I Have 20 Years of Web Architect Experience — Here’s What I’m Learning Next

6 minutes

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 John King, a 60-year-old Web Architect, living in Austin, Texas. Read more stories from Codecademy learners here — and be sure to share your story here. 

Why I chose to learn to code 

“I never went to college. I’ve had a lot of different careers, everything from manufacturing to working as an illustrator. I even did climbing and operations on exotic structures as a way to write off my climbing equipment back in the ‘90s. During that time, I had a fall, and I broke my back. I couldn’t walk for a while, but I could hold a keyboard on my lap and look at my screen in my body brace. I determined then that I was going to learn to do something that didn’t depend entirely on my physical prowess and strength. 

I started teaching myself technology. I studied and read so much, which was a good foundation for computer science fundamentals in general. Because of my background in design and graphic design, web development seemed the most obvious path. It felt like an extension of graphic design; information organization and communication. I looked at HTML and started playing with it using Notepad. I had no idea there was such a thing as programming without special tools. I relied heavily on my graphic skills and Photoshop, doing some websites on the side for people. 

Learn something new for free

Eventually, I moved to Austin to be closer to where the work was. Once I started working for an actual corporation, I learned all the other aspects of being a developer. It’s so much more than the language or the technical syntaxes. It’s its own thing, involving the people, the organization, the approach to deliverables, and how things are structured.” 

How I coped with layoffs  

“I was at the same company for 25 years, and recently the organization reshuffled and my whole section was out of the company. For the first time, I’m looking for a job at 60 years old. I’m trying to get my arms around the scope of what’s out there, how I measure up, and what I need to do. I realized that my first love is really development, software engineering, coding, creating stuff, making solutions, and making things fit.  

The second thing I realized was that I really need to modernize my quiver of tools. So, I began that process with Codecademy. The first and most important technology I need to gain expertise in is React. This decision is based on the sheer overwhelming percentage of job postings that require it. 

It often takes a significant event in your life to make you stop and think. For me, [the layoff] made me more self-aware and thoughtful about things beyond immediate crises. I know this sounds cheesy, but when I’m studying Codecademy and these new frameworks, there’s a moment when it clicks. I remember how things used to be, and then all of a sudden, I grasp an overall shape of a concept. The rate at which this happens now, and the quality of those experiences seem to be more rapid with the newer languages and frameworks.”  

Bouncing back after a layoff is challenging at any stage of your career.

Here are steps you can take to recover from a layoff and find your next opportunity.  

How I made time to learn 

“Since January, after I got laid off, my time is my own to structure. I spend a certain percentage of it on the job search itself, another percentage on my education, and then I plan to dedicate some time each week to creating an online repository of my actual work. 

It often takes a significant event in your life to make you stop and think. For me, [the layoff] made me more self-aware and thoughtful about things beyond immediate crises.

John King
Web Architect

One problem with spending more than 20 years at one company is that everything you’ve done is intellectual property that belongs to [the company]. You can’t really share it or use it to show what you can do. I have to create something new that represents my work. I have ideas that now I have to actually build using whatever modern language or framework is most appropriate for the kind of company I’m looking to join.” 

Need to build a professional portfolio from scratch?

Here are some tips for compiling a professional portfolio when you’re just starting out. 

How I chose what to learn  

“What I’m appreciating now about Codecademy is the structured way that [the courses] approach things. It presents a model to introduce concepts and how they relate to real-world activities and building things. In terms of what I’m going to study, I look at job postings and boards that show the most common tech stacks used by different companies. This helps me understand what skill sets are in demand. Each company will have its own systems and languages, so there will always be something new to learn once you join. The key is to develop a core skill set. 

Starting today, my next focus is on TypeScript. It looks straightforward and is listed on so many job postings. JavaScript is so useful and ubiquitous but lacks type checking. In enterprise-level organizations, where you have groups of developers and testers, catching bugs early is crucial. TypeScript provides the type checking needed to enforce that, making it an obvious choice. 

After TypeScript, I plan to learn Next.js. Given my experience across the full architectural spectrum, learning routing and how it works with third-party services like Cloudflare for DNS will be valuable. That’s my plan for now. There might be more to learn, or things might slow down if I get a job.” 

What I plan to do next 

“Ideally, I would love to work for an amazing company, doing something I actually care about. Being involved in something that benefits society or aligns with my passions, like the design arts, would be fantastic. If I could move to New York and be paid to live there, that would be a dream.  

Professionally, a great job would be one where I can do full-stack development, either as a plain Full-Stack Developer or as an IT Solutions Specialist, given my background in integrations. Whether it’s integrating their product with Zoom, WebEx, Amazon, or whatever API, I want to be involved. Working remotely or coming into the office both work for me. Although I enjoy being in the office, I’ve been working from home for nearly 20 years now, so I’m accustomed to that.”  

Learn like John

5 courses

Related articles

7 articles