Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How to get a mobile phone developer job - Part 1 #learnmobile

Over lunch I was talking with a friend about how difficult it is for young people to find jobs. After mentioning the hiring I see for mobile development, she asked me to write up my recommendations for learning mobile.  This is Part One.

Like most things, you have to show some experience before getting hired. Here are the steps I recommend you take to start gaining experience.

Meetup.com - Get an account and look for meetups in your area related to mobile. Attend some, listen and say hello. At many of the mobile ones that I attend mobile companies are hiring. In the Washington DC area there are probably a couple mobile related meetups per week. Lots of people go with no experience just hoping to learn. You'll figure out in a month which ones are for you.
chrome - I strongly recommend you start using Chrome as your browser. It is the best desktop browser for developing mobile apps. View source on web pages to learn how designers put together some HTML features. Leave the developer tools enabled to see css and javascript. Try changing some css on a live webpage to learn css better.
Git - You are going to need git on your computer. Every time you start a project you use git to create a repository. A repository gives you version control - a safe way to revert to an old version of your code if you need to. This makes it all the easier to experiment with you code. The easiest way to setup and learn git is on help.github.com (see next).
Github.com - If you are going to be a developer, you'll need a github account and get good at using github. Set up a free account. There are over a millions users and even more repositories. Follow a couple and contribute. The great thing is that you don't always have to contribute code. Even documentation is welcomed. 
Dropbox.com - Set up a free account and set it up on your laptop. You can also set it up on your phone and tablet, though this is optional. Do NOT develop code in your dropbox folder. Instead use git on your local hard drive and github. What you'll be using dropbox for cheap web hosting of your code. Put a file in the public folder  (video) and you'll then be able to access that file from the web. Very handy for testing on phones and tablets or sharing with a friend.
Text editor - If you are coding you'll need a text editor. You can spend lots of money but no need to do that yet. If you want to take the full plunge get the free IDE called Eclipse. But for now, all you probably need is something like NotePad++ for windows. 
HTML - Learn very, very simple HTML. To start all you need to know is how to type in a simple page with a title and a couple of paragraphs. HTML5 will come later. 
jQueryMobile.com - You can write a mobile app in 4 hours using jQueryMobile. Really. It won't very graphic, but few non-games are. All you need is a web browser and a text editor (not Microsoft Word). The quick start guide should be enough, but there are many tutorials on jQueryMobile. When you have finished writing it, post it to github. Then do one a week (see Part 2).
blog - Any blogging service will do. I use blogger.com and posterous.com. Others use wordpress, typepad or tumblr.  Every day - repeat - every day write a short post about what you did to learn mobile apps that day. While not many people may read your blog, you need a place to capture what you are learning and share it with others. Your potential employer will also see that you are serious by working everyday.
twitter.com - You'll need a twitter account. Write up what you are trying to do in the profile. Tweet daily. Point out good tutorials you've found. Highlight good blog posts you've written. Thank people. You'll also find a few people to follow. Use the hashtag #learnmobile so others can follow your tweets - and maybe develop a community of learners.

When you do all of the above, you will start building up some experience. People will know that you are serious about learning how to become a mobile developer. You'll also have your first app published on github. And hopefully, your contribution to another github project was accepted which you now add to your resume.

You should be able to start all of the above within 8 hours. Perhaps 4. And at no cost. You'll be on your way.

Keep at it everyday. Everyday use git. Every day write some code from a tutorial or your own project using git and github. Everyday blog about what tutorials you read, what you coded and what you learned. Everyday tweet about your blog post or highlight a good tutorial. Some days you may have several blog posts and tweets. Everyday.

After you do the above, you are ready for Part 2.

Intro | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

1 comment:

Will said...

Great post. I'm doing this myself. I also wrote some php and used Google Fusion Tables to store some data. I also used local storage so the app can be used offline.

My goal with mobile apps is to set up a RESTful API so I'm also looking at Ruby on Rails and cloud services.