Friday, November 20, 2009

One Small Step

I have had a few developments in my job search, which I plan to share with you next week when they become more concrete.

For now, here's a quick post about a small step I plan on taking in developing some marketable skills. As I've mentioned, I wish I developed my computer and IT skills instead of going to law school. One area in which I have some (albeit mostly amateur) experience is web design. I learned how to script HTML (before the wysiwyg editors were developed) in the early days of web. I even hosted a few websites, so I knew about web servers and ftp, etc.

Sadly for me, things have changed quite a bit in web development since those days. There is more structure to web sites and commercial sites often require interactions with data bases and graphically intense interfaces. Web developers usually have to be familiar (usually intimately so) with CSS, CMS, Flash, PHP, SQL, JavaScript, VB Script, and XML. At a minimum, strong skills in HTML, CSS, and PHP are required for entry level positions.

I'm pretty familiar with HTML (and related development software). CSS is pretty straightforward (it's just a method of standardizing the appearance of multiple pages on a website). What is more complex is PHP, particularly in interacting with databases. PHP uses programming concepts to manipulate user inputed data (usually to query or edit a database). I have familiarity with programming concepts, and I'd even say I have a working knowledge of PHP, but that's not enough to really advertise it as a particular skill of mine.

I've decided to spend some of my free time (of which I certainly have plenty right now) learning PHP to the point where I can get a certificate. The training is self paced, and free, but the test/certification does cost a modest amount. It's from a website that is often noted for setting the standard for scripting and web development.

Now, I'm not under any illusion that a simple certificate (with no real work experience) is going to let me walk into a great IT/web development job. What I do hope it will do is give me credibility in applying for other jobs where there is a web development/database component and where I can get practical experience. Also, it may help me get a part time web development position where I can begin to build a portfolio.

Web and computer savvy readers, feel free to weigh in in the comment section.


  1. Hate to say this, but a lot of small law firms could use web dev or IT assistance. Small business focusing on that market, or combo associate/IT guy?

  2. Another lawyer here. I am actually trying to get into IT myself. Right now I'm working a law-related job but not as a lawyer. The IT field doesn't seem nearly as dismal as the legal field, despite outsourcing (though I am told it is still dismal).

    PHP is not too hard. When I graduated law school and passed the bar I was unemployed so I started my own law firm, learned PHP and developed an e-commerce website. The firm crashed and burned but I learned a lot about PHP. Now I have a new blog up that I made using PHP (shameless plug):

    Good luck!


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