Developers Never Stop Learning | Carter Nelms - Cohort 5

Sep 7, 2017
Mandy Arola

We’re catching up with some of our alumni and they’re sharing advice for our students and recent graduates.

Carter Nelms, software developerIn 2013, Carter Nelms was working as a project manager at his family’s heating and air business when he decided to change careers and go into software development. He distinctly remembers thinking, “Going back to school sounds miserable and wasteful. I wish there were a software school that would teach these things full time for a few months instead of spreading it out over a few years. I’d do that in a heartbeat.”

Coding bootcamps were still in their infancy and when Carter discovered NSS. He shared, it “felt like making a wish and seeing it happen. In less than 12 months, I went from knowing what I wanted but not knowing how to get it, to working as a junior developer at a local startup.”

Carter is still working for the same company that hired him out of NSS. It’s a small startup that was less than a year old at the time. As a full-stack PHP developer, he’s definitely been on the startup rollercoaster, but the small company has allowed him to learn and make an impact quickly. While PHP was not the stack he learned at NSS, his interviewers believed that he could apply what he learned at NSS to PHP. On the job Carter has learned more about optimizing code and queries, write code that is easy to follow, and debugging your own code and someone else’s code.

There is always something new to learn.

NSS exposed Carter to a number of technologies and best practices. “I knew the basics of programming when I began, but my code was much uglier, and the structure of my apps was embarrassing compared to how much it improved in only a few months,” Carter stated. “Going into NSS, I knew very little about databases and absolutely nothing at all about git. Going into my first job interview, where I ultimately found my first job after NSS, I felt like a rock star.”

Carter shared some great advice about that first job search.

Shoot straight and be confident in your interview. Confident, not cocky. 

My first interview came when someone at the company reached out over LinkedIn, looking to fill an internship. An internship was not what I wanted, but we chatted a bit online and agreed that I ought to come check them out face-to-face so we could better learn about each other. It was such a casual thing that it didn't hit me until I had driven halfway there that, wait a minute, this was a job interview. Ah well, semantics, am I right? 

The point is, interviews are like dates. They are two way streets, and the goal is to learn about the other party and decide if you'll do well together. This is natural for some students, but more challenging for others. If you go in with that attitude, you'll find your best fit. 

It's okay to say that you don't know something. Say it as confidently as you do when you say that you do know something. Get to know the other people in the room, try to meet other employees in the building, and get a feel for what it would be like to be there. You are shopping; "buy" what makes you happy.

Outside of his job, Carter has not stopped learning. He occasionally picks up a side job to keep his Node.js skills strong and taught himself Angular 2 last summer.

Connect with Carter on GitHub.

Topics: Alumni, Student Stories