Update concerning COVID-19 – Distance Learning (home study) courses are still available. Find out more about distance learning at Pitman Training

Update concerning COVID-19 – Distance Learning (home study) courses are still available. Find out more about distance learning at Pitman Training

So You Want to be a Great Web Developer? Tips from an Experienced Developer

30/06/20

"Coding in the City" – Is there a need?

As we come out of lock down, many of us will be looking to review our career options. If designing functional websites and applications sounds interesting to you, a career in Web Design and Development could be a good choice.

Web Development isn’t limited to the City. With more people working remotely, the job market is open everywhere – if you have the skills!

What do you need? What is a job like in this environment? What would an employer look for in a new recruit?

We catch up with Shane Prendergast, an experienced Web Developer, to talk about what he loves about his job and why essential skills coupled with a “a can-do attitude” will help you succeed in this role.

Pitman Training have been helping students since 1837. Our range of web development courses take learners with no experience in coding to the point that they can work as junior web developers. Call now and speak with a Course Advisor and change your career today!

So, Shane, how long have you been a web developer?

I graduated 7 years ago in Web design and Development BSc from Hull University.

What did you do before that?

As a teenager, education wasn’t my strong suit. I performed very poorly at school leaving with only one GCSE. I went on to work in two apprenticeships; One in Engineering and the other in Plumbing. I wasn’t overly keen on these two roles and, as I began to mature, couldn’t help but feel they weren't the type of jobs I wanted to do for the next 50 years.

After this I did some manual work in factories whilst enrolling at college, resitting my GCSE’s, and considering what career I wanted to pursue. I didn’t start university until I was around 23.

What made you want to become a web developer?

I started to lose my hearing when I was a teenager so I was eager to find something that work well for me. I was also aware that tech was a growing industry and that could provide me with a secure and lucrative career. Not to mention it looked pretty fun!

Tell us about your first role. How have you progressed since then?

My first ever role was whilst I was at University working for a small local Web Company. I was in my second year and offered my services to them for free, in return for the experience they could provide me with (This was a very good idea and | would highly recommend).

I followed the same tactic and started applying for jobs at reputable agencies halfway through my final year and was delighted to be offered my first ever position around 12 weeks before I had even graduated, which was a huge confidence boost.

As with any new profession, my first role was fairly basic but I started climbing the ladder very quickly mainly due to the fact I had already been working part-time for a year previous. I moved up from a junior position in a matter of years and found myself undertaking more complex task and becoming an integral part of the teams I worked in.

Seven years later I find myself in a lead position, overseeing projects and being solely responsible for the builds of some very large websites and applications. 

What do you enjoy most about your job? 

For me it’s that my job feels more like a hobby; I love going to work every day and I get a lot of personal satisfaction from writing code. Having worked other jobs with varying levels of satisfaction, I can attest that life is much happier when you enjoy what you do for a living.

In addition to that, the feeling of seeing your work which is made from skills you’ve spent a huge amount of hours practicing - in the wild being used by a lot of people is a fantastic feeling.

What might you do in a typical day?

My current employer offers flexitime, so I typically start at 8 and finish at 4. I like to get into the office early to get a head start on those who start at 9.

The first hour mainly consists of catching up on messages and emails and making note of my plans for the day. This could include meetings or any which I might need to prepare for.

My allocated tasks can range from large builds which can last a matter of months to smaller bug fixes which could take a few hours.

My workplace is very sociable and encourages a fun and supportive working atmosphere. So when you do need some lunch or downtime there are places to sit and things to do which is nice when you need some time away from the screen. 

What advice would you give to someone who was looking to get into a career in web development? 

As with most things in life, you only get out what you put in. Prospective employers are always looking for those who have a can-do attitude, especially from someone who's entering the industry. Luckily Web Development gives people a perfect opportunity for people to demonstrate this, through their portfolio.

My portfolio has been the most important part of my career. It provides me with an outlet to constantly learn new skills while publicly showing what I am capable of.

In addition to my own personal website and side projects, there are opportunities to get involved in the Web Community and contribute to open source code. In my experience the first things most employers will look for is a portfolio or code repository.

In addition to that I would like to mention that it’s important to be kind and helpful towards others. Everyone started out somewhere and people will always be willing to help you progress if they see you're a good person.

The new Diplomas launched by Pitman Training will be a fantastic way to learn the key skills if you are looking to become a Web Developer and build your portfolio. The flexible nature of study is ideal if you are wanting to study intensively and start applying for roles straight away, or study alongside your current job for that change of career.

Good luck, Shane.

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