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A Tale of An Aspiring Web Dev

Joshua Allen
・5 min read

Setting the Stage

Hi everyone,

I'm new to this site and thought maybe it was worthwhile to give some insight into what it's like to be a truly self-directed aspiring web developer. I'm 28 as of March, 2021. For the last 10 years I've been in an industry I loved and hated; Food & Beverage. In regards to the front of house, I've done it all. I greatly enjoyed it and got into management and event directing. Working with the public can be a trying thing, but the positive experiences far outweighed the negative. Then, of course, COVID hit and I went on a furlough. Myself, being painfully naïve, was looking forward to the nice down time. Things had gotten difficult at work with my director on leave and the mini-vacation was set to be just that. 2 weeks went by, and then a month. Then two months. I started to worry a bit but hindsight into May of 2020 looked like COVID was going to be around for a LONG time. I had unemployment and I was feeling alright.

Then, Las Vegas, like most places, found a way to adapt. Of course myself and my 2nd-in-command are called in to look into SOPs and try to navigate a post-Covid rocked world in F&B. Personally, I was somewhat preoccupied at that particular time. My long-time girlfriend was going through medical struggles and at that moment was going to be getting surgery and was going to need a lot of help at home. Even under normal circumstances I would have probably taken a week or two (if I could get it) to assist her in healing. Unfortunately, due to the downturn in business, only one of the managers could stay on so I differed to my Lead Server and that's the story of how I lost my job.

Now What...?

Information of whether or not I still had a job was very spotty. Things got better, then worse, then MUCH worse and I was in a limbo for literal months. Mentally, I took it in stride. I knew I was good at what I did and that eventually things would get better and I'd either go back to work or find new work. Around October of 2020 I started to think of what would happen if things went REAL bad and how I would make my way in this new pandemic world. I had always wanted to find a job that I could do from home or on the move. I've always had dreams of travelling, and the flexibility of a remote job seemed like the dream. By mid-October the novelty of essentially "playing hooky" had completely worn off. The days were very repetitive and all of life seemed to lose the shine. I felt like I was waiting for nothing. Literally anticipating a change that I knew would never come. It was dark and not fun at all. So, I had to find the spark to bring that light back. While watching some Youtube videos I started seeing people who learned to code in their off time to great success.

This will work, right?

So, I got courses from Udemy and I grinded. I lived and breathed code, and continue to. I actually started with a pre-programming course that helped me get into the right mindset and helped me understand how computers and the internet work. From there, I took a small Python course to get my feet wet. That course introduced me to Scratch and IDEs. Then, I did a ton of research on coding jobs and what they entailed and required. From what I found, it appeared as long as I can SHOW people I can code, I have a shot.

I had a mindset to take a portfolio-driven approach, and maybe I can get a web dev job somewhere. I started a web development course and really immersed myself. I got through a good amount of the course pretty quickly. I had some experience in HTML and CSS concepts due to my time with MySpace (lol). Javascript was -and still is- a grind. I am hopeful though. I built a nice little app that utilizes all the things you would need to build a website, using REACT, PostgreSQL, and Node.

As I pressed on, while brainstorming app ideas; I thought of making a deck builder for a card game. It was something I had an interest in and I could think of anything available. After searching, of course it had already been done. However, they were looking for an intern. I had 1 project, I've self coded for all of 4-5 months and I had no confidence in my ability to actually do this. Everything I read and ingested from the dev media said to take your shot when you could though. So I did. It seemed almost perfect. It's a laid back little website and it was coded in the exact things I knew how to use. If there was ever a shot, this was the one to take.

About that...

I actually got an interview. Exciting, right? Holy panic. I took my shot and now I had to make the preparations to make sure it wasn't an air ball. I grinded interview questions. The email that was sent to me was very clear that it was going to be a short little interview and there was going to be an easy technical question and that it should take only about 30 minutes. Awesome. I can do that.

I was actually doing very well on these interview questions on Codewars and the like. Then the day of a small hint of dread struck me when I considered the idea of him maybe wanting me to actually build something. It would make sense, right? Why would a small website care if you could do the "Two Sum" problem? I'd been focused on Node and Javascript for a long time and I hadn't touched HTML or CSS in literal months because of the REACT app I had built.

To tell you the amount of fear I was experiencing would be impossible. There was some serenity in it, however. I knew I wasn't overselling myself. I knew I could do what I could do. What more can you ask? If I'm not ready, I'm not ready. However, I would be an idiot to not take a chance...


The interview itself is worth an entire post itself and I'll post that next week. Thank you for reading! I hope I can make someone know that in their fear and anxiety of the unknown, they're not alone. Until next time...

  • Josh

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