Graduate Spotlight | Thom, Bernie, Jamie & Chris

Last week we spoke with Sandy Jones, Odigene Joseph, and Matt Bruton. Many of our students attend a bootcamp as a way to change their career. Some even do so after having been successful in another field for 10-20 years. Today we catch up with our final 4 graduates of Cohort 15 and Evening 3. We’ve enjoyed sharing the stories of our January 2017 graduates and look forward to sharing more stories with you in the future.

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.

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

Thom Shavor

Thom has been in healthcare for over 20 years and was looking to add more technical skills to move his career forward. With a background in data analysis and data management, he wanted a better understanding of programming and the developer lifecycle and joined NSS. A part of Cohort 15, Thom fought through Imposter Syndrome most of the time. Despite assurances from John Wark, and instructors, Steve Brownlee and Joe Shepherd, it wasn’t until the last few weeks of the course that Thom really understood that “we all learn at different paces.”

The stress of learning at his own pace took its toll on Thom’s confidence, but eventually it all came together. Thom’s favorite part of NSS was realizing that you CAN depend on others for help and support. This taught him to be a good teammate and to be aware of those that needed help.

Thom’s advice for future students?

  • Make sure that you complete and understand all of your pre-work!
  • Ask LOTS of questions in class
  • Try to be friendly to everyone you meet
  • Don’t be afraid to break things (really)
  • Learn GitHub really well and “push it up” often!

For his front-end capstone, Thom built a vinyl record collection app called The Vinyl Countdown (credit goes to Joe Shepherd for the awesome app name). He created the app to organize his extensive vinyl record collection of more than 3500 records. The application performs a user-defined search for albums, allows users to save albums to their collection and utilizes Angular, jQuery, and the Last.FM API.

Thom’s back-end capstone is called Data Dashboard. He wanted to build an app that showcased his ability to manipulate large groups of data. For his data source, Thom used a SQL database of disease statistics. The app allows the user to display selected public health data (year, state, disease) from over 10 million records.

In his free time, Thom is building a personal website, taking some online courses in SQL, and working to learn the rest of the Microsoft Business Intelligence Suite (SSIS, SSAS, SSRS).

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

Bernie Anderson

Bernie grew up around computers. His family’s first computer was an Atari 1200XL! In middle school, he had his first exposure to programming when he learned to make simple programs in BASIC and Pascal on the Apple IIe. Fast forward to high school, his family got an IBM 386 clone and Bernie was amazed at the hardware add-ons, programs, and games this modern PC had to offer. He really wanted to start making his own applications, but since this was before the Internet, he had trouble finding resources to learn. In college, he wanted to major in a computer-related field, but was told “software developers won’t be needed in the future.” He chose chemistry instead and stayed current on computer technology as a hobby.

In 2015 his wife was looking to change her career and found NSS. However, Bernie wasn’t convinced that 6 months was enough time to become a developer. Bernie shared, “It only took about a month of her being in the program before I was extremely jealous, as she was already able to do things I always wanted to do!” After seeing his wife succeed, Bernie decided to join Evening Cohort 3.

I can honestly say my wife got it right choosing NSS over other programs, as NSS has the most solid curriculum, stable group of quality instructors, and shows unparalleled support of the students both before, during and after the program.

The hardest part of the program for Bernie was losing his Saturday mornings and having two late evenings a week. It was a burden for his wife and kids, but what Bernie gained in knowledge and experience was worth the sacrifice for him and his family.

He loved the amount of support he continually received from the instructors and his fellow classmates. The evening experience is unique as students are working full time jobs and coming to class. Bernie shared, “The NSS instructors understand that the students have already had a full day prior to showing up for class. They went above and beyond providing educational and personal motivation when the students needed it. Also, my classmates were there supporting one another with meetings outside of class for additional one-on-one support. The amount of care shown by everyone throughout the twelve months really motivated me and made me excited about transitioning into the development community.”

Bernie encourages students to get familiar with the developer network sites. “Just browsing those sites gives you an idea what the different languages can do. I found many things on the MDN/MSDN I didn’t realize JavaScript and C# already had built-in and were capable of doing. Having a general idea of what a language can do will make it easier when planning out your projects and open multiple pathways to their successful completion.”

