Learning to code with Skillcrush

If you’re thinking about changing careers then the internet can be a wonderful and terrible thing.  Terrible because you can spend whole days reading other people’s stories about how they found the perfect job and are so much happier now and then you feel even worse that you’re not there yet.  But also wonderful because these days changing careers and getting new skills doesn’t mean you have to go back to school.  You can learn a lot about different jobs and industries online and pick up new skills without too much risk.

One of the skills I’ve been exploring is coding.  Before I quit my job last year I was getting up at 6am trying to squeeze in a couple of hours of coding before going to work in the morning.  It’s hardly surprising that I didn’t get very far that way!

Now that I have the luxury of time, I’ve been trying to pick this up again.  I started taking the fantastic introductory course offered by HarvardX for free on the edX platform but will admit I haven’t finished it yet.  One of the problems I had with following the course was that while it is a great and stimulating introduction to lots of complex concepts (the tutor – David Malan – is an incredible public speaker and teacher), I wasn’t applying those concepts to something practical.  I wasn’t using the skills to build something that mattered to me.

I wanted to build a personal website, from scratch, to act as an online CV or portfolio.  I needed a course that started from the absolute basics, was fun and engaging, and had enough support that I didn’t feel like I was doing it on my own.

That’s when I found the Web Developer course offered by Skillcrush.  I wrote to the girls who run it and asked if I could take the course and write about my experience here, and amazingly they said yes!  Thanks guys!!


So far I’ve done the HTML module and in two hours I feel like I’ve learnt enough to actually go and build something, which is a pretty awesome feeling.  That’s so much further than I ever got by reading online tutorials or “HTML for dummies”!

Skillcrush guide

You can see screenshots of the website I made below – it’s not live on the web yet but that’s my goal for next week.  OK, so it doesn’t look like much right now, and it won’t be pretty until I learn how to add the CSS — the language tells the computer what colours and fonts to apply — but still!

MichelleMeagher.com HTML screenshot

MichelleMeagher.com HTML screenshot (2)

This is what it looks like when I’m coding it:

HTML code

The Skillcrush course is made up of fun videos, exercises, and interactive coding, all supported by daily emails and a student / coach forum via Mightybell.  It’s great to see women from all over the world training themselves up and helping each other along the way.  Men are welcome too!

Adda, the founder of Skillcrush, is on a mission to get people learning marketable, digital skills.  She taught herself how to code so the course is set up for non-tech people who have no background in programming at all — which is perfect for me!

I have no idea where I will go with these skills but I’ve always felt held back not having digital skills and being someone who loves tech.  Finally, I’ll be able to build all those things I’ve been dreaming up!