Grow Where You Are | Graduate Spotlight

May 21, 2020
Jessica Grande


MEET Shawna

Being in Music City, many students at Nashville Software School (NSS) come from a background in the music industry. Shawna Chatfield of Web Development Cohort 36 wore “many hats,” as she says, in the field before deciding it was time for a change. 

After pursuing a career as a musician, she transitioned to promotions, tour management, and finally publishing. Shawna realized that all these positions had one thing in common, no room for growth. That’s when she started researching other careers, specifically web development. “What I saw in development was an opportunity to have a career that would be ever growing in new challenges, push me to always be learning, and let my mix of analytical and creative thinking abilities be of use simultaneously,” she explains. 

When Shawna decided to pursue a career in web development, she checked out NSS and heard Founder and CEO John Wark at a General Info Session. She shares that “[John] had such a no nonsense pitch and genuine enthusiasm about career transitions, I believed it might be possible for me to do this.”

“I love that in software development I'm able to use both my logical thinking and creative skills and am so excited about the possibilities of this compelling career.”


During her time at NSS, Shawna describes facing many obstacles such as learning to think in ways she never had before, imposter syndrome and being overwhelmed by the new material she was learning. She shares that her community at NSS helped her overcome these challenges. “NSS is an incredible support system though, one that's well aware of the vast range of existing roadblocks. From classmates to staff, it's a building full of people who want you to succeed.”

When asked what advice she would give to current or incoming students, Shawna shared, “for a lot of us at NSS, we're coming in with skills we've been working on for a decade or more and it's very easy to forget how long it took us to get good at the things we were doing before this. Starting something new you've never done is going to take time and loads of effort. You are learning more than you think you are- be kind to yourself.”

Capstone Projects

Shawna’s passion for travel and love of England inspired both her capstone projects.. Her front-end capstone Three Broomsticks is a booking website for the fictional bed-and-breakfast in the fantasy world of Harry Potter called The Three Broomsticks Inn. “I've used a lot of websites like this when I've been lucky enough to travel places and I always loved how really good ones can give the user an experience almost as exciting as actually going there,” she explains. “I wanted to try to do that for a place I'd love to go, in this case, the Wizarding World.” Three Broomsticks was built using React.js, JavaScript, and JSON Server. 

Her back-end capstone, BLIGHTY, is a Django Web App that allows users to find pubs in England, based on regions in the country. Users create collections of pubs they'd like to visit and ones that they have visited with notes about their experiences. Shawna shares “I was inspired by my own trips I've taken there and some beautiful guidebooks I've seen that really capture how important pub culture is for the country.” BLIGHTY was built using Python, the ORM, and Tableplus.

HIRE Shawna

Now a full stack developer, Shawna is looking for her first job in tech. She continues to sharpen her skills as she self-studies with courses in JavaScript and React. Between job searching, she is expanding on her capstone project features and learning more about UX/UI. 

Learn more about Shawna by visiting her LinkedIn profile or listening to her podcast

Check out all the recent grads on Web Development Cohort 36'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