Join LinkedIn Learning Developer Instructor for an in-depth discussion in this video Clarissa Peterson, part of Career Clinic: Developer Insights.
- It was quite by accident. I used to be a restaurant manager. I did that for several years. And I ended up moving to a new city, and I had some bad timing with it and wasn't able to get a job when I got there. And I had a friend who had a job doing HTML development via a staffing agency. And he told me they needed more people. And I'm like, well, I don't know HTML. And he's like, well, there's a little test they'll make you take, but I can teach you everything you need to know for the test. So he showed me how to do basic HTML in just a couple hours. And I went and passed the test and got a job as a HTML developer.
So now I can tell everybody I actually learned to be a developer in about two hours. And this was 15 years ago. Of course, you can't do that now. But that is how I started my career. One of the really great resources I encountered early on, I was living in Washington, DC, and there's an organization called DC Web Women. And they had a email list. And pretty much, this was the only way, like for people that I knew, you could go on the list and ask questions. And nobody was judgmental. They'd help you figure things out. Before the sites we have now, it was so great to have that resource.
And I learned so much from that. And we've obviously moved on to a time where you can find so many places to ask questions, but starting out with that resource, I think, really helped. And I don't know what people did before we had the internet. Obviously you weren't a web developer before we had the internet, but there were technical jobs then. And how did you get information? I mean, I guess you had to go get a book or something like that. I just think we're lucky to live in this time where we can ask for help, we can get free help from so many people out there. And they might be people like us, but they might also be experts.
But I took her advice, after 10 years in the field, I was like, well, I should, I'll try and start speaking. I mean, that sounds exciting. And it gets boring just sitting at a desk job every day. The DC Web Women, they have a series of workshops that they'd started. And they had a bunch of topics that they planned already. And this was when responsive design was kind of new. And I'm like, well, they don't have a topic for responsive design, so I'll ask if I can do a talk on responsive design. So I emailed, explained I've never done speaking before, but I'd like to do this. They emailed back and they're like, you know what, we'd love to have you do this, but by the way, it's a two hour hands-on workshop and you have to do it three weeks from now.
And I'm like, whoa, that's pretty deep. But I think I can do it. And here's the funny part, I didn't actually know how to do responsive design yet. So in three works I learned how to do it and put together a workshop. And it actually turned out really well. And this was back about five years ago or so. And I'm like, well, this is fun talking in front of people, getting to teach people how to do something. So I took the opportunity to speak at local meet-ups. And the way I got interested in writing a book, it just sounded like something fun to do.
There's so many technical books out there. And I had an acquaintance I had met at a conference, he'd spoken at earlier in the year. And I had asked him if we could have lunch, and he could tell me about writing a book. And he talked to me about it. And he told me a little secret and that is, if you want to write a technical book, it's really easy to get that opportunity. I mean, there's so few people that are actually willing to do it because it's a lot of work to write a book. You don't get paid very much. It's not really that fun. You have to take the time to do it in the evening or whatever.
And you have to have the skill to do it and write about it. You have to like make connections and find the right people to talk to, but you can probably come up with that opportunity. So this acquaintance of mine actually introduced me to his editor, who was looking for somebody to do a book on responsive design, and that's how I got involved in writing a book. And then doing a book opens up a lot more opportunities for speaking and that sort of thing. So I've been able to speak at a really large number of conferences over the last several years, and it's been very exciting.