© James Edgeworth 2018
Development Published 30 May 2017

Don't fret over the language

I recently overheard an enthusiastic - albiet alarmed conversation between fresh Computer Science graduates. Their overall concern was how to get into the industry with the languages they've used during university - notably Python and Java. They didn't fail to notice the web industry is heavily dominated by PHP and Javascript, which presumably were not covered.

Thing is, the language isn't the important bit. For the most part, they are merely syntactical differences - their end goal is near enough the same (though some languages have neater tricks up their sleeves). They all provide the ability to write conditions, loops, objects, functions, and entire MVC design patterns, and are all able to cater for the project's needs. Your skills are easily transferrable between each, and any time spent learning any of them will benefit any requirements of the others. Essentially, if you have never used PHP before, but have been using - in this case - Python, then you already know most of PHP despite having not used it.

What's important is the framework you use. Is there a demand for it? Are you able to use one to provide the requirements for the project? Is the framework solid, trusted, and stable? Does it have long-term support to cover the lifecycle of the project's release? Each language has a framework which ticks all those boxes, and there are many companies (and their clients) thriving on each one of them.

Let's assume two developers are applying for a job. The job requirement is for Laravel, and thus PHP. Developer one (Claire, in this case) has four years experience writing web applications in Django (Python). Developer Two (Peter) has two years of PHP experience using CakePHP. Peter is likely to be the first person offered an interview because it looks like he matches the job requirement much closer than Claire does. However, Claire has two extra years building web applications which says a lot in itself. I am not trying to say Peter should be discarded, but think about this. Both developers would be learning Laravel on the job. The biggest difference is that Claire also has to adjust to PHP, but she already knows MVC frameworks. All we are really asking her to do in addition is learn a syntax which is a small task compared to learning the intricacies of a framework.

My closing advice is, don't fret over which languages you have picked up so far as your skills are easily interchangable between them. If you have learned a language but don't end up using it, then it has still taught you valueble coding experience. Also, welcome to the industry and hope you have a good ride.