Into the Web: A Deep Dive Into Eight Successful Web Development Stories

Rojhan Paydar

Hello!

My name is Rojhan Paydar, but you can call me Ro! I am a Junior Front End Web Developer studying at Juno College, in Toronto, Canada. A little about my background — I love animals, drawing, working out, and connecting with other people! To dive further into my web development journey, click here.

“Overall, I am so grateful for the team and community that Juno provided. It was truly a dream come true.”

— Kay Evans-Stocks, Juno Alumni Cohort 25

1. Kay Evans-Stocks (she/her) — Front End Developer / Graphic Designer

Kay Evans-Stocks Photo by Calvin Campos Media

“I wrote my first line of code in 2016 in a Web Design class in my undergraduate degree. Quite honestly, I was so lost and had no idea what the heck I was doing. Learning HTML and CSS was so new and I was just copying my teacher, trying to keep up. As weeks went on though, I started to fall in love with it. I felt a drive and a passion I had never felt before. It was so cool how you would write a line of what at that time felt like gibberish, and see some magical things come to life. It also felt like the perfect harmony between technical and creative. I liked how there was answers and structure but that the web could become a new kind of canvas I could design with.

There was so much to learn and I felt a fire ignite with me. That summer I decided to take a course with Ladies Learning Code as I was ready to learn more. I took the Digital Skills program, a 7 week part-time class, which taught HTML and CSS fundamentals. My favourite part of that class was I felt I was learning the most up to date information and industry standard practices. Also, my instructors were AMAZING and so COOL. They had so much knowledge and really explained things well. I felt so comfortable and so accepted.

I learned they were alumni of this place called HackerYou (now Juno). After research of Juno and their immersive Bootcamp, it became my new dream. I knew this is what I wanted to do after my undergraduate program. Their commitment to diversity and inclusion was so rare and inspiring; I put it on my vision board and I was committed.

In the summer of 2019, after I graduated my undergraduate degree, I did some graphic and web freelancing. Another web project I did in the summer was more design related.

I began my #junojourney in September of 2019 in their Accelerated Web Development course. This course was amazing, and I felt an overwhelming feeling of community and support from the entire Juno staff. Everyone was free to be themselves. I was also blown away by their ability to explain these concepts in such an in depth and concise way. I had experience in the more traditional school structure but I came out of the first 3 days with more knowledge and understanding, than 3 months in a course. I couldn’t wait to continue with Juno.

After the Web Dev, I applied to Juno’s Bootcamp and (spoiler alert) I GOT IN. I was accepted into the January 2020 bootcamp, which allowed me to take the accelerated Javascript course before hand. This wasn’t mandatory, but due to my fears about Javascript, I thought it would be a good idea. I am so thankful I did. Javascript was hard for me, and while I did love the course and I learned so much more than I thought I would be able to understand, I ended up having a breakdown mid way through it. I thought I wasn’t getting it and it freaked me out so much that I broke down. It was a rough time. But it resulted in me creating one of my favourite projects to date, the Moon Phase App

Moon Phase App By Kay Evans-Stocks

This was the final project in the Javascript course, and I actually did four iterations of it adding different features and making it as a good as it could be. I was so motivated to learn and understand Javascript, and I am proud of what it resulted in.

Bootcamp shortly started after the end of the Javascript course. I was so excited I couldn’t contain it. Our cohort (woo cohort 25!!!) got extremely close very fast. Bootcamp was hard, but I felt the projects were spaced out well and I thoroughly enjoyed week after week, practising my skills and expanding my knowledge.

One of my favourite projects I created was the Design a Study Space one I completed for Project 3, the Javascript/jQuery project

“Design a Study Space” JavaScript/jQuery Project By Kay Evans-Stocks

This project was inspired by IKEA’s app to build your own room. I wanted to create an interactive app that allowed users to build their own study space. I challenged myself to create complicated logic and to design each asset! It was harder than I initially thought it would be, but it was so fun to build.

