From A Dead-End Job To A New Career | Graduate Spotlight

Dec 8, 2017
Mandy Arola

Nashville Software School graduate Sam StaffSam Staff was working odd jobs at Panera Bread and Amazon to pay the bills while exploring career options. His family and friends suggested that he might enjoy the analytical nature of software development. Ultimately, it was the creativity that drew him to it and he joined Cohort 20. He shared, “I decided to become a software developer because it let me exercise a creative outlet I never had the chance to use before.”

(Software development) gives me the opportunity to take ideas and give them them a presence on the internet...and that’s a real way to influence the world in a positive way. I like having the ability to have a voice. Before (NSS), I’m just some ‘Joe’ at Panera Bread.

“I feel like the doors are open. Before they were closed. You couldn’t jump out of Panera Bread and walk into an enterprise office job. No one’s going to be like ‘well, what do you have to offer?’ Now I have something to offer! I can do things that I definitely couldn’t do six months ago. It’s like a new future, a new start, and that is really awesome.”

We asked Sam if he encountered any roadblocks during bootcamp. He responded, “Oh yes, who doesn’t? But you overcome. My main roadblock was managing all the information you learn in such a short time, but that’s why learning by doing helps.’

Sam’s favorite part of the the six-month bootcamp was working with his fellow students and the learning process at NSS. There are times when you will feel overwhelmed and under pressure. Sam stated, “It’s a difficult process, but it needs to be that way for you to learn. Otherwise, you quickly become too complacent.”

For his front-end capstone, Sam built an app to find local restaurants (vs. chain restaurants) while you’re traveling. The app, called Crazy Craving, lets you search for local restaurants by zip code, address, or your craving. It was built with AngularJS, Firebase, Eatstreet API, Bootstrap, jQuery, and Grunt.

Sam’s back-end capstone, called Stargazer, is an astronomy photo sharing site that lets you store your photos and search other’s photos. The application was built with Mongo, Express, AngularJS, and Node.js. Sam chose to learn Mongo to build this application. He shared, “I’m glad I did. Learning something outside of the class curriculum is a big confidence booster.”

Sam is currently applying for jobs, cleaning up his capstones, and planning to add more functionality and features to Stargazer. He’s also about to start a side project building a website called Overcome for a friend in the television industry. In addition to all of that, he hopes to start a blog about what he’s learning.

Listen to Sam’s interview with Clark Buckner about his journey and check out Sam’s profile on GitHub.

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 20’s class website.

Listen to more graduate interviews:

Topics: Student Stories, Hiring?