Self-Taught Developer’s Survival Guide Interlude: When Will I be Job Ready?

Question Block from Super Mario Bros
Welcome to a brief interlude from main Self-Taught Developer’s Survival Guide content to address an important question about job readiness. We need to clear this up as soon and as unambiguously as possible, because not having a firm understanding of what job readiness actually looks like can slow you down quite a bit.

There’s a lot to learn about even the simplest of web technologies, and half of the battle is separating the signal from the noise in terms of tech stack knowledge. So to answer the question, you will be job ready in a particular technology when you have mastered two aspects of that technology:

  • The fundamental concepts of that technology: Let’s use CSS as an example here. You MUST be proficient in the basics of writing CSS rules, how the cascade and inheritance work, how the CSS box-model works, and how positioning and layout work. This could be thought of as a form of the Pareto Principle: 20% of the basic knowledge about something is all that’s needed to accomplish 80% of the work.
  • How to get answers to what you don’t immediately know: In any web dev tech,  there is a lot of knowledge that’s potentially useful, but isn’t something that comes up so much that it needs to be memorized. Let’s use the cubic-bezier in CSS as an example: This is a technique that isn’t going to come up on every project that you do. If you happen to do a lot of these, THEN you’ll memorize the details of it. But until you reach that point, time spent memorizing relatively esoteric technique just slows you from obtaining a deep understanding of the concepts you really need to know. Additionally, this doesn’t just apply to compartmentalizing technique to be efficient: you’ll have bugs, problems with integration, and will need to learn new methods and techniques. The ability to learn quickly and find needed information is one of the most important skills a developer can have.

Now, obviously, this isn’t all there is to it. If you don’t know a thing about, say, JavaScript, you have a lot of learning to do before you can have the fundamentals down. But I wanted to frame them in this possible way because Imposter Syndrome can be pretty insidious, and you want to aim for the minimum effective dose of requisite knowledge. For the most part? Unless you suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect, you’re going to be job ready well before you feel job-ready.

I hope this helps, and please feel free to ask further questions related to this. I’ll be outlining the fundamentals you need to know for web development in future deep dives in HTML, CSS, etc, so stay tuned for those!

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