After Javascript, we entered into learning about React. React and I didn’t get a long at first. It was complicated, and I was still trying to wrap my head around Javascript. Through time and practice, I actually started to thoroughly enjoy it (I might even say I love it now?). Two of my other favourite projects came out of that. The first was the individual React project where I finally got to build an e-commerce styled application

It was a goal of mine going into Bootcamp, or coding as a career, to build an e-commerce type of website from scratch. It turned out pretty cool and there are so many other features I hope to build on it soon. I also loved the final project we worked on: a group client style assignment where we are tasked with a application pitch and we are to make it come to life. My group was to build an app called Quick Flick Picker where people can create custom lists of movies to watch, and could be recommended a movie to watch based on those lists

Group Project By Kay Evans-Stocks & Cohort 25 Classmates

It was a large project, and it was very very challenging. But through working on it with the team, I learned so much about how to approach problems differently.

Overall, I am so grateful for the team and community that Juno provided. It was truly a dream come true. The job hunt was hard, but I am excited to say I will be starting my new career at Dotfusion as a Junior Web Designer!!! I am so thankful I was able to find a place where not only my values align, but I am able to explore both in the development sphere and with design.”

2. Danny Thompson (he/him) —Software Engineer

Danny Thompson

“The journey was very difficult. You are learning a new way to talk and think. You have to adapt a new way to approach problems. Not only are you conquering new problems, you have to conquer new fears. “You are nothing, you came from nothing, you work in a gas station and you will die in this gas station, they don’t want a professional chicken fryer, they want a programmer! You will never make it! Oh you are going on a programming interview and you smell like the chicken you cook, they see right through what you are trying to do! GO BACK TO WHERE YOU BELONG!” My fears, My doubts, My obstacles enjoyed keeping me down but I made it. — Danny Thompson, Software Engineer.

Danny Thompson during his time at Google

As for projects. I run a community of developers called GDG Memphis. I provide meetups, resources, learning opportunities and networking opportunities for developers. I have also helped 44 people land their first jobs in tech last year and I am focused on changing my city for the better.

GDG Memphis meet up run by Danny Thompson

We have several low income areas in my town that lack resources. the average household income is 18k a year. If I can take one person from that area, give them resources and help them land their first job in tech making, lets say, 60k a year. They are now generating the income of 3.5 households. If I can get 20 people from the same area, I just changed the neighbourhood. Now the schools get more resources, because people are in a new tax bracket. Now because of a parent getting a better job, the children now have more resources. Now they have a more stable home. The ripple that tech can create is HUGE. But it doesn’t stop at tech. We can use this model for other industries, but we need to put resources in the hands of those that lack them. If they get them, we will produce a group of people that can make the biggest positive impact we have ever seen. This is my way to close the income gap, this is my way to create the change I want to see.”

3. Heather Payne (she/her) — Juno College Founder and CEO

Heather Payne

“I was part of a sorority in university, and one year I got tasked as the “Webmaster”. I had no previous experience building websites, but I figured it out as I went and launched a brand new site for my sorority after a few months of work.

Fast forward a couple years, to 2009: I spent my last semester of university on exchange in Hong Kong. It was my first time being abroad, and I loved it. I decided to find an excuse to stay away from Canada a bit longer, and ended up being accepted to a Masters program at a university on the Chinese mainland (under a full scholarship!). Turns out that what I was studying, International Relations, didn’t interest me much, but I somehow remembered the fun I had coding that sorority website. I started skipping class and spending all my time coding.

By 2010, I had moved back to Canada. I got a job, but still spent a lot of my time coding. After about a year, in 2011, I decided that learning to code on your own is too hard, and there should be a group in Toronto for women who want to learn to code. Ladies Learning Code was born!

Ladies Learning Code

A few months later, in early 2012, I had the idea for Juno. We launched in June of 2012 and ran our first sold out Web Development course in the fall. It was led by Wes Bos! From there, the rest is history.

Classroom in Juno College Taught By Kristen Spencer

My strength through all this was that I represented Juno’s customers — I didn’t know how to code, and I knew what learning to code should feel like, I knew what the classroom should feel like. I was very involved early on in designing the experience, though others wrote the actual curriculum.

