Graduate Spotlight | Matt & Ryan

Last week we spoke with Delaine Wendling and Chris Barrett. For many of our students, finding a career they love is the driving force for applying to NSS. This week we hear from Matt and Ryan. They both started to learn development on their own and decided to fast track their learning at NSS.

Be sure to listen to all of the graduates talk to our friend, Clark Buckner, about their journey into development and about their experience at NSS. And stay tuned for more Graduate Spotlights.

Check out all of the recent grads on the Cohort 15 class website and the Cohort E3 class website.

Matt Hamil

While pursuing a marketing degree in college, Matt decided he wanted to focus on digital marketing. As he researched digital marketing careers, he discovered that it would be beneficial to learn a bit of programming. While finishing his degree, he started learning some programming in his free time with online courses and even enrolled in a computer science course at school. By the time Matt graduated, he realized he wanted a career in web development and less so in digital marketing. While listening to an episode of the JavaScript Jabber podcast, he heard an NSS alumna talk about her bootcamp experience. After speaking with her further, Matt decided NSS was the place for him.

As a part of Cohort 15, the toughest roadblocks for Matt were mental. With all that you can learn about programming right at your fingertips on the internet, it was important for Matt to stay focused and remind himself that you do not have to learn everything. Matt shared, “The most important skill to learn is problem solving.”

Matt’s front-end capstone is a Spotify companion app called Brainify that helps users build smarter playlists. His inspiration for the app went back to building playlists with his college roommates. They had themed playlists that they shared and added songs amongst each other. The rule was to only add songs that fit with the theme of the playlist, i.e. metal, jazz, disco funk etc. One roommate tried to add the Eagles to a disco funk playlist and the song just didn’t fit. With Brainify, app users can ask, “I like ‘Take It Easy’ by the Eagles, would this song fit in any of my playlists?” The app will then make a prediction based on the songs currently in each playlist. The app was built with Angular 1.58, Firebase, and Synaptic.js neural network library.

For his back-end capstone, Matt built an app to help organizations post open volunteer opportunities. Users are able to log into the app, called Community, and quickly sign up for volunteer opportunities. The app also allows event organizers and users signed up for that event to communicate with each other in a chatroom. Community was built with React and Redux on the front-end and C#/ASP.NET on the back-end.

Matt loved bonding with his cohort, from weekly socials to learning how each other solved a problem. His advice to current students? “Always be coding. No side project is too small.” He also encourages graduates to be confident in their abilities during interviews; “Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know.’”

I’ve found my passions in the form of great user experiences, accessibility, and understanding what makes users tick.

Matt is now working for a behavioral analytics company and believes NSS prepared him for success on the job. He continues to learn and code in his free time.

Listen to Matt’s interview with Clark Buckner about his journey from marketing to development and check out Matt’s profile.

Ryan Bliton

After studying Japanese, Asian studies, and linguistics in college, Ryan began his career as an English teacher in Japan. His interest in gaming sparked his interest in creating his own games with Unity3D. After returning to the US and working retail for several years, Ryan wanted to take his development skills to the next level. He built a few projects on his own, but realized he would learn better with a class structure, curriculum, classmates, and deadlines. He decided to enroll in NSS’s part-time evening program with Evening Cohort 3.

I decided that it was time to take my skills to the next level and become a professional problem solver.

Throughout his journey at NSS, Ryan loved building connections with classmates and continues to be involved in the Nashville development community. His enthusiasm for development is evident when he shares his work. As a team player, Ryan takes ownership of his part of the project and helps his teammates when they are stuck.

For his front-end capstone, Ryan built an app called ABCquest: Always Be Questing. He wanted to build a microtransaction-based game without actually charging money. Instead of money, the game runs on GitHub commits which turn into gold points to fuel the never-ending quest to slay more orgs. The game was built with HTML, CSS, Angular, and JavaScript.

Ryan’s back-end capstone project is an app he uses in his everyday life. As a yogi, he wanted an app to build his own customizable yoga session. Your Practice Builder allows yogis to build their own sessions by selecting the poses and duration for each pose. It then turns the customized session into a slideshow that you can operate from your laptop with each pose and duration. Your Practice Builder was built with C#, ASP.NET, Bootstrap, and Angular.

Currently Ryan is focusing on a second iteration of his projects he built while at NSS. Since seeing and understanding the need for Java developers, he plans to port his backend for ABCquest from Firebase to Java. Ryan is also prioritizing specific demands he encounters during his job search, including exposing himself to new technologies, preparing for code tests, and staying relevant with new technologies at meetups around town.

Listen to Ryan’s interview with Clark Buckner about his NSS experience and check out Ryan’s profile.

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