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Donuts & Demos!

On a Saturday morning every other month, a local web design and development expert comes in to visit with a group of our students in the Digital Den. These meetings allow our online students and any classroom students who can make it to school on a Saturday to hear first-hand from someone who is currently working in the field they are planning to work in. Very inspiring!

Chad Henderson helped us launch our first meeting last summer, and it was awesome! Here’s a collection of some helpful comments and tips from our Donuts & Demos meetings this year…

Marcus Morrison on Code Reviews and Git/Github

  • Count yourself lucky if you get to work in a place where your colleagues can review your code. You’ll learn and grow as a developer!
  • Version control, specifically Git, changed how he programs. Learn it! You can use Git to conduct code reviews asynchronously (at different times as your schedule allows).
  • Don’t beat yourself up about making mistakes. He shared this quote: “Errors are more attributable to the complexity of the code than to the author’s abilities.” ~ Jason Cohen.
  • If you review someone else’s code, ask them why they did what they did.
  • Don’t worry about trolls. Everybody begins. Most developers want to give back and help those who are starting out.

Stephanie Kendall on Freelancing

  • Becoming successful at freelancing doesn’t happen overnight, but it does reach a tipping point where it feels like a snowball effect, and you can speed that up! Her second year, she more than doubled her income.
  • One way to speed up the snowball effect is to network – attend user groups and conferences (Hint: the Confluence Conference got a her a lot of contacts wanting website work.)
  • Another is to get your name known by gaining high-profile clients. She did that by going to Robert Half and letting them know she was available for consulting.
  • Before transitioning from another job or career, start up a savings account to make that a smoother transition.
  • She likes to start with Bootstrap for its grid for most projects.

Neill Harmer on Portfolios

  • Use a good picture of yourself on your portfolio that isn’t too “Glamour Shots”. People hiring would like to see a picture of you, but it doesn’t have to be large.
  • As a student, you may not have many “real” client websites on your portfolio. It’s a good idea to show concept work, as Jad did in his site at Neill recommends finding a real website and then doing a thoughtful redesign of it and putting that on your portfolio, just as Jad did with the Mint redesign. Neill pointed out that very often, redesigns are what you’re doing a lot of in the real world because many clients already have a site out there. It’s just that it’s not mobile friendly or outdated, etc.
  • A scrolling, one-page type of design is great for your portfolio site.
  • Have your own logo. Brand yourself. Get a friend who’s good at that kind of thing to design one for you. Don’t be afraid to get your friends to help you out in the areas you aren’t great at. He asked a friend to help him write the copy on his own portfolio site.
  • Create a portfolio that reflects yourself, your own personality. Put in some fun details. People hiring you want to see who you are. If you say that you are good at something in web design, demonstrate it in your portfolio.

We’re so grateful to have such awesome advisory board experts who are willing to come and share with us…Hope to see you at a Donuts & Demos meeting later this spring!

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