Who’s In Style: A Web Developer With an Eye for Fashion
Morgan Crosta’s new clients come to her for help designing or redesigning their websites. They want to update old interfaces, refresh outdated looks or, in some cases, simply benefit from a functional site. Web development wasn’t a career Morgan ever would have envisioned for herself—but in retrospect, it makes a lot of sense.
“We’ll get a new customer, and I’ll get on the phone with them, do an interview about their business, and find out what their company’s image is,” she said. “I show them website examples to get an idea for the new design for their site.” She and the developers work with the client through multiple iterations. In the end, the client ends up with a site that’s modern, user-friendly, and a lot better looking.
That’s what happens when you combine an education in fashion design with six months of UC Davis Coding Boot Camp.
Not quite her style
Morgan studied apparel design at the Art Institute of Portland. She worked in fashion for a few years, but the industry just wasn’t a fit. Feeling disenchanted, she moved home to Sacramento to reset, taking a job as a grocery store checker just to pay the bills and save up some money.
As Morgan mulled over her options, she remembered that her sister-in-law and one of her best friends had done coding boot camps and landed great jobs afterward. That made her think about the introductory HTML/CSS class she had taken as one of her art school prerequisites—a class she had really loved.
“It just sort of clicked for me that I should check boot camps out,” Morgan said. “I’d be able to use my design degree and get on a new career path without having to go to school for four more years. I did a Google search and that’s when I found the UC Davis Coding Boot Camp in Sacramento. It was kind of spontaneous, but as soon as I had the idea, I felt like this was the right thing to do.”
The course started out easy enough, thanks to Morgan’s prior experience learning HTML and CSS. However, some of the more technical concepts proved more challenging.
“I’ve always been more of a creative type,” she said, “and it was really hard to wrap my brain around some of the more math-y concepts.”
Thankfully, Morgan had a lot of support from UC Davis’ TAs and her boot camp instructor, who were always there when anyone needed extra help. Her instructor would even hop on a Skype call with her when she was struggling with her homework.
Morgan’s classmates also inspired her to push herself, even when the challenges felt insurmountable.
“I kept pushing through,” she said. “My classmates were really great. There were a few that I worked on projects with that were always down to go study with you. I definitely felt a lot of support from everyone in the program.”
This support helped Morgan tackle the more difficult elements of the course so that she could focus on her favorite aspect: the aesthetics. Making an app look beautiful, giving a website a sleek and contemporary feel—these were the things that appealed to her artistic sensibility. She knew her future was in website design, and she wasn’t going to let anything get in her way. Even her own self-doubt.
The breakthrough moment
For her final boot camp project, Morgan created an app called Bags, inspired by her time spent working at the grocery store. It reminded people to bring their own reusable shopping bags into the store before they began shopping (instead of forgetting them in the car). She created it entirely herself—a huge step for her.
“I wanted to challenge myself,” she said. “For some of the other projects we worked on in boot camp, I always ended up doing what I was comfortable with. I would let another person in the group do what was for me the harder stuff.”
For much of the course, Morgan couldn’t help but compare herself to the other students. Despite her best efforts, she found it sometimes took longer for her to grasp the technical concepts. Being able to bring her app idea to life all by herself was a breakthrough moment for her, giving her some much-needed confidence in her own abilities.
“The project was my pride and joy!” she said. “I worked so hard on it. It was my idea and my baby, and I learned so much from working alone on it.”
Morgan also has some wise words for any student who thinks they’re not good enough. Comparing yourself to others is not the way to go, because your strengths are what matter for the unique path that you’re on.
“It’s hard to learn something that’s so foreign and not get down on yourself,” she said. “Understand that everyone’s on a different page and a different journey.”
The intersection of design, tech, and people skills
Morgan has been working as a web designer and project manager at a startup called Everything Websites for six months now. Her role is to help small businesses build (or rebuild) their websites. “It feels good to help out small businesses whose websites are not helping them get new business. Our websites are focused on customer conversion,” she said.
Morgan’s design background helps her conceptualize the look of her clients’ websites. Her supermarket experience has taught her how to relate to customers. And her six months of boot camp? Morgan said she wouldn’t even have the job if she hadn’t enrolled. “I wouldn’t have even applied. I wouldn’t have felt qualified,” she said.
Morgan’s dream is to one day be self-employed and be able to travel with her husband, a pilot, while working remotely. She’s already taken on a few freelance clients, doing web design.
“Boot camp opens up so many different doors,” Morgan said. “It was probably the best decision I ever made.”