CommunityJustin Switched Careers From a Teacher to the First Employee of an Exciting New Startup


Faye Bridge
writes on July 2, 2015

Having been a web enthusiast since the 90s, when Justin found his career as a teacher had peaked, the web industry felt like a natural career switch. Initially, Justin decided on the traditional learning path and began a university Computer Science course. However, he soon found the course wasn’t covering the skills he needed to take on a career in the web.

As an alternative, Justin decided to give Treehouse a try and soon discovered the learning style was an ideal fit for him. Through the Web Development Track, Justin was introduced to Treehouse guest teacher – and creator of Sass – Hampton Catlin and through following him on Twitter, Justin heard about his most recent project, Wordset. When Hampton announced they were looking for their first employee to join the Wordset team, Justin jumped at the opportunity and landed the job.

Now Justin is the community and content manager at Wordset, where he wears many hats and the skills he learned at Treehouse are essential. As well as learning daily through his experience as part of the Wordset team, Justin still dedicates time to expanding his web skills. His next learning goal? Master Ember.

We caught up with Justin to chat about his experience transitioning careers and the work he’s doing now with Wordset. 


What first drew you to the web industry?

I’ve been pretty hooked on the internet since I got my first dial up connection in the 90s. I built a website with my favorite bands and movies as was common in those pre-Facebook days. So when my career as an English teacher peaked in Germany, the web industry was a natural place for me to think about beginning a second act.

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

When I first joined Treehouse, I had just finished a semester of Computer Science at the University of Bergen in Norway. Originally, I thought about going down a more traditional learning path, but I found that I was doing more math than coding and I wanted to end up doing web stuff, which wasn’t really part of the program anyway. So in the winter break I decided to give Treehouse a shot and I loved it. For me, being able to choose exactly what skills I wanted to work on and doing things at my own pace was key.

You recently landed an awesome new job working alongside Sass creator Hampton Catlin as part of the Wordset team. Tell us a little about how your career has evolved since learning with Treehouse and the work you’re doing with Wordset now.

At Treehouse I focused on Web Development (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby). My job at Wordset is Community and Content Manager. As we are a small team, we all wear many hats. I do everything from writing blog posts to thinking of new features to reporting and fixing bugs. The skills I learned at Treehouse are essential to me being able to understand our code base and jump in there and make changes. If I hadn’t learned about Rails and gained proficiency in JavaScript, I would be totally lost because our site has an Ember front end and a Rails back end.

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

If it weren’t for Treehouse, I would not be working at Wordset. I started following Hampton on Twitter because I thought he was a cool teacher and would probably tweet interesting stuff. He tweeted about Wordset and it sounded pretty awesome so I signed up, gave it a spin, and fell in love. When they announced they were looking for their first employee, I jumped at the chance.

The Treehouse platform is a great value for the money. It provides the basic tools for success, but students have to put in the effort to learn to make the most of it.

What are your plans for the future and what’s up next on your learning path?

I plan on helping to grow Wordset into the most useful, most used dictionary on the Internet. Wordset is a friendly, growing community of language lovers and I’d like nothing more than to see it become everyone’s default dictionary choice. My next coding goal is to become a skilled writer of Ember tests.

Is there any advice you’d like to share with new students who are just getting started?

Build your own projects. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you built it and you stand behind it. People love that. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out. People in this field are pretty friendly in my experience.

To read more awesome student success stories, check out the Treehouse Stories Page.


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6 Responses to “Justin Switched Careers From a Teacher to the First Employee of an Exciting New Startup”

  1. troliver76 on January 25, 2016 at 11:10 pm said:

    This was inspiring to me as well b/c I am also in the process of a career change from an English teacher to a Back-end Developer

  2. thank you for this information 😀 is very help

  3. Great article ! Very meaningful to me because I’m onthe same career path: from teacher to front-end web developper 🙂

  4. I’m also about to do the same change career from teacher to going back to web stuffs like that.

  5. Justin i wish you best of luck 🙂

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