6 min read

How the Frontend Mentor founder learned to code

Matt

Matt Studdert runs the excellent Frontend Mentor website, which helps newbie coders learn to make websites by making real projects instead of doing endless tutorials.  I have used it myself! Matt went from attending a bootcamp as a novice developer to teaching courses in web development at the very same bootcamp. I chatted to him about learning to code, tips for coding newbies and his advice for job seekers with no CS degree.

Many thanks for the interview! So can you give an introduction for people who want to know more about you?

You’re welcome, thank you for creating this awesome site! Hey everyone, my name’s Matt and I’m from London, UK. I’m the founder of Frontend Mentor, which aims to help people build their front-end skills by providing designs for them to build.

When I’m not working on Frontend Mentor I’m also a part-time Lead Instructor at General Assembly. I teach a lot of their part-time web development courses and workshops.

How did you originally get into coding?

I got into coding in my late 20s after studying in a completely different field. At school, I was never exposed to coding at all and was more into sports. This led to me studying Sports Science at university and then starting up a personal training business when I finished my degree.

Now and then I’ll mentally fast-forward my life 5 and 10 years and think about if I’d be happy if I continued on my current path. After 4 years of running my PT business the answer to that question was starting to become “No”. I couldn’t see myself doing it for the long term. As soon as I had this realisation my mind began to constantly wander to other possible routes for me. I still loved what I was doing, but I knew I had to make a change sooner rather than later.

Unfortunately, all the ideas I was excited about involved launching a website or an app. Being that I had no coding knowledge at all, I thought it would be a good idea to start learning! As soon as I started, it was like a lightbulb had gone off and I was completely hooked! I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t ever coded before.

I started off using websites like Lynda and Codecademy. But soon a well-timed YouTube pre-roll ad from General Assembly caught my attention. I went through to the website and realised that they had a full-time bootcamp that was starting at their London campus in 4 weeks.

I was lucky, as I was in a position where I had some savings and some money from selling-off my PT clients to another trainer. So I immediately visited the GA campus and went through the interview process. I didn’t have my own place in London though, so for the whole 3 months of the course, I was sleeping in the spare rooms and on the sofas of friends and family. It was an amazing experience though and 8 days after completing the bootcamp I had already been hired as a full-time developer!

Beginner Javascript website

What advice do you have for someone who is learning coding but finds it overwhelming?

Try as hard as possible to focus on a single learning goal and block out everything else until you feel you have achieved it. Keep it manageable, focused and plan out how you’re going to achieve it. In tech, there is always a new, shiny object to play with, which means it’s easy to get distracted. Hopefully, the plan will help keep you on track.

This post is for paying subscribers only. Join No CS Degree to get full access.

Join No CS Degree