Nobody seems to be very happy with the state of education for the people interested in entering our industry. As someone who interviews, reviews portfolios, hires, and is generally trying to build a capable team, this is on my mind a lot. Over the past few years I’ve continually found myself in conversations with others much like me, expressing concern that people aren’t getting the education they need via “official” channels.

A lot of folks in our industry have seen this as an opportunity. We are, after all, problem solvers:

We’ve created conferences like Artifact, InControl, An Event Apart, ConvergeSE, BD Conf, Creative Mornings, GIANT Conference, BlendConf, and Circles.

We’ve started offering workshops like Ethan and Karen are offering, like Clearleft is offering, like Gaslight is offering, and like we’re offering.

We’ve built online learning environments like Code School, Codeacademy, Treehouse, lynda.com, and Khan Academy, Frontend Masters.

We’ve started mentorships and apprenticeships like they’re doing at thoughtbot, General Assembly, Bloc and like we’re doing at Sparkbox.

We’ve created our own publishing companies like A Book Apart, Five Simple Steps, and Smashing Magazine Books.

We’ve even started new schools like Center Centre (formerly the Unicorn Institute).

All of this is absolutely fantastic. In fact, it’s what has prompted me to write this.

One thing that I absolutely love about this industry is that we figure stuff out. We are a community of people who see a problem and attack it from every possible angle. And you know what? There was no “web design and development for the modern web” major when most of us went to school—if we even did.

Check this out: I asked on Twitter if my web–geek friends went to college and if so what they majored in. Read through those responses and you’ll see that our industry has been built by people from all walks of life. From political science to journalism. From architecture to creative writing. From theology to natural resource recreation.

We are a scrappy bunch.

“Scrappy: Having an aggressive and determined spirit.” (Merriam-Webster)

I believe the lack of a formal educational program to follow in order to do this kind of work means the bar is higher to get in. It means you have to want it. You have dig in, you have to read, you have to experiment, you have to fall down and you have to get back up. You have to make your own path. You have to find someone who’s a little further along than you and learn from them. And then, once you’re confident in your ability, you’re more likely to realize there are a bunch of folks digging in a little behind you. You’re more likely to offer a hand to them, to help them along.

You want to know why the people in this industry are just plain nice? It’s because we’ve had the ego beaten out of us by struggling to learn our craft. I love this. I want the young people coming after us to struggle a bit. They’ll be better for it. And my own struggle to get to where I am makes me want to extend a hand.

Keep On Keeping On

Look at that list of amazing resources for learning—and I haven’t even scratched the surface of all that’s available. I want to encourage you to find a place where you can offer something to those trying to learn. Start to write about the things you figure out. Organize a meetup in your area. Start an apprenticeship. And, the next time you find yourself in a conversation about web education, point to all the amazing things we are doing instead of the lack of relevant four-year programs.

Don’t wait for new and better curriculum at accredited schools to solve the problem with web education. Honestly, I’m not convinced that it can. We are the answer to the problem.

You are the answer to the problem.