Whether you are with an organization switching to Drupal, or you have chosen to make Drupal the focus of your web developer career, your future can be a lot of different things depending on your goals, your focus and your personality. It’s never easy shifting your career, and with Drupal, there are no official, defined developer career recipes to guide you.
The good news is, the ingredients are out there. Within the open-sourcey, especially welcoming, social melting pot that is the Drupal Community, there are a lot of career resources, organizations, individuals, advice and success stories that you can draw on to help you make good choices. Here are a few tips to add to the mix.
Learn early on to do things the right way
Drupal is to web development what snowboarding is to winter sports. They say that it takes a lot longer to learn to snowboard than to ski, but once you get the hang of it, you learn advanced things more quickly, and are able to do a lot more (and have a lot more fun) on a snowboard than you could on skis.
Investing a good amount of time and focus on learning the foundations of Drupal and developing habits based on best practices will really help you reach proficiency, and let you go farther, faster in the long run. The key is making sure you take the time to learn best practices, and don’t go for shortcuts before you’ve got the basics.
Another part of learning the right technical skills is to learn key elements of Drupal, not just in the right way, but in an order that will give you stackable skills. Getting key concepts down at the start will help to not only build your abilities, but feed your confidence. At DrupalEasy, we call them the Big 5:
We feel that mastering these concepts is so important, that in our long-form career training program, the curriculum is designed with examples and excercises that specifically draw on the Big 5 as solutions over and over to ensure that they become second nature for every participant.
Don’t be shy, even if you are
The Drupal Community is unique. There is always an opportunity to help, and there always seems to be someone to provide a little guidance or an answer when you have a question. Make sure you become part of Drupal.org, find an IRC channel that you feel comfortable with, and go to local meetups.
We really can’t overstate how key getting involved in the Drupal community is to your technical and professional success. Once you register on Drupal.org, you can access myriad ways to get involved and help with the Drupal project. Helping to test, sorting out issues and contributing to documentation will not only help build your skills and confidence, it will build your reputation. Even before you are ready to contribute on the technical side, you can join your local Drupal Users’ Group and start by attending, meeting others, and eventually helping to organize events.
Drupal friends and mentors really come in handy as you progress along your career path, more so than in other industries because of the nature of Drupal. We all rely on each other to build, enhance, fix and grow the project, so the more we work together, the better the project, and the better we will be as Drupal professionals. We feel really strongly about this as well, which is why we require all of our Drupal Career program participants to get involved, and we provide everyone a community mentor to kick-start their community efforts from the start of the program.
Just do it, and do it again, and again
With anything, if you want to master it, you need to practice, and practice a lot. Build sites for fun and experience. Like snowboarding, it is especially hard when you first start out, but if you stick with it, and take the struggles as opportunities to learn and get better, you will surely succeed. You’ve also got a lot of potential help and guidance through the community (since you have already taken that advice to heart,) so take advantage of it early on and be prepared to give back when you can.
Our training programs stress this concept of practice, repetition of key skills as you learn more and more, as well as different methods to help you learn them. We are strong believers in building your skills and really understanding Drupal, and that means live instruction by practicing experts, lesson guides, examples, exercises and screencasts to help you soak in the material in different ways. However you learn, take advantage of resources, find different ways to absorb and engage, and practice, practice, practice.
If you would like to learn more about how to succeed in Drupal and our long-form training program, you can sign up for one of two, no-cost Taste of Drupal workshops coming up and explore the resources below.
Taste of Drupal free workshop
Drupal Career Online Program