From the Nashville music industry manager to software engineer; here's how the junior back end developer learned how to code.
By Rachel Ann Werner (Junior Back End Developer, iostudio)
At 15, I learned how to build websites, tinkering with FrontPage. In college, I started a business and built an e-commerce website, selling handbags and accessories that I purchased at downtown LA fashion sample sales. My first job out of college was with a radio conglomerate of three stations, where I learned how to work as part of a team and how to project manage two station website redesigns.
For the last six years, my heart and mind have been fully invested in Nashville’s music industry where I have had the honor of managing and marketing various artists’ careers. While being an artist manager, I needed to learn how to build more complex websites on a budget. I honed my HMTL and CSS skills in the customization of many WordPress websites. Naturally for me, this led to starting my own freelance web design business, Carousel Interactive, helping talented but financially strapped artists and small businesses get a quality presence on the web.
In the fall of 2013, I decided it was time to REALLY learn how to program and enrolled into an intensive study at Nashville Software School. I quickly discovered that programming was something I really liked and has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I also felt compelled to share my enthusiasm with both, my friends and fellow lady-folk and thus co-founded the Nashville chapter of Girl Geek Dinners, an organization that encourages young women into technology careers.
How Did You Get Your Current Job?
I found my current job with iostudio through being involved with the Nashville Software School, and getting out there and meeting people at programming user groups.
I can’t say that my current career as a backend developer is something I always knew I wanted. I love what I do now and I enjoy it very much, but if you asked me a two years ago if I thought I could do this for a living, I would have told you, “yeah right”.
I think I believed it was not attainable and that I couldn’t do it. I managed to stumble across Hackbright Academy and saw that they were teaching women that had never programmed before. It was at this point I believed it was possible for me to learn. Even though I couldn’t attend Hackbright in San Francisco, I chose to attended the Nashville Software School in Nashville, Tennessee that impressed the same ideals and it was the best, challenging, most empowering 6 months of my life.
My ultimate goal now is to program for iOS and Android. I am really excited about mobile apps and apps made for Interactive Television (i.e. Roku and Amazon Fire).
What’s a Typical Day Like as a Software Engineer?
A typical day for me involves getting familiar with the technology stack of a client project and then working as part of the “Firefighting Team” (a team that tackles fixing all the bugs and broken things on all client websites) to ensure that the users have seamless access the sites they are visiting. Since I’m a newbie, I have been spending my time getting familiar with the Symfony framework, MySQL, PHP, deploying to amazon and learning the best practices of Git merges/pushes.
For someone starting to learn more about back-end development I suggest learning an object-oriented language but also getting familiar with relational databases and MVC (Model, View & Controller).
Resources that I found helpful are:
Web: • Lynda • Michael Hartl’s Rail Tutorial • CodeSchool
Books: • Computer Science Programming Basics in Ruby – David Grossman, Ophir Frieder, Gideon Frieder • Ruby Under The Microscope – Pat Shaughnessy
What Would You Tell Your Younger Self?
1. Major in Computer Science!! 2. Saying you could never do something will be proven to be true because you believe it.
Try saying you CAN do something and see what happens!
This post originally appeared on Hackbright Academy.
About the blogger: Rachel Ann Werner is a junior back-end developer at iostudio, a creative marketing resource with offices in Nashville, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C. She was a graphic and web designer previously, and artist manager in the music industry. Here is her story.