I grew up in Southwest Florida. My first computer was an IBM PC jr. that booted off of a 5 1/4 floppy, and I had a SCUBA game and BASIC on it (and by on it, I mean on other 5 1/4 floppies, as hard drives were too expensive for personal computers). I remember programming a chess game in BASIC on that computer, but I never followed up with learning the language completely. In high school, most of my friends were into computers to a certain extent, and I have always enjoyed tinkering around with computer hardware and operating systems as a hobby. In high school I took two programming classes: BASIC and Pascal. I had a lot of fun, but again, I never really followed through with them. I went on to go to the University of Florida for Anthropology, and then finally the University of Central Florida, and graduated with a B. A. in Philosophy. After college I painted houses with a friend, worked at a couple of different restaurants, did customer service for a server-leasing company, and gained a TON of experience as a manager at The Home Depot. But, none of it was very fulfilling or challenging, and I didn't feel like I was enhancing my, or anyone's, life. So, I decided it was time for a change.
“I can't wait to get back to work every morning. I'm at the bottom rung of a ladder i’ve been waiting to climb my whole life.”
Over this time going to college and working different jobs, my friends and family asked me why I didn't get into doing SOMETHING on computers, and, truthfully, I don't know why I never did. But, one day I was talking about a great Web App that I wanted to create, and I talked to one of my old high school friends who does QA at a software firm in NYC. He told me that to hire some skilled guys to help code it, and pay them, myself, and get equipment, the whole project, for only one year, would cost around a quarter of a million dollars. Which I don't have, by the way. He suggested that I learn to do it myself because it wasn't that hard to learn, and it might take time but time is a resource I had a lot of.
Almost simultaneously, I was talking to my wife about what industry would be challenging and fun, and she told me to do something with computers, since I was pretty good at working with them, and I enjoyed it so much. I started looking into community colleges, and none of them really satisfied me, so I started looking on-line. That's when I found a video by Ryan about managing Treehouse, and I knew right then that Web Development and Design is where I wanted to be. I went to Treehouse and did the free HTML and CSS videos that were available at the time, and I was hooked. It seemed so easy to learn from Nick. So, I signed up, canceled my gym membership, and called it a draw. That was the moment I'll always remember. Looking at all those badges that I could achieve and all the things I could learn. It was really exciting. Kanuma Shwi!
I work in the IT department of an enterprise marketing company, and one of the biggest challenges there is good design. Everyone I work with is a great developer, but most of them don't write smooth HTML and CSS, and they are not that familiar with WordPress. We mostly deal in enterprise web apps, but here and there we get a personal website, or something else that needs a visual appeal. I am constantly using the skills I learned by watching Nick in the HTML and CSS videos and Zac in the WordPress library to figure out how to make attractive, well designed page views and navigate through WordPress to set up client-maintainable sites/blogs. I have even become the go-to guy in my department for anything front-facing or WordPress related. It is an awesome feeling to be a valuable part of a team, especially after having only been there for less than a month.
I like to learn holistically. I like to read books to learn things, but I am much better when I have someone talking to me about it as well. I bought a couple books by different publishers as I was taking the different Library sections of Treehouse. I would follow along in the video, and complete all the project files. It was a blast being able to take Smells Like Bakin' from being just words and links to a full fledged responsive web site. If there was any area where I felt I needed more help, or a different perspective, I would crack open a book and work through it. I followed the formula that Treehouse presented me with. I checked all the topics I was interested in working on, and I let the site build a road-map for me to follow, and then I followed it. I started with HTML, then CSS, then a little JS in Intro to Programming, and on and on I went, never lost. The teachers at Treehouse might not know how much they have affected my life.
I have never liked a single job I have had. They were fun at first - meeting new people and doing something new - but the "honeymoon" period would wear off and I would be left feeling unfulfilled, unchallenged, and under-appreciated.
I understand, jobs are difficult because your boss is pushing deadlines and there may be drama in the office, but that is true of human nature anywhere you go; they are things we all have to learn to work with. That being said, I love my job. I get to go to work and design cool interfaces, build web apps, and help clients sell their books or tickets through a great personal experience. AND, I work with people who respect me for my skills and helpfulness. I can't wait to get back to work every morning. I'm at the bottom rung of the ladder I've been waiting my whole life to climb.
I always told my wife, "I'm happy with you. I'm happy with our house, and our dog, and our life. My only unhappiness is my job." Well, now that ring is complete. I'm happy. If you know Ruby: HAPPINESS = "Treehouse" (Thanks, Jason. You're a little creepy, but that's what we love about you.) (if not, "constant happiness is Treehouse")
And, through getting to know more about the Designer and Developer industry I have also made some connections through social media sites and picked up some side work as a Content Writer for a design and development firm. They think it is a huge plus that I know about doing design and development first hand, and it is why they asked me to be a part of their team. So, again, Treehouse paved the path to my success.