When I started as a Web Development Bootcamp student, I bought the domain kylabendt.com. Everybody should own the domain name that’s their name if it’s available, right?
For a long time it sat as the most hideous site that I designed while learning the very basics of CSS. It was ugly and awful and had two links to pages that were just as embarrassing as my home page.
I never really shared it with anybody, but somehow Google discovered it. I was mortified one day recently when I was talking to a friend on the phone who searched my name and landed on my site.
For a long time, I’d sort of intended to turn this site into a basic portfolio site, but I’d never gotten around to it. This dose of mortification was the little nudge I needed to do something about it.
Almost a year later, I finally got done with a quick redesign of it. kylabendt.com is now a decent looking Bootstrap site. It’s not super fancy, but it’s no longer a complete embarrassment.
Having updated my own portfolio site I feel as though I can at least write about this topic without being a total hypocrite.
Some people may talk about why you need your own website for getting a job. It’s a nice portfolio. It provides visibility. You can put it on your business card and use email@example.com as your email.
You can go a step further and have your own blog. This is supposed to establish you as an authority in the space.
These are all great points, but I feel like there are other reasons that are maybe even more impactful.
What you learn from it
There is a lot to be learned from creating a website. Even if one uses WordPress to create a simple site, there is a lot to learn along the way.
To me this just ties in with being a smart consumer of the internet… getting an inside peak into what goes on behind the scenes is really valuable.
Even, or especially, for people in the tech industry that are not web developers, making a website is a really valuable experience.
Having web experience benefits my other professional ‘personas’ . The data science part of me understands a lot more about scraping data from the web. I also know a lot more about the data websites collect on their users. The sales and marketing part understands more about online marketing.
Some people like to create boundaries between different job roles.
“I’m a data scientist, I don’t need to know about web development.”
I have found the more I dive into learning everything I can, the more it benefits me in unexpected ways. Things start to tie back together in all sorts of ways and what may initially seem like it won’t relate to anything turns out to be the key to solving some problem down the road.
The web is so omnipresent in our lives that it is a really powerful area to know more about.
The power of creating
There is something that happens when you create a new thing.
Especially if I am working in an area where I am not yet proficient, when I start to create something and it begins to take form, it feels like magic.
Making your first website is one of the coolest feelings.
There is a lot to be gained as far as confidence and a feeling of pride. Sometimes pride gets a bad reputation. While people can take it too far, I actually tend to think of it as a really positive thing. When I accomplish something cool and have a feeling of pride that I have legitimately earned it is one of the best feelings ever.
This section is aimed a little more towards having a blog than just a basic portfolio site. Although even a portfolio site may open the door to new connections.
There are a lot of reasons to start a blog – it’s a place to share what you’re learning, to help others that are following in your footsteps, to provide inspiration, to document your progress and passion. Some people start blogs to generate revenue through advertising or as platform to create and sell their own products.
Here I just want to focus on one reason – building connections. I don’t mean this as networking with people that you’re hoping will one day lead you to a high paying job.
I get that networking can be really powerful for landing a job, but I personally feel a bit repelled by the mentality of trying to connect with that as the motivation.
To me there is a more powerful form of connection available – that of genuine shared interests, goals and even real friendships.
Creating a blog or a website has a way of drawing in like-minded people that often become good friends. Sometimes these friends remain virtual, but often they also become real life friends.