Web application development is a rather different system today to what it was even just a few years ago. Now, web developers have to understand OOP practices, master multiple scripting languages, and learn to work with several different APIs. The days of throwing together a site with PHP and MySQL and letting it stand in isolation are long gone.
Open Source Development
One of the best ways for developers to get started these days is to work with or on open source projects. Open source development is a great way to network, meet new developers and learn new skills. Whether you volunteer for Magento, Mozilla or Ubuntu doesn’t really matter – pick something that matches your skills and interests, and work on it.
Pick Simple Problems and Solve Them
Don’t try and reinvent the wheel – there’s no point working on an all-singing, all dancing blogging platform as your first project when WordPress already exists. Why try to build a new ecommerce platform when Magento and OSCommerce already do the job perfectly well? Instead of trying to take on such a huge project to begin with, stick to solving smaller problems with elegant hacks. Build up a portfolio of smaller, finished projects and work on your mega-project once you have a following.
Share Your Code
Post your code to GitHub, sorceforge and other similar websites. Treat GitHub as a super LinkedIN page or resume. Showing your programming code is a good way to learn, get advice, and promote yourself. If there’s something wrong with your code, people will tell you. If your code is good, people will appreciate it – you’re helping others and could get a job out of it.
Of course, before you post any code you should make sure that it’s worth posting. Learn how to comment your code, how to structure it well, and how to optimize it. Only post code you’d be willing to show a prospective employer.