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using computer to learn

There are a lot of advantages to joining a web development apprenticeship. For someone like me, a career-changer who took an online boot camp, it was a no-brainer. Breaking into the tech industry straight out of a boot camp may be possible for some, but I felt I needed to learn more than the introduction of coding basics that the boot camp taught me.

I’ve been a part of The Kestrel Co. web development apprenticeship for about 2.5 months, and I have been gaining the skills and confidence that allow me to actually contribute to projects, as well as having time to dedicate to continued learning.

Besides learning better ways to write code, new technologies, and some design principles I have also learned some helpful tips for anyone else starting a tech apprenticeship.

Ask questions

dog raising paw asking a questions

Starting a new job, especially in a new career field, can seem intimidating but it’s important to make sure to ask questions anytime you need clarification, information, instruction, or any other answers. Now is not the time to be shy!

I have also found that mentors can pick up on your knowledge base and understand your skill level better if you ask questions. And no one expects you to know everything, even if you’re a senior developer!

Try it on your own

If you do come across an error, bug, or a new and unfamiliar technology, don’t be afraid to try it out or solve it on your own. Utilize your browsers’ web developer tools, Google the error message, find the technology documentation, read message boards and watch videos from other developers working on the same thing you are.

Your apprenticeship is about learning, so taking time to try to figure these things out by yourself is a great way to really become a developer, because every project you work on in the future will have issues and knowing how to troubleshoot and solve them is one of the best skills you can have in the tech world.

Know when to ask for help

All of that being said, recognizing when you’ve hit a dead-end or something is beyond your current skill level is an equally useful tool in your web development belt. Seeing how someone else chooses to tackle an issue, what they do to debug, and finally the answer they arrive at are good things to witness as much as you can while in your apprenticeship.

I should note, that when getting help, I have found it best to fully explain what you were doing before you ran into the issue and what steps you have taken so far in trying to fix the issue. This gives your mentor insight into your debugging process and potentially saves them time by not having to retry things you already have.

Ask for code reviews

teacher giving code review to student

While you are an apprentice, it is a great idea to ask for development reviews. Even if you have created a feature that functions exactly as it should, it is still a good idea to have someone look at how you did it and give feedback. Hearing you did something exactly as you should have is just as necessary as hearing if there was an easier, faster, and better-to-understand way to do it instead. Soak up your teams’ industry knowledge and let their experience help you improve your skills.

Shadow everyone

Seriously, just show up everywhere and ask to watch everyone. In a non-creepy way, of course. Listen in to the chatter around the office even, and if you overhear someone working on something you haven’t seen, or something you have trouble understanding, then go over there and watch them work. Seeing multiple examples of workflows, problem-solving techniques, and coding know-how can only help improve your skills.

Jump in on any projects you can

Even if you don’t feel ready to contribute to a project, go ahead and jump on any assignment they offer you. It helps to see a sampling of as many different types of codes, technologies, and projects that you can. And learning how a company, whose services include website design, development, and maintenance, works from a team-level is incredibly beneficial.

I’ve also found it has helped build up my confidence. I have to admit it’s very fun knowing you can pull up several websites, point to something on that site, and say “I made that.”

Continue learning

using computer to learn

Utilize any downtime you have to continue learning. I’ve been finding video tutorials or content creators to follow and watch, and have read more tech blogs to make sure I make the most of my time. Work on your own projects, try to recreate a cool feature you saw on another site, be adventurous and learn something completely new.

I once used a free Udemy course to learn about Sass and how to compile it into CSS one afternoon, and I have actually been able to then use that knowledge on a bigger project for work!

If you’re starting an apprenticeship or considering one, I highly recommend following these 7 tips and I think you’ll have a rewarding experience just like I have.

If you would like to improve your web development skills, then check out Kestrel Accelerator. And if you think we sound like just the team of developers (and developers-in-training) that you’ve been looking for, then reach out to us today!