Why I Left Marketing to Learn Coding – Luke Stenis: Austin Coding Academy Alumni Spotlight

December 01, 2018
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Self-confessed Austin Coding Academy ‘brand fanatic’ Luke Stenis on why he decided to leave marketing, learn coding, and teach others to code

A native of Oklahoma, Luke Stenis originally moved to Austin for grad school. Falling in love with the city - and his future wife - he stayed to start a family, and a career. I asked him what he does for fun. ‘Sunday league soccer with Cameron Road United, the most interesting team in Austin,’ he replies, with a grin. He also plays bass, and has been in several local bands.

Receiving a Masters in Advertising from UT’s College of Communications, he dabbled in traditional agency work and media research, finally landing in digital marketing. ‘I enjoyed the challenges of copywriting for the web,’ he says. ‘I loved helping tell marketing stories and drive audience behavior.’ Marketing is a ferocious game, however - the pressure is on to continually upsell and cross-sell campaigns to squeeze out that one last dollar. After eight years, he decided he was done.

Why I learned to Code

As Strategy Director, he was working very closely with the Engineering and IT departments, improving the website. Together, they optimized conversion funnels - the advertising term for a customer’s journey from a web search or ad, through an e-commerce website, and finally to a sale. ‘I understood the basics, but was never in the trenches myself,’ he explains. He was tired of continually waiting in a queue for issue tickets to be resolved. ‘I wanted to learn how to solve these UX/UI problems myself’.

Laid off in March of 2015, he realized he no longer had the ‘bellyfire’ passion for marketing. Tired of his ethics and morals being tested, he longed for ‘a career with long-term stability and a more learning-centric foundation’.

Making the Decision to Learn Coding

He used his ‘extensive experience in digital marketing to find ACA via Google search’, he says, laughing. As a young father supporting his family, being able to learn to code without quitting his interim bill-paying job was key. ‘It perfectly fit my lifestyle,’ he explains. ‘The school is flexible but still maintains a high level of authenticity’.

‘Learning how to code and approach problem-solving has changed my life,’ says Luke passionately. His favorite thing about coding is also one of the most frustrating. ‘There are correct ways to do things with code. There are also different ways you use code to solve a problem,’ he explains. ‘Sometimes short term solutions can create long term inefficiencies’. Creating well-constructed projects isn’t just about the code required to make them work straight away. According to Luke, the challenge when approaching code issues is to think long-term, and to fix defects in a way that won’t hinder future improvements or projects.

Thinking Like a Developer/Engineer

He’s applying these skills to his life in more than just a work setting. ‘I now approach everything in life like code. Assess the problem, look at the end goal, plan each step, and execute with detail and confidence.’

Luke is now an instructor at ACA - a career that he loves. He spends his days as a full time developer and spends his evenings paying it forward to students, teaching tAfter meeting the school’s founders, Chris Sica and Luke Filipos, and completing the beginner, intermediate and advanced classes, he ‘became a huge brand fanatic!’ - which appears to be marketing speak for ‘I’m a fan!’.

Leaving a stagnant career to learn coding was the best thing Luke says he’s ever done. ‘My life has really come into focus and its path has never been more clear’.

There is a lot to gain from learning how to code.

Learn more about our coding program and revamp your career with impressive new skills.