Learning Web Design is for the Creative, Too.

Going into code school, Mike Dreiling was worried he was going to be bored.

“I was very, very nervous that, being such a graphic person, that it would just be boring to me,” Mike said.

Mike attended high school in Missoula before attending the Art Institute of Seattle for a year. He graduated from the University of Montana in 2005 with a degree in Fine Arts and a minor in Media Arts.

For years, Mike worked as the head designer at AlphaGraphics, helping clients with websites and learning WordPress. Eventually, Mike wanted more education on true development, full stack awareness, and learning how applications run.

In Spring 2017, Mike became part of the Montana Code School’s first part-time class. Far from being boring, Mike found that coding and the chance to learn web design expanded his horizons.

“It gave me new opportunities to explore a whole new medium,” Mike said. “For example, being able to tap into an API and have access to tons and tons of data and being able to manipulate it any way I wanted visually was suddenly just a whole new obstacle and fun challenge.”

The cohort met twice a week for seven months, with one immersive weekend each month. As a father of two holding down a full-time job, Mike said the part-time code school course was a perfect fit for him.

code school alumni“It gives you the opportunity to make money and survive,” Mike said. “It’s a great option.”

Despite only seeing each other a few hours a week, Mike’s cohort became close and would meet up outside of class. When it came time to do a final project, they opted to do a group project. Mike said each person brought their own unique talents the project. He worked on visual aspects while others worked in managerial or straight technical roles, depending on what they were interested in.

After code school, Mike said he’s felt more empowered when interacting with AlphaGraphics clients. Knowing more about how the backend works, he speaks with more authority and can give more realistic estimations about development time.

In addition to his full-time job, Mike is also a freelancer. Before code school, he worked on more visual projects like illustration and animation. Finishing the coding course helped Mike expand his freelance offerings to include more technical projects, such as working with servers or virus issues.

“Now I have the confidence to be able to take those jobs on myself,” Mike said.

In addition, Mike said he’s gotten a lot of freelance referrals from the code school community, such as odd website fixes and malware issues.

But the most exciting thing Mike has gotten out of his code school experience is the ability to come up with an idea and actually execute it.

“Before you go to code school, you wonder how an individual would even start creating an app and by the time it’s over, you can at least figure out how to start,” Mike said.

Outside of work and freelancing, Mike enjoys the active lifestyle Missoula offers and can often be found hiking and skiing. He said the city itself is dynamic and changing in exciting ways, which is fun to be a part of.

If you’re considering going to code school but aren’t sure it’s for you, Mike suggested finding online tutorials and attempting a small project, such as designing an html website, to see if you like it. You can also browse our library of resources such as Advice When Considering a Pivot to a Code-Savvy Career and 5 Tips On How To Prepare For Code School.