Soon, I became the job search expert, working with all graduates of our Bootcamp on their job searches. That was fun for a long time, but with our growth, last year we hired someone to lead our Career Services team. Now, I still work closely with them, but I also run our Marketing team, keep myself very business as CEO, and I also spend a lot of time thinking about Juno’s future and how we can achieve our impact goals, such as by launching new programs. It feels like a job that only I could do, which is maybe why I love it so much!”

4. Raf Rasenberg (he/him) — Freelance Web Developer

Raf Rasenberg

“Well that’s a pretty funny story actually. Three years ago I moved from The Netherlands to Hungary for university. My program wasn’t even related to programming by the way, but it was a business study.

Moving from a wealthy West-European country comes with some downsides as well. I was looking for a part-time job during university to earn some extra side cash, but the pay is very low in Hungary. In comparison: a student job in the Netherlands made me around €12 per hour. Whereas in Hungary it’s €4..

(In Canadian dollars, that’s the difference of $20.30 CAD to $6.80 CAD!)

So, finding a student job wasn’t much of an option, but then I came up with an idea. What if I use this salary difference to my advantage? I looked for companies in The Netherlands that want to outsource their software development to the east. Since I knew the tech community here in Hungary was pretty solid, and the pay rates from Hungary to Netherlands would be an advantage (in terms of offering my business to those in the Netherlands with pay rates from Hungary), I thought to take this opportunity and learn the basics of code.

So, I started learning Python and fell absolutely in love with programming. The start-up idea I originally had never happened. It did however end up with me learning to program, and eventually start freelancing for Dutch companies. Tech made this happen! Developing is something you can do from anywhere in the world. This way I could enjoy a normal salary in Hungary, while enjoying the lower cost of living.

Yes sure, I started initially with simple websites made in WordPress. I don’t really call this programming though. It was mostly me installing pre made themes, and then editing them with some CSS and JavaScript. Even though I felt this way, clients were happy with it, and I was happy to start generating an income.

I did this for a couple of months, but I wasn’t really enjoying it. For me, I love to write out code, and not fill out websites with a page builder. The nice thing about this was the job opportunities it lead me to. I was able to get referrals from customers who were satisfied. It really gave me some credibility!

After 8 months I got my first real project where I had to write code. It was for a start-up, an online marketing platform where aspiring pro soccer players could sign up and create a profile to improve visibility. I made it with Django, PostgresSQL, Sass and Vanilla JS. This start up doesn’t exist anymore, but that’s okay! I enjoyed every bit of it during development. It was my first 4 digit project, and I was extremely happy with it.

Raf Rasenberg

After that project the ball started rolling. I have made several full-stack apps and enterprise-level websites since then. The most recent delivery is a platform for freelance drivers and couriers. The users can sign up there, and companies can pick them out to do jobs for them. One of my most recent milestones that I have achieved is landing a 5 digit project! I am so extremely stoked for that! It’s a very large project which is going to take several months for me where I also probably have to hire some extra people to help out.”

5. Celeste Ellerby (she/her/they/them) — Animator / Developer

Celeste Ellerby

“After high school, I had decent grades across the board and I had no idea what I wanted to do at all. I ended up going to Sheridan for Art Fundamentals, and from there went to Cambrian College in Sudbury for Animation. I studied hand drawn traditional animation, 2d digital animation, character design, storyboarding and 3d animation. Unfortunately, the 5 week teachers’ strike hit the year I was supposed to graduate, which heavily impacted the quality of our portfolios.

Chat App Created by Celeste Ellerby

Despite that, since I had an internship at a studio in Sudbury between year 2 and 3, I managed to land a dream job as a freelance storyboard artist for Yowza Animation where I planned out pre-school musical numbers. I chose to get into coding because although I adored being paid to do art for a living, I found myself going into work and turning my brain off.

Jumping Game by Celeste Ellerby

I love the engaging problem solving of web development, as well as the collaborative aspect that includes sharing knowledge with like-minded, equally excited classmates and coworkers.”

6. Alex Davis (he/him) — Designer

A Portrait of Alex Davis

“One of the first jobs I ever got was building animated web assets for a friend of mine (she was doing a big web overhaul project). Super focused gig, but gave me tons of insight into what it takes to build, test, and launch a web project in a tight timeline.

