As a web developer, you never stop learning. There are always new languages and competencies to be mastered. HyperionDev alumnus, Connor Gladwin, shares experiences and learnings from his own journey in web development, as well as his thoughts on why continuous learning is not only important, but necessary.
Starting out in web development
The world of web development is a sprawling landscape with peaks and valleys, with a multitude of solutions to any given scenario. My first foray in this landscape was creating my own personal website so that I could promote myself.
Once I had learned basic HTML & CSS, and created my website, I decided to start making a few personal projects as a way to really get some hands-on experience in the web dev world. This was an easy task, as creating and styling basic HTML is fairly, well, basic. I wasn’t content with just ‘basic’, however: I wanted to push myself, and because I love writing, I wanted to add a personal blog to my website. I began my research, learning that I would need both Next.js and a database. This is a common thread when growing as a dev, the constant need for learning and innovation in the development cycle: with every project that I’ve begun, I have had to learn something new.
Web development and the key to continuous learning
Learning is, and will always be, a key part of development, no matter what your specialty is. Continuous learning is not just learning something new, it could be relearning something you’re familiar with, but are not ultimately comfortable with, or learning a more efficient way to complete a task in your daily work. And none of this really involves you having to sit down and learn: when looking for a solution to a problem that has you stumped you can pick up new skills almost through osmosis , though it will take a measure of internalizing what you have just learned, for the next time you encounter a similar problem. Learning in this way you’re both improving your hard skills, as well as the way in which you solve problems.
One of the driving forces of gaining new skills is keeping up with the job market. This can be a significant challenge for people who are recently joining the tech industry, as many tech companies try to stay on the cutting edge of new tech, keeping up with the latest tools, techniques, and trends (and in some cases even going as far as to start them).
My advice would be to become a master of one (or a handful or related ones), rather than passably versed in a thousand different technologies. With the many different tech stacks becoming mainstays in the greater tech world (ie. JamStack, MERN it’s fairly easy to find one that interests you, and that you can jump right into learning about, and there is a wealth of platforms and resources at your disposal, both free and paid-for.
How to learn new tricks, tools, and tech stacks
What are your best options for learning new skills, development tools, or tech stacks? As I’ve said, there are a myriad places to learn and improve, but not all are created equal. Your broader options are places like YouTube, which have countless video tutorials teaching every skill you could possibly think of.
Then there are paid video courses like Coursera, though I do understand the hesitancy in paying for a course up-front without knowing what you’re getting from it. A great alternative is platforms like Scrimba, which offer a lot of free content by real developers from all avenues of web development.
Though there are all these methods to keep improving yourself, more important than the learning platform or method is, I believe, the drive to learn itself. This motivation to learn can wane, making it difficult to log on to a learning platform and finish a module. In my opinion, the best way to combat that, is to find like-minded people in the larger community and get involved. Twitter, Reddit, and sites like Dev.to and Stack Overflow have great communities where you can learn, and lean on others to stay motivated and optimistic.
As I’ve said before, continuous learning, upskilling and improvement is key to being the best dev you can be. I hope you find this helpful on that journey.
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