How Web Development Helped Me Upskill as an Administrative Assistant 

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 Abigail Matibag, a 23-year-old Virtual Administrative Assistant, living in Manila, Philippines. Read more stories from Codecademy learners here — and be sure to share your story here. 

Why I chose to learn to code 

“In 2022, I was working as a Virtual Assistant, and I wanted to upskill and find an additional service that I could offer. I did some research and consulted with other fellow freelance VAs as well. The one service that resonated with me the most was web design. To offer this service, I realized I needed a portfolio that could prove I could design websites.  

The first website builder I explored was Wix, and I found this feature called Velo. I did some research and learned that it was similar to JavaScript, where I could add more page features to my website. I had zero knowledge about JavaScript or code at that time, but I was really curious about what it could do. 

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I read Velo’s documentation a couple of times and tried to write code. Surprisingly, I was able to add a few simple animations to my website, and I really enjoyed this process of thinking about how I could convert an action I had in mind into code, as well as solving bugs and issues about what went wrong and what didn’t work. 

That experience sparked a lot of questions in my mind, like, what is JavaScript? Can I use JavaScript to build a website? So, I reached out to one of my friends and asked these questions related to development. I found out that I could build a website from scratch from code, not just from any website builders. That realization made me really want to start my web development journey.”  

How I made time to learn 

“I work on a part-time basis, so I have a lot of spare time on my hands. I usually work in the morning, and when everything is settled for the day, I study during the evening. Every day, I make it a habit to study for at least two hours, or sometimes it takes more than two hours if I’m working on a project. Each time I have nothing to do, I basically choose to learn a new lesson or start a new project.”  

How I saved up money to pay for Codecademy 

“The first time that I tried Codecademy was October 2022. I had to set aside some money to subscribe to a one-year Pro plan. So told myself that I had to learn as much as possible for that one-year subscription in Codecademy. I waited for a New Year’s discount in January 2023.”  

How I started building projects 

“All of my projects that can be found on my GitHub profile were actually portfolio projects that came from the Front-End Engineer path on Codecademy. Additionally, I have an uncle who recently got married last November. I offered to create a website, like a digital program for their wedding. I was able to work on that project for them last year. It was an unpaid project, but it was still a real-time experience working with other people. 

I volunteer for a program called OneQuantum Philippines, which is an organization in the Philippines leading in the field of quantum technology. Currently, we’re in the phase of developing their website. I’ve been part of their web development team since February, and I’m in charge of designing the front-end website platform using Figma.  

The application process was kind of cool. One of my favorite questions during the interview was to share a specific project or experience where I had to learn new technologies. So, I highlighted my recently completed project at that time called ‘Jamming,’ which was part of the projects on the Front-End Engineer path. It was a pretty challenging project, and I had to understand how authentication and the Spotify API worked. It turned out quite successful, and Jamming is the project I’m most proud of, because I added a lot more features to it. I was even able to use two different user authentications for that project.”  

What I plan to do next 

“When I started this career in virtual assistance, I realized there was a lot more opportunity for me in this field. I had the chance to shift careers based on my interests and the jobs I preferred, rather than being stuck in a predefined role in a corporate job. Once I discovered web development, that’s when I had this realization — it was kind of a surprise to me — that maybe this is the right job for me, that this is where my passion lies. 

I was looking into a full-time career in web development, but I’m leaning more towards a freelance role rather than pursuing a corporate job. I feel like freelancing allows me to mainly handle my time and work schedule. However, I do want to gain experience, maybe through an internship or volunteer experience in a corporate setting because it would provide me with more experience and help build credibility on my resume.” 

What I wish I knew before I started learning 

“I wish I had realized right away how destructive comparing myself to other learners or developers out there could be to my motivation to learn. There’s nothing wrong with looking up to someone — maybe they’re a great programmer or someone who studied the same path as mine. But there’s a big difference between imitating someone and using it to assess our own progress. 

We can see a lot of great developers on social media posting their work and learning progress, and it’s easy to compare myself with them, eventually leading me to questions like, Why is this topic easy for them but difficult for me? or How can they create such an amazing product while I struggle to even create a simple one? Stuff like that gets in my imagination and makes me feel discouraged from learning. 

But I found some very useful advice that I still use to remind myself up until now, and it’s from an old saying that goes: ‘Let each one examine his own actions, and then he will have cause for rejoicing in regard to himself alone and not in comparison with the other person.’ The point is to only compare yourself to your past self; only in that way can we see our true progress and be happy with what we have accomplished. I wish I had realized that sooner when I was starting out.”  

Learn like Abigail

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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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