To become a better web developer, you need experience. But how can you get more experience? How does one get into web development?
I'm serious about getting into the field professionally, have been using Drupal for 3 years, and am taking training through local courses. I also attend as many Meetups as I can in my area. I'm transitioning from one field to another, though I've done web development in jobs in the past as a secondary responsibility. But I'm not seeing many opportunities for beginner/intermediate web developers (front-end dev with interest in design and back-end). I haven't found many internships/apprenticeships in my state (Michigan).
Do people go to graduate school to get the skills and experiences they need? (I've already graduated from college, but with a non-computer science degree.) If grad school is the best option, is it difficult being only one of a few females in a computer science program? I imagine this number gets smaller in graduate school. There are a few community college programs in my area, but I don't think they make sense for my needs.
I've looked for guides about how to get into the field, but only find information about the skills one needs to learn. How does one take that knowledge and make it into a career? Do you reach out to employers and ask about internships if their websites don't discuss internships? Is it worth looking for internships outside of your home state/area in order to break into the field? Should you apply for careers that ask for more experience than what you have in hopes you might be taken on?
There's not a lot of information out there about how to make that transition from advanced beginner/low intermediate to high intermediate/advanced. I'm finding lots of resources for beginners and many opportunities for people advanced in the field. But how can the gap between beginner and expert be addressed?
This isn't necessarily women-specific. But it's certainly difficult to go to community events and be one of few women in the room (and in my case one of few minorities). Though I don't mind being physically different from others in the room, how does a beginner break in? I can't tell if the challenge lies in my gender being a roadblock to finding mentors. (The concept of needing to "break in" also bothers me. I think there should be opportunities in place to take people who are high level beginners and help them transition successfully into the field, especially in locations that need people with that skill set. But it doesn't seem like apprenticeships are a regular thing in web development.)
It's a very perplexing place to be in. I think to myself "I know I can be good at this, I know I like it," but I need mentors and people who know best practices to help me gain real experience.
Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.