For his front-end capstone, Bernie built a mini finance app with the ability to print checks. He was not happy with the cost and platform of the software currently available to print checks. Cheque-Yourself was built with AngularJS, the JS Filesaver library, the Chart.js library, and the Stanford University JavaScript Crypto Library for data file encryption.

Bernie’s back-end capstone utilized some older IP webcams he had to monitor his home. Eyes On The Net evolved into an application where both public and private internet accessible cameras can have their images captured and stored for viewing at a later time. It was built with .NET Core (in Linux) and Angular 2 with TypeScript. A standalone MySQL server was used for Db storage and JSON Web Tokens for user authentication.

On Demo Day, Bernie met a hiring manager through fellow classmates who suggested the two meet. The hiring manager had a job opening that was not widely posted. The combination of this initial contact and recommendations of others helped Bernie secure the interview and kept him on the hiring manager’s radar. Bernie’s advice for the job search? “The NSS crew is constantly talking about the importance of networking… and they are correct. Go to meetups and talk to everyone as you don’t know who can help you in your job search or who may be looking to hire for an unadvertised position.”

Check out Bernie’s profile.

Jamie Duke

Jamie had lived his whole life in Arizona and was a medical equipment technician delivering medical equipment to homes prior to NSS. He was ready for a career change and had dreams of getting into game development. After talking with a few friends who are game developers, they suggested he attend a bootcamp. Jamie chose NSS since his wife has family in Nashville that could assist with their two small children while Jamie went to bootcamp. He also liked that NSS provides education on both front-end and back-end development and he loved being a part of a cohort.

You get close and learn to support one another during that 6 months. Regardless of what everyone's capabilities are, there is always someone to turn to if you're having trouble. You basically walk out on graduation day with a whole slew of new friends.

Jamie’s biggest struggle was JavaScript. He admitted that he still struggles with it, but has identified what he needs to work on and continues to build on his understanding of the concepts. He advises future students, “It’s a wild ride; be ready for it!”

Jamie’s front-end capstone is a Crud app called Bro Night which helps plan a game night with the guys. It allows users to create a list of their games, assign genres, and identify the number of players for the game. Users can then create a party with friends and see a list of games from their friends’ lists to choose the game for that night.

For his back-end capstone, Jamie built an app called WhereYouAt to track logistics. It was inspired by his previous job as a medical equipment technician. The app allows technicians to log patient name, address, equipment delivered and add notes about the delivery. This would then allow dispatch to see where the driver was in his delivery schedule and reduce the number of calls between dispatch and the driver.

Now that bootcamp is over, Jamie and his family plan to stay in TN. He’s currently networking, applying for jobs, building up his knowledge through self study, being a full-time dad, and answering robo-calls hoping it’s a call about a job opportunity. (Talk about a let down when you hear that automated voice come on the line).

Listen to Jamie’s interview with Clark Buckner about his journey and check out Jamie’s profile.

Chris Smalley

While getting his MBA, Chris took a few computer science classes and loved them. He went on to be a successful outside sales executive. Despite his success, he could not shake his love for his computer science classes in college. So Chris began to research local bootcamps and found NSS.

I loved how NSS was nonprofit, 6-months, and opened to serve the need of more developers in Middle Tennessee. However, I still didn't have the means to pay for the program so I applied for the apprentice scholarship. I am so thankful that NSS provided me with that opportunity, because otherwise I would still be stuck in a career I would never be passionate about.

Building his capstones were Chris’s favorite part of NSS. He worked harder on his capstones than anything else in his life. He exclaimed, “No matter how stressed I got, I wanted to keep working! Just seeing my projects come together and knowing ‘Hey I built this,’ gave me a feeling like no other. I got a natural high seeing my code go from idea to reality.”

For his front-end capstone, Chris built a wedding registry web application called wedReg. It allows multiple people to contribute to a big ticket item on a couple’s wedding registry. It was built with Firebase, AngularJS, jQuery, and the Amazon Advertising API.

Chris’s back-end capstone is a simple cash-based POS system, called Cash Drawer, for small business owners. The application keeps track of inventory, generates sales reports, and allows you to ring up customers. It was built with AngularJS on the front-end and .NET API for data management and persistence.

Chris tells new students not to be afraid to ask for help. Your instructors and TAs are their to help you. He recently started his new job as a Java Developer that he found through a lead from the NSS team. Congrats Chris!

Listen to Chris’s interview with Clark Buckner about his capstone projects and check out Chris’s profile.

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