Becoming a Developer and Embracing Startup Culture
Jaime Rios was a full-time college student when he came across Treehouse. He soon discovered his passionate for learning to code and aspired to work at a tech company that valued initiative and new ideas, somewhere where he would be able to work alongside an awesome team. The first position Jaime took as a developer wasn’t quite the right fit, so he switched over to freelance while he built on his coding skills and looked for the right position.
Recently, Jaime decided to make the leap towards working in a company again and interviewed with an innovative startup. After a series of interviews, the company was so impressed with Jaime’s portfolio, positive attitude, curiosity and passion for learning, that they offered him the position. Without a college degree, Jaime has become a confident web developer and has reached his career aspirations.
We asked Jaime to share his inspiring story and his valuable advice for other aspiring developers.
What first encouraged you to learn to code and pursue a career in the tech industry?
It all started when I was trying to figure out how to make a website for my friends and I. While I was watching a WordPress tutorial on YouTube, an ad brought me to Treehouse and inspired me to change careers. It took me about 30 minutes to make my decision and I signed up for the free trial.
You’re now a full-time web developer. Tell us a little about how your career has progressed since learning with Treehouse.
I’m in the process of writing a series of blog posts to share my full story, but here’s a summary.
My first position as a developer was rather chaotic (at least the first day) and I experienced a lot of resistance to change. Especially implementing best practices like a naming convention, using SASS instead of in-line CSS, Gulp as a task runner, etc. I’ve found “cowboy coding” is more common than it should be, which is a great opportunity for us Treehouse students to help. That same week, I actually got another freelance job offer and decided to quit.
A few months later I decided to revisit the idea of working for a tech company. After researching opportunities, I came across a company that embraced change in more of a startup environment. After my first interview at the office, we scheduled a second Skype interview with two remote members of the team living in France and Germany. I was a little nervous at first but I did great. They really liked my portfolio and my attitude.
During the interview, they asked what my biggest strengths are. First, I explained that other than writing code, I’m relatable and I can communicate effectively with people outside of the tech world. Secondly, I didn’t go to college to become a developer. As I see it, in the tech industry there are a lot of problems and the same number of solutions, so I learn new things on a regular basis. Because of that, my work is driven by curiosity and a passion for learning.
I got the job and am now getting paid exactly what I asked for. It’s also the kind of work I’d imagined doing when I first started learning to code: Working at a company that value initiative, new ideas, straight forward communication and honesty. As well as having the opportunity to work with a great team, state of the art computers, and an office with a ping pong table and video games.
Treehouse student stories gave me a lot of certainty about what I would be able to accomplish and that no matter what your past, you can always reinvent yourself.
What have you found the greatest challenge while learning to code?
Figuring out what to learn. There are a lot of solutions to a lot of problems, and it doesn’t take long for someone else to come up with a better way to resolve them. So deciding what to learn next has been my biggest problem.
What has the value of a Treehouse education meant to you?
Words aren’t enough to describe what it means to me, but here is an overview of some of them:
- The Tracks helped me find a better direction for what I should be learning and what kind of developer I want to be.
- Treehouse student stories gave me a lot of certainty about what I would be able to accomplish and that no matter what your past, you can always reinvent yourself.
- The Treehouse Community is a great place to learn and give back. It also reinforces the new paradigm where failing is a good thing and anything can be accomplished.
- A lesson on UX and customer service. The times I’ve reached out to support or asked a Treehouse teacher a question, they’re always eager to help and make things right. Whether it’s a bug or a specific question, they’re happy to help.
What are your favorite aspects of the tech industry compared to your past career?
The way it evolves. Tech companies usually embrace change, they’re more open to new ideas. They are also keener to try things like flexible schedules, home offices, remote work, having a ping pong table in the office, etc.
Never stop learning. The tech world is changing and it’s changing fast, so learning without a college degree is an awesome way to positively stand out from the crowd.
What advice would you share with aspiring developers?
- Don’t let your lack of experience hold you back. This actually is an asset, especially since your career is based on passion and curiosity. You can be one of the most valuable assets for a team.
- Never stop learning. The tech world is changing and it’s changing fast, so learning without a college degree is an awesome way to positively stand out from the crowd.
- Fail faster. Especially when creating software. It’s better to find what doesn’t work sooner rather than later.
- Go to local Meetups. It makes finding a job easier and the network of people is awesome.