Codecademy Stories

Stories of people inspired by Codecademy to change their life through coding.

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Jonathan Suter
Jonathan Suter
Jonathan Suter


Jonathan Suter


"Get comfortable not knowing everything. Get good at asking, and finding answers to your questions."

Jonathan never wanted to become a programmer, he wanted to learn to solve problems. With Code Year, he got the skills to do that. Now he’s building an app to simplify doing your taxes.

How did you get started with programming?

A part of me has always wanted to learn to code—and, in fact, I did code a little when I was much younger; I made some awesome HyperCard games with friends for fun. I’m a total nerd at heart, but I ended up following the business path through school and my career.

In December 2011, I left my job to start my own company. I knew I wanted to do something that mattered. It took me a while to figure out what, exactly, but I knew that learning to code would be an important skill to help me get there. It isn’t that I set out to become a programmer—rather, I wanted to learn to code to get better at what I do: build great products.

You’ve just launched SimpleTax, an app that makes doing your taxes enjoyable. Congrats! How did you make the jump from Codecademy to actually building your own application?

Codecademy was a great way to learn the syntactical building blocks, but I found that building an actual web app is a whole other world unto itself—the biggest challenge being stringing everything I learned together. It’s great that I learned HTML and JavaScript, but how do they mix together to build an app? And how the heck do I get that working with a database?

My tip? Seek mentorship from experienced developers. One of my co-founders, Justin, has been a developer for over two decades. Using the JavaScript and Python I learned from Codecademy, I was able to build our website, most frontend components for our app, and some server automation tools. When I got stuck or wanted a different opinion about how to solve a particular problem, Justin and I could talk it out. In the end, Justin was quite surprised at just how much I had learned.

What kept you going?

Having a larger, longer term project. Understanding how what I was learning would help me realize that project.

What are your tips for someone just getting started with Codecademy?

  1. Get comfortable not knowing everything. Get good at asking, and finding answers to your questions.

  2. Don’t blindly copy and paste code examples. One thing I loved about Codecademy was how interactive it was. Later on, when you’re working on your own thing and run in to a problem, don’t simply paste in the first answer you find on the internet. Try to understand the code and the thinking behind it—even if it means typing it in line by line.

  3. Have a project outside Codecademy. It can be a personal website, or building a small tool that solves an annoying problem for you. It’s scary when you first start to mix together everything you’ve learned… but that’s when the real magic happens.

Short on ideas for projects? Check out our projects track.