Written by Joanne Sacco

The 6 Stages of a Web Developer’s Career

A developer is often fondly known as someone who turns caffeine and pizza into software.
Yet, there’s a lot more to a programmer’s career than meets the eye.
Maybe you’re just starting out and looking for some words of encouragement.
Or maybe you’re finally at the point where you can look back at the stages of your career with a sheer wonder of accomplishment (honestly, congratulations on surviving feature creep and being interrupted constantly when you’re in the code zone).
Either way, here’s our take on the 6 Stages of a Web Developer’s career.
Stage 1 – The Beginning
You’re feeling exciting and ambitious having embarked on a new career, but let’s face it, most of the time you feel like a complete noob.
You arrive in a office where people are smashing their keyboards, and everyone’s speaking a different language.
It’s at about this point that you suspect you should have been an English major.
But instead of English, you’re wobbling your way through HTML and wondering when any of this is going to start actually making any sense. Your most used phrases include:
“My code doesn’t work… I have no idea why”.
“My code works… I have no idea why”.
Stage 2 – Frustration
You’re slowly trying to put together your skill set, if you can call it that, but it mainly feels like you’re just reading endless technical books and getting frustrated with syntax.
Worse than that? You’re constantly searching the web for an answer to a programming issue and when you find somebody asking the exact same question it is followed by either (a) no answers at all, or worse (b) “nevermind, I figured it out”.
The learning curve seems so steep. How can you possibly ever get proficient at one – or more – of these languages?
Stage 3 – Breakthrough
That first aha moment.
AKA “My code works… AND I KNOW WHY.”
This moment is priceless. It the first time a piece of the puzzle locks into place, giving you with the motivation and momentum to keep powering on.
What all once seemed too unfamiliar and blurry has now finally started to come into focus. You’ve still got a long way to go but your first coding breakthroughs is one of the best feelings in the world.
Stage 4 – Playing Copycat
At this point you’re asking yourself “How do I even learn a new programming concept?”
And you decide…
Step one: Copy stuff and see what happens
Step two: Change that copied stuff and see what happens
Step three: Repeat steps one and two until desired outcome is achieved
You might feel a little bit like a burglar breaking into a bank late at night, but copying the code of other high level developers is actually totally fine.
Fortunately, GitHub has made this sincerest form of flattery easier than ever so take advantage of it at this crucial phase of your learning. Mimic the work of the type of developer that you want to become.
Stage 5 – Second Language
This is the stage when a colleague in your Hong Kong office asks you which language you are comfortable speaking and you accidentally say Python before you correct yourself… but, yes, you are fluent in English too.
Though it might have taken you thousands of hours to get there, one day you will realise that your code is now your second language. And you’re fluent.
You are consistently producing code that is testable, scalable, and easy to read.
At various points you may have focused on trying to leverage every possible language trick but now you’ve realised that the readability of your code is just as important as its function. You are now writing code that’s not just optimised for machines, its optimised for humans.
Stage 6 – Seasoned Pro
You are now essentially a highly versatile coding ninja.
And your team love you. You’re the superhero who fixes the problems they didn’t know they had, in a way they don’t understand.
You don’t need to think purely in forms of language, you now see only problems that you know you have a variety of tools you can call on to solve.
As well as helping your team, you now spend more and more of your time assisting others with their coding, whether that be contributing to GitHub, Reddit, or StackOverflow threads, assisting junior developers, or speaking at conferences.
Need help getting to the next stage of your coding career? We’re here to help.

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