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Skyla Coleman’s success story is proof that sometimes the best way to navigate the pathway to prosperity is always to follow your instincts.

Not long ago, Coleman made her living working 12-hour shifts as an assistant manager at a Mexican restaurant. At the time, her outlook toward her future was “more pessimistic” than optimistic, and left her feeling like she had “no possibility of getting where I wanted to be.”

Skyla ColemanFed up with what she saw as a dead-end career, Coleman decided that the only way to better her life was with a college education. In turn, Coleman enrolled at Hocking College and was accepted into the school’s Registered Nurse program.

Then, one random day, fate intervened in the form of a career quiz designed to match participants with the job that best fits their personality.

To Coleman’s surprise, the quiz results uncovered that the ideal career for her was not nursing. Instead, her personality was better suited for web design.

Although she didn’t have an extensive background in computer science, Coleman followed her instincts. She contacted Hocking College’s Computer Science Program Manager Tasha Penwell to find out more about her program.

During a face-to-face meeting, Penwell detailed what enrolling in her program entailed, and the possibility of high-paying jobs that awaited graduates. Penwell’s presentation so inspired Coleman that she decided to change her major the very next day.

Coleman admits that at times her lack of experience in this arena did prove challenging. To boost her self-confidence, Coleman relied on the support of Penwell, who encouraged her to become a life-long learner and always be open to learning new things and new ways of accomplishing goals.

“If you shut yourself off and say ‘O.K., I am not going to try to learn any new skills. The skills I already have are good enough,’” Coleman said. “That kind of an attitude might work for now, but technology will still advance.”

Skyla Coleman 02So far, Coleman has learned how to build websites, logos and information graphics for clients. She’s also become more fluent in coding languages like HTML and JavaScript and now has a better understanding of how to utilize them.

One aspect of the program Coleman appreciated the most, was Penwell’s unique teaching style, which she described as “very visual.”

“Tasha would always demonstrate whatever she was talking about — whether it was a video on her YouTube channel, screen sharing, or pictures on a Word document with text that explained the assignment or lesson,” Coleman said.

As a result of following her instincts, Coleman has evolved from being someone trapped in a dead-end job into a budding web designer with an exciting future full of endless possibilities.

Her long-term goal is to build her portfolio to the point where she can work on a freelance basis and become her own boss.

Anyone interested in seeing how Coleman put the skills she learned in Penwell's classes to use can view her professional website www.skyportalcreations.com

What tasks do web designers and developers perform?

Web designing and development is a project-oriented field where developers create websites from the ground up to meet their client’s needs and expectations. Some key components to becoming successful in this arena include mastering the ability to understand programming languages, and having experience in the areas of database management and web design.

What are the advantages of becoming a web designer and developer?

Some of the many advantages of becoming a professional web developer include the following:

  • Professional flexibility
  • The opportunity to be creative
  • The opportunity to have your work viewed by people all over the globe
  • Talented web developers are always in demand.
  • Vast job opportunities
  • The opportunity to make a median salary of $67,990

What are the job duties?

The following list represents some of the primary duties a web developer would be responsible for on a job site:

  • Website designer working digital tablet and computer laptop with smart phone and digital design diagram on wooden desk as conceptCreate and test applications for a website
  • Write code for websites using programming languages such as HTML or XML
  • Work with other team members to determine what kind of information the site will contain
  • Work with graphics and other designers to determine the website’s layout
  • Integrate graphics, audio and video elements into the website
  • Monitor website traffic

What qualities do I need?

Students who are planning to become professional web developers are strongly advised to develop the following qualities—and investigate the following avenues—to secure their future in this industry:

  • Concentration: Since web developers spend hours sitting at their desk writing detailed code they need to be able to maintain their focus for extended periods
  • Creativity: To make a website appealing, web developers must have a certain amount of creativity
  • Customer service skills: To respond and interact with users, web developers must be able to answer their questions correctly and politely
  • Detail-oriented: Many times, one minor error in coding could prevent a website from working. Therefore, web developers must have an eye for detail and be able to spot problems before they become issues

How can I be sure this career path is right for me?

If you think you might like a career as a web developer, the best way to be sure it’s the right job for you is to act on the following suggestions:

  • Seek out an internship with a business or company that could utilize your skills as a web developer
  • Seek out freelance job opportunities
  • Seek out and attend technology conferences and lectures
  • Network with other professionals in your field 
  • Attend meet-ups to make connections and learn new skills from your peers

Where can I get the training I need to get into this field?

Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio, offers a web development program. In only two years, students can graduate with an Associate of Applied Science in Website and Application Development degree. Students from Ohio who enroll in either college's Website and Application Development or the Cybersecurity and Network Systems programs are eligible for a scholarship through the Choose Ohio First Program.

What skills will I learn in this program?

Students who enroll in Hocking College’s Associate of Applied Science in Website and Application Development program will learn the following skills:

  • Java
  • JavaScript 
  • How to constructs, modify, implement, query and maintain a database
  • How to analyze problems
  • How to implement the development cycle
  • Job search skills

Does this program have any professional partnerships?

In 2018, Hocking College received approval to partner with Amazon Web Services Educate. This partnership intends to incorporate the AWS curriculum into the College’s existing computer science program. Students earning certificates will ultimately be more marketable in the workforce.

More about AWS Educate

AWS Educate is a grant-oriented program for students, academic researchers and educators. Their mission is to “teach tomorrow’s cloud workforce today.” Their long-term goal is to make the education community more aware of Amazon’s public cloud services.

How can students benefit from this partnership?

Students who obtain AWS certifications will be qualified to fill the following positions: 

  • Operational Support Engineer
  • Cloud Software Engineer
  • Cloud Developer
  • AWS Certified Developer Associate
  • AWS Solutions Architect
  • Entrepreneurial skills

For more information on Hocking College’s Website and Application Development program, contact Hocking College Computer Science Program Manager Tasha Penwell at one of the following: 

become a web developer