How I became a web developer

TL;DR I used LinkedIn Learning pathways to learn enough web development to start an unpaid internship. I worked there until I had enough skills to justify being paid.

Photo by Spencer Davis on Unsplash

In early 2015, I was working overnight shifts at a substance abuse recovery center―something between inpatient treatment and a halfway house. I was connected to the position by an old colleague from a foster care emergency youth shelter, where I had been a support worker and volunteer mentor. These 12-hour shifts included transporting clients, ensuring access to prescribed medication, collecting samples for urinalysis, and monitoring client activity throughout the night―as well as calling the police upon a breach or desertion. I usually worked between 48 and 72 hours per week, but quickly realized that no matter the effort, I had no path for career advancement. Even more disquieting: I had no trade or skill that merited it.

Already facing student debt, I considered careers which didn’t require further formal education: programmer and auto mechanic. At least, those are the two which came to mind. I already had an interest in web development, so I researched resources to learn. Hours into my overnight shifts, roughly around 1:30 AM, clients at the facility were usually asleep and the bulk of my responsibilities complete. Besides personnel checks of the dorms every 45 minutes, I was mostly left to my own devices. Instead of watching Netflix, I used Codecademy to practice HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

The more I learned, the more questions I learned to ask. I sought ways to supercharge my progress. I took meticulous notes on the 10+ hour vlog of a student’s experience at Hack Reactor to determine if it would be worth taking on more debt, but his conclusion was to first self-teach using online resources while building projects which you can demonstrate to employers. So that’s what I did. I created a GitHub profile and followed web development pathways on Lynda.com. I networked in the community with Meetup, and eventually landed an interview for a local web development marketing firm. But it wasn’t enough. The owner told me I didn’t have enough skills to be worth hiring… but I could work as an unpaid intern. The trouble was, I needed a source of income. So, we decided on a 2-day per week schedule. Concurrently, I secured a part-time role as a shop hand for an aluminum fabricator for the remaining days. When I wasn’t working, I was studying.

Work, sweat, study, eat, sleep, repeat. Months went by before I had skills strong enough to merit hiring, but eventually, I made it. $12.50/hour seemed low for the industry, but I didn’t have much leverage for negotiation. It was the most I’d ever been paid, and I was grateful. I left the workshop and became a full-time web developer. It wasn’t a glamorous pathway — it lacked the marketing budget of a coding bootcamp — but it worked. As well, it laid the foundation for my career.

An unpaid internship isn’t a reality for many. It may mean you need to study on your own longer and publish more projects to GitHub before you’ll be hired, but it’s possible.

Years later, I still have faint scars on my hands from work at the fabrication shop and elsewhere. Seeing them as I code reminds me of the journey.

Interested in what sparked my interested in a web development career? Read it here.

--

--

--

AI Researcher

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Streaming pipelines with Scala and Kafka on Google Cloud Platform

Introduction Of My Daxer Project First Launch On Elrond Blockchain🎉

Django Subdomains to do advanced things

How to Read and Write Google Sheets Data Using Python

Spring boot with Mongo DB easy setup

Getting started with Tatum in Postman

Comfort Code: phase 4 of a coding bootcamp

Using WSL 2 to run Linux GUI applications in Windows 10 with a shortcut

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Johann Lilly

Johann Lilly

AI Researcher

More from Medium

Algorithms That Every Developer Should Learn

Starting a Coding Boot Camp

Day 3 Of Coding Every Day Until I Get A Job In Tech (i know I'm a day late)

Starting my WebDev Journey