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The Learner's Conundrum

waqardm profile image Waqar Mohammad ・2 min read

As someone who has been self-learning programming with no CS background, the question of what language I want(ed) to learn was mentally draining. Coupled with the infinite frameworks/libraries one has the option of learning - it can be a tough battle. One that I considered giving up on in the past.

Any aspiring dev will attest to the fact that the first thing after the initial learning is focusing on getting prepared for a job, so the instinct is to look at job sites to help you understand what needs to be learnt to be job ready.

Most developers I have spoken to about what I should learn have always stated something along the lines of 'learn the basic concepts & language - the frameworks aren't as important'.

As a learner and someone who has been going through this cycle recently, I feel there is disparity between what I have been advised to learn, and what recruiters 'focus on'. I know there are jokes about job posts requiring x years of experience, where the language's/framework's age is < x. Yes it's funny as these guys should know right? The problem to a learner however, is that we are probably using the job ads as tools to help us choose what we should focus on.

If a learner is using job ads as a guideline, and in most ads they state they require experience of <insert popular framework here /> - naturally, the learner is inclined to start focusing on that popular framework. Taking the focus off the basic concepts and language.

To experienced devs it is easy to know what to say and do, but to learners it is a new galaxy. So my questions today are:

  • Is there too much focus on frameworks/libraries by recruiters, or is there just the assumption that you are well-versed in the particular language and thus not relevant enough to mention it?

  • If there is too much focus, where does this break down? Most devs would say become an expert on the language. Assuming these devs are the same people that recruit, why the disparity?

  • Or is it just an issue of perception? If it is, then how can we improve things to be more inclusive for newcomers?

Discussion (6)

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Caleb Fong

The other part that is difficult is that so many of these options shift around, seemingly from week to week. Which is why the "first principles" approach is probably best. But it does make going though job listings rough.

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Waqar Mohammad Author

True. Thanks Caleb.

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Ben Lovy

I'm in your boat, not on the expert side, but I've gotta say I've found a lot of truth in language-agnostic learning. There was a point I hit where it felt like there were more similarities than differences among various frameworks, and I could fall back on what I knew about the language and about software in general to fill in conceptual gaps when reading code in an unfamiliar framework or even an unfamiliar language. To cover your bases, learn JavaScript and any modern back-end-ish language and you should be able to adapt to the specific toolset of any job posting that excites you.

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Waqar Mohammad Author

Thank you Ben. Yes that makes sense. For now, I've decided to focus on JS in as much detail as possible and then expand from there. Though, I hope things change in general because it is a minefield for newbie jobseekers and the confusion doesn't help.

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tux0r

Is there too much focus on frameworks/libraries

Yes.

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