After a GRAMMY Award-winning career as a music producer, Pete Stewart decided to make a change and pursue a new career path. “Over the years, as I watched the music industry become increasingly unstable, I grew less fulfilled by my profession and decided it was time for a change,” he recalls.
Pete shares that computers and software have always been a big part of his life, professionally and personally. “I began my career when the switch from analog to digital recording methods was happening and have built most of the computers my studios used,” he says. “I've also been a beta tester for several digital audio companies and created countless macros to increase my workflows.”
The moment Pete knew web development was the new career path for him was when he started using free, online resources to explore coding. He was hooked. “I decided I wanted to get a fuller and more hands-on education where I could learn from and interact with accomplished experts,” he shares. Pete knew of Nashville Software School’s (NSS) reputation for “producing graduates who have successful careers and [strong] engagement with the Nashville tech community” and decided to apply for a bootcamp.
THE NSS EXPERIENCE
Pete began NSS with Web Development Cohort E12, a part-time cohort, and switched at the half-way point to the full-time program with Cohort 42. Pete shares that he enjoyed the collaboration process he experienced while working on group projects, “It was a perfect way to test and sharpen the new skills I had acquired and learn what it's like to function in a real world development team environment.”
Part of the NSS experience for a lot of students is getting comfortable with talking through code problems, whether their own or their peers’. For Pete, he found this process very helpful while learning to troubleshoot and find solutions to problems.
“Being presented with new concepts can be overwhelming and uncomfortable when they don't make sense yet,” he says of his code-learning process. “There was definitely some acclamation with getting used to some initial discomfort and learning to trust the process.”
Though Pete had the chance to still work full-time during the entirety of his NSS experience, it also proved to be more difficult than he thought. “It was certainly challenging to continually put in the hours and the energy required to succeed. But, I was motivated so the satisfaction of seeing my own progress inspired me to keep going,” he smiles.
Like any skill, software development takes patience and time to master. Interacting with your instructors and classmates will help you process the concepts you're starting to understand more fully. And don't be afraid to ask for help. Chances are you're not the first person to struggle with whatever issue you're currently facing.
Black Food Nashville is Pete’s front-end capstone that lets users discover and promote Black-owned restaurants in the Nashville area. “I had the idea after seeing multiple posts on social media promoting local Black-owned businesses that were normally in the form of screenshots or lists,” he explains. “I thought that an app where users could search for businesses in their neighborhood and use direct links to order food might result in more support by making the whole process more convenient.”
The application was built using React.js, Firebase, and integrated API’s from MapQuest and Yelp. Users can use filter results by food types and adjust their search radius by miles. Once a user finds a restaurant they like, they can save it to their favorites. Users can also add restaurants to the application, which gets approved by an admin before being stored in the app’s database. The Yelp API that Pete used helps keep the information about the restaurants accurate in the application. “The app currently has almost 100 restaurants in the database, but my hope is that amount could grow as users submit more businesses,” he shares.
For his back-end capstone, Pete created ChatSync, a “spoiler-preventing” application that features integrated chat rooms where users can schedule watch-parties and create group chats with friends who like to regularly chat about TV shows or sports games they enjoy. “I've had multiple touchdowns or goals ruined for me by text messages sent from well-meaning excited friends over the years who may be watching the same game I am but are ‘ahead’ of me,” Pete laughs. “So I built-in a feature that automatically calculates the difference between the feed that each user is watching and delays incoming messages for each user that is ‘behind’ another, in order to prevent them from seeing spoilers.”
Pete built ChatSync using React.js, RESTful API, Firebase, Python, and Django. “To implement the time offset feature, I created a reusable 'message' component in React with its own internal function that handled determining when each message should display on a user's screen,” he explains. “In the end, it was really satisfying to get all the different pieces to work together successfully.”
Since graduating, Pete has been building on his coding skills with a React Native course. He’s also taking on side-projects to keep his skills sharp, such as developing an application for his friend that allows life-coaches to keep track of accumulated hours for certifications while managing their client’s and booking sessions. “It's something that will hopefully satisfy a need, and it's something that I'm excited to be creating right now,” he smiles.
Pete shares he is soon starting as a paid apprentice at Accenture in their application development program. “My goal throughout my career is to always become a better developer with each week, month, and year than I was the week, month, or year before.”
Software development was a natural pivot for me. It lights up a lot of the same parts of my brain that music production and audio engineering has for many years, due to the similarities in the creative and problem solving abilities that is required. The skill set may be new, but the mental process is familiar.
Check out all the recent grads at Full-time Web Development 42's class website and hear the graduates share their experience at NSS and capstone projects in their podcasts below.