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From Part-time Student to Shopify Developer: Making the Decision to Become a Web Developer

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From Part-time Student to Shopify Developer: Making the Decision to Become a Web Developer

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Robin Hamill is an independent Shopify and Web Application developer, based in Toronto and a graduate of our Web Development Immersive Bootcamp. He is also one of the Lead Instructors of our Web Development courses.

He loves creating, experimenting, learning and sharing, and is very excited to help others step into the coding community. We sat down with Robin to hear about his journey at HackerYou and why he decided to become a developer.

Q: Why do you love being a developer?

A: As an independent developer I get the opportunity to work on a lot of projects with different technologies and unique problems to solve. These range from small fixes to full site builds. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is taking on a problem I have no idea how to solve and finding the right tools for the job, talking to other devs about their experiences, and crafting a solution that really fulfils my clients' needs. Knowing that the challenges will always be different keeps it interesting, and makes me excited to start my day.

Q: What's the most important quality that you think every developer needs to be successful?

A: I think every developer needs to have a curious and inventive mindset. One that approaches problems knowing that almost anything is possible, you just have to find the solution. At the same time being able to identify if the level of effort needed to solve that problem is reasonable, either from a budget or time perspective, and if needed, finding a simpler solution. I think this is true whether you work for yourself, or for a company.

Q: What new technology are you most excited about right now?

A: Honestly I'm just excited about JavaScript in general. It's not exactly new, but there are new improvements, features, frameworks and tools popping up all the time. I love hearing about projects that are taking JavaScript out of the browser and into new spaces. Also, I hear GraphQL is pretty cool ;)

Q: What new skill are you learning right now/would you most like to learn?

A: Recently I’ve been working with and learning more about Vue.js and React. I also work a lot with Shopify, and want to put my experience with Ruby on Rails to use making Shopify apps that can serve my clients, and open up new development opportunities.

Q: What's your favourite HackerYou memory or favourite HackerYou tradition?

A: Cookie train! During the bootcamp as we were all hammering away at our projects, you sometimes fall into a zone where you forget how much time has passed and hit a wall mentally. Someone would post a cookie icon and a train icon in Slack, and a big group of students would get up from their laptops and trek over to Le Gourmand for one of those famous cookies and a coffee. The change of scene and social aspect really helped bring people together during some challenging weeks, and sometimes even lead to pretty big coding breakthroughs. Some might say it was the sudden sugar and caffeine rush, but I stand behind the hive-mind theory.

Q: Tell us something you've learned during your career that you wish you knew when you were starting out.

A: The idea that you can do anything, but you can’t do everything. In my excitement to learn all the things post bootcamp, I spread myself pretty thin trying to absorb all the web technologies like it would be my last opportunity. As a result I had very surface knowledge of a lot of things. Now I concentrate on learning just one new thing at a time that excites me, and am focused on building my fundamental skills like JavaScript. If something new comes along that would make my work better, I know I can learn it when there is a need for it.

Q: What is your advice for someone who is thinking about switching into the tech industry or becoming a developer?

A: If you are ready to change careers, chances are you are looking for something that is more creative, fulfilling, or challenging. Since the tech industry in general is changing so rapidly, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype of new technologies, and feel pressure to get on board or miss the boat. My advice would be to chase what excites you, and fills a need in your work and interests, and ignore the rest of the noise. Instead, spend that energy building on your fundamental skills. If there’s a need for you to use that new hot framework, it will be there, and you’ll be ready to learn it when the time is right. With everything changing so quickly, what’s hot today will eventually be replaced by something new. But your fundamentals will help you to pick up whatever comes along down the road.

Ready to make a career change like Robin?

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