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Schalk Neethling
Schalk Neethling

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21 Pieces Of Unsolicited Advice For Junior Web Developers

I have a couple of slots on my calendar that is open for 15-20 minute coffee chats. Every now and again a junior web developer from the Mycelium Network or who follows my work elsewhere will book one of these.

Today was one of those. I enjoy sharing what I know as a means of giving back for the support and opportunities I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy to this day. What I have found though is that these folks more often than not need words of encouragement more than technical help. With that, I wanted to take a moment to write this post and share some of what I shared with Sylvia today.

  1. Learning web development is hard, do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
  2. Yes, you can make good money, but this is not a given and should not be the biggest reason you choose to learn to code. Why? See the bullet point above.
  3. Yes, learning HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is still critical and should be where you start. Just like building a house, one brick stacks on another and you need a solid foundation to hold up the house.
  4. Web standards are sexy. There, I said it.
  5. Learn and test for web accessibility from the day you learn to code. The web is only as impactful as the number of people it can reach and empower.
  6. Yes, you are smart enough to learn to code.
  7. Do you enjoy problem solving? Welcome, you are going to enjoy it here.
  8. More important than learning to code is learning how to collaborate with others. One of the best ways I know to do this is by contributing to open-source.
  9. Is there a benefit to building a todo application? Yes. While it has been done a bazillion times, there is still value in it. The end product is familiar, it is well defined while at the same time presenting challenges you will have to reason through. Gain the maximum benefit by putting your own spin on it, learning and building in public.
  10. Do not ever be afraid to ask for help.
  11. Never stop learning.
  12. Find a supportive and welcoming community or communities who have your best interest in mind and who sparks joy in you.
  13. Yes, bootcamps are hard.
  14. No, not all bootcamps are good, but not all bootcamps are terrible either. Do your research and ask around before committing.
  15. Internships are great! But be careful, be sure you are valued, and be careful about promises that sound to good to be true. Trust, but verify. Ask if you are unsure. Trust your instinct.
  16. No, you do not need a university degree. (I do not have one)
  17. Yes we need you! No matter where you are from or how you choose to represent yourself.
  18. No, Devin is not going to take your job. Yes, learning to code is still a great idea.
  19. Yes, you should learn how to use AI to your benefit. HuggingFace is your friend.
  20. Do you know about the GitHub student developer pack?
  21. Yes, frameworks are great, but choose the one that serves you and the task at hand the best. If possible, try to stay as close to the web platform as possible. Frameworks come and go, but the web platform will always be there to serve as your solid foundation.
  22. (Bonus) As the late, great Robin Williams quoted from the great Walt Whitman in the movie Dead Poet's Society (this entire scene gives me goose bumps every single time), "That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?" - Let me know in the comments what your verse will be. Be creative, it is an essential part of learning to code.

I hope you found at least some of these unsolicited pieces of advice helpful. If not, that is fine too, here are some links you might find helpful. 😉




Contribution opportunities

Not an exhaustive list by any means, let me know if there are projects I should add.


Top comments (4)

anmolbaranwal profile image
Anmol Baranwal

Some awesome resources there!

I loved a few points especially 8, 11, 16.

Never stop learning.

schalkneethling profile image
Schalk Neethling • Edited

Thanks so much!

michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington

Wonderful advice and nice helpful resources too! Appreciate ya sharing this one, Schalk. 🙌

schalkneethling profile image
Schalk Neethling

You are very welcome. I am glad you found value from the post.