Wanting to accelerate his career by learning to code his own marketing assets, Harrison enrolled in the Front-End Web Development: Elevate course.

What was your educational and career history before Academy Xi?

I was basically your stock-standard high school student. I wasn’t too academic and finished high school with an average ATAR. I went to university and studied a commerce degree, which turned out to be a bad fit for me. I’m a very hands-on learner and the course was completely theoretical.

I completed a certificate in digital media at TAFE a few years later, which I absolutely loved. I decided to transition into digital marketing and successfully applied for a role at Academy Xi as a Digital Marketing Specialist.

I loved working for a company that has such a positive impact on people’s lives, helping students from all kinds of professional backgrounds get to where they want to be career-wise. Having a sense of purpose keeps you motivated and makes your work so much more fulfilling.

After spending several months marketing the Academy Xi courses, I decided it would be good for me to get behind the scenes and actually enrol in one.

I’m definitely someone who appreciates courses that teach tangible skills rather than the fluffy academic stuff. Academy Xi courses are very much focused on developing the practical capabilities that the industry needs, so I felt like a natural fit as a student.

I was spending a lot of time building emails and web pages and decided that the Front-End Web Development: Elevate would give me a skillset that I could immediately implement in my role.  

Did your new skills come in handy?

Absolutely. Before the course I had been using WordPress for creating web pages, which was mainly templated. I was using a standard email builder for creating emails, which also worked with templates. Because I was working with templates, I was a bit limited in my ability to make customisations.

The course gave me the coding skills to make my own HTML and CSS updates, which means I can build the web pages and emails exactly as I want to. If I decide to change the theme of a page, I just write custom code. If I don’t know the code off the top of my head, I can easily look it up and plug it in.

Even if I’m asking a developer to make complex changes to a website, I have enough of an understanding to know exactly what to ask for. That in itself has made the course worthwhile.

What was the highlight of your training?

I’d have to say the two projects. For the first project I built my own website, which showcased my CV and professional profile. I used all kinds of custom code to give it the aesthetic and functionality I wanted, which really gave me a chance to cut my teeth with coding. 

The second project was a dynamic wedding invitation builder. While I was coding the website, there were fields on one side of the page. As you typed text into those fields, the invitation preview on the other side would pop up. We had to write code that changed the font, styling and layout of the invitation. As a user-facing product, all these choices were made by the customer simply clicking buttons.  

Before the two projects, I’d only had limited experience with coding. By the end of the second project, I was comfortable writing my own custom code. Ultimately, I learnt a huge amount in a short period of time, which was really satisfying. Plus, I’ve come away with a CV website that I’ll always be able to show to prospective employers. 

How did you find studying online?

Honestly, I found it much more enjoyable than in-person courses I’ve studied in the past.  There was no demand to physically be in a particular place, which relieved a lot of pressure. 

I was working full-time with Academy Xi and it was a busy time. If I was under the pump with my job, there was a bit of flexibility with the coursework submissions

I could dedicate a block of time to completing the assignments when there was space in my schedule. This meant I was able to keep up with the modules without placing myself under too much strain. Academy Xi courses are structured in a way that’s really sympathetic toward people with busy work schedules. You don’t have to put your whole life on hold just to keep up.

In terms of a learning experience, the online set up worked perfectly. I loved having the freedom to go off and get to grips with the course content and then come to the live sessions to go through it all with the rest of the class. The discussions in those live sessions were pretty lively and I looked forward to them all week!

At the start of the course, some of my classmates were a little shy, but by about the midpoint of the course everyone had grown in confidence and was chipping in with their ideas. It became a really collaborative environment and we learned a huge amount from each other. In the end, I made some really good pals that I’m still in touch with to this day.

How did you find working with your mentor?

My mentor was Kruti and she really set the tone for the whole course. Not only was she super knowledgeable, with years of industry experience, but also just a really warm person who made everyone in the cohort feel welcome. 

We had live sessions twice a week and I came to every session with a question for Kruti. She was very patient and had an amazing ability to explain complicated ideas in a very simple way. Lots of this knowledge is available online, but it’s so much easier to have it clearly broken down by an expert.   

Kruti gave us lots of tips and tricks about what it’s like to work in the industry. There were little nitpicky things that we were fussing over with our projects and Kruti pointed out that in the industry, people wouldn’t get too hung up on them. Kruti’s been a web developer for most of her life, so when she tells you something’s not important, or that something’s absolutely essential, you know she’s speaking from experience.  

In our last session, she went into a lot of depth explaining how to manage project timeframes. For anyone that made the leap into the industry, or became involved in web development projects in their existing role, that advice would have been invaluable. 

What’s the new role you’ve landed?

I recently started working with Royal Rehab. I’m still a Digital Marketing Specialist, but it’s a more diverse role. I’m involved with content creation for socials, SEO, search advertising and pay-per-click advertising.  

I rely on the web development skills that I picked up with Academy Xi on a daily basis. My work often requires me to write custom code. Previously, I might have had to ask someone else to do that for me. Now, I’m much more independent and far less reliant on full-time web developers. 

I think anyone who has anything to do with a website will benefit from developing coding skills. Even if you’re having to deal with a web contractor, it puts you in a much stronger position to have detailed conversations with them about what you need.

When it comes to writing code yourself, you don’t need to be absolutely fluent. As long as you’ve got a foundational understanding, you can always search for the code you need and easily integrate it. More than anything, having coding skills will bring freedom to how you go about your work.  

Do you have any plans for further training?

I’m contemplating doing a Graduate Diploma of Data Analytics soon, which is really exciting. If I do go ahead with it, I’ll study that part-time after hours while I’m working at Royal Rehab, just like I did while working at Academy Xi. 

These days, marketing is becoming increasingly data-driven. You have to be able to go through customer data, clean it up and draw out actionable insights. Adding a formal accreditation to my CV for Data Analytics will definitely give my long-term career prospects a bit of a boost. 

What advice would you give to someone interested in studying the Front-end Web Development course? 

I’d say go for it. You’ll be investing in your future. If you do decide to enrol, don’t just do the minimum required to pass the course. It’s one of those classic situations whereby you get back what you put in. The course offers heaps of resources and activities, so make sure you spend time working through it all. If you do, you’ll graduate with an even deeper skillset.  

With everything shifting online, there’s a real shortage of digital skills in Australia right now. Tangible skills like web development are more sought after than ever before. Even if you’re not looking to land a web developer role, there are so many professions that you can excel in with coding skills.

As for studying with Academy Xi specifically, I couldn’t recommend it enough. The mentors are world-class and the Student Experience team will go to great lengths to support all your needs. In the end, everyone enrolled in the course is there to develop new skills and take their career to the next level. Honestly, you couldn’t ask for a more inspiring environment to learn in. 

Are you keen to upskill in Front-End Web Development and make strides in your career just like Harrison? Check out our Front-End Web Development: Elevate course.

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