Marka Shevchenko, a Front-end developer, speaks about searching for her true self, which led her to Beetroot Academy and then to Beetroot, and shares five recommendations for those who dream of becoming programmers.

Coincidences are not coincidental at all

My previous job had nothing to do with programming. For quite a long time I worked as a lawyer’s clerk. It was going fine but at some point, I realized that I hated my job. It was a moment of existential crisis. I resigned, went home and started searching for my “true self,” as it’s called. I always enjoyed working with computers, so I began reading books on programming. Then, by accident, I saw Beetroot Academy’s ad and decided to go for it.

Among all the courses, I chose the front-end course. This direction attracted me because of its visibility and the visual design aspect. Compared to back-end labyrinths, which no end user ever sees, front-end is always in the limelight. And I thought that it must be cool to create things that are not only useful but also aesthetically pleasing.

We had a terrific teacher, Max Pogrebniak, who has a talent for explaining complicated ideas in simple, relatable terms. These courses were so unlike typical school lessons. Max easily pivoted from the official class itinerary to spend more time developing and polishing our skills. He was equally mindful in helping us gain practical experience outside the classroom and inside a working environment, which is how I landed my first professional role as a programmer.

In addition to teaching, Max worked for a project that Beetroot was managing for WiseStamp, a company that makes easy-to-use marketing tools for freelancers, small business owners and self-employed professionals. By the end of the Academy’s course, Max decided to move on from the project, and therefore, WiseStamp needed someone to replace him. Max recommended me to fill the role. At the Academy, they have a test interview with Human Resources, which is supposed to help students practice their presentation skills. But for me, this interview was not a trial but a real job interview. I went through the recruiting process successfully and joined the WiseStamp team in a freelance capacity.

About the project

WiseStamp is a powerful yet easy-to-use tool for creating dynamic, interactive email signatures. Users of the tool don’t need to have design or coding skills to make their WiseStamp signature. They simply enter their information, links, and photo and choose and customize the template they like best. With WiseStamp, users experience a higher email reply rate, engagement rate, and click rate. WiseStamp also launched a new website building tool called WiseIntro. Similar to their email signature solution, WiseIntro helps users create their own website quickly and easily by entering and managing content with an intuitive editor. Users also can customize the look and feel of their webpage and, within half an hour, create a professional web presence that drives traffic, new business leads, and web authority.

For those who’d like to work in IT

I believe that there are several simple rules for building a successful career. It doesn’t matter whether you want to learn to programming from scratch or just want to change the language of development—the following tips will be still useful.

  • Set precise deadlines

Have you decided you want to learn programming? Great! Now make sure to define a concrete date to complete your studies, otherwise you may find yourself postponing it indefinitely. This map can be very useful for taking your first steps. After you figured out your timeline, start embarking on it step-by-step. If you are a self-learner, test out all your theoretical knowledge by channeling it into practical tasks. Even if something seems to be easy and obvious on paper, it might become a tough nut to crack in practice. So, implementing theory into practice is a key exercise.

Also don’t spend too much on learning theory; after all, practice is the best way to acquire knowledge. Once you have basic knowledge of programming, go ahead and search for internships or freelance projects. This way you can polish your skills much faster.

  • Don’t follow trends

Don’t learn to program just because everyone else is doing it. If you’re chasing a trend and not your own passion, you’re not likely to succeed. Also, don’t try to learn “the trendiest” programming language. You have a better chance of succeeding in the languages that you genuinely like.

  • Think twice about your future career

IT is a huge world and it’s crucial to choose the right path so that you don’t waste your time. I have a friend who fell for the advantages of working in IT and decided to learn Python. He worked hard on literature and online materials and waited eagerly for the moment when he’d be able to draw at least one button. Imagine his frustration when he realized that he’d never have a chance to draw a button because that’s what designers do, not Python programmers. At the end of the day, he dropped Python and started learning UX design.

  • Analyze your skills and personal qualities

In the modern world of IT, logic is more important than math. In your work, you’ll have to think ahead, plan your future steps and see the whole picture. Apart from that, you’ll have to be plodding. After all, programming is about long hours of sitting in front of a computer screen. And of course, you’ll have to be self-organized and self-motivated. If you’re used to sitting and waiting for instructions, you will struggle in IT where self-management is a necessary skill.

  • Prepare for and embrace challenges

No matter how skilled you are, sooner or later you’ll face a task that will stump you. In these situations, it’s important to embrace the challenge tactfully. Don’t try to smash-and-grab it. Break it into pieces and deal with each piece one by one. Also, forget about the so-called “rule of thumb.” Of course, it can work sometimes, but it’s still better to systematically analyze a problem and investigate every function before trying to fix it. Seeking outside help is also a smart approach. Having an outside perspective will help you think differently and often lead you closer to the solution.

  • Explore different learning platforms

If you’ve thought it through and decided to become a front-end developer, you are about to start an interesting adventure. In order to finish it as a qualified specialist, mix up different approaches to education — courses, individual learning, and practical work. It’s not going to be a piece of cake, but you’ll enjoy it in the end.

Apart from Beetroot Academy courses, there are other resources that can help you become a better version of yourself. FreeCodeCamp is one of my favorite resources. It’s also a community where you can learn from and interact with other developers and access helpful and interesting content. I also recommend a great newsletter from HTML Academy. They send website templates that you can use to practice. Also check out the CodeAcademy website to learn the basics of programming, explore different languages and choose the one you like the most.