An Analyst Lead at Forum Research recognized the importance of data-driven products, and took BrainStation's Data Science course to improve his understanding of data insights. Read on to find out how Alex is using his new data skills to create better products.
Click here to learn more about BrainStation’s Intro to Web Development Course.
Tell us a bit about yourself – your education, current role, why you decided to enroll in the course
I grew up on a farm in Illinois, went to university in a town called Normal, and got my BA in Graphic Design with a minor in Communications. My first job out of school was designing book templates for a publishing company in Chicago suburbia, but after two years it was getting quite repetitive. My Canadian husband and I decided to move to Vancouver for a change of scenery. Right now I work as a graphic designer for a global language school and I’m responsible for the visual design of all print and digital communications. I’m also the school photographer and curate the school’s Instagram account.
I had been looking around for a web development course for over a year, but couldn’t find anything that met all my requirements. I wanted a course that was intensive, fit into my already busy life, and to work on real projects. A few months ago I went to an Instagram workshop at Brainstation and I was really impressed with the gorgeous campus. I checked out the website and was thrilled to see that the course met every one of my needs.
What are your goals for the course?
My overall career goal is to go completely freelance, where I can be my own boss and choose my own clients. Though my graphic design skills are strong, I will have more opportunities to attract clients with front end web development in my toolkit.
My short term goal is to create a new portfolio website so I can better showcase my work. Currently I’m using a basic template that has no personality and as my website is the first impression for potential clients, it’s so important to make it the best it can possibly be. I love that I get to decide what my final Brainstation project will be and I can tailor my learning to achieve this goal.
It’s been 2 weeks since the course kicked off – what have you found the most interesting thus far?
At the beginning of our second class, we were shown a basic web page and had to recreate it ourselves using our knowledge learned from the previous week. I was so surprised how easily it came to me and how what first seemed intimidating was quite enjoyable. There’s just something so satisfying about typing a few lines of code to have it magically come to life in a browser.
How would you describe the learning environment?
Intense! A lot of information gets packed into a small amount of time and I leave class feeling like my brain is full to the brim. The class size is small enough to know everyone and understand their various skills and backgrounds, as well as have some one on one time with the instructor. I’m really enjoying my time in the beautiful, modern classroom and the time goes by so quickly.
As a class, we expressed interest in learning WordPress theming, and our instructor is going to include that in our lesson plan, so I’m thrilled with the student-centred approach. Also, I love that I can access the student portal at home and review the slides and exercises for additional practice.
What have you found to be challenging?
Every year my company spends the entire month hosting a series of meetings, workshops and training sessions, so it’s been pretty stressful participating in those as well as getting through my normal workload. At first I was worried that I would be exhausted going from a nine hour day of meetings to another three hours of class time, but with some well-timed caffeine, I’m ready to code!
What are your goals for week 3 & 4?
I’m really looking forward to learning CSS next week! As a graphic designer, I’m all about typography, so styling is right up my alley. We’ve spent the first two weeks on HTML so it will be interesting to see how they work together to create a website that not only has the proper structure, but looks great too.
Sarah is taking Intro to Web Development at BrainStation Vancouver.