablets.
Ultimately when you’re looking at job ads, it’s important to bear in mind that the meanings behind titles can change depending on country, industry, and company. Because of this, make sure that you examine the job ad itself, to see which technologies they are asking for and tasks the company is expecting. This should give you a better idea.
Besides the internet, opportunity may also be lurking in the offline world too. Don’t be shy about asking your friends or industry contacts if they know of anyone hiring. If you’re yet to build a network, we’ve got more tips on that in section four.
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