Ms. Fix-it | Graduate Spotlight

Jan 31, 2020
Sarah Weatherbee

Kelly ColesKelly Coles recalls a time when she was 18 years old, stranded with a broken-down car. When a friend came by to fix it, she learned that all her car needed was a simple repair. “I realized that if I had just looked under the hood, I probably could have fixed it. At that point, I took it upon myself to learn everything I could about that car,” she said. From then on, if something broke, Kelly was fixing it.

Recently, a friend familiar with her knack for repairs and problem solving suggested she look into software development as a career; after 20 years in the freight transportation industry, Kelly was ready for a change. She had studied Computer Information Systems and Visual Communications at a community college, but felt “unprepared to enter the workforce” and now wanted to further her education.

“I was expressing interest in going back to school to complete a bachelor’s program to a friend one night over dinner, and a person at the next table suggested I look into NSS (Nashville Software School) instead.”


Kelly describes attending NSS as “a life changing experience.” As a full-time student in the six-month Web Development Bootcamp, Cohort 34, she jumped quickly into group projects, learning software development in an agile environment. The sprints, daily stand-ups and code reviews shaped her into a job-ready developer. But she gained more than just coding skills: Recalling the support of NSS staff and the career development team, she said, “I honestly feel as though I grew just as much as a person as I did a developer, and NSS provided me the technical and emotional support to do so.”

Going through the web development bootcamp students learn JavaScript, React, and a back-end language and framework, C# and .NET Core for Kelly’s cohort, at a rapid pace, and developing patience with oneself is key during the learning process. To students just starting out, she recommends having a positive attitude and recognizing that everyone learns at a different pace.

Don't compare what you’re feeling on the inside to what the people next to you are showing on the outside. They're probably struggling too, but if not, then try to learn from them.

Reflecting on her time in the bootcamp, Kelly said that she experienced the most growth during the back-end portion. She had to build the bulk of her capstone project outside of the classroom over Christmas break. “That was exactly what I needed,” she said, explaining that this time taught her to Google search the right questions and independently reach solutions.


For her front-end capstone, The Maintenance Log, Kelly drew from her passion for problem solving. This application is for anyone who needs to keep a record of repairs made to personal items and vehicles. Users can create a list of items organized by category. They can store details, notes, model numbers, and repair manuals for the items, and log all of the maintenance and repairs performed. User authentication and persistent storage allow multiple users to store, create, read, edit, and delete their lists of items, and their maintenance lists. Kelly built this app using React, JSX, and JSON-Server.

Kelly’s back-end capstone, MowPro, helps busy lawn care professionals manage their customer base and services. Having owned and operated her own lawn care business for eight years, Kelly knew just what features this app needed. The user can upload an image and see a dynamically generated map of the job site. For convenient billing, the app allows for easy generation of invoices and receipts. Records of all jobs can be sorted by customers who owe and customers who have paid. There is also a search feature that permits users to search all job records by customer name, address, email, phone number, service name, service description, and job notes. This app was built with .NET Core MVC, Entity Framework and Identity, C#, SQL Server, LINQ, JavaScript, JQuery, and Bootstrap 4.

HIRE Kelly

Now that she’s graduated, Kelly is excited to get back to work. She is keeping her development skills fresh with coding exercises and online tutorials as well as digging into advanced challenges from her bootcamp assignments. She would be happy with a front-end or back-end opportunity.

“I just enjoy doing this and building something,” Kelly said. She’s looking forward to her first development job and the chance to “build something that is going to inevitably make somebody’s life a little bit easier; it’s an incredible feeling to be able to do that.”

Learn more about Kelly and her capstone projects on her podcast or website.

Check out all the recent grads on Web Development Cohort 34's class website and hear the graduates share their journey into development and their experience at NSS in their podcasts below.

Topics: Student Stories, Hiring?, Web Development