A guest blog post by our good friends General Assembly.

In the heat of the summer, we gave Escape the City readers a special scholarship to attend General Assembly’s 10-week course in front-end web development. With the potential of such new skills, we simply asked, “Where will you be in 3 years time once you’ve escaped the city?” 

We were blown away when a man named Toby Sims responded. He wrote, “I have no city to escape. I am a Groundsman looking after a myriad of different sports pitches. Sounds ideal to the city dweller, but I too am eroded by the daily grind and plans from on high that extend no further than the end of the day. Just as in the City, there is no hope without a vision…”

Now as Toby concludes his course at General Assembly, we caught up with him to see how it’s all going. (Be sure to read all the way to the end for a special offering from GA!)
Toby writes:

The Basics: boot camp.

General Assembly: Front End Web Development.

That’s a big title. What had I let myself in for? I remember thinking to myself “You’re definitely jumping off the high board with this one”. You cut grass for a living!

I am now half way through, so I’ll share a little of the rollercoaster ride! It all started with a hectic tube journey in August, powering my way through the Olympic crowds and up a few flights of stairs to General Assembly’s base of operations.

So what’s the course like? I think what drew me to it in the first place was the intensity of it, the amount you had the opportunity to learn in such a a short space of time and I haven’t been wrong about that so far! The pace is quick without being overwhelming and each topic is covered by exercises and examples in the form of live projects on your laptop. It’s almost like you teach yourself!

Fortunately for the likes of me though, I’m not teaching myself and our tutor, Devin Hunt must rank as one of the most patient people I have ever met. His enthusiasm is only matched by his ability to steer you down the right course when you are a bit lost. For me, this is usually syntax and spelling and ‘doh!’ moments. You would not believe how many times I have spelt simple words wrong and dropped a bracket somewhere…

If you are really confused (for me, this is the new world of Javascript at the moment), there are always “office hours”, a drop in session that starts an hour before the main class. Here you can go through things really slowly and ask the questions you forgot to ask in the last class.

How much have I learnt? Much more than I thought was possible, especially given that this is the first ‘formal’ education I’ve had in many years… I have an alarmingly good ability to put myself down, but I can just about stop myself to say that I can now understand (to a pretty decent level) HTML and CSS, and am just beginning the journey into Javascript. Now it’s just practice, practice, practice (curse full time employment and the demands it places!) and think of a good way to apply it all. You can always check out my progress at www.tobysims.com, get me!

I am really enjoying it and I’m actually more worried about how much I’ll miss it when it’s over than by the rest of the course.

It’s a brilliant experience and although I’m thoroughly biased, I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to rapidly ‘level up’ their skills or like me thinks they’ve got a bit left behind in the relentless march of technology. You haven’t, just follow the shiny light!

A huge thank you to General Assembly for the opportunity and Escape the City for making it happen: 85,000+ corporate professionals and one Groundsman! Vivé la Resistance!


Interested in signing up for the same course Toby’s taking? Escape the City readers receive £250 off GA’s next front-end web development course. Check out the course description here and email London@GeneralAssemb.ly for more details. 


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