How Chris became a self-taught developer in 3 months
Chris Dabatos came from a family of medics but found himself entirely unsure of what he wanted to do. He bounced around from job to job in an attempt at finding the right fit. Eventually, Chris found himself as an audiovisual executive assistant, but with limited future prospects. He needed a new direction that would allow him to control his own career and his future.
When Chris was first introduced to coding, he realized it would open up limitless new career opportunities, but best of all, it didn’t require a degree to excel. Instead, all he needed was to learn the necessary skills and have the determination to work hard.
Chris couldn’t afford his own computer, so he learned with Treehouse during his free time at work. After 3 months of dedication, Chris landed a junior developer position at a processing company. Less than a year after that, Chris became the main developer for the company. Since then, Chris has been able to work with a wide range of fantastic clients and even started his own YouTube Channel to share his life as a developer and help encourage other aspiring developers to take that first leap into code.
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What first encouraged you to learn to code and pursue a career in tech?
Not once in my life did I ever think of pursuing coding as a career. Being part of a Filipino family, everyone was either a nurse or a doctor. I wanted to do neither. So for the first 10 years of my adult life, I went from job to job not knowing where my life would end up. So what first encouraged me was realizing that code gave you the ability to choose where you wanted your life to end up.
The great thing about code is that companies honestly don’t care about a degree. All they care about is the work you put in and your ability to code. For the first time, I felt like I had control of my life again and that came through code.
For the first time, I felt like I had control of my life again and that came through code.
What were you doing when you first joined Treehouse?
I was an executive assistant for AVX Audio Visual. They paid me fairly well considering I did no have a degree, but this was not a company I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I was honestly terrified after my first 12 months at that company as I realized I’d reached my ceiling. I thought I would be stuck in that situation forever. That’s what pushed me the find a way out.
How did you integrate learning to code into your everyday life?
Well for me, I did not have the funds to buy a laptop. Instead, I sneaked learning with Treehouse into my work day. I would make sure to finish any projects I had to do as fast as I could, then proceed to Treehouse.
If I wasn’t sneaking in code at work I would ask to borrow my girlfriend’s laptop and really push myself through courses and code challenges. At times it was discouraging knowing how limited my situation was, but I knew that if I didn’t try then, when would I? It was either now or never. So, I chose now.
Yes, its kind of insane to say but yes I did land a job as a developer in 3 months.
After only 3 months of learning, you landed a position as a developer. Tell us a little about the work you’re doing now and how your career has evolved since learning to code.
Yes, its kind of insane to say but yes I did land a job as a developer in 3 months. I am a front end engineer at a major processing company. I started off as a Jr. front end developer, but am now the main front end developer for the entire company after only one year. It’s crazy to say but I never thought that this would have ever happened to me.
I wear many hats at work. I work on anything from regular donation/payment pages for our business merchants to crazy customized e-commerce pages for our bigger clients. I’ve worked with big clients from universities to well-known non-profit organizations. Believe it or not, I’ve even worked on a registration page for Kevin Durant’s Foundation!
Since then, I’ve started a YouTube Channel to help encourage other aspiring developers like myself to take that first leap in code as I share my life as a web developer. I’ve had the chance to see people of all ages from around the world get hired as developers since I started my channel. Nothing beats knowing that I’ve helped change the lives of many people around the world. Now I can say I’m officially a Vlogging Developer!
Nothing beats knowing that I’ve helped change the lives of many people around the world.
What have you found the greatest challenge while learning to code?
99.9% of us on Treehouse are self-taught developers, so the biggest challenge is admitting to yourself you don’t know something and asking a colleague for help. It’s not something we like to do. I mean, we are self-taught, we pride ourselves in mastering languages that most of the world dreads to imagine learning. I think that is what makes the Treehouse Techdegree so great. Although I did not personally go through the program as I got hired and had the chance to learn from veterans who have been in the game a long time.
With the Techdeegree, you have access to a slack channel, a great Community, and teachers that can help you grow and make you feel like you can ask any question and get help.
How does working as a developer in the tech industry compare to your past careers?
There is a huge difference. For once, I feel like I have complete control in my life. In ALL my previous jobs, I felt like I was stuck and I didn’t matter. As a developer, you actually feel valuable for once. You know you’re needed and to be honest, we often to get the most respect in the office. I find my managers tend to be more flexible with us developers simply because of how hard we work and how essential we are to keep the company alive.
In ALL my previous jobs, I felt like I was stuck and I didn’t matter. As a developer, you actually feel valuable for once.
What has the value of a Treehouse education meant to you?
Well I can first say I still have a Treehouse account. I’m currently on the PHP Track and it’s been great at helping me keep up with the competition at my company.
What advice would you share with students who are just starting to learn to code?
My #1 piece of advice is to not give up and to not doubt yourself. Know your value. I don’t tell many people this, but I actually signed up for Treehouse 3 months before I began to take it seriously. I decided it would never happen for me so I canceled. But afterward, I had this inkling feeling telling me, “Chris, if you don’t go all in and learn how to code, you will regret it forever.” So, I signed up again, went all in, and became a developer in 3 months.
My #1 piece of advice is to not give up and to not doubt yourself. Know your value.