Learning the Craft of Full Stack Development | Graduate Spotlight

The path to a career in web development is different for everyone. Today we talk with two graduates from Evening Cohort 5. Sharon brought her career full circle and Heather was looking for a new challenge. They spent a year together with their classmates learning the craft of full stack software development.

Sharon Smith

Nashville Software School graduate Sharon Smith Sharon Smith has had several different roles during her career, but at the core, they all center around the same themes: problem-solving, teamwork, and collaboration. Throughout attending NSS’s part-time web development bootcamp as a part of Evening Cohort 5, Sharon was working for a local nonprofit called Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH). NOAH’s mission is to give a voice to traditionally marginalized populations on issues with affordable housing, criminal justice, and economic equality. Before that, Sharon was a high school math teacher. But coming to NSS has brought her career full circle. With a degree in Computer Science and Mathematics from Vanderbilt and NSS’s web development bootcamp, Sharon was able to bridge the gap between the computer science theory she learned in college and current languages and technologies.

Even with a background in computer science, there were still roadblocks along the way. Sharon explained, “A lot of the coding to put together a full stack application is very different from the sort of coding that I was experienced in. A lot of full stack coding involves managing all the different pieces talking to each other and debugging those errors when something is broken. Quite unlike all the self-contained procedural programs I had written that were meant to solve puzzles, work mazes, explore data structures or algorithms, simulate machine code, dip into AI…computer-sciency stuff. The logic and skill set required to build a full-stack application is altogether different.”

For her front-end capstone, Sharon built an app for Tennessee’s first cohousing community, Germantown Commons. The application, called Common Meals, facilitates the scheduling of resident dinners two or three times per week. Residents can schedule a meal, be assigned to a cook team, and sign-up to attend a meal. The app was built using AngularJS, JavaScript, Bootstrap, Sass, CSS, HTML, and Grunt, with Firebase housing the data.

Sharon’s back-end capstone, Nash Freelance Connects, helps connect freelance professionals, nonprofits, and other resources. Freelancers (users) can “like” other freelancers and view a list of the freelancers who have “liked” them. Nonprofits can post events and freelancers can view and register for events. The app was built using C#, ASP.NET Web API, SQL, AngularJS, Bootstrap/Bulma, and CSS.

Sharon shared some great advice for current and prospective students.

Do all the required advance prep.
Do all the homework.
Don't fall behind.
Don't be shy about asking for help.
Never Give Up.

Sharon is still serving with NOAH while searching for her first job as a software developer. She is digging deeper into software development by reading The Pragmatic Programmer and following a few computer science blogs. She’s actively working through code challenges on Coderbyte and creating a plan for features to add or revisit on her capstones. Sharon is also very interested in QA and intends to grow her unit testing, LINQ, and SQL skills. She also wants to learn React, Elm, Ember, and explore functional programming. It’s clear that Sharon wants to learn a lot more about development for the rest of her career!

Check out Sharon’s interview with Clark Buckner about her NSS journey and visit her portfolio site.

Heather Thacker

Nashville Software School graduate Heather Thacker Heather is an award-winning baker specializing in bread and pastries. She was ready for a new challenge. She shared, “the process of practicing and evolving a craft drew me to software development.” She chose NSS for the part-time evening program, the reputation, and the built-in network of supportive developers. As a member of Evening Cohort 5, the most difficult part of getting through the program for Heather was working full-time in addition to class, study group, and homework. But building relationships with her classmates made the experience worth it.

Heather encourages fellow students to “keep looking and holding on to the things that excite you in learning and practicing!”

Heather’s front-end capstone, Crust and Crumb, is an app for recording recipes that allows you to scale the recipe for larger crowd. The app was built with AngularJS, Bootstrap, and Sass, with Firebase as the database.

Her back-end capstone, called Stretcher, generates a series of yoga stretches. Users can create goals, keep a log of their stretches, and record notes after practicing the stretches. The app was built with C#/.NET, WebAPI, AngularJS, Bootstrap, MySQL/LINQ, and Entity Framework.

Heather is most interested in finding a full stack developer position. She enjoys front-end development because styling is a little more intuitive. However, she finds back-end development more challenging and wants to go deeper into data analysis and SQL.

Currently, Heather is going deeper into JavaScript and C#/.NET while starting to translate her skills to React, Python, and Ruby.

Listen to Heather share more about her capstones with Clark Buckner and visit her portfolio site.

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 Evening Cohort 5’s class website.

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