CommunityRyan Evolved His Skill Set & Switched Careers From Designer to Full-time Front End Developer

Faye Bridge
writes on June 4, 2015

Ryan was a designer with a lifelong interest in technology and video games. When a brief experience setting up a game review website with some friends gave him the opportunity to dabble in web development, Ryan fell in love with the problem-solving aspect of coding. With his existing design experience, Ryan decided he needed a learning resource to help him expand his skills to apply them to the web. After testing a variety of online resources, he joined Treehouse and found the learning style the best fit for him. Over the upcoming months, Ryan was able to accelerate his learning progress, build up his skill set, and gain the confidence he needed to embark on a career change. Now Ryan is a full-time front end engineer at Raptr, where he works on interesting and diverse projects while embracing finally being part of the industry he loves.

We caught up with Ryan to chat about his learning experience and his new career path.

What first drew you to the tech industry?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been fascinated with technology, specifically in the realm of video games. As I’ve grown up, video game review and coverage websites have drawn me even closer to the tech industry. Ultimately the final push I needed to dive into development came from a small video game review website a few of my friends, and I started. Once we ran into challenges of growth and adaptation in terms of our website and what it could do, I instantly fell in love with the concept of problem-solving related to the world of web development. From that point on it’s pretty much been a non-stop adventure into perfecting a craft and being a part of an industry I love.

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

When I joined Treehouse, I was right at the beginning of my path of wanting to become a developer. I was currently working for a small company as their lead designer, and on the side would also help with light website maintenance. In my off time, I was actively searching for outlets that could help me learn and make the full transition. I had just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in illustration, and I wasn’t looking to go back to full-time school at the moment. I began to investigate any outlet promoting the concept of teaching me how to develop for the front-end. That’s when I found Treehouse. I had gone through a few other outlets before I finally decided on Treehouse, but in the end found the way Treehouse instructors taught to be the easiest way for me to absorb information. Everything Treehouse teaches is carefully laid out into easy to absorb tracks, which are paired along with some fantastic learning tools such as their workspaces, quizzes, and other students on the forums. Treehouse even gave me the ability to venture back and rewatch videos on concepts that didn’t make sense right way. I realized after comparing other options that choosing Treehouse was the smartest decision I could make, since all the resources we’re there for me succeed in my goal.

You recently landed an awesome job as a front end engineer at Raptr. Tell us about the work you’re doing now and how your career has evolved since learning with Treehouse.

Currently at Raptr I handle a lot of the front-end work in terms of responsive layouts and page interaction. I work specifically on the website which allows user’s to record video game moments and post them up on the website to share with others. I mentioned before that when I chose Treehouse as my learning environment I was a designer. In that time of learning all I did was design. Since then, I have transitioned into a full-time developer. With the fundamentals given to me by Treehouse and the help of my new job, I’m exploring even more languages such as PHP and soon Python. In this transition time I have even enrolled back into classes online to get my Masters in Web Development, and will be graduating this fall!

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

The value of Treehouse is more than I could ever put a price on. Treehouse is my building block; it’s the first place I felt comfortable with code. Not to mention it was the first place to help me finally conquer the beast that is JavaScript! I can confidently say that without Treehouse I wouldn’t be in the place I am today. It has accelerated my learning process and has given me the confidence to create projects outside of my comfort zone. Even in the times where I don’t know the answer to the problem in front of me, it has given me the confidence to explore for the right answers and ask for help when I need it.

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

The next language I try to tackle on my learning path will have to be Python. We use it here for work on the back-end, and I  want to be able to view our process from both perspectives. In terms of languages I am familiar with but would like to knowledgeable about, I would have to say PHP. I feel PHP and Python will keep me busy for quite some time. Who knows after that though? Maybe even some iPhone and Android development!

Is there any advice you’d like to share with new students who are aspiring web developers?

Problems of today will become milestones of progress tomorrow, which means there will be times when you make mistakes, and there is nothing wrong with failing a few times before you get it right. Always go out and seek information that can help you better understand the subject at hand. It may take someone explaining it 4 or 5 times before you grasp it. Remember that not everything you are taught will stick right away. As you get into some of the more complicated practices and experiments, you will have to start applying multiple lessons/concepts to achieve your goal. In these cases do not be discouraged if the process is not smooth the first time, heck even the fifth time, as practice makes perfect. It will take a few times over to grasp the basics of a language or remember how to solve a problem that once stopped you from completing your goals.

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

6 Responses to “Ryan Evolved His Skill Set & Switched Careers From Designer to Full-time Front End Developer”

  1. Sally Woodward on December 23, 2015 at 6:08 am said:

    HTML, CSS and JavaScript are the holy trinity of front-end development. Web designers should already know the first two pretty well, but JavaScript is an actual programming language and thus more difficult to learn in comparison. There are a bunch of other libraries and frameworks that are used in front-end development, but they’re all based on the three core technologies. This is why most companies hiring front-end developers test for those three with a HTML, CSS and JS coding test such as this one:

    Everything else you need to learn, such as Bootstrap or jQuery, becomes easier because it’s just an extension of what you already know.

  2. Obinna on June 7, 2015 at 12:47 am said:

    TypeScript is the answer to frustrating nature of JavaScript….I wish you all the best in your career…

    • Ryan McHenry on June 7, 2015 at 2:47 pm said:

      Thanks for the reference to Typescript! Typescript can be a lot of fun, and I’ve used it a bit. The more comfortable I become with JS though, the more I embrace it’s little quarks and learn to work around them. Also as JS develops a lot of the problems the industry has with JS are being fixed. I’m at the point now where I enjoy using Vanilla JS over Jquery (depending on the complexity of what I’m doing of course). It also helps that I use it daily for work! Thanks again for the reply.

  3. Thanks for this. I too have a major problem with the beast known as JavaScript! I may try Treehouse for that after all. Good luck in your career!!

    • Ryan McHenry on June 7, 2015 at 2:44 pm said:

      Treehouse is definitely great way for you to hop and and get your feet wet. They will introduce you to the basics that everyone needs to know, and then throw some extra challenges and projects at you that will help you develop a bit further. After that, I would say just start exploring JS technologies, like Node.js. Go try to build a chat app with Node.js or something similar. Maybe make a To-Do list with plain old Jquery? Any of those would be great next steps. Good luck on your adventure learning JS!

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