Personal experience: how non-techies become front-end developers

    Photo: Flickr / Scott & Elaine van der Chijs / CC

    Earlier in our blog, we talked about how learning web technologies and typesetting can help non-technical professions work. Some people starting to dive deeper into the world of the web realize that they want to change their occupation.

    It can be scary - to change the field of activity and turn from a non-tech to an IT specialist. However, there are more and more examples of such successful transformations around us. Including the stories of several graduates of HTML Academy, who not only gained new knowledge, but also were able to find work for their practical application.

    Journalist → front-end

    Irina Smirnova, front-end developer at Bookmate

    The beginning of this story is nowhere more ordinary: after graduating from university, I did not know at all what to do with my life. Either to remain a journalist of the middle hand and get a job that you obviously don't like, or to strangle yourself right away. As a result, of course, I got a job (unloved), but the career question remained open.

    Another lazy googling brought me to the academy's website. I always did not get along with technology and was indifferent to computers, but at that moment there was nothing to lose, and the courses seemed more fun than learning.

    Suddenly, “it all happened”: after the courses, three intensities followed, then a job search, the first test tasks, several unsuccessful interviews. In February 2016, I, who had already become quite emboldened and had a lot of bumps on tricky questions, came to a meeting at Bookmate. And stayed.

    For myself, I could not even come up with a better start in this area. Just a week ago, I officially became a front-end developer: it turns out, it took less than a year to grow out of the HTML layout. Perhaps this is exactly what I admire in IT: what you achieve is directly proportional to how much you give your best, and does not depend on extraneous factors. And the result of your work is always evaluated objectively, it is tangible and concrete.

    The academy gave me more than just the opportunity to change my profession. Something that has changed me a lot and spread throughout my whole life: has transformed me from a “couch potato” into a proactive person who teaches, does, codits, compels others to learn something ... By the way, at Bookmake I have a shelf where I collect the best books on web development and interface design, which helped me in learning. They will help you if you decide on this quest "Be-from-anyone-web-developer".

    Call center employee → programmer

    Sofya Lapshina, Junior Developer at Performance Lab

    I started working a little earlier than 18 years old. For a long time, my goal was just to earn money, which I will have enough to live on. I mainly worked in the so-called call centers. Time passed, enough money. And at 23, I thought: “What next?”. The prospect of sitting up to 55 years old and answering calls did not appeal to me, and leadership positions did not interest me. I wanted to work where there is always something to strive for, where you will constantly develop and not get bogged down in routine and piles of papers.

    Once I accidentally saw my friend writing code. Along the way, he told me which line of code was responsible for what. It seemed to me that this is all complicated, that you need to study a bunch of literature in order to at least just start doing it. A friend turned out to be a good one and suggested that I try my hand at free online courses at HTML Academy. This is where all the fun begins.

    Courses on the site, subscription, two intensive. Only a year has passed since I followed the link, and now I have been working in the IT company for the position of junior developer for more than a month. But first things first.


    How many people, so many opinions about how to study - yourself or in courses, which resources are better, and so on.

    Having carefully studied the path of becoming a front-end developer, I decided that I should start with layout, with the study of HTML and CSS. As a person who had little understanding at that time in development, I decided to give myself in the hands of professionals and went to the academy intensives - “ Basic HTML and CSS ” and “ Advanced HTML and CSS ”. I won’t tell you what these intensities are: you can read their description on the Academy’s website and also see reviews. I can only say that I was not mistaken when I thought that I needed to study a lot of literature. But since she began, she decided not to back down.

    At first I learned how to create a blank page. Then some text appeared on the page. And I think: “Cool! What else can I do? ” Learned to “color” the page. “And yet?” Build a page out of blocks. “And also? And also? And also? ” And in the end, I can create colorful pages on the site that look great on both the PC and the phone.

    There really is a lot of information, but this is all the beauty. Immersed in the world of development, I myself want to study it more and more. Even now, already working as a junior developer, I continue to study, but this is absolutely not a burden, but even a joy.

    Work searches

    After graduating from courses, I began to look for work. By the way, I knew only layout and heard something about JavaScript. Many say it’s hard for beginners to find work. And I will say no, it’s not difficult. Here, as elsewhere, the main thing is that your opportunities coincide with the needs of the employer. Yes, they are apprehensive about newcomers, but it depends on you how you will prove yourself at the interview.

