After four years in the Army, Nicholas Suddarth fell into the IT industry where he worked for almost 10 years. In early 2015, 33-year-old Nicholas found himself uninspired by his dead-end career in technical sales support. He wanted a rewarding career, but without a college degree, Nicholas was unsure of which direction to take for his career.
During that time, a close friend – and web developer – recognised Nicholas’s great eye for design and his tenacity to learn, and suggested Nicholas consider a career on the web. Drawn to the creativity and technical prowess of the industry, Nicholas decided to give it a go.
Nicholas’s friend mentored him weekly while he turned to online resources to excel his learning. Nicholas joined Treehouse to further focus his learning efforts. Three months later, Nicholas applied for a junior web developer position. Even though he had no previous experience working in the industry, with Nicholas’s thirst to learn and strong work ethic he landed the job.
Nicholas is now a junior web app developer/designer for Digital Ally Inc. His plans for the near future are to work hard, grow and learn in his new role, as well as launch his own freelance business. Long-term, he aspires to have his own web design and development business.
We caught up with Nicholas to hear more about his experience transitioning careers, and what advice he’d share with other students and aspiring web developers.
Treehouse has helped me change my dead end career and equip me to better provide for my family. I often tell my friends I feel like I am cheating. Because I get to do a job I love.
What first drew you to the web industry?
I have a good friend who has been in this industry for around 10 years. He really encouraged me to get it, because he believed I had a good eye for design and had the tenacity to learn.
He also saw that I was struggling in my IT industry, wasn’t getting anywhere with my Martial Arts school, and wanted to help me break into a rewarding career he has loved for so long.
Personally I love the mix of creativity and technical prowess this industry requires.
What work were you doing when you first joined Treehouse & what encouraged you to learn with us?
I was doing Technical Sales Support at a large scale advertising company. This was also part of my motivation to get into this industry. Because I saw that this company’s digital advertising as well as the websites they were providing to its customers were terrible quality. I started to grow a passion to provide great quality products for small to medium businesses. I took my friend up on his offer to teach and mentor me and started going to his house weekly to learn. We got through some of the basics and he recommended using an online platforms such as CodeSchool or Treehouse. I started with CodeSchool did that for about a month, and liked it, but found myself converting over to Treehouse. No fault of CodeSchool they were great as well.
After only four months of learning to code, you were hired as a Junior Web Developer. Tell us a little about how your career has evolved since learning with Treehouse and the work you’re doing now.
I had maybe two months of private lessons with my friend (once a week), one month at CodeSchool and three months at Treehouse. So four months of the online training total. I really didn’t know how to gage my growth except for my friends word. He said I was growing very quickly and at this point could start applying for junior level positions. So I found one listed with a recruiter. I contacted the recruiter about the position. They gave me the run around about not having enough experience, even though it was a junior position, and never submitted my resume to the company. So I decided to apply directly with the company. I went in, had my first interview. They said Bootstrap and Cold Fusion were two technologies I would need to learn. So between my first interview and second interview, I built a small website using Bootstrap, after going through the Treehouse Bootstrap workshop and started the Learn CF in a Week workshop. My thirst to learn and work hard impressed them so much they gave me the job.
Since getting hired on at Digital Ally I designed and developed their new company website, which is the first business website I worked on. I built their career portal where you apply for a job and submit your resume online. I helped in building www.vuvault.com a new cloud storage/management application for police body/in-car camera systems. Right now I am designing and building an interactive application they will be using at trade shows across the country.
I am also currently redesigning www.nsuddarth.com to launch my freelance business.
What are your plans for the future, and what’s up next on your learning path?
Well, my future plans are to continue to grow and learn everything I can. I really like the idea of owning my own Web Design/Development business.
What has the value of a Treehouse education meant to you?
I cannot put into words how valuable it has been for me. I know people who spent $20,000.00 on a development course series. But when someone asks how much I have paid, I can smile and say “$25.00 a month… that’s it!”. But that $25.00 a month won’t put in the hard work for you. It won’t upload the knowledge to your brain. You have to have tenacity, and work HARD. Treehouse has helped me change my dead-end career and helped equip me to better provide for my family. I often tell my friends I feel like I am cheating. Because I get to do a job I love. I get to be creative and play with Photoshop, design stuff and create! I love it. But it is hard work.
Is there any advice you’d like to share with new students who are just starting out?
WORK HARD! Sacrifice! That is the only way I was able to do it in this short time frame. I haven’t taken a Martial Arts class in over 18 months and that is killing me! But, it is only for a season. I was given a piece of advice from a Martial Arts Instructor of mine that has never stopped motivating me. TRAIN HARD, WIN EASY!
To read more student success stories, check out the Treehouse Stories Page.
How do we reconcile this story with the ones on the forums of people who say they’ve been here for years and can’t do anything? I’ve only been here a month and I’m ~60% through the Front-End Web Developer Course and I’m worried that I won’t know enough when I complete it.
Hi Qasim! Each student’s story and experience learning with Treehouse may be different. However, over the years, we’ve spoken to countless students who, like Nicholas, have achieved their career aspirations after learning to code. If you’re interested in reading more success stories, check out our Stories Page or check back on the blog weekly for a new student feature. 🙂
First, thanks for answering. Someone responded to one of my questions yesterday about a test called “Hackerrank” that is used by recruiters/companies as a screening tool for potential developers. I tried the test and failed miserably. The person who responded told me he failed that test as well but, he ended up being hired a few days later by a local software company. And he lives in the same state as me! I don’t know anything else about him but, I’m just afraid that maybe people like him (and people in the success stories) have a better foundation in programming than they realize. Maybe the fear is baseless.
I just saw your comment. In regards to my story and what I tell my 2 friends who are going through treehouse as well. CREATE. Take what you are learning and Make Your own thing. Don’t stop pushing yourself to make things outside of the classroom. That is where you will make mistakes and grow. Treehouse gave me the tools, but I was the one that had to use those tools to create and show that I could apply that knowledge.
I hope you do not feel discouraged. I failed a coding challenge by a potential employer. So I went back and learned how to do the things I failed at.
Keep Growing, Keep Coding, and Keep Creating.
You are an inspiration to anyone who is just starting out. I am very proud of you.
Proud mom here.. Great job son!!!
I used to work with Nicholas. One thing he doesn’t talk about is his quick wit and great sense of humor. That coupled with his quck to learn skills and his techincal background made him a pleasure to work with. I’m not at all surprised with how well he is doing in his new career path. I look forward to seeing what else Nicholas accomplishes! Grest job Nicholas!!!
I like Nicholas’s desire to have his own freelance business: YOU CAN DO IT! Thanks for the motivation.