No Developer is an Island
Post created April 27, 2015
When I started interning at Eric Mower, I was thrilled for my first assignment: redeveloping the entire intern blog. The result is, well, everything you see now.
The best part was having complete control over a project, which is a dream come true for any intern. It’s a great chance to feel you’ve really added something to a company. Plus I enjoyed the challenge of making a new site for over 100 posts sharing the intern’s experiences with the world.
But as I worked on the site, something became very obvious: even when I was in charge of this site, I couldn’t make it entirely solo. For every two things I did myself, there was one I needed advice on:
- I could only make the grid on the front page work once my supervisor showed me the best plugin.
- I could create filters based on an intern’s department and city. But another developer showed me how to show each option on the front page so visitors could chose one.
- Making the site responsive for small devices was easy enough. Doing that without cluttering the code was tough enough to need some feedback.
- Don’t get me started on managing the icons for each department…
I’m incredibly grateful for all the help from my fellow developers. As thanks to Krispin, Jared, and John, I give you this crazy man dancing in a sombrero.
With that gratitude also came a realization: In the past I’ve focused so much on my own skills, I’ve overlooked learning from people around me – and that’s the most important part of getting better.
I’m surprised I didn’t see this sooner. There’ve been many times when I thought it was all about doing solo work, but it was ultimately others that helped me succeed.
- In the first interview for this internship, several tools were mentioned that I hadn’t tried. So I learned them before the second interview, a coding text, and used them well. But I couldn’t learn them without several useful online tutorials, so I owe them plenty of thanks.
- I’ve become more active on CodePen, a front-end development website, and added more coding projects to improve (and show off) my skills. But the most value from this site is from browsing through others’ work – they share limitless inspiration and resources to play with.
- One developer showed me the value of Reddit to find new inspiration, tools, and tips about all things web development. This really caught me by surprise, since I thought it was mainly for cat pictures.
- Even in my drawing hobby, I’ve focused more on my own creative ideas. But when I let myself be inspired by others’ art, that’s when my drawings really shined. Other people’s ideas helped me escape my own mental box.
This lesson has been my biggest takeaway from Eric Mower + Associates that I want to share. With all the pressure college students are under to prove themselves and find a job, it’s easy to focus too much on our own work. This is especially true for web developers. Many people think we just need a corner and a computer, and endless website magic will follow.
But to really build our brand and career, we need as much inspiration from the people around us as possible. Be willing to listen, ask plenty of questions, take notes, and channel it all into your work. It can’t happen when you’re in a corner, working in total isolation.
After all, if we didn’t need others to improve, wouldn’t we all already be number one in our fields? I know that’s not the case for me. This makes me excited to keep learning more from others – in web development, and just life.