Joe wanted to pursue his dream of being a web developer. So while working part-time in a supermarket, he spent his free time teaching himself to code from scratch. Joe tried a variety of online learning resources before settling on Treehouse, where he found his progression and confidence excelled. Determined for a career in tech, Joe dedicated himself to learning and 10 months later applied for a position as a web developer at a digital agency. Although he didn’t have a degree, the agency was impressed by his determination and self-taught coding skills and offered Joe the job. Now Joe is focusing on making an impact in his new career and adding as much value as possible to the team he’s working with. In the future, he aspires to have his own startup in Silicon Valley!
We caught up with Joe to chat about his learning experience and embarking on a new career as a web developer.
What First Drew You To The Web Industry?
Ever since I was a teenager I’ve been someone who has spent countless hours online. As a 19-year-old I went to University to study Sports Journalism but came home just after a year. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I ended up getting a part-time job working in a supermarket. I had no intentions of pursuing a career in the supermarket business, so I needed to use the income wisely to invest in myself.
I came back to my computer. I knew I wanted to do something with computers, but I couldn’t figure out which career I could potentially go into. The idea of a mundane IT job simply didn’t excite me. I wanted to create and explore projects online that were fascinating to me. Then again, if you get advice from a career advisor they’re hardly going to tell you to go out and make an income online.
I didn’t accept the notion of working a standard 9 to 5 job that you dread going to for the rest of your life. I began reading and testing with Internet marketing. I dabbled in affiliate marketing, list building, whiteboard animation videos and a bit of SEO. I enjoyed trying out all of these and was spending 46 hours creating whiteboard videos for clients for a measly $5, but it didn’t matter to me because I loved what I was doing. Eventually, I decided if I was going to become a master of a subject I had to pick one area and invest all my time into that. A friend who had made me websites before – because I didn’t know how to – gave me a few resources to try out to begin learning to code.
What work were you doing when you first joined Treehouse & what encouraged you to learn with us?
When I joined Treehouse I was still working part-time in a supermarket. I was coding away after work and on my days off to try and realise my dream of becoming a web developer. At the point of moving to Treehouse, I had around five months of self-taught learning behind me. I’d learned HTML, CSS and little snippets from other languages.
The reason I joined Treehouse was because I liked how interactive the courses were. I’d previously been at Lynda and the format there is to watch all the videos before taking any coding challenges. At Treehouse, it allows you to learn a little and then practise with the cool quizzes and engaging code challenges in between lessons. I personally find it easier to learn by taking action in between lessons to consolidate the theory side with the practical side.
You also get points and badges awarded for each course you complete which gives you more incentive to keep progressing and building your profile. You see other people with thousands of points and think to yourself “I want to get to that many!”.
The other great aspect of Treehouse is the community of people they have. If you have any problems or you’re finding something difficult to understand you can ask straight away and will get you a response from either Treehouse staff or a fellow learner with a quick turn around.
You recently landed your first job in the industry. Tell us a little about how your career has evolved since learning with Treehouse and the work you’re doing now.
Since joining Treehouse, my progression has exploded. Treehouse provides you with everything you need to learn the skills you need whether it’s front end development you’re interested in, or you want to go and learn how to create cool apps. I recently landed a job as a web developer at a digital agency. They offer services ranging from eCommerce, web design, CMS, to Internet marketing services like SEO and PPC.
They mentioned how they saw the work I was doing with Treehouse and recognised I was putting a lot of time into teaching myself. Treehouse allowed me to showcase my skills even without a degree. I think as long as people can see you’re passionate about learning, then they can see you’re able to get up to speed quite quickly.
What are your plans for the future, and what’s up next on your learning path?
Next on my agenda is to make an impact in my new career and try and offer value to the team I’m working with. I also currently have a fascination with object oriented programming and have been spending a lot of my time learning and creating small projects with that. I will continue to use Treehouse as a learning resource as it provides fantastic value even to a seasoned developer and will help me expand my skills very quickly.
Looking 5 – 10 years ahead I’d love to someday have my own startup in Silicon Valley! That would be a dream for me. If I carry on with the same appetite for coding as I have now then I believe I will do it.
Is there any advice you’d like to share with new students, who are aspiring developers?
The core advice I would give to new students and aspiring developers is as long as you have the passion to learn then you’ll be absolutely fine. Without a degree or a job in a related field, I landed my first job within 10/11 months of self-learning completely from scratch.
I think the thing for me was right at the start I had a clear mission in my mind of where I wanted to go with this. I would think about having a career in tech every day. On the way to and from work and during the day I would constantly think about it. It got to a certain point where I knew nothing would stop me from making it happen no matter how hard it became.
There will be times where you “don’t get it”. You will feel overwhelmed and think to yourself that other developers are a lot better than you. But the thing is, if you keep going, within another few weeks of learning things start to click and become more natural. Even now after getting a job I still have a lot to learn. There are still lots of better developers than me, but it isn’t important because as long as I’m learning I’m getting closer day by day to achieving my dreams.
Another important part of learning is reading about other people’s successes – which I guess is what you’re doing now – I remember reading Riley Hilliard’s blog all the time and thought here’s a guy who went from self-taught to a job at Linkedin within a couple of years! You can relate to people like that because they’re going through the same thing as you. They’re inspirational. You can do the same. Make it happen.
To read more awesome student success stories, check out the Treehouse Stories Page.