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.
It wasn’t part of my five-year plan. Actually, it’s somewhat laughable: I studied journalism in college, with an emphasis on print media. Thus, I came out with zero web development skills—pretty unusual for a journalism grad. Today’s young journalists graduate with an arsenal of digital skills that extend far beyond “being good at reporting.” A reporter needs to be good with a camera, skilled with video, and—in order to get hired at big-name publications—be able to execute on his or her ideas for digital stories.
In other words: The best and brightest of today’s young journalists and content marketers know how to code. Needless to say, I did not—nor did I think that I needed to learn.
Who Needs to Code, Anyway?
I had come to D.C. and landed an awesome job as an editor and digital marketer at a startup incubator. My job was to source and create content that highlighted the amazing innovations taking place in the world around us. It was my dream job.
Or so I thought.
I quickly realized that my goal to create compelling digital stories was meaningless. After all, I was only pumping out words, publishing static, black text on a white screen; the format of these stories wasn’t compelling or innovative. Still, I had big ideas about the kinds of content my company could create—if only we had a web developer on our media team.
That PDF broke my resolve. Three months later, I quit my job and enrolled in GA’s full-time Web Development Immersive. If my company couldn’t hire a web developer to make my life easier, then I would become a developer myself.
Learning to Code
Then, four days after the course ended, I parlayed those experiences into a job offer from the Washington Post.
A New Dream Job
These days, I’m still writing—code, not journalism—and my new job tests my skills every day. My behind-the-scenes role is to build features that house the work of the Post’s talented news reporters and graphics editors. They’re creating exactly the kind of content I had always envisioned—and I get to play a role in it.