Here’s a new post from one of our current students–Bill Babeaux–an entrepreneur and former Fulbright scholar who’s eager to expand his front-end skills and product knowledge.

Read more below for Bill’s take on Thinkful and a bit about his experience in the course so far:


Screenshot of Keanu Reeves as Neo in the film, The Matrix

One of my all-time favorite movie scenes is in the original Matrix. After discovering that reality is a hoax crafted by machines, the protagonist Neo also learns that he can directly upload information to his brain. When he tries this new method for the first time, he gasps in disbelief, “I know jujitsu!” His mentor replies: “Show me.” 

The process of learning through Thinkful isn’t as quick as a direct upload to the cerebral cortex. Nevertheless, I have often felt like Neo, only I am saying, “I know jQuery!” Since Thinkful also provides a mentor who replies, “Show me,” my learning of front-end web development has greatly accelerated.

I have learned many useful things through Thinkful, but the list below contains some of the learnings that are most worthy of sharing:

  • Even Experts Google – Learning to code isn’t about memorizing everything on StackOverflow. It’s important to learn enough to be efficient, but even my mentor relies on good old-fashioned Google Search at times to solve specific problems.
  • BrowserStack – This awesome tool quickly ensures that your project looks great across different browsers/operating systems.
  • How to customize Tumblr themes – One of my Thinkful projects was to customize a theme for my personal blog, and I was even able to add a bit of jQuery that I learned in that week’s lesson.
  • jsFiddle – Speaking of jQuery, I learned about jsFiddle during a Thinkful office hours session. jsFiddle allows you to test jQuery code in a simpler environment than your overall project.
  • Google Webfonts  - Google provides hundreds of stylish fonts that load at lightning speed.

I also learned various tips and tricks that have been extremely helpful, such as:

  • To create circular headshot photos (or circular divs), use the border-radius property.
  • To layer one element above or below another in CSS, use the z-index property.
  • Before using jQuery, try to animate certain effects using CSS transitions. (jQuery is overall more reliable since not all browsers support CSS transitions, but it can still be really useful!)

For all of you learning front-end web development, I hope this post has been helpful. Happy learning and I’ll keep you posted as my Thinkful experience continues!

More about Bill Babeaux

Right after graduating from The Ohio State University with a BSBA and a BA in International Business, Political Science, and Economic Development, Bill won a Fulbright fellowship and jetted off to Mexico. He immediately dove into the entrepreneurial scene as a financial analyst at Volaris, an emerging market airline, where he built financial models in both English and Spanish.

While working at the airline company and taking MBA courses at Tecnologico de Monterrey, Bill began to think about the language barriers for folks aspiring to work in international businesses. Enter Bill’s next venture. After returning from Mexico, he joined an accelerator in Ohio and began to build Moolango, a tool to learn foreign languages online through popular topics (such as Mad Men, kittens, and the NBA).

Bill’s entrepreneurial spirit has also led him to direct an 1000-plus person conference on entrepreneurship and poverty, present his research on innovation in journalism to Ashoka’s CEO Bill Drayton, and help Ohio food producers export their products. And that was all while he was in college.

Thinkful is Bill’s next leap further into the world of entrepreneurship. Frustrated by being limited to the business/analytical side of the business, Bill is ready to directly impact the product he is building.

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