Quinton was first drawn to the instant gratification of coding in a high school Computer Literacy class. What started as an interest grew to a passion, which eventually led him to graduate with a Computer Science degree. However, in the years that followed, Quinton drifted away from the industry. Instead, he dabbled in retail work, the food industry, and telemarketing, but continually found himself uninspired and unfulfilled.
When a position as a Customer Support Technician led Quinton back to the keyboard, he made the decision to return to his original career path and chose Treehouse to help him accomplish that. Before long, Quinton had gained a solid foundation of skills and was ready to embark on a career in the web industry.
Today, Quinton is the Interactive Director at Xdesign. He has also taken his love for the web one step further by speaking at tech conferences, including Future Insights Live 2015. Quinton is proud of his new career path and is embracing the opportunity to share his knowledge and passion for the industry he’d always dreamed of being a part of.
We caught up with Quinton to hear more about his learning experience, reconnecting with his love of the web, and what the future holds.
Not only did Treehouse allow me to excel with the little time available to me, but also brought me back to my love for the web.
What first drew you to the web industry?
As a kid, I was always interested in fixing computers. It wasn’t by choice. For me to use the home computer, I had to fix some crazy error first. Prior to high school, that was the extent of my experience with computers. However, in my Computer Literacy class freshman year of high school, my focus shifted to the web. We had to create a basic homepage of our interests. Working with the web gave me instant gratification, which was something I’d only received while playing sports. This passion led me to major in Computer Science in college, which was the closest thing to a web education. I graduated with a degree in Computer Science, but every job available bored me out of my mind. Over the next six years, I worked everywhere from the food industry and retail to telemarketing.
Eventually, I worked as a Customer Support Technician. It wasn’t a dream job, but at least I was working with computers. This experience connected me with someone who was heading in the career path I wanted to take. He invited me to pursue web work, and although it was a small step, it was the best chance I had up to that point.
What work were you doing when you first joined Treehouse & what encouraged you to learn with us?
My “sort of” web job consisted of IT for 75% of the time and only 25% of web work. I found myself struggling to keep up with the web during office hours because most of that time was spent researching IT issues. During this time, I came across Treehouse as a way to get a solid foundation in the web industry with little time at my disposal. The Tracks helped me focus on important concepts, instead of focusing on the framework of the week. Every video I watched contained some nugget of information that I couldn’t wait to dissect further. Not only did Treehouse allow me to excel with the little time available to me, but also brought me back to my love for the web.
You recently began speaking at web conferences. In fact, your talk from Future Insights Live 2015 is available on Treehouse. Tell us a little about how your career has evolved since learning with Treehouse and the experience of starting out as a speaker in the industry.
Everything about my career is completely different than it was. I transitioned from being bored all day with repetitive, mindless tasks to having the type of job I expected back when my excitement with the web began. Not only am I working in the industry I dreamed of, but I also get to talk about the things that intrigue me.
My journey into speaking honestly happened on a whim, but I’m glad it did. I offered to give a talk about SVG at our monthly Refresh Baton Rouge meeting. I figured if I could explain it to the group, offering pros and cons, I could convince my employer to go vector in our designs. While preparing for my presentation, I went to my first web conference, CSS Dev Conf 2014. I picked the brains of as many speakers as possible to give me some insight on presentation, delivery, or anything else I could think of at the time. They gave me the confidence to submit my SVG talk, and it got selected. When I delivered my first talk, I knew it was something I would pursue further.
I love public speaking. The feeling I get the morning of a talk brings me back to my days playing sports. It’s the same feeling of butterflies I would get in the locker room before a big game. Don’t get me wrong, I still get anxious as hell on stage. As with sports, I use that anxiety to push me forward, rather than hold me back. Being a speaker is easily one of the best parts of this journey.
What has the value of a Treehouse education meant to you?
Simply put, Treehouse changed my life. Treehouse allowed me to get away from things that were holding me back because they were convenient. It helped me to get away from bad habits and incorporate best practices. It changed my perception of what a web education is. It gave me the much-needed confidence to try things that would have scared the hell out of my old self. Without Treehouse, I’d still be fixing printers and wondering “what if.”
What are your plans for the future, and what’s up next on your learning path?
I plan to get some more speaking engagements under my belt. Writing presentations provides me with a deeper sense of learning that helps things stick. I enjoy the opportunity to travel and talk about what I love doing. Currently, I am enjoying my position as Interactive Director at Xdesign, using the opportunity to broaden my skill set further.
Is there any advice you’d like to give to new students who are just starting out?
You cannot know everything. Yes, you will subscribe to a million newsletters and want to read every last article you come across each day. You will see a new, hot framework or library every time you refresh your browser. Slow down. Relax. Establish a foundation. Don’t just follow the yearly design trends. Trends come and go, but core concepts are here forever. Get some damn sleep. There is no one giving you a standing ovation for earning your ‘Badge of Honor’ by pulling an all-nighter for some piece of code that can wait until tomorrow. There will always be pressure to keep up with this fast-paced industry. So what? Learn how to stop tweaking and finish your work. Take care of your mind and body. At the end of the day, we’re just making web apps/sites. Don’t put any unnecessary pressure on yourself. This is a marathon, not a sprint; so try to get a little better every day. You’ll be surprised where that gets you.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’m 31 years old with a wife and two daughters, ages seven and four. I’d like to take the time to give a big shout out to my wife. She helped with our girls while I was trying to reboot my career, taking courses. It eventually paid off, but it would not have been possible without her love and support.
I’d also like to give a huge thanks to the Baton Rouge Public Library. They provide Treehouse and other digital resources at little to no cost. Without them, I definitely would not be where I am. I can’t stress it enough. Go to your public library, and see what services they have to offer.
To read more student success stories, check out the Treehouse Stories Page.