My Path to Becoming a Full Stack Developer
Within this post I will be giving a chronological account of the articles, videos, books, and projects that I used on my path to getting a job as a web developer.
The way this will be structured is I will section off each month, which will contain the various links to the material that I covered, as well as my personal review of what I felt worked out, what I would do differently, etc.
In addition to the summaries here, I write a more detailed (and more disorganized) breakdown every couple of days on my Dev Diary - “My Journey”
I’ve done it! I got a job. I was offered two jobs, and accepted one at IBM Design studio starting in Sept. I also have been freelancing for a decent rate which is keeping me going in the meantime.
It’s funny, because in January I had written down that my goal was to have a job offer by the end of June and…what do you know? Good estimate huh?
I had a bit of stress/burnout this month so I wasn’t SUPER intense like the previous 6 months. I mostly enjoyed myself, finally watched some TV shows, and spent time with friends. Overall, I was okay with this because I was contacted early on about the job opportunities and interviews which I had a feeling I would do well in.
This is going to be the last post for this series. I may start another ‘recap’ type for my next goal once I decide what that is lol. Overall, I’m happy with the results. I worked hard as fuck for 6 months, and avoided the costs of a bootcamp / college and got an amazing job offer. I learned a lot, and actually had a lot of fun!
I believe I may actually be interested in continuing the habit of really deep focus on learning, because looking back I have no regrets about not playing lots of video games, watching TV, and lazing around all day like I have done all my life. I’m ready to start a new journey of success going forward from this year.
Hopefully someone finds this little log and is inspired. Feel free to message me if you have any questions!
May has been interesting for me, and as for learning web development I put a lot of focus on learning more design / UX related things. I made quite a few strides with improvement my website look and feel as well as making it fully responsive.
I also quit my job and focused 100% on programming this month, and was able to pick up some freelance. I’m working on some projects for Josh Owens of Meteor Club, and after doing a talk at a local meetup I met a guy who had some front end work he wanted help with.
I still haven’t gotten a job, which is scary as hell but I feel 250% confident I can do just about anything from the knowledge I have gained so far these past 6 months of hardcore learning. I’ll continue putting out job apps and improving my portfolio / resume going foward, and cross my fingers that I can finally get hired.
The interesting thing about this month, was that I themed it around “Discipline” and so I created all of these strict habits to stick to including insanity workouts and meditations in the morning. Overall this was a great success and I am extremely excited to continue adding / tweaking these daily habits. Going into June I have some great ideas to ramp this up.
- Hack Design 1-7
- Material Design (I read through the entire spec)
- Responsive Web Design
- Mastering Meteor Workshop
Apparently I forgot to write my recap here last month, so I am writing from what I can remember now and what I’ve written over at the 'My Journey’ blog (at the end of May).
This month was spent really sharpening my skills with Meteor while building out a personal finance app. I also got more involved with communities and began to focus more on myself in terms of meditating, health and sleep, and preventing burnout.
I also began to spend a bit more time on content creation for my blog, and began to remember how good it feels to get feedback on things I create.
Things got interesting in March. Along with applying for many positions, I was introduced to the world of Meteor on the 11th. After spending the entire next week reading an entire book, going through the docs, and creating 4 different toy apps, I was completely sold.
In addition to that switch, I began getting a bit exhausted from my long hours of coding nonstop with no breaks (I honestly haven’t taken a single break AT LEAST since the beginning of Feb). During week 4, I took a forced 'vacation’ where I wasn’t allowed to do programming or learning based on it.
I spent time reflecting, planning, and just relaxing as well as a bit of playing around with Memorization and speed reading. Overall, I am super hyped up and ready to get back into building a capstone project in Meteor with much renewed focus. I realized that I need more balance, AND I have to limit the amount of time I allow myself to work.
Going forward, I’ll be only allowed to do the heavy coding work in the first 4 hours of the morning, and only during 4 days of the week. 2 days will be spent doing creative work such as blogging and creating Youtube videos, and the final day is a free day to do what I want or side projects (as long as it isn’t related to the other stuff I’m doing in the week).
This limit should help me dramatically to focus on the 20% of the tasks that gain 80% of the results, while also not letting me burn out.
The other great wins for this month, were that I joined some great communities such as Meteor club, a couple of Facebook groups, a book study, and some Slack chats. Overall I’m trying to meet as many people as possible and I already feel like it’s paying off huge in the connections I’m making.
This month was another big change. I was developing on Linux with my PC, but I was able to find someone to buy my entire gaming PC and all of my Youtube equipment for 1600 bucks. I invested the other 400 into buying the new Macbook Pro. I lost about a week of time in shipping and getting set up, but I also switched from Sublime Text over to pure Tmux and Vim (SO GLAD)
At this point, I realized I needed to shift my focus into trying to do high value tasks which would help me get a job. For now, I figured that would involve building my own personal site to begin blogging!
I joined Upcase this month, as I felt that I was lacking in knowledge with several things, such as overall design and Sass. I definitely don’t want to focus on being a designer or front end dev, but it is nice to be able to at least function in that environment, so that is where most of my focus went while building up my personal site (which you are now on).
I was a bit worried about spending so much time learning design, however I am happy I took the time. Even though it won’t be my focus going forward, I now have the base to get any basic stuff done and I am looking at webpages differently. I actually think about every element, how it appears, and what method it was built with behind the scenes.
I did my first talk at a local Ruby Meetup about “Level up your workflow with Vim and Tmux.” It went really well and everyone seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. I look forward to doing more live talks in the future, and was asked to give a talk by one of the bigger meetup organizers.
I didn’t spend as much time reading books, and instead watched more videos and focused on actually doing work. My list of books to read keeps growing however, and so I’ll probably devote more time to it going forward.
I hit a lot of road blocks this month. I got sick which knocked out about a week of learning. In addition to that, I began to build up a massive list of resources and my focus began to drop quite a lot.
One of the big hurdles and reasons I fell behind is that I bit off a HUGE chunk when I started the “final project” for TOP Rails section. I tried to cram in learning RSpec testing, Foundation CSS framework, and Devise Omniauth. I ran into a lot of road blocks that took several hours for a single feature or line of code.
Overall I got a lot of the harder backend stuff, and some Ajax completed, but decided to put off polishing up the project until I learned more about how to do the front end side of things.
- So Good They Can’t Ignore You
- Soft Skills: The software developer’s life manual
- Pomodoro Technique Illustrated
- The Ruby on Rails Tutorial by Michael Hartl
- Practical Object Oriented Design in Ruby - An Agile Primer by Sandi Metz
This month is where I really hit my biggest win, which was discovering The Odin Project curriculum. Prior to this, I had NO idea where to go with my learning, and was discouraged at my lack of money to put towards joining a boot camp.
My learning history for this month wasn’t kept perfectly, but I do have a Trello board that I began around this time. I spent the last two weeks of the month focused primarily on The Odin Project’s Web Dev 101, Ruby, and Rails sections. Check out the Trello board progress for a nice breakdown of tasks I completed.
I began the “My Journey” dev blog towards the end of November. It took a bit for me to choose a technology and set of resources to focus on, but I got rolling about a week into December.
I just got my interested peaked in programming again, after wanting to help my sister with her programming homework. I decided to do all of her homework assignments along with her, as well as read a couple of Java books.
I also got introduced to Python this month, and played around with building some simple game stuff in it.