Nathan Zagrovic

Nathan left Rye Hills in 2005 and has gone on to have a carer as a PHP & WordPress Developer at Inner City Digital.

Nathan said: "Wow, school seems like such a long time ago, especially considering I’m almost 30!

Having left school in 2005 I went on to study E-Media at Redcar and Cleveland College. Applying myself meant I got a place at Teesside University to study computer game animation of which I now have a Bachelor of Arts in. The course was really good and I learned a lot about the industry, including how difficult it was to get into. Having gained my degree I changed paths.

I’ve always been interested in the art of design, so when the opportunity for an internship was offered by the university, I took it. Differing to computer game animation, the opportunity was for website design and development and the thought of this motivated me. Stepping out into the ‘real world’ certainly opened my eyes, giving me insight into how much I would have to learn. I did the only thing I could do. I got my head down during office hours and studied constantly in my own time.

Understanding code isn’t something that happens overnight. I would literally get home from work and head straight to my computer. If I tried something and it didn’t work, I would not leave the screen until the problem had been solved. Highly frustrating at times, this method did and continues to serve me well. Having left the internship I secured my first full-time position as a web developer.

Please don’t think it was as easy as that once I had a job. Every day involved more and more learning with tasks becoming far more complex as my knowledge and confidence expanded. What I also had to take into consideration was how fast the industry moved. Website styles were evolving, concepts were ever-changing and new aspects required consideration. I also had to develop a deep awareness of the customer journey to ensure my design work matched up with this.

After two years working with the company, I was promoted to Lead Developer. My job was to take the lead on each and every project that came in and to oversee development whilst carrying out more complex builds. Learning did not stop here. I continued with online courses and would watch numerous YouTube videos daily.

By year four of working with the same company, I met my now business partner, Helen. Specialising in SEO (search engine optimisation), Helen had lots of experience working directly with web designers and knew the industry very well. We quickly realised our business ethics were very similar and that potentially we could set up our own Web Design & SEO company.

In 2016, Inner City Digital was born. We started it working from an attic room office on an existing PC and a borrowed laptop. It was a scary time as we both had given up full-time jobs with full-time pay and were now responsible for making the money to pay our bills, ourselves. We went along to business courses, networking events and by the end of month one had secured a great contract with Redcar & Cleveland council. Through contacts we had both built up over our careers we began getting enquiries for websites and the business steadily grew. Having just completed our accounts for year 3 it was amazing to see that we have grown 36% when compared to year 2.

I love what I do. Working for myself has lots of perks. I can take time off when I wish to, work from home if I feel like it and I have no one to answer to. Well…. The latter isn’t strictly true. Working for yourself means you have ‘you’ to answer to and often we are our biggest critics. Some days are difficult as we have multiple projects and set times for website launches but this only spurs me on.

Life during Rye Hills is a great learning curve that involves using all the skills you’ve learned in secondary, applying and growing them."