In the world of work there are often people right in front of you who have great advice to share.
This week we interviewed Mark Robbins, the Learning People’s very own senior front end web and email developer.
As well as speaking at conferences such as Completely Email in June, the emails Mark has designed for the Learning People have also been featured in the Litmus and Campaign Monitor blogs.
On top of all this he also has his own website Email Code Geek– as you can tell we’re very proud.
How long have you been coding for?
“About five years.
“I started working for the Learning People nearly two years ago and have been given the freedom and support to research, experiment and learn as much as I possibly can.
“I’ve always been researching and developing my skills in order to build up my knowledge base.
“I think this needs to remain constant in order to gain momentum in your learning.”
How did coding become an interest?
“Initially it started with photography – at a young age I had a very keen interest in taking photos, so I decided to study photography at college.
“Through this I worked a lot with Photoshop, and this got me hooked on design.
“I eventually got a job with a company where I was doing design work inhouse.
“We had to send all these designs off to be coded into the company website which took time and cost more, so we decided it would be a lot easier if I could do some basic coding.
“The company put me on a course that gave me an overview on coding which again got me hooked, and I’ve taught myself since then.”
Would you say that coding has become more of a passion now than a career?
“Absolutely. I never thought I’d be interested in coding.
“I’d always liked the idea of creating a website but purely from a design point of view.
“Despite this, I’ve found that I’m actually more natural when it comes to coding than design – I really enjoy it now.
“I think it’s because it’s problem solving so my job is just to try and fix lots of little puzzles so the bigger picture can function and make sense – that appeals to my mindset and how I work.”
What does your job entail?
“That’s really a big question as I do many different things everyday – I have some big on going tasks and others that are just one off things.
“My job entails bug fixing so if anything goes wrong that takes priority over anything else.
“I also do a lot of research in order to learn about new technologies and more efficient ways of doing things.
“I need to be able to justify if a new trend is appropriate for the company and worth exploring, and then build these new things as seamlessly as possible into the website.”
How did you work your way up to a senior position?
“I think I’ve gotten to a senior role unusually quickly because of the opportunities I have been lucky enough to have been offered – it’s a great industry to build a career in as it’s so highly demanded and there’s loads of opportunity.
“Basically I just kept working at my knowledge base through research and learning everything I could through a number of web design courses.
“I always try to take on new challenges with a positive attitude, even if I haven’t actually done it before.
“There’s loads of information you can teach yourself out there, and before you know it you’ll be offering advice to others.”
What key tips would you offer anyone looking to get into web development?
“Start building stuff as soon as possible.
“Once you’ve grasped the basics of web development, build your own projects to test stuff out on, so when you’re learning about something new try it on your test site first or on codepen.
“If you like something, give it a try; you’ve got to be self motivated to learn – that’s the only way you’ll progress.
“And don’t worry, the more you learn this way the more natural it becomes.
“What starts off as a little interest becomes detailed knowledge and this feeds the interest until it grows into something bigger.
“It’s really important to stay up to date with industry news and developments, so let this interest grow through research and training, and subscribe to industry blogs and newsletters.”
What do you like most about the web development industry?
“I really like how web design is a very open industry to be a part of.
“That means that the industry progresses very quickly because everyone can see your code and because the code is so open, people feel free to share their knowledge publicly.
“This creates a big culture of sharing, so the more you share your code, the more other people develop and build on it.
“If I have a really good idea, I’ll build it up and share that with people, which creates a huge testing ground so if someone finds a bug I can fix it fast.
“Someone might also find a better way of doing it which they can share, or something else to add onto it which makes it a very collaborative, encouraging, and open way to learn.”
Where do you see yourself professionally in five years time?
“It’s really hard to predict where the industry is going to go in five years as it moves so fast, but hopefully I’ll still be on the crest of the wave keeping up with everything and learning, building and innovating with all the new technology I’ll have access to.
“I’d also love to talk at more conferences.”