I need some general advice on how to continue my programming studies. I'm a self taught programmer and I picked up programming somewhere in the fall of 2011. I began with C++ and Java books and I learned everything up to OOP (except memory handling in c++). I later decided that I wanted to work with web-development so I learned the PHP syntax and started my first project in the summer that resulted in http://doostr.com (obviously work in progress)
Now I feel like I'm just iterating through things that I've learned before. I feel like I need to come in contact with more experienced programmers in a professional developing environment that I can learn more from so I'm preparing myself for applying for a backend programmer trainee job (unpaid) and use my project as a resumé (I dont have a computer science degree).
I need some general advice from working professionals on how I not only should prepare myself considering what I want to work with, but also how I should continue my programming/developer path generally. I've asked a friend that works with java and he said that I should find a good design patterns books. You guys have any good suggestions? Any other language that would be good to combine with PHP/MySQL? I know Java/C++ syntax. I'll take any advice you might have. You can go to my site, create an account and test the functionality and it might give you a hint of what I'm capable of.
Thanks for reading.