One year later

So much has changed since my last update only two months ago, both personally and professionally and as it is my one year anniversary of embarking on GA’s Web Development Immersive, I figured I’m due for an update.

April was tough. Here are the highlights:

  • I flew to America to have minor heart surgery
  • We moved into a new London flat only to discover damp and leaking ceilings
  • Within 2 weeks, we had to find and move again, into a second flat
  • We almost lost our security deposit on our last flat for insane and illegitimate reasons
  • I lost one of my best friends as a colleague at Front Digital
  • I had all my hard work for the last 3 months scrapped due to poor management decisions
  • I resigned from my job at Front Digital

May was better:

  • My heart is now fixed
  • We moved into a beautiful, quieter and even better new flat in Islington
  • Thanks to my litigious Americanisms, we got all our money back and then some from landlord nonsense
  • I left Front Digital (yay!)
  • I took on a new role as a teaching assistant on 3 of GA’s Front-End Web Development 10-week courses, the first of which was assisting my friend and past instructor James Willock
  • I also got to assistant teach with Michael (my other instructor) on GA’s weekend workshop Programming for Non-Programmers
  • I took on a role as a freelance studio assistant doing website work for the brilliant artist and author Edmund de Waal
  • I now have the luxury of flexible hours, working for myself, and doing any project I want while actually making more money than I did full-time
  • I have developed an even better love and understanding of javascript and programming
  • I was also featured in the Sunday Times thanks to General Assembly and Matt Cynamon’s recommendation, in a brief article about learning to code
Visiting the laundromat due to our broken washer (yet another thing wrong with the old flat) and reading my article in the Sunday Times


For some reason, these last 2 months have been a serious roller coaster with a lot of madness, but things have almost completely mended and we can still see all the silver linings. Health, housing and career have all been changed, but all for the better, so I’m in a great place right now.

It is also the one year anniversary of our WDI intake. Amazingly, this time last year, was our first week. I didn’t know a thing about coding at that time and was terrified to learn it. I can’t believe how far I’ve come since then with everyone’s support. Not to get all mushy about it, but it’s been a pretty emotional, turbulent, and manic year, albeit an exciting one.

Today a new cohort is starting a WDI at General Assembly, and two of our friends are signed up to do it, Tom Walker and Piers Karpinski, being taught for the first 2 weeks by the incredible and brilliant Michael Pavling. It’s cool to see other people embarking on the same journey that I did a year ago, and I know they will accomplish amazing things. I can’t wait to see where they are 3 months from now!

And how do I feel a year after? Well, I still love programming. I’m so addicted to it and the process itself is wonderful. The result of what happened at Front Digital was an outcome of a series of unfortunate events, and more generally, what sometimes happens working at a startup. I knew it was risky to go with FD from the start, joining a 2 person inexperienced company, but I honestly don’t regret it. I learned so much working there about what works and what doesn’t, gained a ton of business and project management experience, and Adam and I both developed a great deal as programmers, and worked awesomely together.

Adam left Front Digital about a month before I did, and will be starting a new job as a back-end developer at another company near Old St in July (congrats Adam!). We have plans to build some really cool projects together in our spare time and I can’t wait to get started on them, as we’re really good at inspiring one another and compliment each other with our different ways of thinking, strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully we will build some really cool shit in the next year together.

At the moment, I’m not looking for any full time work because I’m finding there are way more exciting opportunities when you take the time to make them. I recently had the privilege of seeing Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, speak at a London Business Forum event, which I managed to get a ton of free tickets to for GA staff as well. He spoke a lot about opportunity, and about how life isn’t about waiting for opportunity, or even seizing opportunities, but about creating opportunities for yourself that may not yet exist. This time last summer, I was stuck in a rut of unemployment due to the dire lack of opportunities in the heritage and historical industries. I was literally sitting around and waiting for a job to open up, or a project to be offered to me. It was madness. So I decided that if no one was going to give me a chance, I needed to make new opportunities for myself. My solution to this was WDI, skilling up and retraining as a web developer.

Now, a year later, there are a huge number of opportunities available to me, solely because of those new skills. I even met with my old boss at English Heritage who told me that there might just now be some new roles opening up on the team later this summer. Can you imagine if I had waited all this time?

And this got me thinking. If it worked for me last year, then why shouldn’t I do it again? So this summer, I want to do the same thing, create opportunities for myself that may not already be there. Rather than spending my 9-6 every weekday building sites for a middleman who passes them onto a client, I’m going to instead work on projects for myself, for people I know, for people I don’t yet know, and collaborate with friends and people doing generally awesome things. I’m much more optimistic about the opportunities that I can make in that environment than in one working for someone else.

In the meantime, I have a ton of project ideas in the pipeline, and am just enjoying the summer teaching, working on and off at Edmund’s studio with an amazing team of people, and learning and building, and working for myself. I just finished making a web site for my mom (finally), who is a wonderful artist. It will go live later this month once she adds all the content into the back-end admin panel. I’m really pleased with it, and more importantly, so is she. I’m so happy I finally had the time to make it for her.  My parents are moving over here in August for 3 months and it will be incredible having them in London and having the extra hours to spend with them.

So whereas last summer was about learning to become a web developer, this summer is about learning how best to implement my skills and make big things happen, rather than waiting for someone to offer them to me. With all it’s ups and downs, it’s been a really great year and I can’t wait to see what I can make of the next one.




4 thoughts on “One year later

  1. Andrea! Sorry to hear about your rough April, but there is so much wonderful news that comes afterwards! Congratulations on making such an important decision about how to approach work, and it sounds really wise. I am so happy for you and cannot believe it’s only been a year!! (From Chris Pine to Biz Stone, eh?) You’ve accomplished a ton, and the folks at GA will be very lucky to learn from you! I am very excited to hear about all the great things you have ahead of you.

    1. Ray, you are so excellent at making me smile. You are so sweet for following along with my blog and for your support this whole time. I remember our dinner before I signed up for the course a little over a year ago and I told you I was thinking of retraining to become a web developer and rather than laughing at me or staring at me blankly you were like “Oh my god, go for it!” because you’re just the best. Thank you 🙂 I miss you a lot, you don’t even know (and I know I owe you an email!!). I hope NYC is treating you well and hopefully we can rendezvous in London or NY sometime soon!! Chances are I will be there in December.. It’s been WAY too long!!

  2. I am amazed to have seen you grow from strength to strength. Anyone can learn to code but only a few have the passion and vision to take it forward and you certainly will be making big movements.

    Now just finish designing our game.

    1. Awwww Adam, that might be the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me hahaha. I miss you! I hope you’re enjoying America (so jealous). I will – I’m asking for a tablet for my birthday this year so that will make it easier. In the meantime, let’s build SPEAK and all our other little projects. CAN’T WAIT FOR CASTRO!

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