Skillcrush Break Into Tech Blueprint Review – Phase 2

This is my 100% honest, unaffiliated opinion of phase 2 of the Skillcrush Break Into Tech Blueprint.  If you missed my review of phase 1, you can read it here.

 Phase 2 of the Skillcrush Break Into Tech Blueprint is where things start to get exciting.  You have some decisions to make, and you start specializing in the aspects of tech that really excite you.  Phase 2 is called Level Up, and aptly so.  Here is where you really level up your specific skillset.

You have a couple of choices to make as you progress through phase 2.  The first one is whether to specialize in web design, web development, or both.

You kick of phase 2 with a Zoom videoconference with a Skillcrush career counselor, and I was sure going into my meeting that I wanted to specialize in both web design and development.  I mean, I had spent all this money on the blueprint, so I might as well, right?  I definitely felt more interested and pulled into web development, but figured that it couldn’t hurt to go through the web design courses as well to make myself more marketable.

Well, my career counselor, Max, talked me out of that notion.  He explained that if I felt more compelled to go into web development, then I should just focus on that for now.  I could start working and earning money a lot more quickly than if I took the time to go through the web design courses as well.

Here’s the kicker that really pushed me to decide to just focus on the web development track: Even if you choose not to formally go through the web design track (or vice-versa), you still have access to all the web design courses!  So even though I chose the web development track and have started my freelance WordPress development business, I can still go back and access all the web design courses one day, when and if I want to!  

So, I chose the web development track for phase 2 of the Skillcrush Break Into Tech Blueprint.

The core development courses that all students on the web development track must take are Introduction to JavaScript, Coding Responsive Websites, along with a final assessment and a milestone project.

Introduction to JavaScript

To be completely honest, I felt that the JavaScript portion was the weakest part of the Break Into Tech Blueprint.  I understand that Skillcrush is geared towards non-techy women, but I found the explanations and projects to be a bit… juvenile, I guess.

While I did learn some about JavaScript, it definitely didn’t sink in as well as the other portions of the blueprint.  The projects that you complete along the way are presented in such a way that you are given a starter file, and you add the necessary JavaScript to it step-by-step.  Sounds great, except that even after completing the projects, there’s no way I could actually complete a similar project by myself from scratch.

However, I am glad that Skillcrush teaches some JavaScript basics, as that is a super necessary skill for any web developer!

Coding Responsive Websites

This was a really useful portion of the blueprint, and focuses on using media queries to make sites responsive to many different devices.  It also teaches how to use Flexbox, which is another great method for making responsive websites.

For this portion of the Break Into Tech Blueprint, we coded up a fictional music blog called Unplugged, and made it responsive for desktops, tablets, and phones.  

Skillcrush emphasizes the importance of mobile-first development, and the Unplugged project is coded mobile-first. 

I really enjoyed this section of the blueprint, as it went into a lot of depth about responsive development, including how to include responsive images, responsive typography, icon fonts, and how to embed responsive iframes.

Milestone Project

After a multiple-choice exam about JavaScript and responsive web development, the milestone project is to complete a simple project for a client.

As in, you need to go out, find a client, complete some work, and actually get paid for it.

This part was really scary to me, as I didn’t feel prepared to go out and actually make money from my coding skills yet.  However, a family member needed a website, so I helped him create one and got this milestone completed.  Whew!

Specialization Classes – WordPress

After the milestone is complete, Skillcrush gives you the option of selecting a specialization.  For the web development track, the choices are web design, WordPress, and full stack.  You can choose one or more of these specializations.

I chose WordPress, mainly because I had potential clients approaching me about helping them with their blogs, and I didn’t know the first thing about blogging.  So, WordPress it was, and boy, am I glad I picked it.

The WordPress customization is broken into two courses – Introduction to WordPress and WordPress Professional Best Practices.

In each course, you create a WordPress site for a fictional client, and the content and skills that are asked of you become more and more advanced.

This is where the rubber really hit the road for me.  When I finished these two courses, I felt like a WordPress pro, leagues above most WordPress developers out there.

I learned about PHP, custom theming, child themes, custom queries, advanced custom fields, custom post types, custom page templates, and even how to add a fun custom 404 page.  

Wow is all I have to say about this part of the course.  It really goes deep, and I am SO glad that I learned all these skills.  It really positions you to take on some advanced custom work for clients, if needed.

I really can’t say enough good things about these two courses in particular.  They set me up for success, and I owe my successful start as a freelance WordPress developer to Skillcrush because of them!

Milestone Project

Next up is a milestone project, in which you contribute to an open source project on GitHub.

I started some research for this milestone, but never completed it, as my first freelance WordPress clients started rolling in!  I’ve been pretty busy with my freelance WordPress development business ever since, and haven’t had the chance to go back and find an open source project to contribute to yet.

Phase 2 ends with another career counseling session.

 In Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed my honest review of the Skillcrush Break Into Tech Blueprint.

I think the fact that I have yet to finish the phase 2 milestone and move onto phase 3 (Go Pro, all about successful freelancing) because I have been busy serving clients is a real testament to the strength of this blueprint.

I’m not sure when my review of phase 3 will be coming, as I’m currently too busy building WordPress websites, but as soon as I complete it, I will be posting that review as well.

If you have any questions about the Skillcrush Break Into Tech Blueprint, or about freelance WordPress development in general, please leave a comment or contact me below!

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