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General Discussion

Realistic job skills?

I have recently been looking on a lot of freelance job sites such as People per hour, odesk, and elance. One thing is starting to worry me. I have almost completed the front end development track and most of the Web design track as well on Treehouse and feel pretty good about it, but when I look at the actual jobs available on these sites I feel totally unprepared to do any of them. They are mostly psd to html, which Treehouse doesn't specifically address in great detail (it's mostly a tour of the slicing tool), or WordPress. They do have a WordPress track, but I haven't taken that one yet.

So here's my question:

Has anyone out there taken only the front end track and gotten a job from it?

I started from zero skills and have learned with Treehouse for the past 7 months. Does anyone else have any advice for getting more "job ready" after the front end track is finished? I'm feeling pretty discouraged about this.

Thanks in advance!!!

James Barnett
James Barnett
39,199 Points

Tagging Ryan Carson so he see's this feedback.

Tagging Andrew Chalkley, Guil Hernandez, Nick Pettit and Dave McFarland so they can respond.

Also tagging Alex Penny, Milo Winningham and Kristen Badal from the Jobs Team so they can respond.

8 Answers

Thanks Richard this does give me some more guidance. However, I don't think it's addressing the real issue here: Does Treehouse ALONE get you job ready? Is it really from zero to job ready in "x" weeks? Or do I have to learn 3-5 tracks and learn extensively on other sites just to get one "entry-level" front-end dev job....

I haven't completed a track yet myself. I would think by what I have read getting a track under your belt and having a few personal projects for a portfolio completed might be required. Volunteer to do free or cheap work for friends and few charities just to have something to show.

Think of it as the vocational side of your education. That is my plan.

I'd agree with this. You need to get a few projects under your belt to give yourself some confidence, even if its just personal projects or unpaid favours for friends. once you've encountered a few issues and overcome then you won't be phased so easily in future.

With regard to psd to html specifically, there is no particular method that treehouse could show to help you through that. Assets could be given to you in all sorts of ways. The best thing you could do is try to get to know your way around photoshop so you can extract the elements you need that suits the way you want to code the front-end.

James Barnett
James Barnett
39,199 Points

That pretty much nailed it. Treehouse is step 1. Step 2 is build a portfolio.

Tommaso Bufano
Tommaso Bufano
13,821 Points

Hi, Josh.

Entering a new career path can be rather daunting. There are many more development opportunities these days than, say, if you wanted to start becoming a photographer. You can be rather viable with just a little dangerous knowledge.

Of course, the intent is not to be dangerous, but to continually improve. As with any tutorial, you really don't get a full understanding on a subject until you actually start doing a project yourself. Start working on your own projects to challenge yourself. You will get a deeper understanding.

Back in the days when Flash was heavily in demand, I wanted to create a killer web portfolio. But every time I tried to do a "quick and dirty" website, it just didn't meet my expectations. If a client had asked me to design, code, and manage all production assets, and have it live all in one evening, I would have been offended and told them it couldn't be done. So why was I expecting that of myself?

I then set out to make my portfolio with the respect it deserved. I spent a week planning and designing mockups. The second week, I collected and created assets. The third week I focused purely on development. I had never worked for the larger agencies before and was worried they wouldn't take me seriously without agency work. The good news is that they barely even looked at what was in my portfolio, they were so impressed with the portfolio itself and I never had trouble finding work since then (mostly because I then had agency experience once I got my foot in the door).

The side benefit was that in forcing myself to create a website that met my own personal standards, everything made 100 times more sense. Everything just became that much clearer.

My advice to you would be:

  1. Take the time to create a personal project or two from start to end that will be useful to you - like a portfolio or a hobby site you've been dreaming of making. (If you approach it just as a practice piece, your heart might not be in it enough to see it through to completion or to really challenge yourself to push the boundaries for what you want it to do.)

  2. See if you can find a production level job. There may be agency jobs where they are looking for "grunt" coders. People that are a part of a larger team that will help maintain larger existing sites. The pay will be on the lower end, but the network of people you will meet, what they can teach and share with you, and the practice you get will be invaluable.

  3. Check with some local placement agencies. It may be easier in larger cities to find production type work.

Hope this helps and best of luck!

Great advice Tommaso Bufano! Thanks.

Yes, this is great advice! What I'm really looking for now is a list of example personal projects that I could start. I'm interested in maybe doing a jQuery mobile app or something. I'm not sure what some other good examples would be?! Thanks again

Hey thanks guys! Here's the problem that you're all kind of overlooking here. People hiring want more than what the front-end track can give, even for a first project.

For example, most people nowadays in my experience would like a CMS. This isn't covered in the front end track. People also want to be able to interact with data on the server via forms and such. This also isn't covered in the Front end track (and rightly so). People want Backbone.js, Angular.js, jQuery UI/Mobile etc. None of these are covered in the Front end track.

What I'm getting at here is Treehouse should change their marketing a little bit.

It only shows you the very basics, or I guess maybe how to build a website with no CMS or back end activity. In today's job market I'm finding it hard to offer free work without these skills I've listed. Find me someone who had zero experience, then taken the Front-end track, built a portfolio, and gotten a job. I'm sure they exist. I would like to ask them how they did it.

I'm not trying to be negative here. I think Treehouse is great. I'm only reporting on my personal experience. I just had an "entry-level" interview a few weeks ago and was NO WHERE NEAR being ready for the position. Now that could be just that company, or just me, but there seems to be a trend here. I mean, would Treehouse hire me? Would they trust me to work on their sites after completing their Front-end Track? If not, that's fine. Just don't market it as a one stop shop to being "job ready" in "x" amount of weeks.

Thanks again guys. I'm going to check out ALL of the tips you've given me!

James Barnett
James Barnett
39,199 Points

I don't think Treehouse is trying to say choose one track and get a job after completing it.

I think they are saying ...

  • Learn from our content
  • Build a portfolio
  • Apply for jobs

A track doesn't lead to a job, a track is the way content is organized on the site.

note: That's just my view, I don't work for Treehouse.

Dave McFarland
Dave McFarland
Treehouse Teacher

HI Josh Hicks

You said "I just had an "entry-level" interview a few weeks ago and was NO WHERE NEAR being ready for the position."

Can you tell us a little bit about that interview? What did they ask for, what did you feel like you were lacking?

I partially agree with that. However, by separating content into different job titles I think It does imply one track, one job. I would suggest they look some actual job ads for Web deisgn/development and cross check their track material with those requirements. I'm finding that they're not quite matching up yet.

Maybe a more realistic job ready track would be to combine the design track, front-end track, and WordPress track, and some PHP into one to be competitive in the current job market.

Hey Josh, thanks for the question, and thanks to those who responded! To clarify, we don't think that simply completing one track will necessarily lead to a career in that language. Rather, each track will give you a sufficient understanding of the basics in that language, and will give you a solid foundation for further building an expertise. As James and Tommy alluded above, the key to anything is practice, so you'll really become job-ready by fully understanding the Treehouse content and then applying it outside of Treehouse.

We've found that our most successful students practice what they've learned on external personal sites or blogs, complete projects for friends, do some freelancing, or land an internship to further develop their skills. Additionally, we think it's a great idea to complete a few other tracks for a more holistic understanding of the content, as well as take some of our soft skill classes to round out your Treehouse education.

Lastly, feel free to check out our Career Resources page for more advice, and/or contact me directly at Kristen@treamtreehouse.com for help on landing an internship, etc.

Thanks for being a Treehouse student!