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Career Over Coffee With Maddy Rombles, Web Developer at Datalot

Career Over Coffee Web Dev

In today’s virtual Career over Coffee, we spoke with Web Developer, Maddy Rombles at Datalot to discuss working in a male dominated field, the top skills you need to succeed as a Front-End Web Developer, and how to market yourself in today’s job market.

In your own words, can you define the difference between Front End Web Development and Back End Web Development?

While sharing similarities, front end web development focuses on what the user interacts with at eye level, whereas back end web development deals with the heavier, nitty-gritty foundational functionality that the website has to process on a larger scale. The analogy I like to give people who have had no prior exposure to web development is “the house”, where front end acts as the façade, including things like the paint and the windows, and back end serves as the structure giving the house its foundation. 

Where did you begin your career, and what led you to Web Development?

Out of college, I began my career in Publishing with WW Norton, where I focused on educational textbooks and anthologies. About two years in, I felt I was at a point where I was no longer being challenged, and while this was at one point my “dream job”, I knew I needed to make a pivot. Through the exploration of in-demand jobs, I found Web Development and enrolled in the Full Stack immersive courses through General Assembly, which enabled my career in the industry, leading me to my current job now with Datalot.

With popularity in Web Development growing, how do you help yourself stand out?

Standing out in the field of Web Development begins with possessing soft skills like the ability to communicate clearly and work well with outers. Having the keen ability to simply communicate with others and being able to speak to your skill set in a way that anyone can understand will open doors for you. When interviewing for my current role, I was given a case study where I was required to present to the team I would be joining. Rather than simply completing the project, I created a PowerPoint that detailed each step of the process, backed by an explanation and my thought process behind it. Not only did this impress the team I was looking to join, but it caught the attention of other cross-functional team members who, because of the step-by-step breakdown, were now able to grasp Web Development concepts they typically could not.

What are the most in-demand skills you need to be successful as a Web Developer?

Being fluent in React and JavaScript is a must, along with an established foundational knowledge of HTML and CSS. If you are looking to focus more heavily on the back end, being proficient in applications like Python and PHP is going to be key. Rather than spreading yourself thin when learning new skills, I recommend developing a strong proficiency in the major languages and frameworks, such as Angular, React, or JavaScript to set yourself apart. 

As a Developer, what’s the best way to set up a portfolio?

First and foremost, make it look amazing, even if you aren’t a Designer. The first thing a Recruiter or Hiring Manager will look at is your portfolio, and while you could display the code you’ve written or spent time compiling, no one will understand that. What they will catch is a strong design, so finding a way to showcase your high-level projects in a more digestible, design-focused way, will get you noticed in the search for a new job. 

Web Development tends to be a male dominated field. What tips do you have for other women looking to break into the space?

Web Development is overwhelmingly male. While this may be the case, I want to call out the importance of establishing a strong network of female Coders/Developers, so I recommend joining women specific meet up groups to build a sense of community. As a woman, you are making a difference by choosing this as your career path and setting an example for other women looking to become Developers/Engineers – just because the industry is inundated with a male presence now, doesn’t mean it has to stay this way. With this, the last thing I want to emphasize here is closing the wage gap between you and your male counterparts. Negotiation is key and remembering that you deserve equal pay will help close that gap now and into the future for women entering the field. If you’re looking to grow your career as a Web Developer check out our jobs here.