Fun in the Sun…dry Ways to Build Your Skills Over the Summer

As the school semesters begins to wind down and draw to a close, you might be thinking that freedom is in sight—you may even see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, as I touched on in a recent post, the education of a web developer never stops. Summer is a great time to stretch your design and coding knowledge on your own time and without the threat of grades.

There are a lot of different opportunities you can take advantage of over the summer months to get a head start on the competition (a.k.a. your classmates). Here are a few suggestions that you might find helpful:

Coding Bootcamps

Though it’s a bit of a pricey option, a coding bootcamp can exponentially grow your skills in a short amount of time. Coding bootcamps are essentially highly-focused learning programs that offer many of the benefits of a college degree program (without the official piece of paper) in a shorter amount of time.

Many “camps” offer an expedited option that will fit nicely into your summer break. Some of the courses are expensive, but, if you dig deep enough, there are some curricula available that won’t break the bank. Many camps offer scholarships, too, so check into those and save yourself a buck or two.

There aren’t many options in Indiana for on-site coding bootcamps, so online camps will be your best option. Bloc and Career Foundry are two highly-rated options. Both offer courses for not just web design and development, but also on UX design and mobile application programming.

Development Conferences and Seminars

Not up for a three-month long crash course in Ruby development? Try a conference instead. Spend a day learning about one or two topics in a traditional conference setting with keynote speakers and breakout sessions. It may not be as well-rounded as a bootcamp, but it will certainly be shorter, cheaper, and more detailed on a single topic.

One conference located within driving distance of Indiana is the Build Right: Modern JavaScript event taking place on Thursday, May 18, 2017 in Dayton, Ohio. This conference is a hands-on experience covering topics like JavaScript’s evolving role on the web, how to structure JavaScript-based sites and apps, typical uses for front-end JavaScript.

Tickets for the day-long event come in at $99 and can be purchased through Eventbrite. If you don’t feel like traveling to Dayton, there is also an online option available for the same price. Build Right is also hosting other conferences you might be interested in.

Free Content

It’s pretty hard to beat a free resource. One of the best ways that I learn is by reading articles and blog posts written by respected names in the industry. Smashing Magazine, Webdesigner Depot, and Designmodo are good blogs to follow that frequently post quality information on a variety of relevant topics. The Web Designer publishes a weekly email newsletter packed with industry news, trending topics, and free resources.

SpinWeb, a digital marketing firm in Indianapolis, produces a free live podcast every Friday at 10 a.m. EST on web-related topics like search engine optimization, social media integration, and website content generation. Listen to SpinRadio live on Spreaker or download previous episodes on iTunes.


This is an option that has been beaten to death by every college professor and advisor who has ever been hired. Maybe it’s part of the job description. Regardless of the motive, professors continuously impress on students the need to seek internship opportunities—and for good reason. My experiences in internship positions during my college career have been far more educational than even my courses have been.

Internships are an opportunity for you to show what you’ve learned in the classroom. More than that, they force you to think on your feet and stretch your abilities to the limit in order to grow. They are, in my opinion, the best way to spend your summer as a college student. Allow me to channel my inner professor and say: Go in search of internships. You’ll thank me later.

It’s not too late to land an internship for this summer. Purdue offers a variety of avenues to learn about internship offers and connect with companies. The Center for Career Opportunities is always updating their listings in their myCCO app. Check with your major department office for specific internship offers and see if they support an email list through which they distribute information about internships.

There are many good ways to spend your homework-free time over the summer. It’s important to de-stress and enjoy a bit of relaxation, but don’t forget to squeeze in some extracurricular learning, as well, to stay ahead of the curve and set yourself up to land a good job when it comes time to graduate.


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