Success Stories

Malina Tran

New York, New York

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Malina's story: From novice to professional developer in 9 months

With a family of early adopters of household Internet, Malina grew up with technology and the Internet integrated into everyday life. When first introduced to programming, Malina found herself immediately fascinated and empowered by the web and the endless possibilities it offered to carve out her own corner of the web.

When Malina joined Treehouse, her professional background lay in urban planning and policy, but she had built a passion and intrigue for the tech industry. At the time, she worked at a non-profit organization focused on growing the New York City tech ecosystem, which was a confident leeway into the industry. Although her role was community-focused, Malina continued to become increasingly more drawn to programming and decided to change careers.

Nine months later, Malina has used Treehouse to develop her coding abilities. She has evolved from a beginner in coding to a pro, working as a developer at a digital product studio in New York City. Her career now combines her passion for the web with highly interesting projects at the intersection of art, music and social infrastructure.

What first drew you to the web industry?

I grew up in the age of the Internet: chatting, blogging, and learning how the web works were all part of my upbringing. Luckily, my dad was pretty tech savvy and my family was an early adopter of household Internet. We had owned a computer for as long as I can remember and so much of my childhood learning of the world was through software programs and AOL. I was even encouraged to learn to type at a young age, well before I was bestowed with my first email address at the age of nine (resulting in my ability to type upwards of 100 words per minute!). During high school, I also enjoyed dabbling in HTML and CSS to customize Xanga and MySpace. Beyond channels for me to connect with friends, I used them for self-expression through my writing and designing. Carving out my own corner of the web felt really empowering and fun. Growing up with the Internet and ever-increasing personal technology, it was no surprise that I would become interested in coding and enter the tech industry.

In nine months, I transformed from being an absolute novice (knowing nothing beyond very fundamental HTML and CSS) to working professionally as a developer.

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

With a background in urban planning and policy, I have been working in the public sector for the past few years (namely, working for the City of New York and economic development nonprofits). During the time I first joined Treehouse, I was working at a nonprofit focused on growing the New York City tech ecosystem. In my community-focused role, I was planning tech meetups, engaging with startups and technologists, and learning about the world of civic tech. The nonprofit I was working for also ran a mobile development bootcamp, teaching people from low-income backgrounds how to code for free. I sat in on a few Java classes and was really fascinated by programming!

I decided to check out Treehouse, which is a pretty reputable resource. What I really enjoyed was the variety in learning, from watching tutorials to completing coding challenges to taking quizzes. I felt like Treehouse was the best resource available for learning at any stage and did a good job providing high-level overviews of concepts before delving into the details. It’s amazing that I have been using Treehouse at all stages of my coding experience, starting from early last year and during the transition period when I was applying to coding bootcamps and even during my time at General Assembly. I’ve been an evangelist ever since!

You recently landed a junior developer position. Tell us a little about how your career has evolved since learning with Treehouse and the work you’re doing now.

In nine months, I transformed from being an absolute novice (knowing nothing beyond very fundamental HTML and CSS) to working professionally as a developer. The great thing is that I was learning with Treehouse every step along the way. After getting my feet wet with HTML and CSS, I decided to tackle Ruby, a back-end programming language with syntax that is pretty beginner friendly. Then I continued to learn more and deepen my knowledge with JavaScript and coupled my learning with attending technical meetups, workshops, hackathons, and weekend-long events. All of this ultimately helped inform my decision to pivot careers and enroll in a coding bootcamp to accelerate my learning. During my time at General Assembly, every time I was learning a new lesson, I consulted Treehouse resources to provide more context or extend my knowledge. I’m proud to say that I am working as a developer at a digital product studio in New York City. We work on super interesting projects at the intersection of art, music, and social infrastructure.

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

The more you learn, the more you realize that there is so much more to learn. This is what I love about coding and technology overall: so much is changing, trending, and transforming that continuous learning is an inherent part of the process. For work, I will be using Ruby on Rails and diving into front end frameworks – including Ember.js and React – and testing.

What advice would you share with new students who are just starting to learn to code learning to code?

Be steadfast in your learning, and immerse yourself. Learning with others is the best way to learn. With that said, don’t be afraid to seek out people and communities in real life (IRL). Their passion for programming can be inspiring. Go to meetups and tech events. Ask technical questions and ask for advice. Be uncomfortable and learn to be okay with that feeling of discomfort. All in all, I love how welcoming the tech community is and the reception that I have experienced as a beginner and junior developer. There are so many resources, individuals, and groups who are eager to help you learn.

Yet, as a beginner, it is easy to fall into certain mental trappings and believe that you are not good enough or do not possess the mathematical and analytical skills for coding. To those who ever think that, banish those thoughts! After all, I was an English major in college who worked in the urban planning field and did not get into coding until fairly recently. You can achieve your programming goals if you set your mind, time, and efforts to it. Programming requires practice and we all have to start somewhere. No one belongs here more than you (those who are dedicated to learning). Believe it, because it’s true!

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