CommunityFrom Optical Assistant to Front End Developer: an Interview with Ian Rushton

Faye Bridge
writes on July 13, 2016

At 27-years-old, Ian was as an optical assistant unable to progress any further with his career. He had a degree in Economics but had found himself disinterested in working in a related field, which is why he’d pursued a career in retail. Just when Ian began to worry that he was past the point of a career change, a conversation with a customer who was a developer led Ian to Treehouse.

Over the upcoming months, Ian learned to code and found himself drawn to front end development. Once confident in his coding abilities, he applied for a position at a local web agency and landed the job. Today, Ian is a junior front end developer and can confidently say it was the best career choice he could have made.

We asked Ian to share his inspiring story and career change with the Treehouse community.

Ian-Rushton-hero

What work were you doing when you first joined Treehouse & what encouraged you to learn with us?

I had worked in retail for a while and felt that I had hit a bit of a ceiling in terms of career progression. My job at the time was an Optical Assistant at Vision Express in Birmingham, UK. One day I served a customer at work who worked as a software developer. When I mentioned I was interested in learning to code he pointed me towards Treehouse and told me that his colleagues had learned a great deal from it. I went home and had a look at the website. As that there was a free trial I had nothing to lose so I signed up and began learning.

I have a degree in Economics which I haven’t made use of in my career because I have no desire to do a job related to it. I feared that I may have been past the point of being able to change my career path as I had spent so long in retail and I would be competing with much younger people. But it turns out that if you have a good understanding and a passion for code and learning new things.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in the tech industry, in particular, front end development?

When completing different courses on Treehouse I found Front End Development to be an interesting and rewarding topic. It covered a wide array of areas to learn and develop in, while still allowing me to have creative input and expression. The courses in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript were engaging and moved at a good pace – they stayed fresh and interesting but allowed me to gain a clear understanding of the concepts and methods being taught.

I found Front End Development to be an interesting and rewarding topic. It covered a wide array of areas to learn and develop in, while still allowing me to have creative input and expression.

You recently landed a junior front end developer position. Tell us a little about the experience of landing your first job in the industry, how your career has evolved since learning to code, and the work you’re doing now.

I applied for a job at a web agency in Birmingham and was asked to recreate a form to an exact design using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Once I completed the project I was invited to an interview. The change of atmosphere from my previous experience of work was drastic, everyone was very relaxed and friendly and I instantly fell in love with the place. Following my interview, I received a job offer and accepted straight away.

Since starting my job at Develo Design I have learned a lot of new things, but what I learned at Treehouse provided a great foundation for everything I have been doing. I have been working with PHP, WordPress, Magento and have recently started working on an internal project using Angular 2.

The change of atmosphere from my previous experience of work was drastic, everyone was very relaxed and friendly and I instantly fell in love with the place.

How does your experience working as a front end developer compare to your past career?

Gaining my new position has been the best career choice I could have made. I actually look forward to going to work every day, something which I didn’t think was possible in my previous job. The people I work with are really supportive and the working environment is great.

The work we do is challenging and I have to learn so many different things, but it is highly rewarding. I look forward to continuing my learning and working on more new and exciting projects as my career progresses.

My new position has been the best career choice I could have made. I actually look forward to going to work every day, something which I didn’t think was possible in my previous job.

What has the value of a Treehouse education meant to you?

Without Treehouse, I would not be in the position I am now. The courses kept me motivated to continue learning and guided me on a path to understanding all the key concepts and processes needed to become a competent front end developer.

Do you have any advice you’d like to share with students who are just starting out?

I would say decide what it is that you want to learn, find the most suitable track and stick with it it will be well worth the time and effort in the end. Also, make use of the teachers notes when you are unclear on certain concepts. Hearing things from a different perspective can really help shine a light on some of the more difficult-to-understand subject areas.

There’s very little that will get in the way of you starting a career in the tech industry. I would advise anyone starting out to sign up for a Treehouse account and dive straight in. You won’t regret it!


Ready to become a front end developer and start your own success story? Check out the Treehouse Techdegree Program and start your free trial today!

4 Responses to “From Optical Assistant to Front End Developer: an Interview with Ian Rushton”

  1. I am about one third completed my Techdegree with Treehouse for Front End Web Development. I read these posts for validation and motivation (I’ve put two similar college associates degrees on hold for a single Treehouse Techdegree). I can feel that a Treehouse education is real, and it’s degree can and will get me farther with my time and money then a college (racket) education. I am very much in the same position as Ian. I am 26, add a loving wife and two wonderful children. I hate my job – even though I have done very well with it – as an automotive technician over the past 9 years (education included) and at the same dealership for almost 7. It was just a poor choice for me, information technology has always had my heart, and my full attention. I only wish to make out as well as Ian did at the end of my Techdegree.

    Congratulations Ian! Best of luck to you.

    • Faye Bridge on August 2, 2016 at 2:14 am said:

      Thanks for sharing your story and for learning with us, Tim! We’re honored to have you in the Treehouse Community and can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. Keep us updated on your progress! 🙂

  2. What a great story.
    It show that life is the people we meet and interact with. If Ian hadn’t meet that customer that day, he might have done something else. Often we are so focused on doing the right thing or reaching some odd goal that we forget to focus on the people around us.
    I wish Ian all the best in his new position:-)

  3. very much in the same boat as Ian was in I’m 27 also and been in the same job for close to 9 years now. I was concerned that a change of career is beyond me, but reading Ian’s success story and thinking about my own situation I see it’s silly to think that way 27 is still young. 😀

    congratulations Ian

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