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Alex Vong
Alex Vong

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The Confidence I Needed to Pursue Web Development

My journey into web development began at the end of 2019 and sporadically throughout 2020 and 2021 when I came across a “How to Build a Calculator using HTML/CSS/ and JS” tutorial on YouTube. I had no coding experience and figured I’d skim through the video and then watch another video. I ended up watching the entire 37-minute video, and although confused at what I watched, I kept thinking to myself how amazing it was watching someone create an online calculator from nothing.

I began to research how I could learn programming through Google search, Reddit forums, Quora, and any site or resource I could get a response to. I found so many responses that said going to a coding boot camp would be the best road to take, but also an equal amount of responses that said boot camps are a waste of time because all the resources are on Google, YouTube, Khan Academy, FreeCodeCamp, Codecademy, etc.

The coding boot camp promise of becoming “a full-stack software developer and landing a $90,000 a year job in 12 weeks” was so enticing that I decided to research that option. Yes it was expensive, yes it required 8-10 hours a day, every day for the next 12 weeks, but the idea of becoming a full-stack developer and making that much money in 3 months just seemed too good to be true. I research every boot camp near me as well as all the “best” online boot camps. I requested information from them, spoke to reps over the phone, went to info sessions, and even interviewed for a few. I spent two months researching and meeting with boot camps but in the end, there just weren't any that gave me total confidence.

Nearly every boot camp I spoke to sounded like they were trying to sell me their school and get me enrolled so they can take my money. They would often repeat how much money I will be making in such a short time and how I did not need to know ANYTHING about programming to enroll. They would give me their syllabi and it just seemed impossible to truly learn everything they said and be a full stack developer in 12 weeks. Many of them also did not seem to have a great career assistance program for graduates. In fact, most just told me to bombard people on LinkedIn, and eventually, someone will grant me an interview. In the end, I felt they were all sale pitches and felt none of those boot camps had my best interest at heart.

I ended up going down the self-taught route and purchased a few courses on Udemy. It started with HTML and CSS and I would watch and code along with the instructor. I would add images to a webpage, change the font colors, make the heading fixed to the top of the pages, and do things a real web developer did. I felt great and felt accomplished. The only problem was problems. When I would come across an issue or something not working correctly I did not know how to fix it. These problems were not in the tutorial thus I did not know how to come up with a solution. That is when I realized that the only reason I knew how to add images, change font colors, and make headings fixed were because I was blindly following another person’s code and not learning its core concepts and why things were happening. I also had trouble retaining things I learned and would end up re-watching the same parts of the tutorial over and over again with each new time thinking I was finally going to get it. I never did get it. I would quickly deduce that the tutorial I purchased was bad and would learn better from another tutorial. I never did get better with the new tutorial.

I was depressed after feeling like a failure for not being able to self-teach myself like all those other self-taught web developers on YouTube and Instagram. I thought about quitting and did for a few months. Then in January of 2021, I decided to get back on the coding horse and give it another ride. I ended up coming across a video posted by Derek from Perpetual Education which led me to their website. What intrigued me was that this website was not like the other boot camps out there. There was no giant text telling me I could be a full stack developer in 12 weeks and make $90k a year. The site was bright and welcoming. It also featured introductory videos Derek made explaining what this mentorship was, who it was for, what we would be learning, and why Derek made it. And throughout all the video, it felt Derek was talking directly to me as someone who genuinely wants to teach web development and design the way he wished he was taught. Perpetual Education and Derek were able to give me something those other boot camps could not: confidence in me that I could become a web developer and confidence that he can help me get there.
I have been a student at Perpetual Education for the last 5 months and there is not a single day that goes by that I regret enrolling. Within the first two months, I have learned more than I have in almost 2 years of self-teaching.

Let’s start with the basics: Derek taught us how a computer even works and navigate through our computers more effectively resulting in us learning shortcut keys and tricks we’ve never used or known about. We learned about file paths and file systems on our computers. We learned about how the internet works, how everything is a series of HTTPS requests and transfers. We learned about how websites looked, functioned, and were built in the 1990s and even built our own 1990’s style webpage. We learned HTML and how the browser parses and renders code line by line. We learned about SEO and meta tags, a concept I never even heard of as they were not in any of those HTML/CSS tutorials I bought. We learned the basics of design using Affinity Designer and were able to design our own meta-images, logos, and wallpapers for our websites. We learned about styles, connecting them to our HTML file and drastically changing it with CSS. The best part is that we did not just work on HTML and CSS for a few weeks and then completely moved on but am constantly using it and learning more about it throughout this mentorship. We learned about the importance of typography, how it can significantly impact whether viewers want to look at your webpage and how to incorporate them into our projects. We worked with a real client and got to build a small business website. We learned about responsive websites and how to make our website scale from desktop to tablet to mobile views. We’ve created SVG images and learned how to change their styles using CSS. We learned how to ask questions online on Google and StackOverflow as well as reading documentation on MDN and other sites we find. We have been working with PHP to create components to create HTML as well as import JSON files, loop through its content, and dynamically generate its content onto the browser on the fly. We’ve learned and used a **Content Management System in WordPress and have been working with Javascript as well.

The concepts I’ve mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg in the mentorship and every day we students are constantly learning something new. The best part of it all is that Derek teaches in a manner that is easy to learn. When things are not easy, he is ALWAYS there to help answer questions and guide you. “Design for the Web” is NOT a boot camp, it is a mentorship that truly teaches you the fundamentals of whatever field you want to go into. Whether it is design, front-end development, back-end development, program management, or whatever other tech field you want to go into, Derek and Ivy will do everything they can to help you.
I have always been a pessimist when it comes to my career. I’ve always felt I could never amount to anything or get anywhere. For the first time in 10 years, I am excited and confident about my career. I completely trust Derek and Ivy and know, wholeheartedly, that I am in great caring hands. And I know that even after I land a career, Derek will still be the mentor I go to whenever I need help or advice. This will not be a once you “graduate” you are done kind of program like those other boot camps. I will come back and edit this post as time goes on but I just wanted to take the time to post how grateful I am to be a student at Perpetual Education and cannot wait to see where it takes me.

If you are interested in Perpetual Education's "Design for the Web Mentorship" please go to their site:
Perpetual Education

Here are a few projects I have done:

Pokedex with Individual Details page (HTML, CSS, and PHP):

Pokedex (HTML and CSS):

Dog Adoption Center (HTML, CSS, and PHP):

Responsive Website (HTML, CSS, and PHP):

1990s Style Website (HTML and CSS):

Psychedelic Plant Shop (HTML and CSS):

Discussion (1)

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aaron profile image
Aaron McCollum

I absolutely love the Pokédex projects! Rock on!