How I Went From Bartending to Junior Front-End Developer in 9 Months


Learning to code so that you can land a job in tech can feel daunting. That’s why we’re sharing inspiring stories from Codecademy’s community — to show how people like you (yes, you!) can embark on a learning journey and end up with a totally new career. We hope these stories serve as a reminder that there’s no single path to a more fulfilling work life.

Today’s story is from Joppe Montezinos, a 21-year-old Junior Front-End Developer at Touchwonders, living in the Netherlands. Read more stories from Codecademy learners here — and be sure to share your story here.

Why I chose to learn to code

“I’ve had many jobs, like bartending and sales, but they were just not for me. My dad worked in cybersecurity, and I was always kind of interested in programming. He said to me, ‘Why don’t you give coding a shot whilst you’re free anyway?’ And I was like, ‘Why not?’ 

I lived in South Africa with my girlfriend for a year, and that’s where I learned on Codecademy. I started with Learn Python 3, because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do at that point. I just wanted to code, and Python seemed to be the easiest language. I immediately started with the Front-End Engineer path because a friend of mine who I met on Discord thought I would really like it.” 

How I made time to learn

“Since my girlfriend was studying all day, so was I. It was mostly me saying to her, ‘Hey, I’m just going to do this today, and if I’m stuck, leave me alone.’ I just really liked the things I was doing — it was 90% Codecademy, but also making my own projects and watching YouTube videos to figure out how things work.”

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How I saved up money to switch careers

“I didn’t know what to ask for one Christmas, so I was like, ‘Mom, Codecademy has a discount.’ I would have paid for half of the cost of the membership, but there was already a 50% discount going on, so she was like, ‘Nah, I’ll get it for you.’ Once I had it, I felt like I had to use it.” 

How long it took me to land a job

“My aim was to come back from South Africa with a software job, which was very ambitious, because I was only there for 9 months. I had never coded in my life before that! I had seen HTML, but I never actually touched code. I started learning at the end of February in 2022, and got a job in October 2022.”  

How I got in the door

“I looked at Indeed and LinkedIn and it seemed like all of the job opportunities that were available were React Developer jobs, because React is very popular. I took a whole month where I literally just focused on React. I did 10-15 projects in React, and it was going quite well. I was understanding things and I didn’t need to look up everything. That was kind of the moment where I was like, Let’s just apply, and then see what hits.

It was actually quite funny, because the job I have now wasn’t one of the ones that I applied for. LinkedIn* was very important; it’s where I did everything. The person who hired me contacted me saying, ‘Hey, are you looking for work?’ That’s it — that was the whole message. Instantly, I was intrigued and wanted to know more. I looked at the company, and it’s in a building that I’m familiar with, so I was like, Oh, that’s cool. I live near that. Then a few days after that message, I had my first interview.”

* Want to optimize your LinkedIn profile so that recruiters and hiring managers can contact you for work? Check out these do’s and don’ts of LinkedIn.

How I nailed the interview

“In the interview, they asked me some stuff, like: ‘Have you worked for a company before? What have you done?’ They weren’t really asking me technical questions, because they hire people in the hopes that, after a testing period, you’ll understand your things. So I’m getting seven months of traineeship. But if they feel that you’re not living up to what they thought in the first few months, then that’s it.”

How I evaluated the offer

“The product owner and lead developer had a really good vibe — they just were very nice and social like me. They were just making witty and smart jokes. I didn’t feel like I was in a job interview, I was just chatting to some guys that were doing the same things as I wanted to be doing. I asked to speak with their other developers to get a feel of the team and see if they want to know something about me. The first day when I got there, I was sold.”

How day one and beyond went

“As soon as I got there, they were in the midst of a couple of big clients’ projects, so the code that I was seeing was very advanced and it was new to me. They were like, ‘This is what you’re going to be working on, too.’ And I was like, Whoa

They use Vue.js, and I’ve done a little bit of the Vue.js course on Codecademy, but I didn’t go very in depth into it. The first few days I had to learn so many new things I hadn’t heard of, so it was quite intimidating. But they walked me through everything pretty well. By the end of the week, I was going through the Vue.js course because I had to review. Now I’m actually doing tickets, so little bugs or error fixes.” 

What I wish I knew before I started learning

“The only thing that I would have done differently is start earlier with my own projects*. I felt like I started making projects a bit late. When I got to Intermediate JavaScript, I struggled with the syntax, because that’s where you get the first project without actual explanation. I didn’t really know how to work from scratch, so I struggled.”

* Projects are one of the best ways to put what you’re learning into practice. If you code a project that you’re particularly proud of, here’s how to showcase your work.

Learn like Joppe

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