I got a job: From English Teacher to Front End Dev

I have landed my first full time front end developer job!

Yikes! This is a long one!

The Role


Working on a range of front end projects for a number of existing clients. My first project has been on working on a Craft CMS powered marketing site we have inherited from a design company. I’m also involved in the React front end of some extremely cool AI / ML products.

Hours are reasonably flexible, with the option to work from home a couple of days a week (which I will start doing next week)

My Background


Tertiary qualifications: BA English Literature, MA Teaching.

Professional experience: 10 years teaching, 2.5 years stay at home Dad.

No Bootcamps etc

I’ve been a hobbyist code tinkerer for about 10 years. I started with HTML and a smattering of CSS. Later I got into Python, with many false starts (took a while too really understand loops, tbh). Managed to solve about 25 project Euler problems and build a couple of tools to automate teaching related things, such as a tool that parsed Excel data and spat out semester reports for me, and one that scraped the CMS we used to host documents when we needed to switch and there was no useful bulk export feature baked in.

I played around with some WAMP stack web dev stuff too, but never finished a project in it.

I also tinkered with Ruby on Rails and Java, but again…nothing productive.

The Free Code Camp Era


I was just getting ready to deep dive on Java a couple of years ago when I read an Ask Metafilter answer in which someone mentioned freeCodeCamp.

I logged on and cranked out the HTML and CSS sections on my phone late at night and was hooked. The JS section took a little longer, and some of the intermediate algorithms stumped me for ages.

Getting involved heavily in the forum was a massive motivator, and when I used to help people all day everyday (Stay at home Dad life is sweet!) my own understanding rocketed.

The other big motivation was being involved in the local freeCodeCamp meetup. Meeting and hanging out with other people on the same journey was really encouraging - don’t underestimate this!

I completed the legacy Front End cert in 1 month with UGLY projects.

Then I did a bunch of the legacy backend projects.

@P1xt hosted a 1 week online hackathon style challenge which I used to learn React and that led to a cool open source project that involved lots of people here…but life sorta torpeedoed it in the end.

After that I took about a year off coding :frowning:

The Job Hunt


After a year off, I resolved to finish some more projects - a FCC solutions scraper, a Twitter bot and a Reactified portfolio.

I started applying for jobs and received a lot of silence.

I put my resume out on Twitter and got some good feedback on it.

This also got me noticed by a recruiter, which was encouraging, but ultimately fruitless.

I sent out more resumes and this time got some bites: 30 applications landed me 2 interviews and one offer to reapply for a junior trainee program 3 months later.

First interview was for a product that was literally just 3 web forms that get embedded on various sites. The job was to tweek the CSS to match client branding. That was it. Pay was a little over minimum wage. I did not get the job.

Second interview was a company that was pivoting into providing web services in their domain. They wanted a front ender to replace their outgoing front ender to start work on greenfield projects. This would have been an exciting role - I would have had ownership over the frontend tech stack and would have been working with a small team. They offered the job to someone with more experience.

I attended a local Javascript meetup and happened to get chatting with some folks about my recent job hunting experiences and the difficulty of transitioning to new careers. One guy was asking me about my recent projects, so I told him about my Reactified portfolio and how I solved some of the problems I hit along the way.

He handed me a business card as he left and it turned out that he was the managing director at a ML consultancy. I emailed a follow up asking what kinds of projects I could be working on to be a viable candidate at company like his in a couple of years and that, suprisingly, turned into a phone interview.

The phone interview turned into an in person technical interview. This was still quite casual…no whiteboards! They just asked what I knew and took my word for it, I guess. After that I spent a day on site working alongside the team on a real client project to see if I was a good fit.

About 10 days later, I was offered the job!

I’m happy to answer any questions I can :slight_smile:


Congratulation to you new career path… btw how long did it take for you to learn front end dev, i already dive in to learn front end dev, i start last week for my html, and css. its hard for me to find meetups here in my country, also bootcamp. i am watching kyle simpson video right now and you know i am a bit confuse about javascript. where they get that code from … ahhh hard to explain… can you give me advice how and what you tackle in your learning… goodluck and godbless…


Good luck, bro, you deserved it! It was kind of a bumpy road for you :slight_smile:

I was learning front end stuff on and off for 10 years (I still consider myself ‘learning’ even).

Other people’s time frames don’t mean much because we all have different backgrounds and learn at different rates anyway.

That said, I reckon 6 months dedicated study, practice and portfolio building will probably get you to the point where you could land a junior position. But, you would need no small amount of luck and favourable market conditions in your region for that to work. Many devs have more knowledge and real experience and really struggle to find work - so it really depends on some factors beyond your control.

Still, I believe most people could at least be eligible for a junior position after 6 months of taking it seriously.

At a minimum, complete the Responsive Web certificate and Javascript Algorithms certificate with decent projects. I would also recommend getting some projects completed with whatever front end framework is showing up in job adverts in your region - most likely React or Angular.