Success Stories

Andrew Hickman

Philadelphia, United States

Andrew Hickman

Better value than a college diploma

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Andrew Hickman ended up landing a job after graduating from the Full Stack JavaScript Techdegree, so he dropped out of the college computer science program he was in.

The Treehouse Techdegree provided so much more value than the college program. While he was studying at the college, he felt he needed more hands-on experience with coding. This curiosity drove him to look for courses that provide more practical experience, and he found that opportunity with Treehouse.

With a couple of months of hard work, Andrew graduated from the Full Stack JavaScript Techdegree. Employers loved the experience he had gotten with the Treehouse Techdegree, and the Techdegree portfolio contributed significantly to getting a new job.

Andrew left the college computer science program in the dust - he got hired at his new role before graduating from the college.

Read more to find out how he did it!

The Computer Science at College vs. Treehouse

The Treehouse program was more niche than the college program, which enabled Andrew to develop skills that were actually relevant to the industry that he was applying for.

The college program was broad. The college program curriculum spent a lot of time on broad topics such as hardware and software, how computers work, and general programming practices in languages such as C++ and Java.

Treehouse was very focused. It was clear that the practice was for web development. The focus was very clearly about getting on track for a career in web development, and nothing else.

This was critical for Andrew when he was applying for jobs. The niched curriculum was more valuable because he got real skills as opposed to knowledge about generic computer science topics.

As well, Treehouse is portfolio based. The computer science course was knowledge based, with no products that students can use to apply for jobs. Andrew did 10 projects with the Treehouse Techdegree.

The Treehouse Techdegree curriculum walked him through how to set up his own site, and host all the projects. He ended up walking out of the Techdegree with a full portfolio, which was really helpful.

Then when it comes to costs - the cost for the community college was several thousand dollars per semester. For Treehouse it was $199 a month and he finished it in 4 months. That’s a total of $800 for the entire Treehouse program. Andrew felt there was a significant price difference between the two programs, as well as significant difference in value.

Applying for jobs

When applying for jobs after graduation Andrew sent out as many applications as he could.

Many people in the industry told him that “when you’re starting out in the industry, it’s a numbers game. Blast out hundreds of applications and see what comes back”.

“Make looking for a job into a full time job itself. Take 6 - 8 hours every single day, Monday to Friday, and submit applications. Somebody’s going to notice you.”

Andrew sent out well over 100 applications before he got his first interview, probably another 50 after that before he got an offer. It really was a numbers game.

Andrew started applying after he graduated from Treehouse. Treehouse was too busy for him to start applying while studying at Treehouse, so he had to wait until after graduation to start working on the job apps.

By the time he was applying for jobs he had already left the community college program, and he was applying for jobs full time.

He took a mixed approach when applying for jobs, splitting hist time between studying and job applications. He worked primarily on applying for jobs, but continued to study in all of his spare time.

It took about two months for him to get the offer he wanted after graduating from the Treehouse Techdegree. An incredible achievement as this is the first job in tech that he’s had.

From start to finish it took two years from first getting interested in tech, to trialing a couple of educational programs, graduating from Treehouse, and landing a job.

From my experience, Treehouse is nothing but phenomenal

Treehouse was the key educational and practical experience that enabled Andrew to get a new job in tech.

The support along the way that you get in Treehouse was critical. The Treehouse slack channel was extremely helpful. The fact that you can reach out to the instructors at any time while you’re studying for clarification on things, means that you can easily work through problems and learn more.

In the Treehouse slack community, you also have the opportunity to review other people’s code. These peer reviews were extremely helpful for the ability to look at other people’s code and look at what it is, what it’s doing, and manipulate it. The peer reviews were crucial to learning.

The number one thing about Treehouse was the communal aspect. Everyone in slack was super helpful, and it means you can learn so much more.

Andrew is still doing Treehouse courses even though he’s already graduated. He's currently working with Wordpress and Joomla at his new role. Treehouse doesn’t have any courses on Wordpress or Joomla at the moment, but they do have PHP. Andrew is now going through some courses on PHP to help him learn the language and get better at PHP for working with Wordpress and Joomla.

Types of Job applications

Andrew primarily applied to web development jobs. This was because web development is what he’s good at, and what he trained for during the JavaScript Techdegree.

He had some experience working on Wordpress before, so he looked at some jobs that were working with wordpress. He also looked at several full stack jobs.

The role he landed now uses a little bit of both. He uses Vue.js as a front-end library but he sets up Wordpress and Joomla sites as content management systems for the clients.

It took about 4 interviews before he could get an offer for a full-time position. He got a couple of other offers for contract positions, but he didn’t take the offers. He was really looking for a full-time job, so the contract positions weren’t very attractive.

"There’s going to be times during your job search when you feel like you’re not good enough. You’re going to feel like giving up. Don’t. You’re closer than you think you are to accomplishing your goal."

Andrew still experiences imposter syndrome, and it’s crucial to recognize it for what it is and to handle it accordingly. If you don’t know what imposter syndrome is to begin with, then you don’t know that that’s why you’re thinking that way. Everyone feels like an imposter sometimes. Once you know what’s going on, you can fight it and make it easier and faster to achieve your goals!

Keeping his skills sharp

While Andrew was applying for jobs, he kept studying coding by working on some Treehouse courses and making a YouTube channel.

Making the YouTube channel was a side project for Andrew, and he finds the channel to be a valuable learning tool. Andrew finds breaking down and teaching the concepts not only helps other people, but also helps him understand the material better too.

And of course, showing your YouTube channel to potential employers never hurts!

Keep your skills sharp and demonstrate your skills by taking on a side project while job hunting!

His new role

Andrew landed a job in a small web development agency, Lyquix, that builds websites for their clients. The company has about 7 employees right now, and tons of clients in the Philadelphia area.

They build wordpress and Joomla sites for their clients. They have a couple of designers on the team that make sure the site looks great.

His company has their own Wordpress theme that they work with. They build sites for their clients using their custom theme, and then they walk clients through how to update content as they need it.

Joomla is a content management system, just like Wordpress, but it has a steep learning curve. It uses PHP just like Wordpress does, but it’s a little more complicated in terms of managing the backend.

Coming into the job with no experience in Joomla was a challenge for Andrew, but that didn’t scare off the employers. Employers are willing to take on junior web developers who want to learn more, and Andrew has definitely proven himself capable of getting it done!

The work life balance at the new company is amazing. The company goes to great measures to make sure everyone is able to get off work and have a comfortable life.

Keep studying and applying for jobs

You can land a job just like Andrew did. Follow the same patterns that the students in our student success pages did, and you can get a job in tech.

Sign up for the Treehouse Techdegree programs, or sign up for Treehouse courses and start studying today.

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