    Expectation vs Reality, or My first experience in an IT company

    I’ll note right away that it all depends on the company, they all have different tastes and colors, so I’ll talk directly about where I work. Now I work in Performance Lab. The company itself is engaged in various testing of sites, applications and IT systems.

    Actually, the company needed a person who knows layout and who plans to develop in the field of development in the near future. And here not only my capabilities coincided with the needs of the company, but also our desires.

    In anticipation of the first working day, I thought that I, as a beginner, would be planted next to an experienced colleague and that under his strict guidance I would do some small tasks. After I adapt a little, they will begin to give me some material for my development as a developer, and after that - tasks more complicated and so on.

    And then he came, my long-awaited first working day. Everything was just as I imagined it, we just got right to the more difficult tasks and didn’t plant me with any colleague. Instead, I have a whole office of experienced and cheerful colleagues who are ready to share their experience at any time.

    That’s why I love the development world. Everything is not always smooth, but in general, here people share their experience and knowledge. This is an interesting area that will not allow you to wallow in the monotony of gray everyday life, which is constantly evolving and which makes it possible to prove itself not only within the company, but also on the expanses of the World Wide Web.

    For those who still doubt. I am a girl who embarked on this path, having only a secondary specialized education, my English was far from ideal, and I knew nothing about the development. In just one year, I went from "unclear whom" to a junior developer. The main thing is desire, and the rest you will succeed.

    Economist and businessman → backend developer

    Artemy Stepanov, Backend Developer

    I am an economist by training, due to certain circumstances and the strong influence and instructions of my father, I chose this path. He wanted me to follow in his footsteps, and I did it. With the help of my father, I opened my own legal services LLC. But since I was attracted to programming from school days, I decided that I want to be closer to IT - as a result, without thinking twice, I changed the scope of the company and its name. Now this is a web studio.

    Why is that? Everything is simple. I thought about what product we should create for a long time, and came to the conclusion that web development is a universal thing: products are not limited in the environment, unlike applications, sites and webapps can be used from anywhere, if there was Internet .

    However, later I realized that this was not enough for me. By that time, the influence of my father was not so serious, I was a completely independent person. It so happened that one of our coders was sick, and the deadlines were running out. With the help of our other layout designer, I decided to delve into the project - now I understand that it was only with the anchor that I pulled the development down in time, because explaining the details to a person not in the subject is quite difficult.

    I realized that I am still a complete zero, and began to look for courses. Fellow programmers advised free HTML Academy courses. And then, as they say, it started. I signed up for a basic HTML / CSS course - after completing it, I realized that I wanted to do this further. Working with a mentor (his name is Maxim Fariga) was the first impetus to the goal.

    After graduating from the course, I began to slowly typeset in my free time and for the projects of my company. At the Academy, they recommend going to a basic course in JS at least after six months of work as a layout designer, but I signed up for it after two months. Here I met one of the best mentors in my life, Boris Vanyushin. He was strict, did not give any concessions, at times I suffered (in a good way). It is this attitude that has helped to learn to think as a programmer. HTML and CSS are markup languages, and here I first came across a real programming language.

    Shortly before the end of the course, I closed my company, deciding to find a job as a developer. I sat at home all day and continued to improve. I didn’t have any income at that moment - my relatives and friends thought that I was crazy, since I had closed a profitable business for the sake of dreaming of a new job. My wife was also in shock.

    I stayed without work for about seven months, all this time I studied further and at the same time I was looking for work. As a result, he pulled JS to a more or less normal level, mastered ES6, preprocessors for CSS and other new-fangled things. In August of this year, they took me for an internship at a company that exclusively develops services. For about a month I worked in it as a front-end developer (AngularJS, gulp, Sass), while studying Node.js. A month later, I was transferred to a backend development: I myself wanted it, and it works out really better for me. I’m still doing this.

    Based on the outcome of this whole story, we can say that now I finally do what I really like. I have an excellent team, foreign customers (from Norway), in the arsenal - HTML, CSS, Stylus, Sass, JavaScript (ES6), AngularJS, Node.js, Express, MongoDB + Mongoose, Ruby (although here I am still completely green).

    This whole journey took 11 months. At the time when I decided to radically change my life, I was 24, now I am 25. Of course, I feel sorry for the wasted time, I regret that I got into programming too late. On the other hand, this only encourages the development and improvement of skills.

