We’re catching up with some of our alumni and they’re sharing advice for our students and recent graduates.
Pete Dunlap transitioned from a high school science teacher to a full-stack Rails developer after completing our web development bootcamp as a part of Cohort 3. He shared, “Without NSS I certainly could not have gotten a job as a developer.”
He offered some great advice for graduates looking for their first development role.
“Don’t give up! Also, don’t hesitate to take a job tangential to you current skill-set, you never know where it will lead. It is all about confidence. No one knows or cares that there is some feature in your demo app that doesn’t work. No need to highlight what isn’t working. Sell me on your process for tackling new tasks and overcoming hurdles.”
Pete has learned a lot since he graduated NSS. The biggest lesson he’s learned is to flip his approach when working with existing code. As a newbie, Pete started fast and ended slow. He explained, “I’d be quick to look at a previous developer’s code and make quick and over-simplistic judgments about their code. Then I would make quick fixes that sometimes resulted in wasted effort. That meant implementing multiple versions of the code I need to write.”
Pete now likes to start slow and end fast. “I spend more time trying to understand why the code is in its current state and how best to implement my feature. Then when it is time to write the code, I am able to write the code and tests quickly based on better architectural planning from the beginning.”
Coding this way (start slow, end fast) gives me a deeper understanding of the code base and allows me to learn more from different architecture strategies.
Pete is currently starting his own business called Digital Detangler. “Digital Detangler was created to help people and organizations learn how to encourage productive, mindful use of technology while avoiding the common pitfalls that sap energy and create panic,” he stated. “I accomplish these ends by giving talks, workshops, and individualized sessions on a range of topics that include social media, mindfulness, power users, and restyling the internet.” Pete’s idea for Digital Detangler was inspired by several factors in his life. He was a late adopter to smartphones, has worked as a personal organizer, and learned the craft of software development. His new tech skills enabled him to use his computer much more efficiently and now he uses tools like RescueTime, IFTTT, and Chrome extensions to stay productive and minimize the distractions.
Pete loved his time at NSS and stays involved as an alumni. In fact, Pete was the ping pong champion at the alumni’s tournament this summer. “NSS and John Wark changed my life,” exclaimed Pete. “I moved to Nashville several years ago with only a vague idea of how to get from being a classroom science teacher to a more technical position. Fortunately, John Wark allowed me to join Cohort 3, which acted as a catalyst for my career. The instructors, Chyld Medford and Eliza Brock, were both tremendously skilled developers in their own right. They also possessed the ability to transmit technical knowledge quickly and digestibly. Through their coaching and a recommendation from a fellow member of my cohort, I got a job within weeks of finishing NSS. I have since felt a deep sense of gratitude to NSS for supercharging my career transition. I may have been able to achieve something similar, but it would probably have taken a decade, not six months. The final reason I stay involved with NSS is that it is a non-profit and the people who run it are great people, who get to know you and are always rooting for you. I cannot say enough good things about John Wark and NSS.”