1 Year as a Senior Developer

It has been one year since I started working as a Senior Web Developer. Only 4 months before, at the start of 2018, I had been unemployed for 5 months (after teaching for a few years) with no idea of what career I wanted to pursue. In February of that year I stumbled across Andrei’s Zero to Mastery course on the IGN website, where I usually get news about gaming. They had a list of best online courses to learn web development and I decided for $15 dollars it was worth a try. The rest as they say, is history, but I’ll recap it again.

Right away I was engaged with the material and I worked through the course 7 days a week, averaging about 4 hours per day. I’ve always been interested in technology and I had some years of experience in graphic design which I figured would come in handy as a web designer/developer. I worked through the material in about two months, though during that time I also worked on a few other projects, including winning a prize in one of the Zero To Mastery coding challenges. This involved using Watson Speech-to-Text to create a Morse Code Generator.

I think one of the most important aspects of the course, was the ever-expanding community of developers on Slack, and now Discord. This allows anyone to ask questions in different topics and there are always people willing to help out. Personally, I have tried to help give feedback on portfolio websites, just as I received after finishing my own. This was my first step once I finished working on the first course.

My process for making my portfolio website began with me spending a few hours looking at many other portfolio sites that are already out there. There are some truly incredible examples out there, including one that plays like a video. I knew I’d be limited by my skills as a developer, but I wanted to ensure that I made it as well designed as possible and ensured that my mobile responsiveness was well thought out.

I then went on to finish most of Andrei’s second course once I finished my website and I found my job shortly after that. You can read more about that in my first article.

ANNOUNCEMENT: I have recently partnered with Andrei Neagoie to create an awesome VanillaJS Projects course, where I walk through 20 great projects you can use in your portfolio. You can check it out at the Zero to Mastery Academy where you can have access to dozens of courses that will take you from beginner to job-ready developer.

On to the job itself, I was definitely having some feelings of ‘imposter syndrome’ when I first started out, thinking that everyone was smarter and more qualified than me and that I wouldn’t be able to figure out enough of my job fast enough. After about 6 months, these feelings faded away for the most part. I had become comfortable with Visual Studio, Gitkraken (for source control) and Angular which is the front-end framework of choice. I work mostly on the front-end setup of internal web applications, incorporating components from PrimeNG.

Outside of my 9 to 5, in October of last year I decided I wanted to make my own courses for Udemy to combine the knowledge I’ve acquired in my field and using my previous teaching experience to create engaging material. I spent a few months creating my first course, working 10–20 hours per week until January. It was very challenging, a lot of planning, creating a sample project, then re-creating it from scratch while writing the script, then creating it a third time while doing screen capture, then editing it all together. I completed it but wasn’t that thrilled with it so I didn’t promote it at all. However, I gained valuable insight on how to streamline and improve the process and I’ve finished the script for my second course which I feel will be much more successful, I’m hoping to release it in early August.

In the early spring of 2019, I was given a chance to work on a website for Falcon Brewery which was a unique experience. I tried to make a website on desktop that involved no scrolling, while also making a mobile responsive version. I made this a Progressive Web App with the Angular CLI, which allows it to function offline, allowing people to always have access to the menu and beer list. The other unique part of this was that I had to learn how to connect the Firebase hosted project to another domain. This took a few hours and some research, but I managed to figure of this process. If you’re interested, you can check out the website here.

By this time, at my job, I worked on the design of 3 or 4 projects and I’d become more and more confident in my ability to improve the look of projects of all kinds. At the present time, I have worked on around 7 or 8 projects, including most recently being able to start a project from scratch and have full control over the design, as well as integration of PrimeNG and connecting all the components in Angular. I enjoy having the freedom to see a blank canvas and explore the best way to present the required data in a workflow that is intuitive to users.

In early May, our department at work hosted a 24 hour Hackathon event. There were 6 teams, with 1–3 members per team. I had an idea for leveraging HTML 5’s video element and its ability to become a picture-in-picture window ( through Google Chrome ) that can be re-positioned and re-sized at will, as well as remain always on top, even if the browser is minimized. This essentially creates a virtual second screen that can allow you to watch video from a course and take notes easily, or take a video meeting and still being to go through your email to find something. I put some polish into the design (as one of the only designers in the group) and my colleague also hosted a live version that everyone could access. This lead to us winning the Hackathon, which felt really great, given how new and inexperienced I was in comparison to others. You can see a video demo of it in action below.

Next up, in mid-late May I was given the opportunity to work on another website project on the side. This time instead of a brewery, it was an Auto Loan Financing website. This website has more of a traditional business website look. I created it in a similar fashion though, with the Angular CLI and having it as a PWA. This was not something required by the client, but I believe something that added value and was not difficult to incorporate as it was part of my plan from the beginning. This website relied more on Bootstrap, something I hadn’t used much in the last 9 months, but it was easier to use this as the site relied on several carousel components. I had previously been on a kick of writing minimalist code with as little frameworks as possible, but I learned that sometimes it is easier to use them.

In conclusion, since the beginning of 2018, I learned a great deal about the basics of web development from Andrei’s courses on Udemy. I learned at an even faster rate on the job, getting used to new frameworks, technologies, and best practices. I also made it a priority to have side projects for the majority of this past year, in order to leverage the knowledge I’d acquired. I’m looking forward to sharing as much of that as possible with you all soon with the release of my course.

I feel like my year couldn’t have gone much better, I made the most of this time and I look forward to more challenges ahead. It goes to show when you’re really into something that it becomes easier to push yourself harder than you thought possible. For me, there are honestly not enough hours in the day to pursue the things I’m interested in. Being as busy as I am, maybe now it is clear why I haven’t posted more on Medium haha. I hope this is helpful to you, at least showing you what is possible and that you can accomplish your goals with hard work.

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Jacinto Wong

Jacinto Wong

I'm a tech nerd with a passion for design, who creates online courses.