- I found out that the web combined a couple of things that I really enjoyed. I really love graphic design, but I also always programmed on the side. I found it a really interesting thing. It was sort of like my hobby, and when the web came in, it was the first place where I found you can actually do both, and enjoy both at the same time. At first I thought that transitioning from a designer to a developer would be almost impossible, but I felt enough faith in myself that I could do this, because it really combined the things that I loved together.
So I remember talking to my wife, and saying I'm going to go spend a lot of money that we don't have on a bunch of stuff that I don't quite understand yet, but it's going to pay off in the future. Trust me, and thankfully she agreed. I'm super thankful she did that, because it just allowed me to sort of dive down into studying what I needed to know in order to be successful. So I feel like it was really difficult, because it was such a new field at the time, but the fact that I really sort of double downed on it, and decided to go for it made it easier.
The biggest challenge I think that I faced in joining the tech industry was how scary it all seemed at the time. You know, coming from a different industry, not knowing where I was going was really scary. So I feel like just getting to know people in the industry put me a lot more at ease with that. As an introvert, I find that I am so good when I know people in the industry. When I don't know anybody, I sort of shut down, but when I find friendship with somebody, it makes it so much easier to talk to them in a frank way, but over time I think like I got so many opportunities from knowing people, and as a matter of fact, if you talk to developers, they'll tell you that 60 to 70% of them got a job because they knew somebody.
So most of the opportunities you're going to get are going to be from contacts. Intelligence, skill, it's going to take you so far. If you are the smartest person in the world, but nobody knows you exist, nobody's going to find you. So make sure that you're practicing on your skills, but then also on some sort of social aspect, which is just going out there and meeting people. Make sure that you find people who know the type of person you are. Leverage what you already have. If you're a designer, and you can show a really good design portfolio, sometimes that goes a long way towards getting that next job that may have some challenges, but also as quickly as possible start building your portfolio of things in that industry.
So assume that your desire to want to do great will take you farther. If it's learning like a new type of database, if you want to explore like node.js versus a PHP server. In terms of projects, one of the most important things that you can do in this job is learn to challenge yourself by doing realistic things. So the projects that have challenged me the most have been things that I don't already know what to do, but I want to learn how to do.
So, I always say that with every job I always build like 10 to 15% of some sort of learning something that I don't know how to already do. So I never try to do another safe project that is pretty much exactly what I already know. I always try to say well, what would happen if I do this in a node.js server? And what happens is I push myself to learn, and then you sort of find out that that other way of doing things is actually better. I never think of it as extra time.
I think of it as I'm going to spend 10 to 15% learning something, but in the future I'm going to be so much more efficient by having known that that my next project is going to be even better. So, you have to make sure that you build that time into your projects so that you're doing something realistic and that is challenging, and forces you to learn something, but at the same time all that learning is going to pay off in continuing to make you a better developer.