A Shift in Focus

If you go to any hiring site out there, you’re bound to find swathes of companies looking for “full-stack developers”. The usual years of experience and location specifications apply but the required languages of mastery vary wildly to the point that the term itself seems like a myth to me.

I’m very much not full-stack by any stretch of the imagination.

I’m a graphic design major who took a singular web development class in college and luckily (due to an interim teacher) learned HTML/CSS instead of Flash during that course. Beyond that I’m self taught in HTML and CSS because I love them. I love taking designs and making them interactive on the web for the world to use.

What this also means is that I don’t have very much Javascript in my back pocket. I know enough to get by on the interaction front: some class alterations here and there, the occasional implementation of GSAP or Anime, and some pretty basic show/hide interaction for accessible components.

For a while my company urged me to explore Javascript further (or PHP, but no thanks) to better help the company as it explored frameworks like React and Angular.

But I didn’t like it.

My brain doesn’t learn, parse, or understand Javascript the same way it understands HTML and CSS and that was putting me at a disadvantage. Not only at my company, but on the market.

If you weren’t a front-end developer or full-stack developer with at least three plus years mastering Javascript, Angular, React, or a framework that had only been around for one, you were shit out of luck.

Being specialized in a language has suddenly become a negative. If you can’t stand up a site from top to bottom without help, they’ll move on to someone who can. No, they might not make the HTML and CSS as pretty as I might have, but they’ll execute it while also making it function and tie into a database.

This sucked to see happening in an industry I longed to be a bigger part of through HTML and CSS knowledge. To feel useless in your industry is a gut-wrenching feeling, especially for someone as young as me.

But I got over that.

Over the last year or so I realized that, to put it bluntly, I would rather focus on being an HTML and CSS specialist and rely on those better at Javascript and back-end than I am to hook it up, than dilute my knowledge by learning passable amounts about five other languages or frameworks I didn’t feel excited about.

At face value the knee-jerk reaction is, well maybe you should want to improve yourself more and stop blaming the industry. Fair, but I am still doing that but in HTML and CSS. Just because I’m confident in my HTML and CSS ability doesn’t mean I’ve mastered it, in fact I’m leagues from it.

As I continue down my path of front-end development, it became more and more clear that trying to fragment my knowledge is what scared me, not new languages. So instead I’ll focus on the two loves of my development life that still allow me to take designs and make them tangible.

I may not be able to claim I’m a “programmer” without a Javscript card up my sleeve, but what I can claim is that if you hand me a design I’ll make that thing sing for you in every browser, on any device, for any user, every day of the week.