Meet Jake Peek, criminal law recruit turned full stack web developer, who now runs his own web design agency.
He always wanted to work for himself and start his own business one day, and sure enough, after researching the perfect course to leverage himself, he quit his job and signed on to the full stack web developer course with the Learning People. Jake was working in criminal law, feeling fairly so-so about his career and its future.
He passed his course with flying colours - a distinction - and went on to design his very own web application which was launched as the backbone technology to his exciting new business venture.
We caught up with Jake about his learning experience, the best bits about the web development training, why he chose the Learning People and asked him for his advice to future students on how to make the most out of the course.
Firstly, can you tell me a bit about what the course is all about?
In a full stack web development role, you need to know how to code. You build a website that goes down onto someone’s browser and you’d also build the program that sits on the server that sends out that web page.
There’s been kind of a tradition of splitting the two skills up so a company would have a front end developer and a back end developer. The cost of salaries in this field is quite high so from an employer's perspective, by combining the two into one role, you’re able to hire one developer instead of two.
The full stack web development course is kind of a crash course to get you up to scratch to be able to do both of those things. Lots of companies appear to be looking for people with both skills rather than just one - it saves them money.
What did you actually do in the training?
The course taught you full stack based on a specific technology so you could apply your skills practically. We used Python frameworks called Django and Flask. There are so many different options when it comes to technologies – it was great to learn to code using one framework so you could then adapt your learning experiences to other frameworks.
What kind of job were you in before the TRAINING?
Nothing related actually – I was in criminal law.
Wow, so what made you want to do this course?
Well, I always loved programming, since I was a kid really, but it was only ever a hobby – a bit of tinkering with game development and that type of thing. But nothing to do with the web.
I had a couple of years experience in a criminal law role after university. So was heading down this career path fine, but it didn’t really inspire me. I’d always wanted to start my own business – and the criminal law job was something I fell into after uni. It turned out it wasn’t the career I really wanted and one day I decided that enough’s enough - now’s the time to quit and do my own thing.
I was going to learn to code myself – as I’d had the programming background, I thought it wouldn’t be too big a transition into the web development stuff. So I tried giving it a go myself, but didn’t really know where to start and soon realised that it was extremely difficult to find the correct resources in order to learn to code myself or get any kind of structure to my learning.
I also thought that if for any reason my business venture didn’t take off like I hoped, I’d need something to fall back on to put myself in an employable position – a solid web development qualification that’s globally recognised by employers. And that’s what I found... the course was exactly what I needed – structured learning and a certification to prove what I knew!
So did the course give you a portfolio to show to employers?
As the course was really practical, I actually had to build something, the same way I would have to do in the industry.
Do you know about GitHub? It’s essentially a place online where you can put your web development projects. A lot of developers, and a lot of recruiters in the tech industry will ask for someone’s GitHub page. A social media platform of sorts – for programming. You can host and work on your projects on the platform throughout the coding course – it’s great.
We were encouraged to use GitHub to build a portfolio to show potential employers. It’s especially great for those with no other experience of web development as it helps you showcase exactly what you’ve learnt and why someone should hire you.
What made you choose the Learning People?
I’d looked at you and a good few other companies but the testimonials gave me an insight to the type of service I could expect, which was one of the main reasons for choosing the Learning People.
Also, from speaking with a learning consultant, I could see that what I would be getting on this particular coding course was real value for money, it was priced at what I expected to pay and the course content covered all of the key areas I knew I needed to learn. It felt worth it for sure. The size of the company and the amount of students who’ve succeeded with this course was reassuring too.
What was the best part of the course?
The most valuable thing about the coding course, for me, was the curriculum. It’s especially useful for those with no prior knowledge at all, trying to find a starting point is really hard, there’s so much information to sift through.
Where I might have possibly been able to muddle through, finding the odd piece of valuable content here and there online, I didn’t really know what exactly I was looking for and what I needed to learn.
I also really like the way you got instant feedback. It would give you a percentage readout for each topic and show how far you’ve got through the lessons. You could see exactly what you’d learnt and still needed to learn at a glance - it really helped me stay on track.
The full stack web development course is constantly evolving too, even in the three months I was doing the course, there were two or three updates to the course content. It’s great to know that the content is constantly being updated to reflect the changes in the industry.
How did you get such a high mark on the training, do you think?
I didn’t anticipate or really know how well I’d done as it’s not an industry I’ve worked in but I just listened to the feedback I was given after each task and tried to improve as much as I could.
What really helped me to excel was the university style marking criteria we were given. It helped me know which areas I should spend the most time on to create the best work and get the best marks.
How did you find the support throughout the course?
We got hooked up with an experienced mentor, someone fairly senior from the industry, who was on hand to answer any questions we might have about the coding course content and web development as a career. We could set up appointments to talk to them over Skype so it did feel like a face-to-face conversation.
This was a nice touch, especially as part of a non classroom-based course such as this. My mentor was very knowledgeable, and clearly knew what he was talking about when it comes to learning to code.
We were also able to contact the StudentCareTM team whenever we liked if we had a problem – it was nice reassurance to know you weren’t on your own.
It was also possible to chat with other students via a chat room, which was great for peer reviewing and added a different dimension to the experience.
So what’s next for you?
Well I’ve got my company set up and ready to go, I’m just waiting to launch it! It should be live in the next couple of weeks. It’s a design/web development agency, which also acts as a recruitment company.
So we’ll essentially have a list of skilled individuals in a number of fields, such as programming in various languages, graphic design work or specialist artistic skills. And when the company wins business, it’ll automatically create a team out of the specialists in each necessary field. It’s basically automatic management of contract and recruitment work.
I’m currently building the web application function that will act as the backbone technology for the business. This is where the full stack web developer course has been such a great help. I’ve used the skills it taught me to nail the build process and I’m really excited to get it launched.
The web application is a great way to help me manage the business – knowing how to code one using the skills I learned on the course was invaluable. It would be extremely difficult to manage this type of business model without the tool.
I’m also about to take another exam with the Learning People – the Microsoft Certified Software Developer exam – MCSD – which will help me practice the learning from the full stack web developer course on a different kind of technology.
Plus it’ll give me a certification from Microsoft, which is great for my CV and will be really valuable if I do end up looking for employment in the near future.
What advice would you give other students?
Immerse yourself in it. Be prepared for self-learning, research lots and commit to doing the reading. Use the marking criteria and the curriculum as a guide to further study, the extra content links they give you are really useful so utilise them.