Make it Happen is a series of guest interviews aimed to help and motivate aspiring developers when it comes to learning web development and landing their first job. Today, we have Joshua Dempsey, a 26-year old Web Developer from Scotland, UK.
My name is Joshua Dempsey and I live in Scotland, United Kingdom. I’m 26 years old, and I hold a BsC from Abertay University Dundee in Web Development and Design. I’m currently seeking full time work as a web developer, and Codewell will be pivotal in proving to employers that I’m worthy of their time and money. I’ve build lots of “wells” now, and feature them heavily on my website as a portfolio piece.
What's your backstory and how did you get into web development?
I’ve always been interested in computers and websites form a young age, and when I was around 14 I read my uncles book; “HTML Goodies” by Joe Burns. Of course, a lot has changed in 10+ years since then, but that is the acorn that spurred my web development journey. Fast forward from this, and Laracasts and Codewell are my primary means of self learning, as well as using Twitter for getting inspiration and handy code snippets. I gained my degree from Abertay University, but shortly after I developed imposter syndrome and took a jobs in hospitality/retail instead of pursuing one in technology; a big mistake which I’m now trying to rectify.
What’s one thing you wish you had known when you began learning web development?
One thing I’d wish I’d knew was; it’s OK to not know everything! There’s so many layers to various web development stacks, so many new shiny frameworks, so many amazing developers out there on Twitter. This can be very daunting for newbie developers like myself, and sometimes we need to remind ourselves it’s OK to not know something or to ask for help. Applying for jobs used to scare me as I wasn’t sure how to do x, or I wasn’t sure how x feature worked in x stack. Looking back now it’s silly to think that you could possibly know everything, but I think it trips a lot of new developers up and makes them develop imposter syndrome. Seeing developers like Taylor Otwell and Adam Watham post on Twitter saying they’ve struggled to do x or laugh at how long it has taken them to implement certain features certainly helps, and makes you realise even the very best talent is constantly learning and refining their skillset.
Where are you right now in your web development journey? What's next?
I’m at the stage now where I think I’ve garnered a pretty decent skillset. The next step for me is proving this to employers by building a good portfolio and showcasing this. I am also currently carrying out freelance work, whilst working full time in hospitality, to hopefully earn some money and experience at the same time. Codewell definitely helps showcase my talent to employers, as I am not great at design, so having assets and design guides supplied whilst letting me get on with the coding is mind-blowing. It’s completely changed my mindset and allowed me to get on with building portfolio pieces without worrying about design.
What are your goals for learning web development? Is it money, passion, a change in your lifestyle?
I’m not going to lie; the goals for me learning web development is to get paid for something I love doing and to get good working rights and conditions. I currently have a long commute and a job which pays ok but not amazing. The end goal is to get a decent salary and a (partly) remote working position. I don’t think this is bad motivations for learning web development and I imagine plenty of other people are in the same boat.
If you experienced burnout, how did you deal with it?
I don’t know that I’ve experienced burnout per se, but I’ve certainly had days and weeks go by when I just can’t bring myself to code. I think that this has been partly due to depression and partly from loss of motivation or the feeling of being completely overwhelmed. To combat this, I recently purchased a new M1 Pro MacBook, and I’ve started to code a lot more in coffee shops and cafes. This keeps my motivation higher and helps reduce the feeling of loneliness that you get from coding alone in your bedroom. Twitter is a massive resource for me, it’s amazing when I open my timeline and see hundreds of interesting and insightful tweets from some of the worlds best engineers and programmers. Laracasts and YouTube has also been greatly helpful too, not to mention Codewell. Aside from coding, taking walks with friends in the beautiful Scottish outdoors certainly helps, too!
What advice would you give someone wanting to start learning web development but feels overwhelmed with the amount of information out there?
Learn one thing (language/framework/design tool) and build a cool site or tool in it, then expand. It’s OK to not know everything, and in fact it’s impossible to know everything. As long as you have demonstrable experience, employers will realise your ability to learn and to overcome challenges. This is easier said than done, I know myself I was caught up in the “shiny new framework” fad for a few years, but once you get over this everything becomes easier.
Thanks to Codewell for allowing me to complete this guest interview, it’s been a very reflective and thoughtful process to answer these questions and it’s certainly made me learn new things about myself and my journey into web development so far.
Thanks for reading.
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Simply write us an email to hello[at]codewell.cc with a short paragraph about yourself and your journey to learning web development. We will email you back if you're selected for the interview!