CommunityFrom Marketing Student to Startup Software Engineer: Matt Hamil’s Story

Faye Bridge
writes on June 8, 2017

Matt Hamil was a full-time college student pursuing a career in online marketing when he was told to learn the basics of programming. As soon as he began learning, coding became a natural fit for Matt. He quickly began working coding into his everyday schedule in between classes and set himself disciplined blocks of time to code.

Matt’s hard work and dedication paid off. Today, he is part of the fantastic developer community in Nashville, TN. In fact, getting to know other developers and networking at local Meetups is what introduced Matt to his job at healthcare startup Spera Health, where he works today as a junior software development engineer. Over the last few months, Matt has settled into his new role. Being part of a small startup team has also come with added benefits. Aside from applying and sharpening his coding skills every day, Matt gets to touch other parts of the company like contributing to how the business side of things are run too.

We asked Matt to share his awesome story and experience with us.
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What first encouraged you to learn to code and pursue a career in tech?

I was a marketing student at the University of Southern Mississippi and wanted to prepare myself for a career in online marketing. As I started to delve into topics like SEO, I was told to learn the basics of programming, particularly HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. I found Treehouse after using a few different online learning platforms. The more videos I watched and courses I completed, the more I wanted to learn. It felt natural for me to want to learn more about it.

What work were you doing when you first joined Treehouse and how did you integrate learning into your everyday life?

I was a full-time student so I marked off dedicated blocks of time on my calendar to learn about programming. If I had a few hours between classes, I would take 30 minutes to an hour and keep learning. It really helped to put deadlines on my calendar that said, “Intro to JavaScript completed by Thursday.” The feeling of deadlines motivated me to be consistent with my progress. After college, I continued my programming education and enrolled in Nashville Software School’s web development bootcamp. The discipline to block off time to learn code helped tremendously once I started the program.

How has your career evolved since learning to code?

I’ve been able to find myself in a fantastic developer community in Nashville, TN. I started working as a Junior Software Development Engineer at Spera Health, a small healthcare startup with a team of now three engineers. I’m currently working on a mobile app at work using React Native. Being on such a small team has been a great experience so far. I feel like I get to see how all of the pieces work together, from the tech side of things to the business side. I write a lot of JavaScript at work. JavaScript was the first programming language I really enjoyed writing in, so I feel lucky that I get to work with it daily.

Meeting and learning about other developers helped me feel more confident in my abilities as I started interviewing for jobs.

You’re now a full-time developer. Tell us a little about the experience landing your first job in the industry.

I attended local developer meetups as often as I could to meet people in town. I asked to grab coffee with a lot of folks. Meeting and learning about other developers helped me feel more confident in my abilities as I started interviewing for jobs. I came across a post in a Nashville developer Slack group about a small company looking for a React Native developer. I hadn’t done any React Native development at the time, but I had a basic grasp of React. Now I work there full-time.

What have you found the greatest challenge while learning to code?

The greatest challenge to overcome as someone new to coding is to accept that coding can be hard. Sometimes you’re stuck debugging a problem for hours. Once you figure it out though (and you will), you feel great. As a new developer, it’s also easy to want to compare yourself to other developers or worry that you’re learning the right thing. The path to learning about software isn’t linear. The key is to learn problem-solving. Once you learn how to solve problems, you can learn anything about coding.

The path to learning about software isn’t linear. The key is to learn problem solving. Once you learn how to solve problems, you can learn anything about coding.

What are your favorite aspects of working in the tech industry compared to past careers?

I love how tight-knit the developer community is. If you have a question, there are a million different message boards that can help you. If you want to learn more about a specific technology, there’s probably a local meetup group that meets up specifically to talk about that one thing. The developer community loves to teach–it’s a great place to be if you love to learn. Anyone can learn something from someone else.

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

Treehouse has shown me that you can learn anything if you are dedicated. It gave me a sneak peek at what the tech scene was like – helpful and truly wanting to help you understand code. I had the opportunity to meet Guil at Nodevember 2016 in Nashville, TN. Some of my friends and I who were Treehouse fans saw him at the conference, so I went up and asked him to sign my Team Treehouse sticker on my laptop and he asked me about my journey to learn about software development and my experience with Treehouse.

What advice would you share with students who are just starting to learn to code?

Don’t give up. There were plenty of moments when I thought that coding was hard and wasn’t for me. Even if you feel like your personal projects are too small or meaningless, they aren’t. Setting personal goals can help you to stay motivated and continue learning. Even if you feel like you don’t know a lot, that’s perfectly fine. There’s always something else to learn about, that’s the exciting part.

Don’t give up. There were plenty of moments when I thought that coding was hard and wasn’t for me. Even if you feel like your personal projects are too small or meaningless, they aren’t. Setting personal goals can help you to stay motivated and continue learning.

Start learning to code today with your free trial on Treehouse.

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One Response to “From Marketing Student to Startup Software Engineer: Matt Hamil’s Story”

  1. Hussam on June 12, 2017 at 4:25 am said:

    Nouw.com/Hussamhero

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