I’m a huge advocate for being multi-skilled. Especially in this competitive economy, being a one-trick pony (no matter how good you may be) usually isn’t enough to land you a job. Now, more than ever, technical skills become just as important as your professional and personal skills in the business world. Although there are some skills that complement each other well (such as Marketing and Design), don’t be afraid to have skills outside of your field. You never know what opportunities may be out there for a financial whiz with app development know-how.
Am I Doing This Right?
Having previously worked at a web dev and design firm and now for the blog of an events company, I understand the rapid growth and importance of computers and the Internet. As such, I thought learning some code would be a good fit. Java and C++ were far too advanced for me so I stuck with something simpler – HTML5 and CSS3. For anyone wondering, HTML/CSS are the languages used to create web pages. Simply put, HTML5 (the latest standard of HTML) is the bread and butter of the web page, whereas CSS3 (the latest standard of CSS) is responsible for how your bread and butter look. This was a good starting point for me (and for anyone else out there) because I love design and it’s a great starting point to learning more advanced languages.
Now I have to admit, I do have some prior experience with HTML/CSS. Having owned several blogs on Blogger and Tumblr, I’ve dabbled with reading and playing with the code. However, I’ve never formally learned it so proper syntax and several of the <tags> were new to me.
If you didn’t already know, the Internet is one of the best resources for learning things by yourself efficiently and cheaply. There are tons of free resources out there; many of them being free. Personally, I used these three great websites to learn:
- Dash by General Assembly – A great teaching tool made by the folks at General Assembly. Fun and easy projects where you type the code yourself. With real-time responses, it makes you feel as if you’re actually building a website by scratch! If you have time, General Assembly has several other classes on design, web development and all things Internet to keep you occupied and well informed.
- codecademy – Very similar to Dash, but lessons are a little more structured and there are more languages to learn. You can learn Python, Ruby and many more!
- w3schools – No website embraces the KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid) principle better than this one. Easily digestible lessons and an amazing reference section. They make it incredibly easy to understand and/or brush up on your HTML/CSS basics.
- Google – This was probably obvious. There were times when I asked “How do I ___ using HTML/CSS?” and Google answered. Obviously, I was redirected to different websites, but I have to give credit to the website that brought me in the right direction (in fact, I found all three websites above through Google).
For the Pros
If you’re already an HTML/CSS expert or if you just don’t think it’s for you, I recommend these skills as well:
Useful resources: w3schools tutorial, Dash by General Assembly, codecademy
- Photoshop CS6 – Great for creating posters and making ordinary images pop. If you have the time (and money), you should expand to the whole Adobe Creative Cloud (for anyone used to the terminology pre-CC: Adobe Creative Suite).
Useful resources: The Photoshop Basics Bible, Designrfix
- Final Cut Pro X – May not be the most practical, but I did win an award thanks to my knowledge of video-editing on this program. However, you will need a Mac.
Useful resources: IzzyVideo, Final Cut King, Final Cut Basix
- WordPress – Even though I used Blogger to build this website (what can I say, I’m a sucker for Google products), WordPress is a more popular choice in terms of content management system used by companies.
- Advanced Microsoft Excel – Yes, there’s more to Excel than just cells and charts.
Useful resources: Training Courses for Excel 2013, GCFLearnFree
- App Development (iOS/Android) – This does require knowledge of some complicated programming languages like Java and Objective C (soon to be Swift).
Useful Resources: iOS App Development, Android App Development
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Learning all of that code is going to be for naught if you don’t try it out. You can easily forget the basics if you’re not regularly practicing. You can start out by doing small projects that slowly get you used to your new skills or you can be like me and start a large project that really tests your skills. So far, designing this website has been great practice although admittedly, I find myself Googling HTML/CSS questions from time to time. However, I’m doing it less often so that means I must be learning!
I encourage anyone out there (young or old) to learn a new technical skill in the next few months and I wish you all good luck!