The Best 3 Tips for Successfully Moving into Front End Development

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In 2012, I embarked on a journey, transitioning from a role in Customer Service to Front End Development. With no formal qualifications in coding, I took the initiative to learn the necessary skills in my spare time. This challenging journey, marked by countless sacrifices, turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. If you're considering a similar shift into Front End Development, these top three tips will be perfect for you.

Tip One: Become part of a Front End Community

Whether online or in person, local networking events and conferences offer valuable learning opportunities from people in the industry. These events not only allow you to meet and learn from professionals but also help you build your network. This network will become your greatest asset as you advance in your career as a Front End Developer.

Most people recommend learning the fundamentals of coding from online resources such as FreeCodeCamp, Front End Masters, Treehouse (which I used), and Codecademy. However, I found it challenging to visualize how the concepts I learned would apply in real-world scenarios.

Attending talks at meetups and conferences proved to be incredibly helpful in this regard. I could learn from experienced developers about how they overcame challenges, how to avoid the mistakes they made, and ultimately, hear about their success stories and achievements.

“It's said that a wise person learns from his mistakes. A wiser one learns from others' mistakes. But the wisest person of all learns from others's successes.”

John C. Maxwell, Leadership Gold: Lessons I've Learned from a Lifetime of Leading

💡 Quick Tip: I organise a Front End Conference with two of my friends. It's called Middlesbrough Front End, the best conference to watch incredible speakers at an affordable rate. This year, we are excited to feature the likes of Harry Roberts and Una Kravets. Click here to get your tickets from our website today!

Tip Two: You don't need to know everything. Focus on the fundamentals!

Make no mistake, front-end development is complex, and it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you need to know everything about it in order to be employable. I'm happy to assure you that this is not the case. As an employer who has hired Junior Developers in the past, I am interested in individuals who understand the fundamentals and demonstrate a strong desire to learn and prioritise personal growth.

We all have to start somewhere, and "somewhere" doesn't mean you must be an expert in React, Vue, Tailwind, Vite, Webpack, Node.js, or every other toolset that we use. If you focus too much on these things, you're likely to lose focus and become confused quickly. This is a mistake I made when I decided to learn React, but perhaps that's a story for another post.

If you learn and can demonstrate confidence and competence in the fundamentals of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, mastering frameworks will become much easier. Keep in mind that you're working towards your first job in Front End Development; it may take a few years to try different frameworks and eventually settle on the one you like the most.

To illustrate this point, a friend of mine sought my advice when they wanted to transition from hospitality to Front End Development. He began learning HTML, CSS, and JavaScript through online resources before enrolling in a bootcamp. During the bootcamp, they focused on mastering the fundamentals of these three languages before diving into a framework towards the end of the course; the chosen framework was Vue. While attending the bootcamp, he continued to apply for Junior Developer positions and eventually received an offer to work on a React Native project (building native mobile applications with React).

My friend wasn't offered the job because of his expertise in React. Instead, he was chosen for the role because he demonstrated competence in the fundamentals of JavaScript and his determination to learn and grow professionally.

💡 Quick Tip: Learning shouldn't stop once you've successfully landed your first job. The front-end ecosystem changes frequently, and it's crucial to stay up-to-date. For me, this is one of the best aspects of my job—I love learning and challenging myself. If this resonates with you, then use it to your advantage.

Tip Three: Learn by doing through Open Source Contributions

My final tip is actually something that I realised later in my career. Demonstrate your skills to potential employers by making contributions to open source projects.


A lot of open source projects are managed through a popular web-based platform called GitHub. GitHub uses a version control system called Git, which is the most popular version control system.

🤔 What is Git? - Git is a distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to very large projects with speed and efficiency. It allows multiple people to work on the same codebase at the same time, tracking and merging their changes, and enabling developers to revert to earlier versions of their project if necessary. It was created by Linus Torvalds in 2005 for development of the Linux kernel.

Open source codebases are maintained publicly, allowing anyone to contribute, including you! If you're seeking a way to showcase your skills to potential employers, consider registering with GitHub and contributing to projects.

Over the years, I've seen individuals land jobs at well-known tech companies due to their open source contributions. In fact, just this week, I saw an announcement on PayloadCMS's Discord about a new full-time team member. This new hire had been an active contributor to both their project and community.

Okay, where do I get started?

At Middlesbrough Front End Conference 2023, we invited Eddie Jaoude to discuss "Accelerating Your Career with Open Source." Eddie is the kindest person I have ever met, making time for numerous people at the conference and teaching them about Open Source. Grab a coffee and watch Eddie's talk to learn some valuable tips and tricks!

Let's Summarise

In conclusion, transitioning into front-end development can be a rewarding journey. By immersing yourself in a front-end community, focusing on fundamental skills before branching out into specific tools and frameworks, and actively contributing to open source projects, you can effectively showcase your skills and passion for the field.

Remember, you don't have to know everything to start - a strong foundation and a willingness to learn are key. Keep up with the ever-changing front-end ecosystem and make learning a continuous process. The journey might be challenging, but with determination and the right strategies, success is within your reach!

Cover Photo by Christina Morillo: