Success Stories

Lauren Clark

Essex, England

Lauren went from cowboy web designer to professional front-end web developer in four months

After four years of working in retail for minimum wage, Lauren decided it was time for a career change. Over the upcoming months she pursued a variety of jobs, but found none were the right fit. When she started dabbling in web design and freelancing in her free time, Lauren was confident she’d found something she was passionate about. She soon landed a position as an in-house web designer and was appointed the head of the company’s web team. Shortly after Lauren found herself relegated from the position. Devastated and feeling like she’d taken a huge step backwards, Lauren was determined to prove the company wrong. That’s where Treehouse came in.

After dedicating four months to learning and mastering as much as she could on Treehouse, Lauren applied for a new job. She not only landed the front end web developer position; she also managed to secure a significant pay rise. Lauren is now embracing exciting opportunities and experiences in her new role, and is confident she can keep improving her skill set by cracking on with Treehouse courses.

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I'll start at the beginning. Back in 2010 I was working a dead end job of 4 years. It wasn't awful (I supervised the guitar department of a local music shop) but it paid peanuts, and I was fed up of hauling 10kg amps up three flights of stairs everyday and getting crapped on by higher-ups.

Normally what I would do is check the job listings and move on. This time I just quit, handed in my notice and left after a month. With no idea what to do, I just knew I couldn't keep working dead end crappy retail jobs. After a few months of being skint, I got an apprenticeship (read 'slave labour') at a local council in the finance department so I could get some admin experience. I picked up a lot of spreadsheet and basic querying skills. But I still had no idea what I was doing, so just aimed for an office job (well, that was better than retail, right?)

While I was there my friend asked me if I could give him a hand with "SEO and PPC" being as I was pretty good with data. I had no funking idea what either of these were and hit up Amazon for some SEO/Adwords for dummies books and got stuck in, earning some cash on the side.

Once I got good enough, I left the council and got a job working for a flooring company, managing their SEO and PPC. I got a whole lot more experience, and helped them to work on a large Magento store which was developed by an outside company. The people that owned the company were largely clueless about anything web related, and were dismissive of my ideas. The owner told me he did not "speak geek" and that I was to just get on with the job at hand, and not speak to him any more about making any vital changes to improve user experience and conversion - which was reasonable if not for the fact that those changes were integral to progress!

I applied for a new job and managed to secure a significant pay rise... Not only that, I don't feel like a disposable resource anymore - I have skills, and skills which are in demand.

Wash, rinse, repeat: I quit again. Back to the dummies books. HTML & CSS. This time I freelanced and got into web design. I did the usual hack up some WordPress themes with no idea what I was doing, but scraped by. Eventually scored a job at a well known printing company as an in-house web designer. I was nowhere near good enough, but managed to wing my way through the first few weeks.

After some time - I ended up running the whole web department, which had mutated into a web agency and was immensely stressful, pressure from above and pressure from clients led to me being rather abrupt to a client. This client was awful. Would call me every day -- would only follow up with hand-written notes she had scanned in and then emailed. Worst of all she wanted a 2000 product e-commerce store, her products were cremation urns, and she wanted each one in its own category. 2000 categories! We weren't allowed to use terms and conditions, templates or any signed contracts - it was total hell.

I was relegated back to doing SEO for the company; I suspected they felt I wasn't good enough at the web development and design I was doing, and had just lost the company the crazy urn lady (hooray!)

This is where Treehouse comes in. I was devastated. I felt like I'd take a huge step back. When in reality, I'd done pretty well considering the odds. A developer I had hired a month before introduced me to the Treehouse site, and I signed up pretty much straight away.

I wanted to prove the company wrong, that I could do it - and got stuck in.

Oh my. All the things I had been doing wrong, all the things I didn't understand and had spent evenings and weekends looking up on the net, and trying to read through in books was suddenly pretty simple.

I felt like I had wasted so much time, if I'd just had someone to explain what they knew, rather than trying to waddle through elitist forums, verbose wiki articles and erroneous blog posts, picking up bad habits and an incomplete understanding of things. Treehouse was the total opposite, succinct and friendly. I didn't feel stupid; I felt encouraged.

I spent around 4 solid months studying, and building up my web portfolio on the side, blogging and flogging the dead horse that was my company's SEO campaign during the day, making websites for friends and family on the weekends. I finally got the courage to ask if I could go back on the web team. The answer was as I'd feared, a big fat no, with the reason I was doing a good job on the SEO, and they couldn't afford to put me back there, which I suspected was only half the reason.

Last month I applied for a new job, and after some pretty jammy haggling - managed to secure a significant pay rise. From my meagre minimum wage days in retail, and being treated like crap, in just three or four years of informal education - I'd tripled my income. Not only that, I didn't feel like a disposable resource anymore - I have skills, and skills which are in demand.

I have a massive opportunity in my new role, and it's already making me feel like I have tons more to learn! I don't freak out - I just come home and make sure I study hard online, and mostly, it's with Treehouse. I love the Treehouse show too - keeping up to date is a whole other job in and of itself, and I'm really grateful for the info I glean from the videos and blog posts you guys put up.

So all in all, from total cowboy web designer to professional front-end web developer in 4 months thanks to Treehouse (and a lot of late nights). I've worked in some really awful places for awful bosses, and seeing the way Treehouse is run as a business, gives me hope that not all bosses are feckless halfwits and not all businesses will treat me like meat for the grinder.

I'm currently learning to put static sites on to WordPress, and taking AJAX and advanced JavaScript courses. Who knows if it'll work out at the new place, but I'm confident I can keep improving, all I have to do is crack on with Treehouse.

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