    Musician → Layout

    Artyom Ivanets, Junior front-end developer at eWave

    Here is my story. For 15 years, I studied music professionally, having gone all the way: DMSH, SSUZ, VUZ. However, later I encountered health problems: my hands were injured - I had to suspend my musical activity. It was necessary to figure out what to do.

    I was interested in understanding programming. Once I accidentally stumbled upon an article by the creator of HTML Academy, Alexander Pershin, in which he said that the layout designer is a great start in IT. Then he began to study literature, but it was difficult to understand it independently. And only then I came across the academy courses themselves. I tried interactive courses and decided to sign up for an intensive one: the content of the classes was very good. As a result, I unlearned on two intensives.

    After that, I was able to get a job in a large company that develops projects in the field of e-commerce for customers from the Australian region. I didn’t get there right away: at first I received about 30 refusals - even without an invitation to an interview. In the interview itself, I showed myself not in the best way, I filled up the part on JS, but there were no problems with the layout.

    As it turned out, training at the Academy gives everything you need to get a job and start in the profession, and even more than that. I was convinced of this when I ran into juniors who studied on their own. I am satisfied: I like the work, and no one forbids me to do art in parallel.

    Tour organizer → chatbot developer

    Evgeny Ladyzhensky, junior front-end developer, creator of chat bots

    The decision to change jobs was very difficult for me. Until the spring of 2015, for seven years I was quite successfully organizing tours. However, all the time I was haunted by the feeling that I was not doing my job and was gradually degrading. It was scary to leave the comfort zone: it seemed that at 36 years old it was too late to change a profession.

    As a child, I dreamed of being a programmer, but at one time I took the path of least resistance and entered the university where I had enough points - just to not join the army. Daring to drastic changes, I remembered the youthful dream and finally decided to associate myself with programming.

    At first I tried to learn from books, but this process required a lot of effort and considerable time. So when I came across the recommendation of HTML Academy, I decided to take a basic course in HTML and CSS. After that, he immediately managed to find work as a layout designer, and after completing the basic course in JS, he got a position as a junior front-end developer, after some time he became interested in developing chat bots and opened his own business in this direction.

    If you soberly assess your capabilities and not ask for a lot of money on the go, then finding a job is easy. The main thing is to remember that in any profession there has always been and will be a shortage of adequate people.

    As for the difficulties, of course, they were: first of all, most acquaintances and relatives expressed doubts about the rationality of a cardinal change of profession. Hence the moral: you should not tell anyone about your decision until the changes become irreversible. Otherwise, you yourself can doubt the success.

    In fact, nothing is impossible here, the main thing is to really want to learn new things.

    TV producer → freelance developer

    Alexander Polovnikov, front-end developer, freelancer, mentor HTML Academy

    For seven years I worked in a production company that produced television programs, films and TV shows.

    For the first time, I came across HTML at school: in the classroom, we made simple pages that were easy for me. At one time, I even made a couple of "commercial" sites to friends. But in the future I chose a university that was not connected with technology in any way, and layout remained just a hobby, which I abandoned over time.

    Everything changed when I accidentally stumbled upon academy courses. I decided to try it - and was so carried away that for several evenings without a break I went through them all and signed up for intensive. I also liked him: knowledge was acquired very quickly and easily. It was necessary to move on - and I still did not understand very well the difference between front-end and back-end development. I was advised to take the starting Ruby on Rails course, which I did. It turned out that knowing at least one server language is very useful for the front-end.

    Then it’s time to learn JavaScript. He was not yet at the academy, so I had to find other courses, and only then return to the start-up intensive on JS. The whole training process took about 9 months - a lot, but during this time I was able to get a good base. However, I needed more practice, which I decided to look for on freelance sites.

    But the coolest thing happened when I came to visit the office of the academy. The conversation turned to work, someone mentioned the new Rubrain freelance platform - it recently opened, everyone heard about it, but no one has tried it yet. I sent my resume to the administration with descriptions of skills, a story about myself and a request to add me to the database. A couple of days later I received a letter approving my application, and a little later one of the founders of the site called me and offered to work on them: I needed help with the site.

    This was my first serious and responsible project in my career as a freelancer. Everything turned out well, after which the colleagues from Rubrain began to recommend me to my friends - the number of orders grew, they offered me more complex and interesting orders. It's time to solve something with my main job at a production company.

