In the 90s, coding was just a hobby for Aaron Marks and too much fun to consider as a potential career. As life progressed, Aaron began coding less and less. It wasn’t until years later when he was working at a call center – in a job he couldn’t stand and desperate for a career change – that he decided to return to coding. That’s when Aaron joined Code Louisville and began learning with Treehouse.
By the time he finished his first cohort with Code Louisville, Aaron had brushed up his coding skills and successfully landed a software support position, which transitioned into a full-time developer role. Today, Aaron is a senior developer for a law firm and an instructor at a local university where he teachers web and mobile development. In his free time, Aaron is even studying for his Master’s degree in IT and working with local non-profit organizations to help them harness the power of the web to achieve their goals.
We asked Aaron to share his experience going from a call center to senior developer and his advice with other aspiring developers.
What first encouraged you to learn to code and pursue a career in the tech industry?
Programming was a hobby for me in the 90s. I started off with BASIC on a second-hand Commodore 64 that my family picked up for me – but I didn’t see it as a career. Code was too much fun to be considered “work”. As the years passed, I wrote less and less code each day until, one day, I had basically forgotten how to program at all! My tech career started on a really bad day at my job in the call center industry. I kept hearing about these coding bootcamps that promised to make you a programmer and I figured “well, I loved this stuff as a kid and I certainly don’t like my job answering phones so… let’s do this thing”.
Code was too much fun to be considered “work”.
What were you doing when you first joined Code Louisville and started learning with Treehouse?
When I signed up for Code Louisville, I had just started my first term back in college after many years. I was working for a cable company answering phones and processing business cable install orders.
You’re now working as a full-time developer and teach coding. Tell us a little about how your career evolved since learning to code.
By the time I finished my first cohort with Code Louisville, I had brushed the dust off of my resume and successfully landed a position doing software support work for a local software company. Not too long after I was hired, my role transitioned into that of a full-time developer. The company was small which allowed me to learn a ton about web development, DevOps, and server management on the job. Honestly, this was my favorite part. I love being a “jack of all trades”.
Currently, I am working as a Senior Developer for a law firm here in Louisville and an adjunct instructor at a local university teaching web and mobile application development classes. At the firm, I am responsible for maintaining 65 – 70 custom applications written over the past 10 to 15 years that support the firm’s internal reporting and operations needs as well as a few web applications that support our clients’ need for data. Like my first job, I am able to wear many hats as I run around the office working on database servers, training users on how to use the applications we’ve created, and otherwise saving the world.
With my free time, I am working on my Master’s degree in IT and working with local not-for-profit organizations helping them harness the power of the web and data to achieve their goals. I used to mentor a cohort at Code Louisville, which I haven’t been able to in a good while. I miss that experience and plan to get back to mentoring as soon as I graduate.
What has the value of a Treehouse education meant to you?
In many ways, learning to code was self-care in that it was a distraction from a pretty tough work situation that also served as work toward an escape from a job I honestly couldn’t stand. Treehouse made the goal of becoming a developer so much easier than I would have imagined. The Treehouse teachers have a gift for making technical concepts easier to understand all while making the whole learning experience fun for their students. The high-quality education offered by Treehouse allowed me to make the career change I so desperately needed to make.
In many ways, learning to code was self-care in that it was a distraction from a pretty tough work situation that also served as work toward an escape from a job I honestly couldn’t stand.
What did you find the greatest challenge while learning to code?
The greatest challenge I faced while learning to code was trying to convince myself that I was actually a developer. Often I would find myself searching Google for the answers to tough situations with code, especially CSS issues. I thought that one day, once my dependency on Google had stopped, that I would finally be able to call myself a developer. Turns out – that dependency only grew. I still struggle with the fear that the day will come when my boss finally figures out that I’m an awful developer and fires me. 4 ½ years later and that day has still not come.
Treehouse made the goal of becoming a developer so much easier than I would have imagined.
What are your favorite aspects of working in the tech industry compared to your past careers?
I love to learn new things and tech jobs encourage and often require a great deal of learning. Recently I had to learn Angular for a project. Soon, I suspect I will be learning React or possibly Vue. Who knows? The only thing that is certain is that my job will never let me stop learning ways to create new things.
I love to learn new things and tech jobs encourage and often require a great deal of learning.
What advice would you share with aspiring developers?
Our chosen career requires us to learn a lot of things and it can get overwhelming. We all have moments where we can’t seem to wrap our heads around a particular concept or chunk of code and we get discouraged. We will seek answers to our questions and, sometimes, the folks we ask won’t be so nice about helping us. If I could tell new developers anything it would be this: you were a developer the moment you decided to write code. Don’t be discouraged by seemingly unsolvable puzzles, hidden answers, or grumpy people in the field. Write code, write better code tomorrow, and always love what you do.
You were a developer the moment you decided to write code. Don’t be discouraged by seemingly unsolvable puzzles, hidden answers, or grumpy people in the field. Write code, write better code tomorrow, and always love what you do.
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