Appreciation for being a web developer

When I was just a kid, like 3 or 4, when someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was a postman. When someone asked me the same question when I was 7 or 8, I answered that I wanted to become a director, like a company director. So here I am now, I am the director of a company, but only because it is the only way to do freelance business here in Croatia.

I guess I didn’t dream of becoming this kind of director. Do you know why? Because freelance business was not very common, yet even popular when I was a kid. Heck, development of any sort was an obsolete term, and I didn’t know anyone who was an actual developer. To clarify, that was in the nineties.

The year was 2000, and I had to decide which high school I should go to. I choose electrical engineering. I was not bad at it, and I graduated without any fuss, more or less. After that, I went to an electrical engineering university and got my master’s degree in communications and informatics. During this time, I remember saying that I never wanted a job in front of a computer. I also remember the words of our dean, who said that we would be practically choosing our jobs when we got our diplomas. I imagined myself as an engineer wearing a white shirt, working in an Internet provider company, and dealing with networking stuff.

That didn’t happen, even though I was on the right track - I worked as a technical agent in an Internet provider company for few years as a student. At the end of my student privileges to work as an agent, I saw a group email from my first employer asking to join his web development company. The job didn’t require any previous experience. I applied, and after a year or so, I became a web developer.

Now that I think of this journey, I feel so lucky to work in the web industry. I had the opportunity to work with top professionals and learn from the best. I love my job, and I don’t mind being in from of a computer. In “just” ten years, I went from being a total newbie to a web professional.

Now that I am in a comfortable position, I watch all these young folks start their journey. With so many tools, apps, frameworks, libraries, packages, environments, and solutions, they don’t realize how difficult it was to learn web development ten years ago. There were less material, fewer books, fewer tutorials, fewer articles, and fewer websites. Communities practically didn’t exist. Social networks weren’t used to promote languages and your learnings. IDEs and text editors weren’t so powerful. Heck, our computers were limited, too.

Somehow I feel like we didn’t complain so much like today. We are not happy with projects, with organizations, with setup, with environments, with technologies, with anything, really. We are changing our jobs frequently in search of the perfect one.

We forget that we should appreciate the chance to work in the web industry in the first place. That is especially true if you know someone who struggles to find a job outside of our industry. Just imagine that you were born ten or twenty years earlier. You might never get the chance to work as a web developer. What would you do?

Our industry is in high demand, and there are many new developers. We are all privileged, but we don’t know it. It is a good thing, although we are getting spoiled. If we are not satisfied with our current position, we are looking for another one. There is no loyalty and commitment.

Recently I switched jobs. I had to fire five clients with whom I had long-term relationships. I felt strange, I didn’t want to do it, and the decision to do it was very tough. I am still kind of sad about it. What makes me happy is that I see that the projects are running successfully without me. So if you feel like you are irreplaceable, you are wrong.

We created this unstable industry where nothing is certain. Companies are shut down, projects are abandoned, positions become obsolete, developers come and go. The web industry is growing. We are getting used to new things very quickly while forgetting old services even quicker.

Ten years ago, responsive web design was a new thing. Smartphones were not as powerful, tablets were in the making, smartwatches didn’t even exist. That’s how fast the web industry is developing/growing. Everyone is hooked on smartphones as they have existed for decades, not years. We take that for granted today.

Ten years ago, we couldn’t develop in a browser. We couldn’t or didn’t know how to ship features by pushing a commit to a repository. Yesterday I deployed a hotfix from my phone while drinking beer at a bar with my friends. We take that for granted today.

Ten years ago, we couldn’t communicate with everyone in every moment over our phones. There were no apps like Slack, Discord, Zoom, Hangouts, or Meets. We take that for granted today.

Five years ago, remote working wasn’t a thing. Instead of searching for jobs locally, we are searching the whole world. Nothing gets in a way if we are given the opportunity to work with clients from all over the world. We take that for granted today.

We take our jobs for granted, too. What if some new technology takes over the web industry and we are not competent anymore? It is highly unlikely, but it is a possibility. Would you learn it, or would you switch the profession?

Take a few moments and think about what you are appreciative of. I appreciate living comfortably while doing what I like and working on exciting projects with top professionals. Thank you, web development.