I’ve set out to do several things this year. I’ve listed twenty-one of them, but I have a few things that aren’t specifically on my list. Much of that includes things I’m trying to learn and skills I’d like to develop. I feel that I am uniquely qualified for some things because of how my life is and the time I was born.
I’ve essentially lived on the internet since I was 14. My friendships were kept and often times made online, my social outlet was primarily online, my access to the outside world was (and still is) primarily online, and I’ve been blogging since late 2005. I started out using xanga and moved to blogger where I learned html and css while trying to tweak my theme. My best friend and his best friend started a company doing web design around the same time. Alex taught me xhtml, css, and gave me a start with PHP in 2007 just after I switched to wordpress. I made a few sample sites, and themed and provided tech support for the local chapter of a Teenage Republicans website from 2008 to 2009.
So, to say that the internet comes naturally to me is an understatement; in many ways it is and has been my home. Sad as that may be, I feel this puts myself and others like me in a unique position. As citizens of the internet we quite possibly understand it better than people who have had to adapt to the new technology. What is second nature to me, could be very valuable to others.
This in part is why I decided to use Team Treehouse to get back up to speed with HTML5, CSS3, and learn a new language. I would eventually like to make a wordpress plugin and ideally get paid for part time website management services – where I would tweak, support, and manage a website for a client; similar to what I do now.
I like Team Treehouse and find them better than college courses is for two reasons:
First, they’re current. They are constantly evolving and adding new information as time goes on, which is crucial to internet related work as the nature of it is constantly growing.
Secondly, their format is bite sized, easy to follow, and encouraging. Every so often I’ll unlock a special video, and every set that I do completes a badge. Paired with my nerd-brain, the unlocking of badges offers motivation – much like leveling up.
The problem that I face, is reminding myself that there is value in developing my skill set. I have a tendency to feel guilty about spending money to learn things when there’s no immediate payoff even though I know that it’s the wise, and “grown up” thing to do. When I go for periods of time when I’m not immersed in learning this new skill, the voice inside my head starts berating – telling me it’s not worth completing.
Logically, I know this voice is wrong. Developing my skill set is a good decision for the long term and the immediate future.
It is in learning new things that we’re better equipped to deal with life and find solutions to problems even if the topics are unrelated.
I have learned to overcome the negativity by reminding myself that I am worth it, that learning is worth it, and the unknown opportunities are worth seeing it through. I remind myself of that with every new endeavor, not just web design. Motivation is hard to come by with an internal art/writing/development/brainstorming/acting/rude-and-not-ginger critic.
The one issue that I haven’t addressed so far is portfolios. Or what you have to present before you get paid. It’s difficult. I’ve been spending time brainstorming different ways to market myself – and while I haven’t done a whole lot professionally, I do have experience behind me. It’s complicated in a world where it’s hard to find any job, let alone a good paying one, or one that is sort of niché and would allow me to work very part time so I could pursue the other things that I have going on.
I decided last month, that after I watched all the videos and unlocked all (excluding the iOS) badges, I would make myself a website that was essentially a living-breathing-portfolio. A site that showed my skill and ingenuity and creative thinking; I still plan on creating.
As I was planning, an opportunity to add to my portfolio arrived out of the blue. My strategy for making portfolio pieces, which I’ll share (and still produce) consists of the following:
- Make a lovely site with lovely functionality
- Make another lovely site with different lovely functionality
- Make yet another lovely site, with lovely functionality that I could actually use (probably a book site that’s slightly better than the current splash page I whipped up in 10 minutes).
- Rinse, repeat, learn new things.
I’ve also contemplated recording an interview to go along with my resumé and portfolio.
In the meantime, I will enjoy this bit of inspirational perfection and take it to heart.