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General Discussion

tarkonis
tarkonis
1,036 Points

Completed the HTML CSS Courses in the Front End Track.. What now? (Asking for advice)

Hi everyone.

First of all, apologies if this comes off as a cry for help, I just need some advice or to relate to people who have had a similar experience to mine.

Background to question:

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I hold an undergraduate and postgraduate degree in CompSci, which are sufficiently generalised enough to not be of much help to me at the moment getting jobs in my area. I need more specialist skills. So here i am.

I trained to be a cisco network engineer and got my CCENT but the jobs in my area are not forthcoming, I have a family and most of the jobs are in the field or much more senior.

After a continued search I find that there are a GLUT of developer jobs in my area, so I have had some experience with programming in the past, I have come here to try and learn more.

********>

I completed the HTML and CSS parts of the Front End Track, and was then told by Gil to go and do a personal project. So I had a search online for some existing designs I liked and tried to retrofit them to learn more about CSS.

I reworked this website: http://jonchretien.com/

In my workspace: http://port-80-hv4e0ut19q.treehouse-app.com/

Using the chrome dev tools.

So now I'm looking for inspiration to carry on. I don't have any ideas. I don't want to go copying other web templates to be honest I want to carry on in a more creative way. I feel I need to learn more about CSS and HTML before I go into front end topics like Javascript. Does this mean maybe im not interested in being a developer if im struggling to find the impetus to re-create another template?

I have fun when im fixing problems, for example I couldn't get a certain part of the layout on my workspace to work, I think it was the three by three grid of pictures. I eventually figured it out and felt good about myself.

What am I asking here? Apologies for my ramblings.

I'm basically asking, what should I be doing now? Should I watch more videos? Should I carry on with the templates? Are there any zero to hero stories from you guys where you are in a similar boat to mine and have found a new career in development?

Thanks for any help and advice you can give. :(

3 Answers

Ryan Hemrick
Ryan Hemrick
12,759 Points

Hello David,

This may not be the most helpful advice for your current situation, however, it may help a little bit!

I'm currently an undergraduate student at University in a major that really doesn't interest me. I have no intentions to get a job specifically resulting from obtaining this degree. My interests and passions lie in web development and design. It is frustrating that I found this passion so late into my education, but maybe I never would of found my passion for the web unless I experienced what I don't want to do.

I think I'm rambling as well now...

Back to your question, I would recommend doing as many personal projects as you can. Whether they are for yourself to build up your portfolio or for clients (which is also critical for a great portfolio). Showing that you can apply what you learn here is more important than just completing the courses and earning points.

The first few months here I was afraid to attempt anything outside of the code challenges and quizzes because I didn't think I was ready to do any major projects for myself or others. So I've decided to focus all of my energies on project based learning and am currently working on my first real project for a client. It is daunting because I don't feel as able as many other developers currently out there, but the rush of doing a project for a client is awesome! Even though it's a lot of mistakes and failures, I'm learning more through applying the knowledge from Treehouse then I would sitting in a University classroom.

Rambling again...

The finish up, I would tell you reach out to personal contacts and people in your local community to see if anyone would want a website. This is a great way to get your foot in the door and build up that portfolio. If you are having trouble finding clients, think of a problem you want to solve and built a project to fix it. People will notice the good work that you do and begin working with you!

The How To Freelance course on Treehouse has a lot of great takeaways that aren't just relevant to Freelancers.

Hope this helps!

tarkonis
tarkonis
1,036 Points

Hi Ryan,

Thanks for your reply, it was definitely helpful. You're right about not feeling ready to commit to a project. How far along are you in your studies? Do you think I should just try and finish the front end track to at least get some exposure before jumping in?

I think my problem lies with that fact that i'm still not sure if Web Development is my passion. Props to you for discovering that you love it. But i'm still unsure. I know I like Problem solving and analysing complex things in an attempt to break them down and solve them. Like a puzzle. Which I think is why I was drawn to Networking, because it is a giant puzzle when it goes wrong.

Anyway, not to digress, I didn't realise I liked networking, until i understood what Networking was. This was when I started to get some skill in it. Therefore, I a hoping as I get more skilled at web development, I will realise I have a passion for it. If that makes any sense.

Ryan Hemrick
Ryan Hemrick
12,759 Points

David,

I would recommend finishing the front end track before you start working with a client. I worked through most of the front end track and then I started doing other courses that were related to front end development but were not a part of the track.

As for how far along in my studies I am, I am a Junior. But I've only been doing web development for about 6 months now. I've learned more on Treehouse in 6 (active) months than in 3 years of University.

I wouldn't wait until you finish the track to start your own personal projects however. Build that portfolio from the start. Finishing the track will help you see if web design/development is your passion, which is probably the most important part of being successful at what you do. After completing the track it also helps you assess how much work a certain project will actually take.

Ryan

Hi David,

I found myself in a very similar situation a number of months ago upon completing my first few courses on treehouse, How to make a website and css foundations.

It was a big gulp of air for me when I realised "what do I do next" "were do I star" and the likes, seeing all these well designed large sites on the web was intimidating to me.