I ended up enjoying the design side so much that I shuffled into UX/UI and eventually product design — going from insurance to medical technology, and then from ISP’s to being the lead designer at an education startup.

While I don’t dev quite as much anymore I find that understanding the foundations of how the web works is critical to my work. It helps me communicate more effectively with engineers and deliver designs that are more feasible and consistent — always take your web stack into consideration!

Web development always interested me because I was always someone that liked building things. But unlike something like Lego or Warhammer or any other model kit, the web was infinitely scalable and only required a computer (and an internet connection). You could just keep building and building.

Design was a reaction to seeing and interacting with tons of frustrating web experiences (although I also design systems and non-digital experiences now too).”

7. Audra Turuta (she/her) — Front End Web Developer

Audra Tutura
Audra Turuta and Matthew Hernandez Bootcamp Project
Audra Turuta — Photo By Neil Gunner Photography https://neilgunnerphoto.com/

8. Mike Gambetta (he/him) — Web Developer

Mike Gambetta

“I started out in college going for software development, and learning to code with languages like Python and C, but we weren’t really learning how to make websites. For me, I wanted to see my code come to life, and not just tell me whether I was writing a Fibonacci algorithm correctly. I had one class in college that briefly covered the basics of web development. And I got an insight of how quickly you could see results. By results I mean an interface, colors, interaction, etc. So I took it upon myself to learn web development in my free time. I had to work and go to school so it took me longer to learn, but eventually I started to get the hang of everything.

My job was just data entry, and eventually I got to work from home, which allowed me to at least study and multitask while I worked. I would watch a lot of Brad Traversy tutorials, and dive deep into W3 schools tutorials. At this point, I really only knew HTML, CSS, and some JS. Then I knew I had to start deploying websites now that I knew I could build one, so after purchasing the wrong type of hosting account twice, I finally got a shared hosting account with cPanel, through GoDaddy and learned how to buy and register domains. I had no portfolio at this time. Just practice projects.

I still had over a year left of college, and this part time data entry job wasn’t going to pay the bills, so I reached out to friends on Facebook and local friends looking for people who needed a website done.

Getting clients is another ball game. My first client was a nightmare, but a learning lesson. A manager from a local restaurant paid me monthly to update their website, but I had no control over the code and had a basic web builder to play with. Moving forward, in May of 2019 I got my first real client. A local videographer. I still work with him today, his website is http://RTBvisuals.com. At the time, I also launched my first web “application” which was just a nutritional informational website about supplements to take. At this point I knew I had some experience and it was time to apply for more developer jobs.

RTB Visuals Website By Mike Gambetta

At the end of June 2019, I received a phone call for an interview for a website developer position for a property management company. I still had over a semester of college to go, (fortunately it was online) and I was offered the full time position as a web developer. It’s mostly front end work, I just build update websites for condominiums and deed restricted / home owner associations. I was nervous to get started since I still felt like a beginner, but everything seemed to work out perfect.

The experience took off after that, I now have every day hands on work with Bootstrap 3 and 4 , jQuery, PHP, as well as HTML,CSS, and JavaScript. Even though I felt like a beginner, I was able to shock a lot of people and make an impact. Just 2 months ago I was offered a senior position at a tech company nearby, and my current job wanted to compete with their salary, so I was able to keep my job and get a nice raise. I really don’t want this story to sound like a huge pat on the back , I just want to be an example for people to realize that their potential is a lot larger than they think. And to never let imposter syndrome bring you down, never let your amount of experience bring you down, and to never underestimate the impact you’ll make if you really have a passion for something.”

There you have it! Eight incredibly inspiring stories to help kick start your coding career. I hope their stories have motivated you to consider diving into the development world.

If you have any questions, you can contact me through Twitter. I am always happy to help and offer guidance however I can. I would love to hear your stories and how you got involved with coding. Thank you for taking time to read this post, and have a beautiful day!

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Rojhan Paydar

Rojhan Paydar

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Front-end web developer 👩‍💻 fitness 🏋️ art 🎨 health 🥑 memes 🤙🏼 (she/her) @devshelpingdevs