Success Stories

John Weland

Canyon Lake, Texas

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John solidified his abilities and built the confidence to excel in his job

I study and teach Tang Soo Do, a traditional Korean martial art. I don’t write often but if I am given a gripping topic I can crank out 50 plus pages for a rough draft before my morning coffee. I am a web designer and developer. Usually those tend to be two separate roles but on a team of two working on contract with the entirety of Army Medical we wear a few different hats. I am a nerd at my core. I live and breathe technology. I am always reading up on new tech trends and find myself getting philosophical on where we will be as a society and how technology will differ in the future. I’m a gamer, I like my CoD and Assassin’s Creed, and I love pretty much any Final Fantasy game. I am a fiancé — I’ll be a husband in April — with that I have taken on the role of being a daddy to my beautiful and too-darned-smart four year old daughter as well. Being a daddy is new to me but it’s given me one heck of a superhero complex.

What initially drew you to the web industry?

Well, I started web development out of high school some ten years ago. I met my buddy Paul in an online gaming community and he too was of that mindset. At 17 and 16 we started Impulse Web Design. It didn’t go so well because of my inability to grasp concepts outside of HTML at the time and his schedule. He is now head of development for a successful web development company in the UK. So to answer the question, I think it was a bit of the unknown, something new (back then).

Tell us a little about what you were doing when you first started learning with Treehouse.

As I mentioned I did learn some HTML in high school and I picked up CSS shortly thereafter. I eventually went on to college for a degree in Applied Computer Science with an emphasis on Network Security. I also did some freelance design and development over the years and listed it on my resume towards the bottom as “other skills”. A company found my resume and offered me a job working for the military doing web development for continued learning for soldiers. The money was better than doing construction (where I always seemed to find work) so I jumped on it. I have yet to get that Comp Sci degree and now I’m even more uncertain if that’s the direction I want to go in.

The more I see companies like Google pushing the envelope in Web Development the more I want to stay here in this line of work. I had tried a few other online learning solutions, but something — or maybe it’s a combination of ‘somethings’ — about Treehouse’s teachers reach me. I found that I could better understand what they were teaching in comparison to other online learning solutions.

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

Treehouse means the world to me. Shortly after taking this job, I proposed to my girlfriend and her daughter. I wanted to be there for them (she said yes). I was always afraid that my HTML and CSS skills were insufficient, that at some point I’d be replaced and therefore unable to provide for my family. But I started working with Treehouse and now my HTML and CSS skills are pretty darned solid. I have also begun to understand JavaScript and OOP (Object Oriented Programming). I have even been able to guide my co-worker down the path of OOP to make our work more modular and reusable. I am vastly more confident in my abilities and while I will always be learning, I now feel I can provide for my family at my current job or perhaps something better.

I am vastly more confident in my abilities and while I will always be learning, I feel I can provide for my family.

How have you found learning online compares to the investment in a traditional degree?

For starters it’s vastly cheaper. I spent nearly $30,000 in student loans for a degree I still don’t have. Thus far I have spent about $200 dollars with Treehouse and have finally begun to understand JavaScript (a language that for one reason or another had always eluded me); solidified my abilities in HTML and CSS; been able to better grasp the concepts of responsive design and mobile design; as well as gained an understanding of trends and the direction of the web for the future. Not to mention I am more confident and comfortable with my work.

What are you working on now?

Right now I am a contractor working for the military building learning ‘apps’ (read websites) so that soldiers, primarily combat medics and other armed service medical personnel in deployment out in some remote locations can pick up their personal devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops) on their down time and learn more in their given field and earn CEUs (Continuing Education Units/credits). CEUs are invaluable for strengthening the force and for earning promotions.

Is there any advice you’d like to share with aspiring web designers and developers who are just starting out?

Yes! Learn everything you can. I was brought on to this position with the understanding I needed to have HTML5 and CSS3 as my skill set to work as part of the team. But what I’ve found is that I need HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JavaScript, Microsoft SQL, Windows Server, et al. I’ve needed to learn as I go so as to be just ahead of the game when they ask me to change how we work. It’s not just like that here; it’s like that everywhere especially given the dynamic nature of the web and its ever fluid market for targeting new devices, displays and technologies.

Look at how far we’ve come in the web, video games, computers and technology in general since 1990. In the last 24 years in most aspects we’ve gone beyond what any 80’s/90’s movie could have predicted. In the next 24 years in which most of us will still be working, we will be developing and designing for things we cannot even conceive yet. By the time my daughter is my age we may well have 10k resolutions, gigabit wireless speeds from your cell carrier, 3D web developing in a 3D space, universal connectivity and more.

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