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How to Become a Front-End Developer (Pt. 2)

How to Become a ...

Sandra M.
Front-End Developer

We picked the brains of a few of our awesome FED talent to see how they got to be so great at what they do, ask their advice for up and coming developers, and see what trends they expect to see in 2014.

This week we interview Front-End Developer extraordinaire, Sandra M.!

How did you start coding and what was the first language you learned?

I started coding in high school and my first language was Visual Basic .NET

If someone wanted to learn to code, what would your one piece of advice be to get them started?

I have been asked this question many times, and my answer always depends on what the individual's end goal is.

If you are looking to build basic websites, then you can always start with some basic HTML and CSS. Once you're comfortable then you can move on to basic JavaScript and jQuery. But if you are looking to build something more complex such as a web or mobile application, then I would suggest gaining lots of knowledge in a back-end language, such as C++. My studies were in Computer Science where I focused on back-end technologies, and C++ was the basis of my education.

In my opinion it is extremely important to understand methodologies such as Object-Oriented Programming, Memory Management, and Data Structures and Algorithms. I believe these same methodologies also make a good front-end programmer and can be applied to JavaScript, especially if you want to create your own libraries, and is definitely a must for mobile application development. I believe that once you are thoroughly educated in one language it is very easy to pick up another.

How do you network/meet other developers?

Most of the developers I know are people who I have worked with in the past and kept in touch with for work purposes or people with whom I became friends. (Actually a few are people who I met while studying or through other friends.) My brother is also in the same field as I am, so I also meet people through him. It is important for me to keep my network growing and I always make sure to do just that. I find that LinkedIn is also great for connecting with others in your field.

As a developer, what resource do you rely on the most to do your job?

Having approximately 12 years of experience (including my education), I rely mostly on what I have been taught, what I have experienced, and what I know. I also refer to a lot of my previous projects for reference. However since it is hard to remember everything and there is always something new to learn, I use the Google search engine quite a bit for research and digging up information. I also communicate a lot with friends and colleagues.

How often do clients request or expect you to have design skills (and how do you feel about that?)

I have never had a client who expected me to have design skills as I always indicate I am not a designer. I am not solely a front-end developer and I also bring my extensive back-end knowledge to the table, so I do not feel that design is something I need to add to my portfolio. However, once a designer has completed a draft, I can assist with improving the aesthetics, but designing from scratch is not my forte.

Agency vs. corporate environment for development, what are the pros and cons?

I have had the opportunity to work for both types of companies and both have their pros and cons.

Agencies tend to have smaller projects that come and go and are on very tight schedules. The good thing about this is that you get to work on many different projects, some of which can be real fun and interesting. The con to this is that you never get to focus on one project and sometimes you have to let some bugs slide to make the deadline and move on to the next project.

Working in a corporate environment is a little bit more relaxed and you are usually focused on much larger projects. The good thing is that there is lots of planning involved, daily meetings, working in larger teams, and having a lot more resources at your disposal. When you're working in a larger team the learning curve is increased since everyone brings different skills to the team and we all learn from each other. The cons to working for a corporate environment are that sometimes you end up doing lots of maintenance work instead of working on new features or projects, and those tasks can become quite tedious.

What do you think the biggest Front-End Development trend will be in 2014?

I feel like a lot has come out in the past couple of years that we need to focus on optimizing. I think responsive design for mobile will continue to grow and we will see more improvement in that direction. I also think we will see more growth with HTML5's Canvas element and SVG as more browsers gain support. I also think we will see a lot more of the simplified one-pagers with gorgeous details.

What brands/companies are doing cool stuff right now from a front-end development perspective?

It is difficult for me to give credit to specific brands or companies. There are a lot of great designers and front-end developers out there and a website that I always go to for inspiration is However a website that I am currently in love with is

Thanks to Sandra for taking the time to help everyone better understand the world of front-end development!

If you’re curious to know what a FED job description looks like, check our Quick Hire page.

And when you’re ready to get a front-end development job, be sure to connect with a Vitamin T agent.

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