Moms Who Code | Graduate Spotlight

Jul 24, 2017
Mandy Arola

A lot of parents come through both our full-time and part-time web developer bootcamps. This week we talk with two moms with young children who graduated with cohort Evening 4. While balancing a day job, bootcamp, and family is never easy, Debra Gordon and Sarah Ward relied on their families and fellow classmates to stay focused on their goal of becoming software developers.

Debra Gordon

Nashville Software School graduate Debra Gordon Debra was an art director for a sports brand and wanted to combine her graphic design skills with software development. Her friend, who had been a part of a day cohort and working as a developer for over 2 years, recommended NSS. As Debra learned more about NSS, she appreciated the heart behind the school. She shared, “After attending an information session and hearing the story of why he (John Wark) founded the program, I knew I could get behind that and I wanted to join the movement.”

At the start of the program, Debra had a five-month old at home and knew that she had to make her time away from her family matter.

The teachers were great to learn from and get to know. They knew how to gracefully mentor you through the weeds when you felt lost. Also, knowing you were attending this class with a group of like-minded individuals that, like you, wanted to stretch their mind and make a better future for themselves was pretty inspiring.

Her biggest roadblock during the year long program was time management. She juggled a full-time job, a newborn, and bootcamp! She explained, “Feeling the pressure of that was at times difficult to bear. In the end, I was able to be 100% where I was and that focused intensity paid off.”

For her front-end capstone, Debra built an app called GigGetter. It is a job search app for musicians and producers to find gigs. The app was built with AngularJS, HTML, SASS, and compiled with a linter called Grunt.

Debra’s back-end capstone is a daycare student enrollment app called DuckDuck. It give school administrators the ability to create a classroom, add students, and manage a wait list. It was built with C#, .NET, .Entity, Dapper, Structure Map, and AngularJS.

Currently Debra is working to bring Duck Duck to the next level and networking around Nashville. She hopes to land a front-end UI/UX position.

Listen to Debra’s interview with Clark Buckner about her journey and check out Debra’s profile.

Sarah Ward

Nashville Software School graduate Sarah Ward Sarah was a stay-at-home mom who worked as a seamstress for local clothing companies. As her boys, ages 2 and 6, grew closer to school age, Sarah knew that she wanted to return to work. Her husband, a high school teacher, learned about NSS when he started a coding club at school and told her about it. She has always enjoyed problem solving, creating things in any medium, and loved her advanced math classes in college.

Sarah shared about her choice to attend NSS:

NSS seemed like the most comprehensive education in software development that you could get in a bootcamp time frame. I also liked that NSS is so committed to preparing it's students for the job search process and helping them make connections in the Nashville coding community. For someone completely new to this career and relatively new to Nashville, that extra dimension was very appealing.

A student’s time at NSS is about more than just the curriculum. When you spend 6-12 months learning a new field with a like minded group of people, you form a unique bond. Sarah shared, “There were weeks I saw my classmates more than my spouse and kids and I was lucky to have such an odd amalgamation of interesting, kind, and often times very entertaining group to spend my evenings and weekend with. They helped me stay positive, solve many a coding problem, and unwind at Twin Kegs after any given Saturday class.”

Sarah’s most difficult roadblock in the past year was balancing school and her family. Strong support at home helped keep her focused.

Sarah’s advice for students?

“Stay focused, spend as much free time as you can coding, and try to enjoy the journey. Also, get to know your classmates. They will keep you sane throughout this whirlwind of an education, help you persevere when you are in a coding conundrum, and make you laugh when you are over tired and stressed and in need a little perspective.”

Both of Sarah’s capstone projects were inspired by her children. Her front-end capstone is an app called HomeWork. It is an assignment and literacy tracker for parents with young children that allows you to keep track of homework assignments and the number of books read for each child. Kids can earn points for each item completed that parents can use to create rewards. Sarah built the app with AngularJS, Materialize, Firebass, Sass, Grunt, JavaScript, and JQuery.

When you have kids, getting a night out is not easy. So when you finally do, you don’t want to waste time deciding what to do at the last minute. Sarah’s back-end capstone is called Nights Out Nashville. It’s an itinerary creator that allows you to search Google Maps and create your own itinerary for the night. The app is built with Google Maps and Places APIs, C#, .NET, Entity Framework, StructureMap, AngularJS, and Bootstrap.

Currently Sarah is adding additional functionality to Nights Out Nashville. She also plans to build a new project using React and explore other technologies.

Listen to Sarah’s interview with Clark Buckner about her capstones and check out Sarah’s profile.

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.

Check out all of the recent grads on Evening 4’s and Cohort 18’s class websites.

Listen to more graduate interviews:

Topics: Student Stories, Hiring?