Learning Angular + Rails Because You Want a Job?

In my communications with Angular on Rails readers, I often come across people who are just getting started with their web development careers.

If you’re one of these people who are just starting out with web development, I have some thoughts to share with you that can potentially save you some pain.

Here’s my main piece of advice: learning Angular and learning Rails are probably both good ideas. Learning them both at the same time is probably not a good idea. There are two reasons why I think so.

The first reason is that there’s a huge amount of learning that’s necessary in order to go from non-programmer to someone an employer would feel comfortable paying to write software, and if you try to learn too much, it will take you way longer than it has to.

The second reason is that there’s honestly probably not much of a difference to an employer between someone who claims to know Angular and Rails and someone who claims to know just Rails.

When an employer evaluates a prospective employee, I think the main question the employer is probably asking is “Could I give this person work and trust it to actually get done?” I think the way that you demonstrate that the answer to that question is “yes” is not mainly by knowing the right technologies (although that can be part of it) but by showing a history of having accomplished things.

So if you’re new to web development in general and you want a programming job, here’s what I’d recommend: build a project in Rails (just Rails, no Angular yet). Preferably it’s not a toy project like a to-do list or anything like that, but something that could actually be useful to people. If you build an application that’s useful to people, you get the added benefit of getting real users, dealing with feature requests, etc.

I’ve used this tactic myself a few times. My first Rails project wasn’t for any job. I built a hair salon scheduling application (terrible idea, by the way, but that’s a story for another time) and got a few salons to use it. Based on my experience building this Rails application on my own, I was able to get some paid work using Rails. Later, I did the same thing with Angular, with the same effect.

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I would also recommend sharing what you learn as you learn it. If you encounter a hard problem and then solve it, share your solution in a blog post. Don’t wait until you feel like an “expert” to start sharing what you’ve learned.

Eventually you’ll build up a body of work that you can show to employers and say “this is my blog, where I teach X.” This moves you from being nobody to being somebody (in the employer’s mind). Even if no one ever comes to your blog, the mere fact that you can call yourself “John Smith, Author of X” (blog/website/e-book/whatever), positions you as an expert in the employer’s mind, or at least somebody who knows something.

But my main point is if you come here wanting to learn both Rails and Angular at the same time, my suggestion is don’t. It’s totally fine just to focus on Rails first.

If you want a good resource for learning Rails by itself, check out Michael Hartl’s Rails tutorial.

About the author

Jason Swett

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