Professional development & takeaways from the Wes Bos Master Gatsby course

Aten is big on professional development. Whether it’s conferences, certifications, meetups, or trainings, widening and refining our expertise is an important part of how we serve our clients and our team. Empowering employees to come to us with their own goals and interests — and developing those into a concrete plan — is more than a rewarding part of team management, it’s a great way to push innovation and flexibility in a constantly changing industry.

One benefit of our “choose your own adventure” approach to career growth is that the team gets exposed to lots of different aspects of the industry and can incorporate what they learn in their own unique way from their own unique perspective. At its best, this means transitioning team members into what they want to do — and what they do best. We’ve even seen a few more dramatic transitions, like from design all the way to development, looking at you, Joel Steidl.

I love seeing how people absorb and apply skills differently. Late last year a handful of our developers took the Wes Bos Master Gatsby course, a ~12 hour “at your own pace” series of training videos focused on (you guessed it) Gatsby JS. In collecting their feedback about the course I could really see how the same material landed in a variety of different ways. Here are some of their takeaways:

Brent Robbins

Front-end developer

What do you do at Aten?

I’m a front end developer. I focus pretty heavily on Drupal theming and JavaScript, but also assist in site building and client training. Recently, I’ve been able to work on a lot of data visualization projects. John Ferris and I tend to work on most of JavaScript (React) projects here at Aten.

What were your takeaways from the Wes Bos Master Gatsby Course?

I’ve been using the Gatsby stack for at least three years, and have launched many sites with it — but I still wanted to take the course. Wes Bos is a popular content creator and for good reasons. I wanted to see a new perspective and get some new insight on using Gatsby with Sanity.io, and I wanted to see if he’d have any cool tips and tricks — he did. There were a few things, like how he called client-side data and created skeleton screens while loading that data, as well as an order form and pagination. I was able to use the pagination example in a client site soon after I finished the course.

I’d like to get more developers at Aten to watch the series. I think there’s a lot of potential using this stack. I’ve actually been working on a Sanity / Gatsby starter kit for Aten and the broader community that I would like to release in the near future.

James Nettik

Full stack developer

What do you do at Aten?

I’m a full stack developer who primarily works in Drupal 8 and it’s theming layer. I also build custom modules for client projects as needed, and I work alongside in-house client development teams with Drupal 8 training and aide.

What were your takeaways from the Wes Bos Master Gatsby Course?

The Master Gatsby course was one of a couple professional development efforts for me last year: involvement with the Drupal Camp Colorado Higher Education Summit, a talk at BadCamp, and finishing my Grand Masters certification with Acquia. While I do use Javascript in my day-to-day, it’s mostly for simpler tasks like manipulating classes on DOM elements, building interfaces and the like. For me a lot of the course was exploratory, it really helped expose me to a wider set of what JS does. I learned a lot about possible use cases for Gatsby, one of the obvious ones being connecting to an external API — like if you have a Drupal website and want to expose its data to a Gatsby front-end.

This particular course isn’t something I implement in my day-to-day, but I’ve definitely made regular use of some of his other content — like object and array manipulation, or “array cardio,” in his free JavaScript 30 course.

I like that the Wes Bos courses aren’t error proof. He doesn’t edit out mistakes. Live debugging and explaining why things didn’t work at first gives his content a real-life sense. It feels more applicable to the work you’re doing.

Jennifer Dust

Full stack developer

What do you do at Aten?

At Aten I have the privilege of being a problem solver, critical thinker, creator, and more. I am a full stack developer that mostly works on site updates, bug fixes, and building out new features. A lot of my work right now is front-end heavy — working with twig templates, CSS changes, and recently more JavaScript projects. I love figuring out the complexity of an issue and how best to create a solution, it's a lot fun.

What were your takeaways from the Wes Bos Master Gatsby Course?

The Wes Bos Master Gatsby course is the complete package — it covers all the setup with no assumptions about you as a developer. His courses have a human element to them, and while they are challenging he never expects the audience to “just know.” Often throughout the videos Wes Bos encourages you to work ahead and try writing the code yourself, then afterwards you can continue with the tutorial and check your work. An awesome benefit if you get stuck or struggle during the course is that Wes Bos has a Slack channel where you can reach out to other developers and work your way towards a solution.

Much of the course content was directly applicable to my current projects. Understanding things like state and context was something I struggled with on my own. Wes Bos offered a lot of clarification around fundamentals that helped me become more confident and contributed to cleaning up & reorganizing some of my code. The course did a great job of breaking up complex components with relevant examples.

In the Master Gatsby course you get to build something with real data, and the example project was a website for a pizza joint! I’m from Chicago and love pizza. So besides being directly applicable to my current projects, it was also really fun. I’ll definitely use more of his courses in the future. In fact, Kristi reached out to me after the course about an upcoming Gatsby conference in March — hopefully I’ll attend that as well.


Active engagement with professional development re-energizes our team, helps us support each other in our goals, and creates an exciting career track where each day doesn’t have to be the same as the last. Employee development doesn’t just support career growth, either, it also builds a broader toolset that we can make available to our clients.

We believe that investing in new skills and broader experience creates new, innovative approaches, and innovation is something we get pretty excited about around here. Interested in learning more about the Aten team or working at Aten? Follow us on LinkedIn or Instagram.

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