Last Tuesday, NSS graduated 43 full-stack C#/.NET developers. These latest graduates impressed the community on their Demo Day with their drive, aptitude, and creative portfolios. As much as they’ve gained in knowledge from NSS, they’ve given back to the school by bringing their unique backgrounds and experiences to the table. In our new series of blog posts, we’ll help you get to know several of Nashville’s newest developers.
Be sure to listen to all of the graduates talk to our friend, Clark Buckner, about their journey into development and about their experience at NSS. And stay tuned for more Graduate Spotlights.
Liz Sanger is known around NSS for her insatiable hunger for code and for her willingness to share her knowledge once she has command of a topic. Not surprising considering she lived her pre-NSS life as an English professor. For the last 6 months, Liz has been completely submerged in coding. How was that transition instigated? “I loved my work as a writing professor, but I wanted to find a career that would integrate my aptitude for language with cognitive skills I hadn’t used as recently, like symbolic logic and quantitative reasoning. I was ready for a challenge. My husband’s a dev who also went through NSS, so I knew what I was in for, and how rewarding it could be in the long run. Plus, I’m competitive: if he could do it, I knew I could, too.”
Jettison your ego, cultivate friends and mentors who believe in you, and Do. Not. Quit.
Speaking of competitive, Liz built an entire app designed for conflict resolution when it comes to handling unexpected household chores. It’s Chore Turn utilizes tools such as AngularJS, and Firebase database and authentication. Her server-side capstone, The Occasion, “was pure indulgence.” It allows for users to browse curated poetry by form, topic, or mood; read a randomly selected poem; and have the app “write” you a unique sonnet or haiku. The app utilizes Microsoft Entity Framework, Identity Framework and LINQ. If you really want to see Liz light up, talk to her about ASP.NET MVC. Or cats.
Liz’s next steps include: getting started with React and getting involved in as much civic hacking as she can!
Fletcher Watson came to NSS with a taste of how technology can be difficult to wrangle. While working at a wine store, he also founded a tech startup based on a shared experience with friends about “wanting to know where the party was.” Though the startup ultimately did not succeed, it spurred his interest for becoming part of the tech industry in another capacity. It also became the prototype for his first capstone at NSS.
If you’ve ever thought to yourself “I wish I had an Easy Button to start a party and invite all my friends,” you’d find serious utility in Fletcher’s Start a Partyapp intended for spontaneous events. Users can create parties based on their geolocation or attend parties (they were invited to). The app is constructed with tools such as Bootstrap, AngularJS 1.5, and Firebase authentication and database. For his server-side capstone, Fletcher created Celeste, a trivia style app where answering a question correctly gets you one step closer to your celestial destination. The app was inspired by his self-study of astronomy and physics. “I wanted to contribute back to that kind of community by building a fun, simple web app where people can learn interesting things about our universe.”
Create an environment for yourself where it’s okay to make mistakes and break things.
Fletcher gained a reputation in his time at NSS as “the person you wanted to be around.” Gregarious with staff, instructors and cohorts; social with the Nashville tech community; generous with his knowledge. He has some valuable words to share with those looking to endure (and get the most from) the bootcamp experience: “Stay disciplined, but to be open to change. Don’t just do the simple exercises and trick yourself into thinking you know how to be a developer. Take them home and come up with a real world idea that utilizes the principles you learned in class that day. This will make it stick so much more quickly.”
Tim Maddux just wrapped up his time at NSS as a member of Evening Cohort 3, spending his days immersed in politics and his evenings in code. How did the dots connect between his past life in a government relations group and his new life as a junior developer? Tim was actually exposed to the professional development environment while he was working for the State Legislature’s publishing company when he acted as Product Owner for a user interface overhaul. When he decided to make the transition to the other side of the team, he knew it meant a return to school. “I kept coming back to a few factors: the reputation that NSS has in this town, the fact that they continuously re-tailor their curriculum to the current hiring needs of Nashville’s employers, and the fact that NSS is a not-for-profit.”
I want to build things that inspire and inform.
Bringing his previous life to the table, Tim built both of his capstones with the intent to “encourage users to interact more with their elected officials.” His front-end capstone utilized OpenStates API interaction to allow users to view, track the progress of, and interact with pertinent officials of state legislature. He used Materialize design framework for the user experience, and AngularJS and Firebase for the functionality. His server-side project required building his own API utilizing data that he had gathered from web-scraping. The app allows users to search for and track Nashville Metro Council ordinances and resolutions on topics that matter to them. And his work didn’t end on Demo Day. He’s been working on the user interface of his backend capstone and plans to bring his capstone project idea to the group of civic coding professionals to expedite it’s release to the public.
Tim’s words of wisdom for current and future NSS students: “If you’re really trying to master a concept, get a code sample of what you’re trying to work on from anywhere you can find it then perform “controlled breaks” of the code by removing bits and pieces here and there and then try to predict outcomes.”