Becoming A Web Development Instructor

Nov 1, 2022
Caroline Madison

My Journey To A Fulfilling Career

At the start of the pandemic, Nashville Software School went fully remote. I was a student then, finishing up my last two weeks of server side. Our instructional team approved our capstones, and we were sent home to complete them virtually over Zoom. We never returned to the building.

In the following weeks, we presented our capstones in front of employers. Friends and family were invited to graduation. They cheered us on from their living rooms across the nation as John Wark called our names one by one, and at the conclusion, he told us our certificates and goodie boxes for being the newest group of graduates to enter the Nashville tech scene would arrive in the mail. Life had changed forever for all of us, students and staff, in more ways than we could have imagined.

On May 4, 2020, I started my first junior developer job at eviCore Healthcare where I worked remotely as a full-stack engineer until I left in July 2022 to return to Nashville Software School as a senior instructor. It is an absolute honor to now sit on the other side of the table as a coach.

I remember my experience as a student well. The changes and growth I have been awarded since has paid off not only for my career, but my personal life. It wasn’t an easy journey. Software development is hard, but with the right mindset and aptitude, it can be achieved. I’m more comfortable with JavaScript now; the projects our students build are like old friends. I can read it clearly, but when I was a student at NSS, reading code was like reading a newspaper in a foreign language. It felt impossible.

This far on the other side of graduation, now leading cohorts through the first three months of their bootcamp, has got to be one of the most fulfilling gigs I’ve ever done next to being a mom.

My job is to help adult learners believe in their ability to change their entire life by taking a leap of faith in themselves on their journey.

On a daily basis, I watch people go through the same program I did in 2019. From my own experience, I know on the other side of NSS, their life might be totally different. With many graduates experiencing a significant salary increase in their first tech job compared to what they were earning prior to NSS, life may be better. Safer. More comfortable. Secure. Mine was. For a parent, that’s everything. My job is to remind each of my students that their growth and outcome will depend on the amount of effort they’re willing to put in. They just have to show up and try. I encourage, guide, and motivate each of them to reach their full potential by making progress and adapting to change.

The code we introduce at NSS isn’t rocket science, but for beginners to JavaScript who are working with databases and in the terminal for the first time, it’s a mental and emotional process. People have to squash their egos and accept that for once, as smart as they may be, they aren’t smarter than their computer. If you code it right, it behaves well. If you code it wrong, it breaks. Software development is like working with a picky, rude, and unforgiving child.

Watching my students write a function for the first time is like watching them try to light a campfire with a rock and a stick. It reminded me of teaching my kids to sing the whole alphabet while washing their hands. “Don’t skip steps. Know what you’re doing. Take ownership. Take your time. Forgive yourself. Work hard. Work well with others. Learn. Grow.”

The absolute best part of my job is when I see a spark catch fire inside of a student. They start getting it. They grasp new concepts and learn a new skill that will reward them substantially when they graduate. I love being a part of the process and the opportunity Nashville Software School provides in helping people improve their quality of life. These are mothers and fathers. Sons and daughters. Coworkers. Friends. I couldn’t imagine a more fulfilling career.

Topics: Learning, Community, Web Development