Learning a craft from zero to employable

In June after I read through some blogposts from ashbotandsparki, I found one where she reblogged a short post from sounjawalters that described how the curriculum of a site called freeCodeCamp has been growing since she visited it the first time.
I had not heard about this site before and reminded myself to have a look sometime, it seemed interesting. Then I did other things and forgot about it. A week ago, I remembered and actually had a look at the site, registered and started to walk through the first steps on the curriculum.

So, how do I become a web developer?

While I was doing this, I realized, that this site fills a gap that only now I am starting to see clearly: It provides a full curriculum from not knowing any html to being employable as a full-stack web developer. How can that be a gap with so many online courses on sites like Coursera, EdX and others? Becaust most of these sites do what Universities also do: they provide some courses about some topics, sometimes with very high quality and the possibility to really dive deep and learn a lot, but they do not provide any insight into what you will need to really work in the field of web development or similar fields. Offline there are some courses that take care of this by providing a full introduction into all that you need to work in a short time (measured in months, the working hours you have to put in there are of course a lot). Many of them go under the label “bootcamp”. freeCodeCamp is the first online course of this kind that I visited and it seems to be legit and well thought through:

First you do a lot of online learning of all the technology needed to work as a web developer, including some social skills like pair programming. This takes around 800 hours of learning html, css, javaScript, jQuery, javaScript for back-end etc. After that you are brought into contact of non-profit organisations that need help with their web presence and you start to work on real projects for real people, slowly building a portfolio.

Not all of the material is original for this site. The jQuery and the javaScript part are done by Codecademy and I suppose other sources will also be used, but all I have seen so far is of high quality.

So to be fair, freeCodeCamp is not the only site that provides this sort of complete employability related curriculum: by looking through the learning resources on CodeNewbie, a web community primarily for people who are at the beginning of their coding career, I found the Odin Project, which is not the same as fCC but very similar and Udacity is also working on a curriculum for full-stack web development (not for free).

So, will it be enough? I don’t know, because I am not a web developer and also not someone hiring web developers, but I think that the amount of work (around 1600 hours) you have to put into the full curriculum sound plausible and the parts I have seen so far make a lot of sense.

Of course there are questions and possible downsides:

  • Is this thing called “full-stack” developer even possible with the current technologies?
  • Is it fair to the non-profits to have people with no real expertise work for projects, they depend on?
  • On the other hand: Is it for to the students to have them work for free in a line of work that is usually well paid?

As for me: I am glad, that I tried it and I will probably use it to learn the full craft after years of learning a bit here and a bit there.


5 thoughts on “Learning a craft from zero to employable

  1. I found this post useful. I’ve been trying out free online courses too for a while now. Yet to do any coding courses. I’m interested to see how useful you find them in the long run. Looking forward to reading more! 🙂

    • I will certainly write about my progress. My experience with online coding courses is until now generally a good one. I have taken some courses on Coursera.org and some on edX.org and learned a lot. This however seems to be something different. Maybe you will try a coding course too. It is sometimes challenging but in a good way and even in professions that are not in software development, a little coding knowledge can be like a secret superpower.

      • That’s great to hear! I just enrolled in Programming for Everybody (Python) on Coursera today. By the way, have you used Stacksocial at all? If so, what are your thoughts? I’m trying out some of their free tutorials right now.

      • Programming for Everybody is a nice Course and Dr. Chuck is a very talented teacher. I hope you enjoy it.
        This is the first time I heard about Stacksocial, but after a first glance I must say, it looks interesting.

  2. Pingback: Still learning | Seeker of Something ..

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