How to gain experience as a web developer? Powerful ideas for code newbies
Many times we are being asked, "how can I gain experience in web development?". That's a great question that many web developers who just started their journey have. Nowadays, many companies would want you to have some experience in web development before they hire you. It mostly comes in the form of coding tests and technical interviews during the hiring process.
So we made a list of some creative things you can do that would help you get some practical experience in web development:
Donate a website to a non-profit organization
While it might not be the standard way to gain experience, it can potentially be a very efficient one. Many non-profit organizations are running on a small budget, which doesn't allow them to pay for development services. However, like any other organization, they need one. In some cases, non-profits have an extremely basic website, and in other cases, they might not have one at all. Donating them a website is an excellent way to both gain experience, support a good cause, and signal to potential employers that you are both serious and creative. Another beautiful thing about it is that if they accept your donation, they would be more than willing to support you with content and specs like any other customer.
How can you take it forward?
Think of local non-profit organizations in your local area, check their website (if they even have one), and simply phone them to offer your donation. Some tools to help you search are GreatNonprofits.org, guidestar.org, volunteermatch.org, and more.
Pros: Making the world a better place and being both creative and professional.
Cons: It is a pretty heavy-duty task to take on your shoulders if you only just started coding.
Contribute to open-source projects
Many people wonder what motivates developers to contribute to an open-source project. One simple, understandable reason is that contributing to an open-source project helps you to improve based on real-world experience and proven working solutions. Another reason is that contributing to an open-source project builds your reputation and can leverage your career. Finally, contributing to open-source projects is fun and gives you personal satisfaction. All those reasons are strong enough to convince you already to (at least) try it. The challenge is that it is not as simple as people think. Especially not for developers who work it for the first time. We bring here a few ideas on how you can do your first steps. I hope you'd find them useful.
How can you take it forward?
GitHub hosts a lot of open source projects, but many more are also hosted elsewhere. However, it is easy to get lost, so try to ask friends who are working on some projects. This way, you get some help to know about the project, setting things up faster, and also, they might be able to find some easy bug to work on for beginners. If you don't know anyone who's contributing to open-source projects, keep reading.
Google Summer of Code is also an exciting project you should check out that might help you get started. It is a global program focused on bringing more student developers into open source software development. Students work with an open-source organization on a 3-month programming project during their break from school.
First Timers Only is a fresh initiative to help you get started in open-source contributions. Contributing to open source for the first time can be scary and a little overwhelming. Perhaps you've been coding for a while but haven't found a project you felt comfortable contributing to. Give them a try, and you might be positively surprised.
Pros: Extremely practical experience. Well rewarding. Helps establish your credibility.
Cons: Might be overwhelming. It's easy to get lost without proper guidance.
Start a side project
It might sound trivial at first, but it's not. Starting a side project is not only a great way to gain experience; it is also a great source of inspiration. If you have an idea, there is no better time than now to bring it to life. A side project is by design a SIDE PROJECT, which means you should expect to get any financial return in the beginning. However, it might evolve and become something great on its own. The reason why to start a side project is that it will help you experience many different technologies at your own pace. There will be no boss and no milestones, just you and your computer. You can be intense about it or take it easy; it's your choice. People that run side projects tend to be perceived as professional, self-motivated, and creative. All of which will most likely help you one day.
How can you take it forward?
First things first, find an idea. It is not crucial at this stage to think if it makes sense or not from a business perspective. If you decide to think of an idea yourself, the best advice would be to choose something that bothers you today (hopefully, even every day) and solve it. In many cases, if you have this problem, many others will have it as well.
If you can't think of a problem that bothers you today, then try to think of something that excites you or something that you're passionate about. Then build a product around it to make this passion more accessible to you in your daily life. Can't think of something? Keep reading.
However, we get that it's hard to come up with an idea just by thinking about it. That is why we searched for some tools that might help you get you an idea to start with. One great source for ideas is ycombinator. It is one of the most famous venture capital firms in the world that funded great startups like Airbnb, Dropbox, and many others. They offer to the public a list of startup ideas that change from time to time. Check it out here: ycombinator.com/rfs
Another fantastic place to explore for ideas is Reddit/SideProject. It is an online community for sharing side project ideas. People who think of good ideas simply post it there for devs to develop. Additionally, you can look at what people are building as side projects. They publish it all the time. That is an excellent source of inspiration.
Pros: Unexplainable satisfaction. Gain experience at your own pace.
Cons: Demanding. It might be scary at first. Will require you to let go of some sleeping hours.
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