Changing careers isn’t easy. Moving from one industry to another (especially into the tech field) can seem daunting at best and impossible at worst. It is not, however. I am proof of that. I transitioned from the music education field to Web development rather quickly by engaging in a few key activities: immersing myself completely within it, following and learning from leaders and blogs and not being lazy.
In my opinion, the best way to learn anything is by completely jumping in over your head and becoming completely engrossed in it. This is especially true with anything development or technology-related. There is such a massive conglomeration of information out there that it is impossible to fully ingest it all. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the attempt. Read, read, read, and then read some more. Find and complete tutorials. Search for blogs. Watch YouTube videos and tutorials. Never stop looking for things that will increase your knowledge base and show you what you need to know to carve out a foot-hold in your new career.
Industry leaders and blogs
It may sound cliché these days, but social media is your friend. Find people, organizations, groups and blogs that cater to your particular interests and follow them. Become active in their respective social media feeds. I have found it much easier to learn in a collaborative setting interacting with others than sitting forever alone with only a book to guide me. Finding those more experienced and smarter than you who are willing to share that knowledge and experience is paramount to really bettering yourself.
A few people and blogs that I found invaluable during my journey include:
Paul Irish, Paul on Google+: Paul is a member of the Google Chrome developer relations team and is a huge proponent of HTML5 and jQuery. He is very much a “cutting-edge” guy and is always informing his followers of the latest developments in both HTML5 and the Chrome Developer tools.
Sitepoint blog: A great resource for articles about all things Web development. This site features articles and tutorials for front-end developers, software developers and even those looking to go into business for themselves as a freelance developer.
Don’t be lazy!
Don’t use Dreamweaver, seriously. It’s a great tool, but too many beginning developers use the “Design” mode to layout a website and think they’re done. You have to learn how to code HTML by hand to truly move into the Web development field. There is a dichotomy that exists between those that drag-and-drop with Dreamweaver and those that understand HTML and the structure of a website’s layout. Don’t be lazy. Learn HTML and CSS and how to use them to manipulate a site to display what you want/need it to.
These are merely my suggestions for anyone wanting to break into the Web development field. These are what worked for me. If you have any other suggestions for resources or methods that helped you become a developer, please let me know in the comments below. Good luck out there, I know it’s hard but just remember: it’s not impossible.