After 8 years in IT Support and project management, Taylor Carroll of Web Development Cohorts 35 & 37 decided it was time to build apps for himself instead of troubleshooting them. “I've spent years listening and getting into a user's headspace,” he shares, “I think that gives me an advantage since I'll know how to avoid common pitfalls and how to design an application around a typical user's actual needs.” This led Taylor to first apply for the Front-end Web Designer/Developer bootcamp with Cohort 35 where he was able to build on his past experience interacting with users.
Once he graduated with Cohort 35, he joined the back-end portion of Cohort 37 to get a well-rounded, full stack experience from Nashville Software School (NSS). “I am a bit unique in that I went through the UI/UX track in C35 and jumped on C37 for the C#/.NET back-end.”
The NSS EXPERIENCE
Having been in two cohorts, Taylor has a lot of insights about NSS to share, starting with the community he found. “The bond I've made with so many encouraging people is invaluable. When I need a pick-me-up they are there to help me out, cheer me on, and inspire me to take my learning to the next level. [The community of NSS] really couldn't be overstated.”
When asked what advice he would impart on current or incoming students, he shared, "always ask questions! There are no dumb questions, and sometimes by asking you'll get a better understanding of what that concept is and how you can use it down the line. Get involved in the community and go to meet-ups early and often. Don't worry if you're struggling to remember ‘that one’ array method, as long as you get the major concepts down.”
There are always going to be roadblocks, but the great support system from the faculty and community really helped to keep me going.”
For Taylor’s front-end capstone project, he created Ride-Aware to improve the experience of picking up your elementary-age child from school. “My girlfriend has a 6-year-old that goes to an elementary school where they used these laminated placards that you hang in the rear-view mirror of the car with your child's name in it. There are some safety concerns with this current system: How do you know this person is authorized to pick up your child? Is there a record of when and who picked up your child, especially if you have a split custody situation,” he questioned. “On top of that, already exhausted staff members are now having to walk up and down a line of cars in the hot sun or rain to radio back to the school to coordinate. I decided to create a system to tackle these challenges.”
WanderList is Taylor’s user experience capstone that he designed, researched, and prototyped to learn more about local music preferences in his community. “I personally have strong memories associated with songs and when/where I first heard [them], and I wanted to be able to share that with others. WanderList allows the user to pin a playlist from Spotify to a location on a map for others to browse for the ideal soundtrack to their favorite hiking trails or coffee shops. The app also lets users browse the regional tastes of other locations.” Taylor created WanderList using the Spotify API, React, Leaflet, and Mapbox. The app was designed and vetted through user-testing, interviews, Lo-Fi mockups, and Hi-Fi mockups in Figma.
Taylor’s back-end capstone project, NatzHarmony, was inspired by his opportunity to work with the local non-profit Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) as a part of Cohort 35. You can read more about that experience here. The full stack application was created to serve as a mentorship program for TIRRC to connect immigrants who have yet to apply for citizenship with immigrants who have become citizens and can guide them through the process. The users can create an account with information like their gender, age, country of origin, and languages they speak and get matched with mentors based on that information and matching preferences. They are then able to chat with those mentors. Taylor based the app on the results of the case study he did with his classmates in C35, where they scoped the project, identified the challenge statement, and conducted user research and testing. He built the app with C#, ASP.NET MVC, SQL, and Bootstrap.
“The thing I love the most about coding is how empowering it is to have picked up a skill where I can affect real-world change and provide some social good in the world. I am big about social causes and solving real-world issues and the project with TIRRC has really opened my eyes to what coding can do for me and my community.”
Since graduating from NSS, Taylor spends his days "learning Python, creating a 'radio-game' where you guess the song by genre, using the Spotify API, and diving back into the Watson API to get a further understanding on AI and image recognition. I like to keep busy," he explains.
He is looking for a full stack position that would allow him to continue to grow his user experience skills. “I really love all aspects of software development, especially if it's building new features. It would be really awesome to get to work on AI on anything related to VR (virtual reality) or AR (augmented reality) technologies.”
Check out all the recent grads on Web Development Cohort 37's class website and hear the graduates share their journey into development and their experience at NSS in their podcasts below.