In an ideal world, your first-choice career path would be all you’d ever need. You might have spent your childhood trying things out to uncover potential passions, knowing that whatever grabbed your attention would make a viable choice. Want to be a juggler? Go for it. Discover an aptitude for crosswords? Monetize it. Everyone would be able to dedicate their lives to their dream job.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an ideal world. While our ability to monetize unconventional professions has improved dramatically in recent years due to the rise of services such as Patreon, it’s harder than ever before to find a stable career path. Even the most practical choices can result in difficulties as old industries fail and new ones replace them.
The net result of this is a massive rise in the number of people looking to retrain in new fields. Some have already lost their jobs due to the blight of COVID-19, while others still have jobs but see the writing on the wall — and then, contributing enormous frustration; there are those barely out of formal education who suddenly know no way of bringing their hard-earned skills to bear.
Your best option may be to retrain completely, whatever your circumstances are. The smart choice is opting for web development. It’s one of the few careers that’s all but guaranteed to remain viable for many years to come, and it’s been essential during the pandemic. In this post, we’re going to set out some tips for getting started in web development. Let’s begin.
Table of Contents:
Identify any overlap with your existing training
Unless you’re pivoting from a career that’s radically different in every possible way, there’s going to be some overlap between the two paths. The first thing you should do is figure out where the overlap lies. This will be useful in two ways: firstly, it’ll help you put together a compelling CV for when you’re ready to apply for jobs. Secondly, it’ll make it easier for you to get started.
After all, we learn new things by relating them to old knowledge. Suppose you want to learn to speak a second language. In that case, you figure out how unfamiliar words relate to the words you already know. And if you want to learn the basics of programming, you find links to concepts you’ve already grasped through your previous training. This is particularly true if you’ve studied mathematics or languages since there’s clear relevance in those areas.
Gather whatever financial resources you can
There are plenty of fields that require more financial investment than web development, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need resources to cover your expenses while you retrain. Unless you’re extremely fortunate and have a safety net in place (through a parent or a partner) that means you don’t need to work for food or shelter, you’re going to struggle to handle your monetary obligations while putting all your effort into working on your new career path.
If you’ve been working for some time, you might have some savings, so figure out what you want to protect and what you can spend. If you haven’t been working and you’re in dire financial straits, look to see what kind of help you can get as far as benefits and entitlements go. Your background and circumstances may allow you to claim money to help you on your path.
Military veterans, for instance, are often unaware of the disability benefits they can draw upon, while unemployed people don’t always know how to submit claims. This is where services like VA Claim Pros and CareerOneStop (respectively) become useful, so if you think you might be able to claim some financial support then it’s worth doing some research. And if you can’t, then you can probably find a loan service to get you the money you need to keep going.
Find and join some relevant online communities
The internet is the most significant information resource that has ever existed. You can access a considerable portion of it for free, so there’s no good reason not to. Most useful for beginners are many online communities dedicated to web development, bringing experts and novices together to solve problems and yield solutions.
Reddit is the best place to start since it encompasses diverse communities — or subreddits — that touch upon many different topics. You can find some that cover web development in general or specific web development areas that interest you. Once you’ve joined one or more suitable communities, you can start reading through informative threads or even submit questions to get some guidance from people who’ve been there and done that.
Kick things off with a coding bootcamp
Everything we’ve looked at so far is about getting you warmed up and ready to start your new training path, so here’s how you should take the first step: by attending a coding bootcamp. The entire purpose is to help you make a lot of progress very quickly. From there, you’ll have the foundation you need to pursue whichever area of web development best suits you.