Spotlight on Joe Roberts, professional developer and mentor for CareerFoundry’s Web Development Course. He tells us his story from offline education, to working as a full stack web developer.
Shifting briefly in your chair, you take a sip of coffee.
It’s 9:39 AM.
You open your email. You cleared your inbox 10 minutes ago. Your gaze shifts to your phone. It sits quietly atop your list of tasks for the day. You have no new notifications. You look quickly around the room, but there are no obvious distractions.
It’s 9:41 AM.
You sweep your phone aside and finally have a look at your agenda for the day. While none of it is particularly daunting, or even particularly irritating, none of it is particularly exciting, either. None of your tasks are calling out to you; none of them get your blood pumping.
It’s 9:42 AM.
And it’s only Tuesday. And you have no reason to believe that any of the Tuesdays that lie in your near future promise a more thrilling workday than today. You’ve hit a wall.
Many of us have found ourselves staring into the void at some point in our working lives. For some of us that feeling is coupled with the realization that our career has reached a dead-end. We’ve taken the road as far is it goes and have found that it ends in a roundabout with no off ramp, leaving us circling until we run out of gas. The only way forward is to change paths completely.
This is precisely where Joseph Roberts, a professional web developer and mentor for CareerFoundry’s full stack web development course, found himself when he decided to make the leap into web development. Joe started his working life as a teacher and eventually became the principal of a supplementary Jewish school.
“One night,” _he tells us, _“I finally admitted to myself that my career had reached a dead-end.” He knew that it was time for a change , though working in web development wasn’t necessarily the first thing that came to mind. Unsure of his options, Joe took to the internet.
“I looked online to see what the top 25 paying jobs were predicted to be and removed all the ones that required massive amounts of degrees or training. That left me with a few options, one of which was software engineering.”
Joe had always enjoyed building things as well as working with computers so he began taking a couple of software engineering classes at a local university. With extra encouragement from his mentor, a friend already working in programming , Joe found himself hooked almost immediately.
Coupled with his courses, Joe’s mentor helped lay the foundation of Joe’s programming knowledge, and opened doors for him into the programming industry, landing Joe his first internship programming in Ruby on Rails.
It didn’t take long for Joe to realize that shifting into web development was the right move.
“I came home still thinking about work, but was happy about it!” He explains.
Not only was he happy thinking about his job, he found the work itself exciting and challenging._ _
“I was happy to work on the projects I had when I had them and looked forward to new challenges as they came.”
Since that first internship, Joe has worked in a number of capacities as a long-term contractor, a freelancer, as well as a developer for start-ups, a role he found particularly rewarding. While it may have been the most exciting work he’s done, working for startups, he says, is also the most stressful, and not for the faint of heart.
“But,” he says “if you like a challenge, and want to make a big impact , startups are a great place to look. It’s great for those with strong skills but who are still relatively new to the industry.”
Website of a student of Joe’s, Dan Adiletta, who is now working fulltime as a developer.
Joe now works for CyberCore Technologies on a development team of over 1,000 developers.
_“I develop tools that support our testing efforts, web apps to manage those tools, and dashboards to show what those tools are up to.” _
He also works in the Technology Development Center at the prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital in a Ruby on Rails shop building tools to support the doctors and researchers throughout the Hopkins system. Those same tools are then developed into products and marketed to other hospitals.
“We also run fellowships and small-business incubators to help those with ideas for medical tech-innovation turn their ideas into real, marketable products.”
With no lack of challenging development work on his plate, one has to wonder why Joe spends his free time mentoring students of CareerFoundry’s web development course. In his 15 months as a mentor, Joe has worked with 14 students, several of whom are already working full time as web developers.
“Teaching is one thing that I just can never completely walk away from,” he explains. “I love helping people grow and learn, as well as seeing how my students impact me.”
It allows him to bridge the gap between his love of development and his passion for education.
Having already struggled to make the change into web development himself, Joe has plenty of wisdom to impart upon his students, who are all beginners in programming. For many of them, he says, the greatest struggle is finding the confidence in their abilities to overcome a problem when their code isn’t working, just as it was for Joe when he was learning.
_“I overcame that by reflecting on past accomplishments and realizing that you have to look at each challenge in the context of how far you’ve already come. Each step may be pretty high, but it’s probably not that much higher than one you’ve already conquered.”_He also reminds his students that if they are stuck on something, it’s usually because they’re working on something that’s difficult, which is admirable in itself.
“Web development is not about knowing all the answers and tricks, but knowing how to find or figure out the answers.”
Learning web development is by no means an easy feat, but getting into the industry is a pretty safe bet for anyone looking for a rewarding, well-paid, and stable career path
_ “The technologies will come and go, but the industry and need for people who can keep it running has a long life ahead of it,”_ Joe says.
For those aiming to get into web development who are a bit uncertain as to which technologies and frameworks to learn, Joe doesn’t think that’s the most important question.
“…[These] are just the tools you use. Your value lies in your skills - being able to learn new things, apply them, and set and reach goals.”
Not only is web development a stable industry, it’s a thrilling one to be a part of. It’s an ever evolving field, and for Joe..
** _“the most exciting thing is the fact that you can’t predict what’s next. There’s so much changing and so much new stuff happening that you just have to check it all out.” _**
Check out the CareerFoundry Web Development Coursehere.