Practical Applications | Graduate Spotlight

Aug 7, 2017
Mandy Arola

When it comes time for students to decide what they are going to build for their capstone projects, we encourage them to build something useful that relates to their personal or professional experiences. Helana Nosrat and Jessica Younker from Cohort 18 leveraged the knowledge they built in their prior careers to build apps that would be useful on the job.

Helana Nosrat

Nashville Software School graduate Helana NosratHelana was a market development representative at an email marketing company. She used data to introduce large enterprise retail companies to the company’s platform. She shared her love for coding with a colleague who encouraged her to check out NSS. Helana fell in love with the idea of using the data to create an app that’s useful and applied to NSS that day.

For Helana, the best part of her NSS experience was the community of people. She shared, “It’s not just about the code you learn at NSS, but about the people you meet. We all kept each other motivated and on track. Focus is hard to obtain under the stress of an intense 6 month program, but my tenacity and motivation kept me moving forward through any roadblock I encountered.”

Helana encourages students to “keep an open mind when coming into NSS and make sure you have the ability to fully focus on school and code for the next 6 months. The more time and passion you have to code the more likely you will be to succeed.”

For her front-end capstone, Helana built an app called EduMotion which allows teachers to track students emotions to see their growth. She explains the idea behind the app and how she created it. 

In my spare time I used to teach learning disabled children at a school my grandmother built in order to offer an alternative learning environment for children who learn differently. While volunteering in the classroom at this school I noticed that parents heavily relied on standard grades to see their child improvement, but where the real improvement for students could be found was with their ability to manage their emotions in a group environment. There is where I thought an application that could track students and their emotions in an easy to use application would be the perfect tool for a classroom. I ended building my front-end capstone with Angular and Firebase since they are both great tools to store and manipulate data while offering packages that could visually make my capstone a fun and easy to use experience. The great thing about the experience of building this capstone is that this tool is currently being used in the classroom in the hands of real students and teachers!

Helana’s back-end capstone is called Panda Prospecting and is built for business development.

While working at two SAAS based platforms I noticed how in a sales and development role I never truly had that perfect tool I needed to easily build relationships with potential clients. Since data is at the forefront of any business development role, I chose Python and Django as my language and framework and set out to build an application that would offer anyone in a sales role the ability to easily access client and prospect information, add and edit new clients and prospects on the fly, and see a visual representation of where a rep is at in their prospecting lifecycle. I worked with Matlibplot offered as a Python package as well as d3 in order to develop a chart view any would easily have access to. My favorite part about building this project is that I will be able to continuously add and build out the application to implement key features that sales representatives may find useful moving forward in the future.

Helana is currently building a music streaming service app using Ionic for independent musicians to share their music. She hopes to provide the demographics of the listeners to the artists.

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

Jessica Younker

Nashville Software School graduate Jessica YounkerJessica has explored a lot of careers. She’s worked in not-for-profit project management, been a teacher, and most recently was a farm hand at several farms near Nashville helping to grow organic vegetables for local restaurants, farmers markets, and CSAs. She’s friends with a lot of software developers and had thought of it often as a career possibility. After a few years in the field (literally), Jessica was ready to stretch the technical part of her brain. When it came time to decide on a bootcamp, she gravitated towards the length of NSS’s program and the opportunity to learn full-stack development.

After completing the six-month bootcamp, Jessica loves looking back and seeing what she can build now versus back in January. She also enjoyed using the technical part of her brain sharing, “it was fun to completely switch gears from my previous endeavors.”

Jessica faced a common roadblock throughout bootcamp…feeling overwhelmed. With a constant stream of new material, Jessica always felt behind, but she wasn’t alone in that feeling. Here’s her advice for reducing the feeling of being overwhelmed:

“Focus on learning what YOU are working on—don’t get distracted by what others are working on. There are so many different directions to go in this field, my head would spin trying to keep up with everybody’s individual interests. Obviously, if your head is not spinning, then go for it! But don’t think you have to specialize in every single thing to be successful…for now.”

Jessica’s front-end application is called The Green Gleaner.

The Green Gleaner, is a CRUD app that seeks to create a market for farm produce that is cosmetically inferior and unsellable through normal channels. It enables farmers to post gleaning opportunities to the public and to identify experienced gleaners to work with their farms. I built it with AngularJS and used Firebase to handle data storage and user authentication. The web app features integration with Twilio's texting API so that farmers and gleaners can quickly communicate with each other.”

For her backend capstone, Jessica built an app called I Got Bugs.

I Got Bugs (is) a crowd-sourced insect data gathering tool built in AngularJS with interactive NVD3 charts for users to track patterns in historical and regional insect activity. Django REST Framework leverages Elasticsearch to store and search data and works with Kibana to produce insect data visualizations. I used Docker container platform to create the application. This app was created with farmers in mind, but could be used by novice and professional bug researcher types.

Since graduating Jessica has been keeping busy. She’s doing some contract work as a software developer and has been adding features to her capstone projects. Plus, she harvested 300 pounds (yes 300 pounds!!) of potatoes from her backyard. Even more exciting, she is expecting her baby this month.

Listen to Jessica’s interview with Clark Buckner about her capstones and check out Jessica’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 Cohort 18’s class website.

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Topics: Student Stories, Hiring?