How I Went From Youth Support Worker to Web Designer in 8 Months

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 Kailie Arbeau, a 25-year-old WordPress Developer at a digital marketing agency, living in New Brunswick, Canada. Read more stories from Codecademy learners here — and be sure to share your story here.

Why I chose to learn to code

“I went to a local college where I studied traditional art and design, and I was a youth support worker at a group home for a year and a half. I worked alongside social workers, and I was responsible for supporting the client. I got to teach a lot of my art there, because my client was very artistic.

I took a UX design course — but I actually didn’t finish it. When I got to the end of my first project, and was starting my second project, I was like, Okay, but I want to build it. I want to build what I’m making. I didn’t want to stop with just the design. That’s when I found Codecademy and I was like, How can I build a website right now?

So, on January 1, 2022, I signed up for Pro and just committed. I finished the HTML course that day, and I literally printed out the certificate of completion* and hung it up on the wall. Then I did Learn CSS and Learn JavaScript, and I followed the Front-End Engineer career path.” 

* Here are some ways that you can use Codecademy certificates in your job search. We also just launched new Codecademy Professional Certificates that you can earn when you pass all the exams in select career paths. 

How I made time to learn

“My schedule was weird because I worked from 4 p.m. to midnight. Basically, when I got up in the morning, that’s when I would learn. I’m not very disciplined, but I’m also a runner, and I’m always on a training program. When I have a program, I stick to it. So that’s really why I liked Codecademy’s career paths.”

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How I saved up money to switch careers

“I had saved up before I left my job: I paid off all my credit cards, I paid my bills and everything. I have my husband, and thankfully he’s so supportive. I was like, I’m going to get a job, no question. I’m going to do it. I was not working for a few months, and I had money, but I was like, I need a job. I was so determined.” 

How long it took me to land a job

“I started applying for jobs immediately. I was traveling to work at the group home every day, but I wanted to work from home and be on my laptop. There’s all these remote jobs in Canada or the U.S. that get, like, hundreds of applicants. I didn’t get any of those; I didn’t even interview at all in the first few months because I never got to that stage

Then I joined a whole bunch of groups just like Facebook and the Codecademy group on Discord. I really enjoyed the Discord group, because the projects and stuff that people suggested were very specific.”  

How I got in the door

“I reached out to local businesses, because I live in a really small town. I was done with HTML and CSS, and I was building through the Front-End Engineer path, and I was learning JavaScript. I emailed so many people in my city, but only one business got back to me and agreed to have a call. 

On the call, they said, ‘You’ve never worked with WordPress — that’s what we use every day.’ This was on a Monday. They were starting to finish the phone call, saying, ‘I don’t know. Get back to us when you learn WordPress.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, I will have something for you by Friday. I will send you a link.’ 

That week, I jumped into WordPress. I was on all the tutorials, I bought a domain and did the hosting thing — and I had never done that before. I learned WordPress, made this little one-page website, and sent it to them. I went in on Friday to meet them and they were like, ‘You did this in 4 days?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ve never used WordPress before. Is it okay?’ And they’re like, ‘Yes, it’s great.’”  

How I nailed the interview

“I did another interview the following week, but it was more of a personality kind of thing. They asked me, ‘You really made that website in 4 days?’ I was like, ‘Yes, I did.’” 

How I evaluated the offer

“It was hard leaving my job at the group home, because I got to teach my art to clients there — obviously it wasn’t the type of art that I was doing in college, but it was at least related. And it was especially hard because I got to work with one client for so long and get to know them. But with coding, I was like, This is what I really want to do for years, not just right now. So it was worth it.” 

How day one and beyond went

“The first couple of days were fun. They gave me a lot of little tiny jobs, like, Can you change this button to be a different length? Then I would go back to my desk to figure it out on my own, because I get nervous when people are looking over my shoulder. I’d go back with the finished product, like, ‘Did I do this right?’ And they’d say, ‘Yes, you did perfectly.’

People offered to sit down and show me things, but I was like, ‘I learned this a couple of weeks ago. Give me a chance to just screw it up.’” 

What I wish I knew before I started learning

“Everyone always says they wish they had started earlier. But you never do, because it’s so daunting. There’s just so much cool stuff like that to learn, like, What’s a domain? How does the internet even work?

Honestly, I tell everyone about the first Codecademy little lesson you do where it’s like, What is the internet?* In the lesson, they talk about how there are pipes underground, and that sharks are an actual problem with the internet lines. I tell everyone about this, and I’ve sent it to so many family members, like, ‘This one tells you the internet lines under the ocean!’ It’s just a fun thing to know.

If you’re learning to code to get a job, start reaching out to people — because people love to talk about their journeys. Even in my small town, there’s so many groups that get together to have coding nights. Coding is such an individual thing, because you’re on your laptop alone. But it can also bring people together.”

* All of our web development paths start with a broad overview of the internet’s infrastructure and how it works. Kailie is right: You don’t have to be an engineer to benefit from understanding how the internet works! 

Learn like Kailie

4 courses

Not sure where to start? Check out our personality quiz! We’ll help you find the best programming language to learn based on your strengths and interests.

Want to share your Codecademy learner story? Drop us a line here. And don’t forget to join the discussions in our community.

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