With the Iron Yard closing, our campus pushed career services up quite a few weeks from when it was initially scheduled. The original plan was learning front-end for four weeks, back-end for four weeks, language specialization for four weeks, and then a final project and career services for the final four weeks.

As a side note, career services includes several major projects such as building a portfolio and finalizing both a cover letter and resume. Pretty important aspects of getting a job, right? Getting to focus on our futures as developers in the “real world” really got me jazzed when I heard we were pushing it up, but I failed to notice a rather large issue that I’m currently trying to combat.

I want a job as a front-end developer using React, but right now I only know vanilla JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.

By placing our career services at the middle instead of the end, we’re a bit hindered on what we can actually build. Right now, I barely know the fundamentals of React, and I’m guessing if a potential employer for a React position were to look at my portfolio, he/she would prefer to see something built in React with React projects in my portfolio (with a little diversity on other projects as well, of course).

So how do I handle something like this? How do I build something amazing using just the basics?

Fortunately, I prefer minimalism. The idea of starting with just the bare bones and making something extraordinary appeals much more to me than having massive resources at my hands and doing the same thing. In my opinion, there’s more innovation in the first option.

So that’s what I’ve done. I’ve taken my understanding of the basics and capitalized on them to the best of my ability. In the past few weeks, I built (and tore down, and built again, and repeat) my portfolio website using the basics. I combined those skills with my design and photography skills to put together a custom website to represent myself and my work as a designer and a developer.

Taylor A. Cox Portfolio

Moving forward, I intend to refactor as I learn more. My biggest issues with my current site are a lack of projects really showcasing my abilities, my massive stylesheet, the repetition of certain aspects on the site (header and footer being hard-coded into each page), and my Google PageSpeed scores.

To combat these issues, I’ve had some internal conversations with myself:

  • Oh, you don’t like your projects? Keep creating. Keep building new projects and pushing yourself to get better.
  • Your stylesheet is too massive? Refactor it with Sass.
  • You hate having your entire header and footer hard-coded into the HTML of each page? Figure out a way to use templates or components to pull them in with one line of code in the HTML. This way if you have a change in your header, you only have to edit the code in one place rather than on every single page.
  • Your PageSpeed is bad? Keep optimizing your images and revisit the massive stylesheet issue.


While I’m on my journey of building a good portfolio, I would love feedback. My portfolio is available for viewing at tayloracox.com, and my code is being consistently pushed to GitHub. Even if you aren’t a developer or a designer, your feedback is valuable to me, so please don’t hesitate to chime in!