Success Stories

Atilla Vago

Belfast City, United Kingdom

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A Treehouse education gave Attila the confidence to excel as a web designer/front end developer

Having been unable to attend university, Attila relied on being self-taught to learn the skills he needed to pursue a career on the web. He jumped from one programming language to another during that time, resulting in an understanding of bits and pieces, but lacking a firm grasp of how it all tied together. When Attila Vago was then hired as a full-stack web developer, he was excited by the opportunity but concerned that his skills and foundation knowledge were shaky. Attila decided the only way to sustain his career was to fill in the “blanks,” and turn those shaky foundations into something solid that he could confidently apply to his career.

Attila worked through web development and design courses on a number of other learning platforms before settling on Treehouse, where he found the learning experience the most holistic, flexible, real-world and up-to-date. Through learning with Treehouse, Attila successfully expanded and strengthened his skills and decided to focus his career on being a full-time web designer and front end developer (for now). Attila is also using his new skill set to encourage others to embrace the web by building tools that help people understand technology.

I can honestly say that besides technical knowledge, Treehouse also gave me a certain mindset, and while I generally am a very ambitious person, with each completed course I felt energized to better myself even more.

What first drew you to the web industry?

It’s interesting to see how something that just over two decades ago was a novelty, heck, for most, downright science-fiction, is now called an industry. But I guess the web did become one, although I have a rather personal connection to it.

Firstly, I was born the same year as the .com top level domain, so I could call myself a .com kid. While that probably had no real repercussions into my career today, my next point does. As a kid, I loved Lego. In fact, that’s really the only toy I accepted for any presents-filled event. I liked to build stuff. Generally well-crafted, nicely designed stuff. Later on when I got my hands on some Technic parts, I started adding functionality and I loved how design and functionality worked so well together. I also liked tinkering, mostly with old radios which I sometimes forgot to unplug and would electrocute myself (true story, and learn from my mistakes, please).

This all let me without realizing to the web. The web is surprisingly similar to Lego. It has the structural side (HTML), the presentation (CSS) and its functionality (JavaScript, PHP, Ruby, etc). And that made sense to me. I now had the key to building basically anything I was able to imagine. And that’s awesome! Calling it an industry makes it sound so uninteresting and boring when in fact I find it to be just the opposite.

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

When I was first hired as a full-stack web developer at a startup company in Belfast back in 2014, I knew deep down my foundations were shaky at best. The discovery of the web and all of it adjacent technologies can be infinitely rewarding and exciting. However, there’s also the risk - and a very high one at that - of jumping from one thing to another, learning bits of everything without getting a good grasp of how it all ties together. So, once I was hired, I knew I could only sustain my career by getting things nailed well together, and turning that rather shaky foundation into something solid that I can be confident within my present job and the future. The thing with web development jobs is that at the end of the day it does come down to code, and unless you are able to show some well-written code or prove coding concepts on the spot, your chances of landing a job are very limited.

While I did do an insane amount of courses on many other very well-known learning platforms, I found Treehouse to have the most holistic and flexible, real-world and up-to-date approach. The teaching style is absolutely awesome and well beyond anything I have ever seen before and believe you me, I have seen many.

You're now a full-time web and app developer. Tell us a little about how your career has evolved since learning with Treehouse and the work you're doing now.

Luckily for me, technology and I have both caught up with each other in the meanwhile, and in many ways that is thanks to Treehouse. For instance from being familiar with JavaScript and jQuery, I have now reached a point where jQuery comes naturally, and the new shiny toys I am playing with are Angular.js, Sass and mobile development. Treehouse also helped me find out whether I’m a back-end or a front-end guy. It turns out I am a front-end guy with a good eye for design which did indeed result in me getting hired for my second full-time job as a web designer / front-end developer. From building web-based ebooks, I quickly got to building apps with Angular.js, Ionic and Cordova, online courses, interact with learning management systems, developing eCommerce websites while building three awesome projects of my own on the side all of which have a clear aim of making web development easier for developers, and bring it to the masses in a much more accessible form than it is today.

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

I guess this in my case is a very personal one, but because back in the day my parents back in Eastern Europe (I am a Hungarian-born and raised in Romania) were unable to provide me the financial resources to go to University, a Treehouse education was my second chance to everything I could not otherwise attain. While doing the courses and talking to colleagues, I also realized that I was in fact getting a lot more for very little money than what they did for the cost of an arm and a leg. On top of that, I can honestly say that besides technical knowledge, Treehouse also gave me a certain mindset, and while I generally am a very ambitious person, with each completed course I felt energized to better myself even more. Finally, possibly the most important bit is that I learned that mistakes and failures are just another step forward. Fantastic teachers like Paul Boag (my personal hero), Andrew Chalkley, Hampton Catlin and finally Lis Hubert just to name a few, are a real inspiration.

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

To move to a remote town in Alaska for a year and write a book. OK, on a more serious note, my plans are varied but they do come down to a couple of things. Self-betterment career-wise as I am already a fantastic person, so no need to work on that (LOL), and building tools that help people understand technology, learn to manipulate it and interact with it as more than just a mere consumer, and generally become a technologically able society, as I believe it is crucial for our planet’s future.

My learning path will probably be as long as my life so I can’t really see very much into the future there as technology evolves at an insane rate, but I know for a fact that web technologies, mostly front end for the next 2 - 3 years will be my main focus while gradually adding in some more back end. The final goal when it comes to the web is to truly become what I was initially hired for at my first job, a full-stack web developer. That will probably take up to 5 years to achieve.

P.S. When I am 50, I will actually move to Alaska for a year and write a book. ;)

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

I’ve been only for about 2+ years in this industry and I could already write tens of pages about what should and should not be done by aspiring developers, but here’s a few:

  1. If you’re offered a project you know nothing about, take it, you’ll learn after.
  2. Be passionate about it. If your brain doesn’t get “turned on” by new concepts, libraries, programming languages, you should not be doing it.
  3. Get ready to learn continuously. The web is like the Universe. Ever expanding. Consequently the same has to happen to your knowledge and skill-set.
  4. Teach others and code forward ( code forward is a concept I came up with and it comes from “pay it forward”; it basically means do a few projects for free once in a while for people who deserve it ).
  5. Accept failure as a necessary step in self-betterment.
  6. Research before asking questions and know when to ask. Putting in even hours or days for finding the solution will always be more rewarding in the long-run than asking a question on StackOverflow waiting to be spoon-fed the answer. That being said, asking has its place especially in a team-based environment or if the deadlines are (as they often are) very tight.
  7. Go to as many interviews as you can. If you tell a recruiter (agent) that you’d like to go to the interview even if just for the sake of the experience, they’ll respect you for that, and will do their best to land you an interview. That being said, don’t just rely on recruitment agencies, show some initiative and contact companies on your own too. It might just be the detail that gets you hired.
  8. Finally, keep learning, especially when you feel discouraged.

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