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General Discussion

What should I focus on here in my area?

When I look around my area I typically see a ton of C# and ASP.Net positions, but also a lot of positions wanting Wordpress knowledge.

When I hear Wordpress, I think of needing to know PHP, but some of those positions are also asking for Node.js and React knowledge.

I’m interested in just getting my foot in the door somewhere but later on I want to expand my knowledge to be a better developer.

I’m not saying I don’t want to learn whatever I have to, but C# seems to be more business oriented (like banks) and that’s not really where I’m headed.

Should I focus on PHP or React, or both? I was under the impression it’s either one or the other, are they typically combined?

1 Answer

You wouldn't happen to live around Philadelphia would you? That sounds very similar to the situation around the city I live in.

I think the most important thing to decide first and foremost is whether you intend on doing more frontend or backend work at first. If you are learning more towards frontend code I would actually say that the most important thing to really nail down first would be semantic HTML and CSS. The core pieces of those are the most critical.

As someone who spends a good deal of my time interviewing and helping to hire people, we turn the most people away because they are weak in those two areas. Whether you are using PHP or JavaScript, at the end of the day you are still creating and interacting with the DOM.

Next I would say that fundamental JS skills are important. Knowing the right terminology, some basic OOP principles (why the prototype for JS is important), and some design patterns can make a huge difference. React is just a JS framework after all, and most of the logic you will write applies to any framework.

If you feel like your skills in these areas are solid then I would say it really depends on what the saturation of your job market looks like. Smaller agencies tend to take whatever they can get which means they need more generalist skills since they aren't working so much on really big projects where a depth of knowledge is critical. Larger agencies typically deal with enterprise clients on longer term projects so a depth of knowledge is increasingly important to work there.

Many WordPress sites are moving towards a "headless" setup where you use React on the frontend and PHP for an API layer. That could be another reason you are seeing that.

To me it sounds like you are just getting started in the field and so most of the roles you are going to be looking at are probably junior level roles or developer roles at smaller agencies. Having this generalized knowledge is really what most of them expect because they tend to have limited resources to train someone on the basics.

As far as specifically what to learn after you have a firm grasp on the fundamentals, it really goes back to what I said earlier about what the job market looks like. If there are a lot of sites heavily pushing for WordPress, then I would honestly say learn WordPress and PHP deeply. After all most of your time is going to be spent doing things like creating custom post types, hooks, maybe some API abstractions, and interacting with the CMS itself. Most of what you'll need to know to get started in a productive manner can be learned in a couple of weeks. WordPress has a lot of decently thought out design patterns which make understanding it fairly straightforward.

Another thing you could do is reach out to those companies and ask them specifically what they are looking for. It sounds silly but where I work, we actually encourage that. Someone who is willing to reach out and ask what kind of tools we use, what we look for in the interview process, etc really shows promise as a developer. It shows that they take what they are doing seriously and aren't afraid to reach out and ask for help.

Hopefully this answers some of your questions and gives you a better path forward. Don't hesitate to reach back out to me and ask any additional questions. I'm more than happy to help!

Thanks! That’s a lot more than I expected to get from this post! I live in the Midwest by the way - for some reason enterprise programmers are in high demand, while on the coasts it’s React/Node everywhere it seems. Interesting that your area is more like mine.