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I am a Front End Developer. I have around 10 years of experience in IT/development. Despite that, I am not in a good position in my career. The problem is that I have a big technology gap.

I left my career to raise my kids and then to focus on immigrating to Canada. Meanwhile, I freelanced occasionally and went back to school for a college programming in IT (my first university was in Communications).

The first job I got after college was in software support, totally backend. I missed the Front End but I kept the job for 1 year and a half because it was important for my family and the immigration process.

When we got a permanent residence, I left the job. But at least 6 years had gone without updating my Front End skills. There is a whole new world in Front End Development now! Things I didn't learn in the college program either.

The only job I could get as Front End Dev was in an agency that works with WordPress. I have been working there for more than 2 years now and never learned anything new. We are a team of 4, 2 of us are the owners. The company has 20 years in the market, was always that size, so there is no room for growth.

The owners said they support me to learn new technologies but, we never have time to afford the learning curves.

I have been studying modern JavaScript and frameworks by myself at home in my spare time. I am applying for JavaScript and React jobs but when I get an interview, I still fail on the technical side.

I found it is difficult to stick to the new concepts when I study occasionally and never have the chance to apply whatever I am studying in my day-by-day work.

I am considering leaving the job to have time to focus on studying and building a portfolio. I asked for advice from a friend recruiter and he said it is easier I get a new job if I am currently working than if I am unemployed.

I am concerned if I will not get any other job soon. At the same time, I have been unsuccessfully trying to get prepared for the market and looking for a new job for more than 1 year. I feel stuck.

I am sorry for this long text. Any advice and suggestion would be welcomed. Have anyone gone through the same situation?

Thanks in advance

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The company has 20 years in the market, was always that size, so there is no room for growth.

When you have a family to support a stable job is a huge asset, particularly in the current times. Growth is great of course but leaving your current employment is a risk unless you're financially secure enough that you can lose your revenue stream for an unpredictable period.

I have 5 kids with another on the way, I stopped taking major risks a long time ago. My life and career are no longer about me and never will be again. Re-entering the ratrace competing with keen, ambitious, qualified youngsters with no baggage is going to be a major risk unless you have a powerful professional network to leverage.

My advice would be to just soldier on for the money, study what you can until you can land a job that has you working from home or something like that.

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Wow that's a lot of text - you might want to edit it down a bit to focus on the essentials.

Leaving your job to study doesn't sound a great idea to me, technology is changing all the time so the risk is you will never be ready for the next job!

Your company is willing to help you learn new technologies - that's great. It sounds like you need to work out a way to incorporate some of them into your client assignments. Do you have contacts in the clients who you can speak to about their requirements? Failing that speak to the in house person dealing with the client. Look for small opportunities initially as you build up your confidence and experience. I'm not saying it will be easy but I agree with your recruiter - getting a job when you have one is always much easier!

Good luck!

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    Thanks Alan. I really appreciate your advice. I also edited the post to make it smaller.. still big though. Well, I am the newest asset in the company, if the other dev don't agree to use the new technology, I will never win. They are not willing to learn new the things to be able to maintain my code – Valeria Elias Jan 8 at 23:22
  • Another option might be to find a small non-profit and do some voluntary work for them using some of the tools you have been learning. – Alan Dev Jan 10 at 0:10
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My advice might sound counterintuitive but bear with me: Have you tried applying to big, well known software companies that primarily conduct whiteboard-coding interviews?

On first sight it might seem like getting a position like that would be even more difficult but this might not be the case since many of them interview A LOT of candidates even when they have no outstanding qualifications.Your success in the interview will not depend on your knowledge of the newest JavaScript framework (which can take a lot of time to acquire) but your algorithmic abilities which can be developed more quickly if you consistently devote time outside of work to it.

Example: creating a whole project for your spare time to develop and showcase your React skills is potentially much more work than devoting one hour a day to solving Leetcode questions.

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I see 2 possible solutions to your problem

  • Start working part-time, that way you will still be employed but have one or two days available for study.

  • Maybe you can find/propose projects which cannot be (fully) done by a simple WordPress site. Perhaps you can convince the owners to upsell one or more clients more complex websites. Or maybe you can help find some clients with more complex needs. This way you will be forced to use more advanced technologies than WordPress at work.

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I do agree with other comments that leaving a job to upskill is not a good idea. Neither is giving up and feeling miserable. I was in a similar situation till recently.

I see a few problems:

  1. Not enough time to upskill

Carve out a couple of hours every day for this purpose outside or work and chores. For me, this means waking up much earlier than others and study for couple of hours before the daily grind starts. This can also be done at any other time of the day, depending on your work and household obligations. But there needs to be a plan for everyday. Weekends or off days, plan to spend longer time.

This also meant that the time I spend on entertainment has come down a lot. Now I pair entertainment with chores - watch movie on my device (with bluetooth headset) when doing dishes, etc.

Rope in your spouse to do some of the chores, and activities with kids. Only one of us ever takes our kids to the park or any activity. Both of us worked out a specific schedule so that we each have predictable chunks of time for studying.

  1. Not a good plan to upskill

If you feel that the new technologies are not sticking, you have to look at what you are studying. Another major component (at least 50%) of learning is actually doing a project in what you have learned. Make a list of new technologies you have to learn, pick up good tutorials or lessons, learn them and make one or two demonstration projects with what you have learned. The demonstration projects are important to showcase your skill and also to learn. Once you feel that you've learned the technologies you want to work in, focus on interview skills.

  1. Develop good study and work habits.

Look up "Learning how to learn", "Atomic Habits" and "Deep Work" books or talks. These help better manage your time.

It might take you an year or more to feel confident about the new technologies you have learned, but it will be better than a lifetime of frustration.

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  • Absolutely all comments were amazing. A big shake for me. I definitely need to manage my time better and get more productive. You really helped me. Giving up my current job is not an option anymore. Thanks all. I hope I will be back to this post in a few months to tell you how it is going! – Valeria Elias Jan 10 at 17:48

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