Not long after I changed careers to become a full-stack web developer, I received an odd Facebook message from a family friend. “I visited your website,” he wrote, “and I’m still trying to figure out what pancakes have to do with websites.”
Clever…or clueless? I’m still unsure. But one thing is certain: IHOP needs to move over; the term “full stack” isn’t about pancakes anymore.
If you talk to a group of junior developers, you’ll likely receive one of three main answers to the question, “Why are you a web developer?” Many—if not most—are motivated by what they don’t want to be: a waiter; a bartender; a sales rep; a broke artist. Others lucked into computer science in college. Still others will say they just wanted a job that was more flexible than the average 9-to-5.
And then there’s me. I became a developer because of a PDF.
In the age of self-made YouTube stars, Kickstarter campaigns, and food bloggers, it’s no surprise our newest job seekers are pursuing passion over a steady income, established companies, and climbing the corporate ladder. This is leading to a proliferation of freelancers, artisan businesses, and innovative startups. Rather than the exception, it has become the perceived rule: Do what you love, and the rest will follow.
Is Passion Enough?
The reality is, however, there are many reasons why turning your passions into a career can actually backfire. Following your passions is important, but it’s simply not enough to develop an idea into something real, and profitable.
The No. 1 reason startups fail? Customers don’t want the products. Other pitfalls include an inadequate team and ineffective marketing. In turns out, there are millions of details— everything from user research to marketing your product to actually developing the idea and building it—that require tangible skills. While passion might provide the spark of an idea, there’s no guarantee it can carry you across the proverbial finish line.
Over the past 3.5 years I’ve worked at General Assembly, I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve been asked whether or not we offer an internship program. Students want to dive into the working world before committing to a permanent role for a variety of reasons—from experiencing the day-to-day work environment of a particular role to exploring company culture to beefing up the implied credentials on their resume, to building tangible skills, to making money, to simply understanding what an office environment is like. Internships are often seen as a safe space to make mistakes. The actual definition of an internship is “a temporary position with an emphasis on on-the-job training rather than merely employment.”
Launching for the first time in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. on April 11, this full-time Immersive program will equip you with the tools and techniques you need to become a data pro in just 12 weeks.
Live your passion. Follow your bliss. Do what you love.
You’ve probably heard advice like this when it comes to finding and achieving your dream career. But what if you’re not sure what your passion is? Or what if you have many passions? If either scenario is the case for you, then this advice remains vague and largely unhelpful.
I’ve worked with thousands of creative people on their dream career development since 2008, and what I kept finding was this:
It’s not about doing what you love or loving what you do. It’s about getting clarity on your lifestyle goals, and then figuring out what you need to do to bring them to life.
Simply put, a “dream career” is one that allows you to wake up in the morning, think about the day ahead, and look forward to at least 70% of it. If you’re doing work you enjoy with people you like being around, and it leaves room for your personal priorities, then you’re in the sweet spot.
Do you want your lifestyle to allow you to pick up your kids from the bus and spend quality time with them until bed? Then that’s a piece of your dream career puzzle.
Do you want to be able to work from anywhere, filling up your passport quickly? Then that’s a piece of your dream career puzzle.
Do you want to be able to attend a lunchtime yoga class every weekday? Then that’s a piece of your dream career development puzzle.
Matthew Epler is a creative technologist specializing in creating one-of-a-kind interactive projects with an emphasis on the Internet of Things.
His work, which blends digital and physical design practices with computer programming, has been featured in museums and a variety of media outlets around the world including The Milan Triennale Museum of Design, mudac Lausanne, and on Wired, Huffington Post, Newsweek, Reuters, Vice, and Creative Applications.
Matthew describes himself as a designer who can code, and a coder who can work with his hands. Read on to see how learning to code transformed his passion for art and film into a thriving career in creative technology.Continue reading →
When we deliver the Digital Marketing class at General Assembly, we start off with branding. Not digital branding — just branding. Digital marketing is, after all, still marketing, and in order to market effectively, you must first define your brand.
Early in the very first day of Digital Marketing, we ask the class to define the word “brand,” and then we offer up several other definitions from people who are much smarter and much more experienced than I am.
Are you finding it hard to finally resolve to do something new in your career in 2016? Maybe you’re starting the year bogged down in endless work that you don’t enjoy. Or maybe you’re dealing with something more permanent, and you feel like you’ve lost an important spark in your career development.
Regardless of your situation, it’s important to take a step back and remember: everyone goes through these dips and spikes in their careers. Even more? The power is in your hands to course-correct and find the right path forward.
You need inspiration. But contrary to the popular saying, inspiration doesn’t just ‘strike.’ You need to go out and find it. Get in the right mindset for 2016 with the following TED talks.
A recent University of Phoenix survey showed that 63% of 20-somethings have a strong desire to start a business. That’s a great first step: desire. But what else does it take to start a business that is sustainable? Since 1999, right around the time many of these 20-somethings were born, I’ve started seven businesses. Five of them failed. In that time, I’ve learned from experience what it takes to be a startup founder.