Before Anca Simon was a part of Part-time Web Development Evening Cohort 11, she lived in Madison, WI, working as a technical writer for a large medical records company. Her then employer, she shares, was “extremely intentional about getting their employees connected with their end users,” which allowed Anca opportunities to hear real feedback on the company’s software, helping to identify pain-points for the user and reporting them to the company’s developers. “I think that’s when my interest in development really was born - that sense of empowerment to really help users and solve practical problems,” she recalls.
Upon moving to Nashville, Anca then had an opportunity to transition into a Business Analyst position where she had even more of an active role in working with clients and helping them plan and enhance their workflows. Anca was also able to help them launch a whole new user portal for the company.
“After working side by side with developers for so many years, I decided it was time to better understand the tools and programs I watched them use,” she recalls. “So, I enrolled in the [Web Development Jumpstart] program at the Nashville Software School (NSS).”
THE NSS EXPERIENCE
After experiencing a taste of what NSS would be like through Jumpstart, Anca decided to apply for the part-time bootcamp. She shares that her favorite part of this 12-month program were the relationships she was able to build with her colleagues. “We got to make a few memories having dinner together in the Snackery and using real whiteboards in the Hackery before the pandemic moved us all online,” she smiles, “Yet, we continued to support each other in scheduled as well as ad-hoc study groups and to get to know one another better and our lives outside of NSS.”
Even though Anca has a career with working in tech as a technical writer and business analyst, learning a new skill can be challenging. She remembers experiencing roadblocks nearly every week. She laughs, “[There were] numerous times I thought ‘this is what we talk about when we discuss the myth of Sisyphus’!”
Every time we started learning a new technology or working on a new project, it felt like we were starting to push that boulder up the hill. After much study and practice, you start getting it and then you really start getting it and feel [like you’re] at the top of the mountain - and then you move on to a new technology - and you find yourself at the bottom again with the boulder yet again in front of you - but you know that, even though it may seem the same, it's not - because you have the experience of all those previous overcome obstacles to build on!”
When asked about the advice she would pass along to future NSS students, Anca shares “Write your dev tickets! Planning your work via tickets saves you so much time; updating tickets after you worked through a feature if you changed the initial approach makes you retell the story of your code, which helps you understand it even better; and, last but not least, you will be referring to those tickets over and over again - every next project is built on the previous one so put in the extra time - it is a worthwhile investment.”
GearUp is Anca’s front-end capstone that she built using React and a NoSQL database. The application allows users to manage their camping gear, making packing for their next trip easy and painless. “In 2007, my husband and I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. A few years later, our daughter was born and I learned that it is a bit harder to get the whole family going on a camping trip once little ones come along,” Anca explains. Campers can keep track of the trips they plan and make packing lists based on what they own.
For her back-end capstone, Anca built Unlimited, an application that offers families with young children learning musical instruments a wide variety of games to use while practicing, as well as helping them to plan out their practice schedules. Anca shares that the name of her back-end capstone was inspired by a quote by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, the founder of the international Suzuki method of music education, “Musical ability is not an inborn talent but an ability which can be developed. … The potential of every child is unlimited.” Users of Unlimited can filter through the application’s database by selecting their child’s age range, which instrument their child is learning to play, and how much time is prefered for practice. Anca used C#, ASP.NET Core, SQL, and React to build Unlimited.
Anca is excited to start her first full-time position as a software developer for Maize Analytics. She urges those who are starting their job search to continue to network and not to be afraid to reach out to the NSS grads who work at companies you’re interested in. Way to go, Anca!
I recognize that the arc that starts with the back-end developer and the UI team stretches through customer support and sales into the user’s routines and that a better understanding of this continuum makes for more effective and impactful software.
Check out all the recent grads at Web Development Cohort Evening 11's class website and hear the graduates share their experience at NSS and capstone projects in their podcasts below.