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How my time at The One Point has improved me

Posted on Nov 26, 2015.

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I’m Dan Sherwood. A freelance web Developer and Designer.

I’ve been volunteering at The One Point, on a weekly basis for little over a year now. To get a fuller understanding of what this experience and the digital department have really done for me we need to go back, back to 2013.

My journey into web development and programming was rather late, only developing an interest circa 2011.  I’ve always had an interest in computers and technology, but I’d never thought of programming and development as something that was within my means. A catalyst to this eventual realisation that I could try my hand at web development was building a PC. I decided to build a PC for myself as a personal goal and as a means to playing Skyrim with mods. This sparked an interest in something I had never thought about before. I did some reading on the topic and knew I wanted to do this, as a hobby initially. I stumble across Codecademy and once I do this really ignites the interest I have for programming into something else, something much more substantial.

So, I went through their online courses and practiced and struggled with HTML and CSS. This pattern continued for the next 6 - 12 months or so. I built my first website in 2011. The website was pretty bad. Based off a customised theme. I wanted it to be a blog, I didn’t know much about back-end development at this stage. It was still something of a mystery to me as I was just getting to grips with basic HTML, CSS and JS. I knew I could put a page or two together and apply some stylings, but I needed to take it to the next level.

Enter The One Point. I started volunteering there in the late summer of 2013. I was immediately thrown into the deep end as it were. Having a limited understanding of PHP and back-end development generally, I was introduced to The Simple MVC Framework. Shown how to do basic things with it in the early days, however at the time it was challenging to even generate a simple view or create a controller for adding form data to a database, forget about me taking on something more complex, such as a login system.

However, through days of practice and plenty of homework I slowly and gradually learnt and became competent at working with PHP, honing my understanding of it even further and making more and more robust applications. Having a one-on-one mentorship with a fantastic PHP developer has proved to be invaluable to me. The experience and knowledge gained cannot be replaced or substituted. In a relatively short span of time I have become competent with creating web based applications such as Content Management Systems.

Of course, to go hand in hand with my internship, practising is just as crucial to anyone looking to learn a new skill. I consider my first true website to be Sleepers Bar. This was created as means to put what I had learnt into practice and it was been well received so far. There is an accompanying CMS to go along with too, built by myself, with a lot of help from Dave and Kerry too along the way.

And, now finally I have my own website and I’m currently advertising myself as a freelance web developer and designer. The journey I have made has been long, difficult and at times very stressful. Despite this I absolutely love what I do, and I think every minute of work has been worth it and more. 

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