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How Jonathan Starkey Built a New Career at 43

“It’s been a great journey. I’m thankful for Interface Web School, and I love my new job. It’s been a life changer.” – Jonathan Starkey

By Jonathan Starkey

Jonathan Starkey, Interface Grad

My name is Jonathan Starkey. I’m 43 years old. I’ve been married to my beautiful wife Katja for 10 years. I’m a father to 3 amazing children, and I’m a graduate of Interface Web School. I graduated from the Hybrid Course in the Spring of 2015. It’s been a while, because I’ve been busy, but thought now was the time to tell my story.

I went to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and pursued an Associates Degree in Visual Communications. That is where I got my start in the graphic design industry. In 1995, I got my first entry-level position designing yellow page ads in Adobe Illustrator, and for the next 18 years I developed a career in and around print production graphics. Over the years, I saw the landscape of the industry changing, but wasn’t sure if those changes included me. Opportunities to advance in this area and job opportunities locally were becoming few and far between, which is a scary place to be when you’re trying to provide for a family. The writing on the wall was clear to me, that I needed to do something for my future, but the direction wasn’t clear. I tried to reinvent my career set in several different ways. At one point, I contemplated leaving computers, but realized that that would be a mistake since I had 18 years of experience with them. I tried illustration for a while in Adobe Creative suite, which was good for developing my skills in design, but it didn’t seem to fit. I looked at other schools, went through admissions processes, but that didn’t seem right either. My wife, through all of this journey, was very supportive, encouraging me to pursue my goals, but she and I agreed that nothing seemed to be a good fit. I pursued these directions while remaining faithful in my position as Production Manager at a local design agency.

The moment of clarity: One of my coworkers, a web developer guru, sent out a group email to our office. “Hey, everyone! You should check out Interface web school in Omaha…”, or something like that. He is a trusted friend, and I looked it over, and I thought, “Could this be it?” I went home and showed Interface to my wife, and she instantly felt like it was a good fit. Though she supported me in all my other endeavors, something about Interface seemed to be right. So I called Shonna, and went through the application process. Shonna was/is amazing – she helped me all the way through.

As an adult family man in a field for 18 years, it is not easy to readjust your career. What was appealing to me about Interface, is that front-end web development is very complementary to the work history which I had already built in graphics. I would be building upon the foundation which was already laid. It was a 15-week program, during the evenings, affordable, focused, and it would open up many opportunities for me in the Omaha area. It seemed like a no-brainer.

I need to mention that my instructors, classroom experience, and classmates were amazing. Preston was a good teacher, and has continued to mentor me in the field. He has become a friend, and will still take my calls and answer questions and give ongoing advice and direction.

I graduated from Interface in May of 2015, and they really worked with me to help me find a job: helping me to write and rewrite my resume, giving me leads, and eventually introducing me to my current employer, Fat Brain Toys. I’ve been employed at Fat Brain Toys since August of 2015. They hired me on to be a Web Designer, which included coding and designing email campaigns, coding and maintaining the Fat Brain Toys website, reskinning the entire website in October 2015, print design, and supporting graphics. I was then promoted to Front-End Web Developer. I coded and built the Fat Brain Toys Co. website, and have just recently been commissioned to be on a team to re-build the Fat Brain Toys website. I’ve been working on the new nav for 2 weeks now.

I know that the owner of Fat Brain Toys has been pleased with my coding ability and knowledge—kudos to Interface for teaching me the things I need to know. We have hired another web designer who also graduated from Interface, and he is an amazing coder as well.

All that to say, it’s been a great journey. I’m thankful for Interface Web School, and I love my new job. It’s been a life changer.

– Jonathan