How Learning to Code Changed my Life

“My name is Brad, I’m 28 years old. When I left school at 18 I landed a job working in finance. I worked for Royal Bank of Canada for almost 10 years before deciding that I needed a change.

In 2013 I joined a new organisation. It was great to be doing something different. Unfortunately due to a change in circumstance I had to leave — I was gutted as I really loved the job.

So in mid 2014 I found myself in a situation I never thought I’d be in — unemployed!

What it was like being unemployed

For me being unemployed was horrible! Although it was not my fault, I felt ashamed that I had ended up in that position and that I hadn’t managed to find other employment.

When you start applying for jobs and get no response from employers, you soon begin to lose motivation. When a job role is posted and you visit the employer’s website and they ask you to complete pages and pages of forms, (and you know it’s going to result in nothing like the last 10 you completed), you start to think, why even bother!

Going to the Job Centre either to attend “Job Club” or to register for benefits is one of the most humiliating things I think you can do in today’s society, you feel like a complete failure. I think the worst thing is being labelled as unemployed. I was no longer Brad defined by my skills but I was Brad who was defined as unemployed. I was just another “unemployed jobseeker”.

How my coding course changed things

After having applied for loads of jobs to no avail I decided I needed to spice up my skill-set and learn/develop my talents. I always loved IT and that’s the type of job I was hoping for.

One day while browsing a brochure for “Jobs Fest” I noticed a 1 day course in Web Design by CodexDLD. I took myself along to this course and instantly got the bug for it! It was a great 1 day intro and it just gave me enough information to get started and give me the drive to learn more. At the end of the course the tutors Richard and Jordan gave me lots of resources for further learning.

I went away and began coding whenever I could. I watched 100s of youtube videos and online tutorials. I then noticed that the same course was being run again, this time it was 2 weeks long. So I immediately signed up.

The course was fantastic; it covered everything from HTML & CSS basics to Social Media Marketing and Analytics. The course was aimed at people who were “IT literate” but perhaps new to web design.

The course also covered several peripheral topics such as dealing with clients, handling complaints and project management.

Coding may not be for everyone and I know some people on the course struggled at times, but even they took away a greater knowledge of how digital products operate and they gained some great experience of working with the others on the course. After a few hours it soon became clear who in the room had the artistic flare, who was better at writing content, who was better at network support and who might be good at sales. It was a great environment to learn and collaborate!

What am I doing now?

After having completed the course I decided that web design was for me and started working on learning the industry inside out. Whilst doing so I also got a placement at a small tech company called Total Solutions Group. My placement lasted 5 weeks and by the end of it I was offered a permanent position. An offer I grabbed with both hands!!

It’s absolutely fantastic to be gainfully employed once again and not have to ask for handouts. I can hold my head up high once again! With my first wage I bought a ring for my girlfriend and asked her to marry me! She said yes!! Woohoo!

I am still studying every night and at the weekends. I am still learning more and more everyday and have even built a few websites for customers. It’s a great feeling seeing your hard work pay off and I couldn’t be happier. It can only get better from here.

My advice to others

The area of web design and web development is huge. There are a million things to learn and every tutorial you watch seems to answer one question and pose two more. I have a list of things I want to research and study and the more I do the longer the list gets. But it’s all great fun and when you see your work in practice and see the website up running and functioning it’s an amazing feeling.

With that in mind, I would say that you need to be motivated. With so much to learn, in a 2 week course there is only so much you can cover. You need to continue studying at home, in your lunch hour or whenever you can. The course is a great jump start and Richard and Jordan’s enthusiasm is infectious!

My advice — find a local course or try an online one and then find people like Richard and Jordan and grill them for information or local contacts. Ask every question you can, get as much information out of them while you have them, it’s much harder to get 1-on-1 time with someone like that afterwards!!!

A year ago I didn’t think I would get a job and certainly not a job in a digital industry — taking a coding course gave me the confidence to learn more and taking the course changed my life. My advice — get involved in National Coding Week, it might change your life too!”

Brad Chellingworth 2015
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