The more you read and become involved on treehouse you will see that web design and development is a life full of learning and experimenting. I flapped around for day confused on what to do, so I set up a local server on my pc and made a fake website for a florist and showed family and friends... that then went on to a butchers and plumbers ... I carried on with more courses at the same time developing my skills and experimenting with newly learned techniques and skills.

I now find myself six months later polishing of my own brand and will look to start designing websites for small business hopefully from the begging of march.

My biggest tip to anyone and this is simply my opinion and that would be to read as much as you can and don't punch above your weight. It was easy for me to get ahead of myself when really the basics hadn't stuck that well as much as I thought they had.

Before my rambling becomes annoying I would recommend creating a fully functioning website that works well on all browsers and devices for a made up company and get a few peoples feedback and the learning will come hand in hand with the process.

Hope this is helpful!

Craig

tarkonis
tarkonis
1,036 Points

Hi Craig,

Thanks for your reply, I see a theme developing here, if you'll excuse the pun, practice is king.

So my question to you is, at what point did you start your projects? Did you stop the learning process on Treehouse after CSS or did you carry the two on in tandem?

I could conceivably just make a website about my hobbies etc, while still learning on Treehouse, attempting to apply new principles to my blog as and when I learn them.

Is this the approach you took?

A pun always lightens the mood.. :)

Were your at is most certainly a place with many paths but all a great learning curve and a continual learning curve at that, the beauty of it is that when you learn something new you can open a file and put into practice what you have just learned.

Something that was hard for me was the blank slate .. WOW that was confusing and intimidating. I dived straight into code ..BIG mistake I didn't really plan the site. After a few days of playing around I decided to search the web and take screenshots of sights I liked.

Using these I developed my wire frame and got my basic layout down as I wanted it. Seriously once the basic layout is done everything starts to unfold but planning is key here or you will get frustrated with over laid floats massive images and wrapping text.

I think if you create a site based on your hobbies it will help to find the passion for the design and possibly bring out more creativity making you want to learn as you have new ideas and concepts for you site. Probably keep the site local saving any hosting and file transfers to or make it on workspaces for its fast previews.

Maybe take one of the quick courses like design foundations its really helpful to give you starting points.

I am only now starting to learn jQuery and JavaScript to add some cool interactivity to my site.

My approach now consists of a small group of local sites I use to experiment and develop as well as my workspaces and courses from treehouse.

The forum is always here id you get stuck with anything even on your hobbies site!

Hopefully this helps a little...

Craig

Alan Bares
Alan Bares
2,312 Points

Glad to see I'm not the only one confused on how to start a project from scratch. Right now I'm doing the front end web dev course and I'm on css basics. I'm planning on starting a personal project right after I finish the course. Since for the most part I understand basic html and getting it to show up on a page. I just don't have a clue on how to put it all together and make it look like a functioning website with css.

I'm hoping that finishing css basics will help me in that regard. I'm about to start understanding values and units and so far it's starting to make sense as to how to make a website look a certain way.

Hi Alan,

One thing I did and still do very regularly is create certain aspects of websites exploring functionality..

My example would be a navigation, a navigation can range from a list with simple links to a fully responsive jQuery and JavaScript enhanced element used to manipulate, traverse and adapt your site to your users interaction.

Just the task of practicing on something small will allow you to understand in depth what a nav is capable of and how you can design and enhance them.

Just a thought...

Craig

Alan Bares
Alan Bares
2,312 Points

Ahh that makes sense. So rather than attempt to build everything at once I should start with 1 part of a site? And like you start with something small like a nav.

But yeah I was freaking out about not having a clue about how start a project and I even posted a thread about it here last week. I was told to try expanding and customizing a framework but that just confused me even more. Doing css basics though and reading about other's experiences as calmed me down. Now starting a project does not seem as daunting as it once was.

Also thanks for the help, right now I plan on building a theme park site for my friend and he already has the domain. For me it'l just be a rough draft and I figure I'll work with him to simulate how to work with an actual client as well. Goal is to actually get enough experience so I can build it properly 1 day and then make it live.

Yes that's what I like to do, rather than what feels like a huge task, just tackling the nav or the header on its own and perfecting it stops me being intimidated by large projects.

In my opinion frameworks require a reasonable amount of coding knowledge, also understanding loading time on sites is vital because because you could easily have far to much code than what is needed if you don't understand the framework fully.

It is a daunting situation I always wonder if I actually have enough knowledge to undertake a clients website, but I was doing a little reading of a few blogs and one basically explained that great use of resources you use, will pay dividends in the long term. So from this I organised some common bookmarks in chrome, signed up for Codepen, take a look at some of the daft things I try to do ....., and most importantly for me made myself familiar and comfortable with MDN Docs.

I hope this is helpful I as was in your situation and still battle a lack of confidence but reading and practice really do help a lot.

Craig

Alan Bares
Alan Bares
2,312 Points

I know the response is late but I finally finished css basics. Now I feel like I'm ready to start my first site for practice. I just drew a wireframe so I have an idea of how I want the site to look. I'm starting piece by starting and I have a placeholder image for now that links to the home page of the site.

I looked through your codepen and saw the nav menu that looks like the type of menu I want to make. I've been using my google fu in an attempt to get the menu looking just right before moving onto the rest of the page but damn it has been confusing lol.