15 July 2022
  • Studio Life

My coding journey

Hello, I’m Kat, a web developer at Steadfast Collective and in this post, I share a walk through my coding journey.

The very beginning

I wrote my first line of code when I was around 11. In the early 2000s, everyone had a blog. so I created one for myself. I didn’t quite like any of the free themes that were available, so I decided to create my own. My first step was to do what every developer does… I started to Google.

The blogging scene was quite big at the time, therefore finding ‘how to’ guides teaching how to develop a theme for a blog was fairly easy.

I created my design in MS Paint (professional, eh?), opened a simple text editor and that’s where the easiness of the task ended. I remember sitting at the computer for hours and hours trying to get a grasp of how a bit of code would magically turn the ‘design’ I’d made into a theme that people would see when visiting my website. The trial and error method of changing different bits of HTML and seeing the changes on the internet was fun, and the moment it finally worked how it was supposed to felt great! Even though it was only a little bit of HTML.

After creating my blog, I worked on creating multiple themes and taught some of my friends how to do it too, but after a while, I abandoned my little blog and the coding hobby with it.

Self-learning path

I came back to writing code a decade later after a good friend of mine recommended trying it out. The internet was (and still is) bursting with free learning resources, so I taught myself the basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript (JS), before diving into the wonderful world of frameworks. Building with Bootstrap (the most popular at the time), was great fun and just enough of a learning curve to improve my JS and ability to read the documentation.

After some time, multiple projects on my GitHub account, and a famous JS30 challenge, I decided to start applying for internships or entry jobs to further progress my skills. Despite receiving some calls back, this path did not advance any further; I was hitting a glass ceiling of not having a degree or professional experience. At this point, I had really fallen in love with coding and creating digital stuff, so I was determined. Despite one door being closed, I was determined to find another (or even a window). And that’s when I decided to apply to university.

University

As a foreign student, the rules of applying to UK universities felt a bit daunting, but my determination and a few encouraging people in my life kept me focused on the main goal. I applied for digital design and web development, software engineering, and computing at Solent University and was accepted into all of them. As a frontend developer at heart, I chose digital design and web development. Studying as a mature student (I was 26 at the time), turned out to be an asset and allowed me to utilise my time as a student to learn as much as possible.

All my units were super interesting and opened up my eyes to different paths and possibilities within the IT sector. During my first year, I attended a three-day work in the web workshop, which showed me that the skills I was learning at uni were really used in the industry. Knowing this felt really important, especially in a sector where technologies are changing pretty rapidly. Another great advantage of choosing to attend university was the opportunity to get to know like-minded people, hear their stories and sometimes even collaborate on fun projects.

Being proactive and showing myself and my newly gained skills benefited in a great internship which then turned into a paid position in a local agency. Working on real projects with more experienced developers was incredible, and along with my university studies, allowed me to advance my coding knowledge rapidly. It was also a great way to establish which way I wanted to progress.

Three years of hard work really paid off. I graduated with a first-class honours degree and have a job that I’m truly passionate about.

Kat Wlodarczyk, Web Developer

Web developer at Steadfast Collective.

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