    Leaving "meet" was scary, so I made an attempt to agree to work part-time, but the authorities did not appreciate the idea. In the end, I still quit. The decision was helped by the support of friends and relatives, although there were skeptics who dissuaded them from leaving a stable job. But most still supported me.

    Then I worked on freelance, made new acquaintances, got projects, studied and developed, already realizing that I want to deal with the front-end. A year passed, and at some point I realized that I would like to share my experience and knowledge - I was interviewed for a tutor at HTML Academy at a basic intensive level, and six months later - at an advanced one. As a result, I am doing what makes me really “rush”, the desire to constantly learn and develop does not leave me. Work is my hobby.

    Having walked this path, I made several conclusions for myself. First, to learn better in practice: working on real freelance projects helped not to forget the theory and gain new skills faster. In addition, a good way to learn is to work on an open source project. So you can understand the tool and begin to put it into practice, despite the fact that working on open source does not imply tight deadlines and requirements. This is a good way to learn something new, and if the project shoots - get a plus in the portfolio.

    Speaking of portfolio: in order to start receiving orders, it must be. And where can I get it for a beginner front-end? The best option is to find free or inexpensive stock layouts on the Internet and make them up. Five such quality work - and get a decent portfolio.

    Editor-copywriter → front-end developer of an international startup

    Nikolay, front-end developer

    This is not the first time I’m changing my profession: by 2014 I managed to work as an editor in the media and on television, as a copywriter in large advertising agencies, as a technical support employee (this was not very interesting) and as an Internet project manager.

    Almost always, my work was somehow connected with the Internet, so one day I wanted to be among those who do all these wonderful services and sites. It all started in 2014 - then I was 32 years old. A common thing: I needed to do something for the company’s website, there was no money for freelancers - I climbed into the site, came across the academy’s website, went through all the courses available at that time and ... got involved.

    In April of the same year, I successfully completed the third stream of the basic typesetting intensiveness and thought about changing my profession, because I liked the layout.

    Finding a job was not easy, at first nothing worked. I responded to vacancies, received rejections, unsuccessfully completed a test task for CSSSR, and I could not find freelance orders either. But I did not give up, I continued to search, independently studying what was not told at the basic intensity (and there were no others then).

    And then one day I was invited to an interview for the position of intern-typesetter. I went through it and got my first job in the web development team. You could say I was lucky: the company assigned me a mentor who taught me a lot, the projects themselves were also interesting. We created sites for large companies - telecom operators, each of them had requirements for the quality and style of code, the technologies used. It was then that I figured out BEM, learned how to use preprocessors, and got into working with PHP template engines, adaptive layout, Geet, and many others.

    Well, then I got a job in another company, then another one - a large one, with several development departments and high salaries. In just a year, I managed to grow from a trainee into a specialist, increase my income by four times and understand that I still have a very long way to go, but I should not limit myself to just layout.

    Now I work as a front-end developer in a small international startup - and as if I returned two years ago: there is so much to know, so many cones to fill, so many bicycles to invent, and the results of your work are waiting here and now. This is difficult, scary: suddenly I can’t develop at the right pace, let my colleagues down, let me down ... I’m not even 32 anymore. But all this is damn interesting, so I’m optimistic about my “front-end future”.

    For those who are facing the front-end development threshold and are afraid to step over, I can advise you to boldly go forward, but only if you are willing to work hard, learn a lot and if it is really interesting for you.

    What else? I note only one thing (others will say the rest) - I also want to tighten this moment myself: go to conferences and meetings, talk more, speak, make new acquaintances. This will expand your horizons, motivate you to increase your own knowledge, in addition, there will be someone to ask a question, and someone from your friends, quite possibly, will invite you to work one day.


    The experience of our students in changing professions suggests that nothing is impossible. However, this process can be optimized. Here is what non-techies who want to retrain as an IT professional need to know:

    • A change of profession can take up to a year . Changing a profession is a quick process, learning new technologies and then going through interviews will take time.
    • Courses help accelerate progress . Learning only yourself is not the most effective way to gain new knowledge. Courses and intensives can give a new impetus to development - especially if the classes involve solving problems close to real life, under the guidance of mentors.
    • First you need to learn layout . Learning HTML and CSS should be the first step to mastering a new profession. This will allow you to gradually understand how the web works and understand what specialization you want to choose.
    • Real projects help accelerate progress . Theory and training tasks are good, but there is no better way to professional growth than working on real projects. Practice allows not to forget the theory and develop skills.

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