The Journey of a Junior Web Developer

October 26, 2016

October 26, 2016


Estimated Reading Time 7 Minutes

Nathan Cockerill

Written by Nathan Cockerill, Junior Web Developer at Better.

When Better relocated their office to Middlesbrough in November 2014, there was no greater time to kickstart my career within the web industry.

For years I had been technology mad and I’d always known that I wanted to develop software. Although I had some programming experience and a passion to learn, I didn’t know exactly what to develop, who to develop for, or which platform or language to use.

After school I’d originally attended Middlesbrough College to study a BTEC Level 3 Software Engineering course. The material of the course was fascinating as it covered many subjects including Website Development, Programming Principles and Human Computer Interaction. As much as I loved the topics I was learning, I knew that writing assignments for 2 years was not going to be the quickest way into the career path I wanted.

Nathan Cockerill Junior Web Developer at Better

After 3 months of hard work at college, I came across an Apprenticeship Vacancy at Better via Baltic Training. The role offered training for a Level 3 Diploma in Software Development, which was almost identical to the course I had been studying in college, but it would also allow me to gain valuable industry experience working with an experienced team. This was an opportunity I could not pass up.

I’d already had some experience in using HTML, Javascript and CSS to build simple web pages and layouts, but it wasn’t until I started at Better that I realised that you can combine these languages in a more complex way, and along with other languages to build some pretty clever web applications and solutions.

As my role was an apprentice web developer, there was no specific section of the web that I would be focusing on directly, and it was up to me which area I wanted to focus on. Among many of the tools and technologies available to me, WordPress is where I decided to focus my attention, early on in my apprenticeship at Better. WordPress is an open source content management system, which, where suitable, is used for certain commercial projects.

Being built upon PHP, WordPress was a real challenge for me as I had little experience of using PHP. Worry not, the team at Better introduced me to the platform and set me up on some online video tutorials such as Laracasts and Treehouse, as well as working closely with me throughout this to mentor and build up my PHP and WordPress skills. Very quickly I was creating my own custom WordPress themes and plugins, as well as learning new PHP functions every day.

I was also quickly introduced to a number of front-end development technologies which I had not used before. Tools such as SCSS (a CSS preprocessor), Gulp (a task runner) and JavaScript are just some of the tools and languages I’d never used or come across before. These were all key parts of the development workflow at Better, as well as working on older sites where these technologies were not common at the time. So for me, editing standard CSS, or fighting with tables or old IE versions, seems really odd!

Nathan Cockerill Junior Web Developer at Better

Having little previous exposure to back-end development. This is when things get technical –  storing and processing data, and returning data is when the website needs the front end. I quickly was challenged with various back end tasks, and helped along with these by the team. After getting my teeth into the back-end development though, I chose to stick primarily as a front-end developer however, it’s pretty essential that front-end developers have some understanding of back-end development, too.

It’s not just my web development skills that have been improved since joining Better, I now know how to make a decent cup of tea! Joking aside, I have experienced using the command line, managing servers and working as part of a team which I haven’t really done before.

Working at Better has allowed me to develop my skills and remain connected within the ever-changing web industry.

Attending local events and conferences has been a great way of hearing talks from people within the industry, with topics such as design, development and UI/UX. These events are also great for networking within our area of interests and to meet other developers.

I have learnt so much whilst being on my apprenticeship at Better and I am expecting to continue to do so. The apprenticeship has been a great opportunity and has allowed me to put my passion for technology into practice. Not only am I getting paid to do what I love, but I am also obtaining the qualifications that may be required to progress my career further!

If you’ve got a website design or development project you would like to discuss, get in touch on 01642 989158 or, or submit a project enquiry and we’ll call you right back.