Calling all Unicorns…

Calling all Unicorns….

Yes, we are a mythical breed. How can one design an icon set and then go write functional programming for an application. We are seen as gold to most start-ups. Executioners, survivalists, masters of wizardry. For those that don’t know what an Unicorn is in the modern world of hiring or job market. Here you go:

A unicorn is someone who can take on and perform a variety of tasks such as UX Designer/Architect, Visual Designer, Front-end Developer, Back-end Development, DevOps, Marketing, Content Creation or more.

But…

Punishment is inevitable for us. Although we are multi-skilled and faceted, there is no compensation that can equate to our captivating skill-set. In any level of organization, start-up to large, it is a double edged sword that will eventually swing at us.

The Start-up Unicorn

We come in and are seen as Achilles in Troy, we can run a Marketing campaign, design the graphics for it, program the email, and then setup the landing pages, and also update the product API to send new data to create list segments for marketing campaign. The term unicorn is more popular in start-ups because with the lack of numbers in the company, the moment will inevitably arise that you have to do more than one job function. The problem exists in most start-ups that they don’t have the cash to pay you what you truly deserve, I mean if you think about it, if you cover 3-4 job positions, saving the company anywhere from 250-500k, Shouldn’t you technically be paid somewhere close to that or at least a percentage bump? Most likely it won’t happen, otherwise you would be making more money than the C-suite executives, which could be an elite group, consulting of investors of if you’re in the San Francisco area, a guy with a mustache, black rim glasses, and a shirt from the thrift store representing a slogan from the 80s.

It’s a sad truth that exists, but lets get real. You’re in a startup, which means hopefully they let you work from home sometimes, or don’t track vacation time like bean counters, and offer some narly perks. That’s the fun of a start-up. An environment that is pulsing with each emergency and rushing minute to get a new software version out, or get something printed before a trade show. It’s for the passion that you do it, you might even get the title Unicorn on your desk. And hopefully one day the start-up will pay off, and you can shit rainbows.

The Mid-size Unicorn

You are pulled in different directions, the company is large enough to have different VPs for marketing, training, client services, engineering. You value this, because it gives a good feeling of being needed, but sad truth is, it can be annoying, because no processes are perfect in mid-size companies or theirs processes that are different for each person you’re trying to help out. The other part of mid-size company, is that you’re probably under a certain VP and the have seen that you been helping other departments and want to ask why you do this, or they embrace you for it, but you’re still expected to deliver the same for what they want.

Mid-size Unicorns are more rare to come by, if you’re a Unicorn in a mid-size company. My heart goes out to you, you are a cross-department beast with multiple worlds on your shoulders. If being a unicorn is something you embrace and want to maintain, your future is dim in this company, as the mid-size grows into a large company with Success, your tasks will be reduced and your skills shared, and they will fade as you being to focus on one thing.

The Large Company Unicorn

Not sure if there is much to say here, because by the time a company has hit over 500 employees, the mythical creatures have disappeared and you are left with no more magic. People come to work and they go home. And obtaining compensation that would even come close to suffice for a Unicorn is unseen here. The compensation will be tightly squeezed as the company has more financial management and need to make numbers. If you’re lucky, you will be able to move into management as an execution manager, 1 in a 1,000,000 that has actually done the job that you ask others to do. a very rare find. As most managers have not done what they ask for, they might know what they want in the end but not how to execute to get there. You my friend are not that person, you are a Unicorn and although a big company might not be the place for you, maybe, in a grassy knoll, they will embrace your cross skills and give you a project to flourish. One can only hope.

Node.js – A Revolution for Front-End to be Back-End

Node.js hit the scene a few years back and has taken off like crazy. Particularly among front-end developers. It gave them a chance to get their hands dirty on the backend without looking like fools. If you’re new to this game, don’t worry, intimidating at first, but you will get it.

Along with Node.js, NPM empowers people even more to be complete BADASS with their skills and abilities. NPM is the node package manager, much like Ruby Developers have Gems, and Python developers have Pip. Javascript developers have NPM thanks to Node.js. I will admit that when I first dived into Node.js, I was intimidated. I didn’t quite understand how it worked. I could find several good examples of Node.js in use, for local servers, no more Apache setup on my local computer – YAY.

I think majority of developers out there are still in this bucket with Node.js. They know about Express, Server, and several other NPM modules that help you use functionality of Node.js but Node.js itself is still a mystery.

Node.js is like your flour in the cake, you know it’s the most important ingredient but without the Baking Powder or sugar, it won’t be a cake. Just like when it comes to baking a cake, you can learn a lot just about flour. I recommend learning more about Node.js for any developer using it. Not just continuing to use the nicely developed NPM packages. Understanding Node.js at the core level will help you debug packages that might have conflicts and even potentially develop your own.

Some great reading material I recommend:
Node: Up and Running

5 Best Tutorial Sources to Learn to Code

1. Codecademy – http://www.codecademy.com/

Strengths:

  • No Signup
  • Great step-by-step instructions in their lessons.
  • Learn by Doing
  • Q&A forum for questions on each lesson

Weaknesses:

  • No Videos
  • Few practical uses and challenges
  • Few backend lessons

2. SitePoint – http://www.sitepoint.com/

Sitepoint Screenshot

SitePoint is a great resource for learning random lessons. I tend to land on their website if searching certain strings, so their SEO power is great. The biggest “wow” that I have experienced on their website is new content. This team pumps out new content continuously. On a daily basis now I tend to check http://sitepoint.com and find something useful, rather it be for Design, Ruby, PHP, Python, etc. I don’t know if I would use them as a regular resource for courses, but instead, I mark them as a blog I check randomly similar to Scotch.io and digest the articles I want.

Strengths:

  • No Signup
  • New Content Release – “Wow”
  • Large range of different choices.
  • Library of books for more in-depth learning.
  • Q&A forum for questions on each lesson

Weaknesses:

  • Limited Videos
  • Lack of structured learning.
  • Structured more similar to blog layout.

3. TreeHouse – https://teamtreehouse.com/

Treehouse is the full text-book. You get a detailed walk-through that doesn’t leave you wondering if you have it right. This can be very beneficial if you learn like this, but for some, marking every detail and not leaving room for self-learning can impair. Although it’s not free, if you’re a person that learns through ultimately thoroughness, Treehouse is a good way to go.

Strengths:

  • Videos
  • Large range of courses.
  • Very structured learning process.
  • On page coding.
  • Gamification to enhance .
  • Job board for post course completion.

Weaknesses:

  • Not Free, costs $25/mo.
  • Sometimes can see slow.
  • Time investment required.

4. Codeschool – https://www.codeschool.com/

Strengths:

  • Videos
  • Large range of courses.
  • Very structured learning process.
  • On page coding.
  • Gamification to enhance .

Weaknesses:

  • Not Free, costs $29/mo, slightly higher than TreeHouse.
  • UI can get annoying due to the extreme gamification they try to achieve with the website.
  • Similar to TreeHouse, it requires time investment to get through a course.
  • Not as large selection of courses as TreeHouse.

5. Tuts+ – https://tutsplus.com/

Tuts+ is one of my favorites due to the vast range of courses, video quality, and the reasonable price compared to their competitors.

Strengths:

  • Videos
  • Large range of courses.
  • Structured learning process for each of the courses.
  • Gamification to enhance .

Weaknesses:

  • Not Free, costs $15/mo, one of the better prices.
  • UI can get annoying due to the extreme gamification they try to achieve with the website.
  • Similar to TreeHouse, it requires time investment to get through a course.
  • No on-page coding samples.