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How I Became A Web Developer

January 22nd, 2016

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    When I read about self improvememnt, they always advise to get a mentor, to have someone to look up to, someone to imitate. In Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki says: ” If you want to be successful, just do what the successful people do”.

    I’m not saying I am such a successful person that everyone should do like me but in terms of career, I can say that I successfully reached my goal of being a web developer as planned a year earlier. In case others are interested to know how I did it, this article is for you. Remember also that if I was able to get a into a new career like this then everybody can do it.

    When I graduated with a B.S in Statistics in June 2012 I thought my plans where all straightened out: I already had setup my company while studying, I was analyzing datasets for car dealer’s only auctions. I wanted to be able to tell which cars where abnormally cheap and where it was expensive. I basically wanted to do arbitrage with cars at car auctions. One day, I got so greedy with data that the company ended up blocking my account because I was slowing down their site (there’s more details to that but I don’t want to elaborate). It was the end of October 2012, I had lost quite a lot of money/time/opportunities and back to square one. I could have chosen to be a regular car dealer, trying to spot deals, marketing cars and all but that really wasn’t what I was interested in.

    Around December 2012, panicked by the new year coming and my bank account going down, I seriously thought about what I wanted to do, what I liked to do and what I could make money with. I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart, I’m the type of guy that’s always asking “how can I make money with that” , I probably get one or two serious business ideas every week. The first serious business idea that I pursued was in 2010 while I just got into UCLA. It was a service company where people with self declared skills can find ads by people in need of a service from getting picked up to getting a guided tour, repainting your house/car/face you name it.  Four months later one competitor launched and got a lot of funding right away, I was still searching for my web developer since I didn’t know anything about websites. Unable to find a web developer, I also realized how much in demand they were but back then I was into statistics and considered it impossible for me to be a web developer.

    Fast forward a two years to my career orientation moment, I thought back about all that. I also had setup a small wordpress website with a paid template when I was a car dealer / data analyst and thought it was actually easy and fun. At that time it made sense, I could create my own company creating websites for small business using wordpress templates. It would satisfy my income need and my entrepreneur desire to have an independent business. Still in December 2013, I was in research mode implying that I was into my idea reading all that I could about people creating websites. Some of my best sources were: Freelanceswitch, which merged with http://hub.tutsplus.com/, reading blogs: http://blog.microlancer.com/ or other articles like this one. I quickly realized that If I wanted to be serious about it, I had to learn a lot of things to catch up with the trends in web development. I decided to start with HTML, CSS, a bit of javascript, some WordPress PHP and photoshop. Yeah, all at once! HTML & CSS were surprisingly easy to learn, I started with tutorials from W3school, that was great for learning the basics but I must warn that there’s a small percentage of wrong information over there but once you get the hang of it you’ll learn the right way to do thing.

    Learning HTML and CSS took me about a month, I did tons of exercises, mostly through Tutsplus, at the same time I was trying to sell websites to small businesses and got a small part time unpaid internship I got on craigslist. From there I learned more and more everyday I was working. I got a few customers and did their websites modifying templates. At my internship I worked on other websites and learned some more. After my internship was over I now had a portfolio and got another job through craigslist again, this time creating websites for U.S Senators. I also had sent my resume to multiple contracting agencies which were sometimes sending me some contract work or sometimes sending me to interviews for full time jobs.

    Thinking back about my background and how I got to where I’m at after school I wouldn’t change anything. I would have actually loved to study computer science back when I was at UCLA but back then my little mind felt like it was an unreachable goal. I think if there’s a lesson to learn is to not think I can’t do it. Putting into my mind that it was possible for me to learn everything I need is what truely helped me get where I’m at. The other advice I would give is to do a lot of exercises, even pro-bono websites if you don’t have a portfolio, and read A LOT! There’s just so much going on you can easily get sidetracked.