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General Discussion

Kyle Laughlin
Kyle Laughlin
3,502 Points

Recently graduated BSEE thinking about a possible career in web development

I apologize in adavance if this post is too long winded.

So, I graduated a few months ago from a well known UC with an EE degree. After graduating, I had no job lined up and spent a few months travelling abroad. I got back a few weeks ago and I still have no job and I'm just living at my parent's place until something comes along. I've been applying but I still don't feel too passionate about EE and I'm hesitant in making a career out of it. I want to be happy at my first job.

Anyways, with all this free time I decided to casually teach myself some basic html and css with the team treehouse free trial. These casual lessons have turned into days where I spend 14 hours going through the tracks on team treehouse (which is a fantastic way to learn this material btw) and implementing what I have just learned and playing around with it in my editor.

To be honest, I've never had this much fun learning before and I definitely could see myself making web development a career. My short-term plan is to finish up with my html/css lessons and then write my first "real" static website and then from there learn more front end development stuff like javascript, write a more dynamic site, and then move to the back end and try and learn php or rails.

I really like how front end development is technical but stresses "creativity" as well. EE tends to just be soul-destroyingly technical. I've had a couple of EE internships and most of them were too boring for my liking. Because of that, I don't see myself as an EE at all in the long term.

One of my biggest motivations of joining this site was to try and learn some skills so I can try my hand at freelancing. I love the idea of freelancing because I really like to travel and would have very little opportunities to extensively travel at my leisure in a traditional 9-5 EE job.

I've looked at sites like odesk and elance and alot of the gigs I saw didn't seem that difficult because I'm learning these skills and have prior programming experience from taking courses in C/C++, Java, and doing MATLAB in almost every EE course. I had alot of those "ahh!! I bet I can implement that!" moments, which keeps motivating me to learn more on this site..

My short term goal is to keep learning on treehouse and playing around in Sublime Editor 2 and see where it takes me.

My longterm goal is to land a jr dev job, build a network and portfolio, and move into freelancing a few years in.

Question time!!

1) Is my current path of just doing online learning and playing around with code adequate to get a dev job?

2) Is my EE degree useful for my career prospects?

3) I live in Northern California and I am well aware of the tech presence here, what are some good ways to network here? as a total noob? I have some friends that have started their own companies here and know some pretty well respected people.

4) What are some good sample websites to build that will make my future portfolio stand out?

5) I have some programming experience with C/C++ and Java (from a couple CS courses) and have extensive MATLAB experience (from all my EE courses) and seem to be picking up alot of the intro html/CSS concepts fairly quickly. On average, how long will it take a person of my background to become proficient enough to be qualified for a Jr. Dev position if I spend 8 hours/day learning?

Thanks for the replies. Cheers. And Happy coding.

1 Answer

Rodger Voelkel
Rodger Voelkel
21,736 Points

I don't have a BS degree but was trained to work on Electronics to the component level while in the Navy and did it for a number of years in a manufacturing plant. Most of the EE's where I work respect me since I pretty much know as much as they do, just don't have the college degree. Sadly where I work that matters quite a bit. I decided the same as you to take on some courses here and picked up pretty quickly on everything, so your probably going at the right pace IMO. I have now created several applications where i work using PHP and ASP as well as MSSQL and MySQL database connected to them. Everything I have written is still being used in the plant and am I getting more projects every week. I only started getting the work because I was so passionate about it and nobody else was, and I was more creative then most of the other programmers we have. Now I am in league ability wise with the other programmers I work with but again no degree to show for it. So now I am kinda in the same boat you are. Building a portfolio to show and find some work elsewhere, but I am not in a rush to do it.

As for advice for networking thats one thing i can try to answer. The best things i have found are linkedin for one and any social media. Start posting stuff on gethub. Make a youtube channel showing people how you did one thing or another. Join twitter and tweet with others about codeing. And talk on these forums, all forums. Basically the more involved you are the more people will remember you.

Just my two cents.