Barista Serves Up User Experience | Graduate Spotlight

Jul 31, 2018
Mandy Arola

Amber SharpeAfter college, Amber Sharpe worked a variety of jobs including managing area Airbnbs and as a barista. During her time at Nashville Software School (NSS), Amber continued to work part-time managing a coffee shop. She loved her job but was ready for a career. Her husband and several of their friends are NSS graduates, and they encouraged her to give development a try. They spoke highly of the instructors and supportive community NSS offers. Amber joined Cohort 24, our first front-end web designer/developer cohort.

“The bootcamp model is not for the faint of heart,” she explained. “It’s a lot of work, but seeing how far I came after six months was amazing.” One of her highlights was presenting her mid-course capstone to the other classes. “It was a very proud moment for me,” she exclaimed.

With no prior coding experience, there were times where she found herself overwhelmed and lost. But the community of students and the instructors helped her push through. Adding to the pressure of bootcamp was her part-time job. She shared, “I learned how important it is to take care of yourself. It’s hard to do your best work when you are burnt out.”

When it came time to start working on her mid-course capstone, she initially planned to redesign a bookstore’s website but quickly discovered that the scope of the project was too large given the time constraints. She was able to quickly pivot using the information she gained in her initial user interviews. In those interviews, she learned that people who read a lot like to keep track of the books they’ve finished. She decided to create Bookworm, an app that lets readers track what they’ve read and what’s on their reading list. When it came time to design, she narrowed down her persona to a working woman in her 30s who loves Instagram, Pinterest, and Madewell. To build the app she used JavaScript, jQuery, Sass, Bootstrap, Firebase, Grunt, Browserify, and Sketch. Learn about her process for building Bookworm.

For her final capstone project, Amber built an app that helps people with social anxiety plan for events where networking and small talk is involved. The app allows users to search for topics and save them for later use. For this project, she focused on the full UX and development process. She spent half her time researching, designing, prototyping, and testing. During her research, she was able to narrow in on what the user wanted and focus her design and delivery to meet their expectations. The usability testing of her prototype revealed a few areas for improvement. The last half of her time was spent building the app with JavaScript, React, React Router, Bootstrap, Firebase, and AdobeXD. Learn about her process for building SmallTalk.

While she searches for her first UX or UX/front-end developer role, Amber has enjoyed having time to help friends with their websites. She’s excited to find her first job and work on real projects so that she can keep sharpening her skills.

To learn more about Amber, visit her portfolio site.

Check out all of the recent grads on Cohort 24's class website.

Hear the graduates talk to our friend, Clark Buckner, about their journey into development and about their experience at NSS.

Topics: Student Stories, Hiring?, UI/UX