My path into development and design is a lot like everyone's discovery of their passion - anything but typical. I had always been interested in the power of design, in the way that you could imagine something and then create it. To me, that was my favorite hobby. And, for a while, that's all it was. Until, of course, I realized that it could be more than that.
When my employer at the time, a healthcare consulting firm, asked if I could redesign and build their website, I jumped at the opportunity and took a chance with Squarespace. I loved Squarespace and enjoyed the project, but I felt so limited. All of the things that I wanted to do - that I knew I would take the site to the next level - had to be hand-coded, which I had zero experience in. It was then and there that I decided to teach myself web design and development, along with the help of Codecademy, Treehouse, Code School, and just about every paper or web resource I could get my hands on. I wanted to have no limits when it came to designing and building things for the web, and that is why I became a Web Developer.
I did a lot of research - so much research in fact that it took me nearly a month to choose. I went back and forth until I finally narrowed it down to two choices: Bloc and Thinkful. I liked the look (and MOOC format) of both programs, but in the end, I decided to choose Thinkful. I loved the number and range of projects that Thinkful offers in the Web Developer Career Path program - I knew that it would be the best way to learn what I needed to know, and more importantly what I didn't know, to become a professional Web Developer.
In the end, I know I made the right choice. Thinkful's mentors, resources, team, and community is incredible. Everyone is so happy to share and help you grow - you never feel left behind or in a struggle. The education, training, and mentorship I received at Thinkful is invaluable - and I am so grateful for everyone that helped me along the way.
At LAKANA, I play two different roles: Designer and Frontend Developer. In my design role, I build digital advertisements that are featured on some of the biggest news stations and hubs in the country. As a Frontend Developer, I work on everything from customized CMS themes and modules to the corporate website and everything in between. LAKANA is an incredible place to work with unlimited growth, which is why I've been able to learn so much while polishing my design and development skills.
I've definitely worked on a lot of new technologies that I didn't learn at Thinkful - you can only fit so much into a program after all. I think one of the most important skills you gain with Thinkful is the ability to learn, and learn quick. Understanding the fundamentals of coding any language will get you pretty far and help you to pick up other technologies fairly quickly. With Thinkful, you know where to go to learn more, how to use tutorials to your advantage, and where to go when you get stuck. That type of education is so important going forward in the tech industry. Thinkful makes sure that you have a great toolset to become a lifelong learner.
Coding and design was definitely a hobby before I started Thinkful and realized that it was the career I had been looking for. I try to make things here and there, but keep busy with current job. But, a personal project that I'm currently developing with my girlfriend, though it is in its earliest stages, is A Friend in LA (http://afriendinla.com/). There are so many solo travelers that want to visit LA and have the same experience that you'd have with a local friend showing you around. A Friend in LA books you with a local who will plan your trip and be with you every step of the way - to ensure you have the best, most unique trip imaginable. And you might just make a friend for life.
My advice to prospective Thinkful students is to make sure that you're ready to learn. Though there is a fair amount of hand-holding throughout the program, you really need to be self-motivated in order to get the most out of it. The additional information at the end of each course is gold - bookmark it, study it, learn it, and use it. Also, get the most out of your mentors, Thinkful staff, and the community. My mentor taught me so much about workflow and best practices and I learned so many different things that are hard to find anywhere else. The Thinkful community was always there when I needed it and was a great way to stay involved and keep learning. In the end, recognize what an incredible opportunity Thinkful is and don't rush through it - enjoy the journey.