From solopreneur to developer: Francois’ story

Francois Carstens started his career in graphic design as a freelancer but ultimately found he wanted to be able to both build and design his ideas. After graduating from the Front-End Engineering course at The Iron Yard in Houston at the end of last year, he started a job as developer and never looked back.

Below is more of Francois’ story and you can follow along with his career and insights about working as as developer on his blog, I Learn Code.

What were you doing professionally before attending The Iron Yard? 

I grew up in South Africa where I started out as a freelance graphic designer designing corporate identities and marketing collateral for small to medium sized businesses. Requests for websites started coming in so I jumped in, learned HTML and CSS, and became a web designer. This ultimately led me to solopreneur my way into running two (first in ZA, then in the US) moderately successful branding and web consultancies for the last 11 years.

Why did you decide code school was right for you?

As a designer I had the opportunity to create beautiful things and to some degree make them come to life, but without the help of a cms or a programmer, they would never grow beyond a single dimension. I’m a tinkerer and, let’s be honest, I wanted more power over what I was creating. Code school was the perfect opportunity to accelerate my learning — doing in three months what would have taken me two years on my own while juggling work and two toddlers at home.

What are you doing now?

I recently started as senior front end developer at TEC ( where my primary responsibility, together with my dev team, will be to modernize our web properties. We’ll also be working on some exciting CRM and security based applications in the near future. Best part, if it wasn’t for attending The Iron Yard I would not have been able to take this step.

How do you keep your coding skills sharp?

I’m working on two private projects which are slightly more experimental than my usual work. I really enjoyed coding warmups in school, so I do the 15 minute coding challenge. Go to Mozilla, find a method I’m not familiar with, read about it and try to create a polyfill in less than 15 minutes. There’s also my blog, which forces me to go back to what I’ve already learned and relearn it.

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