LaunchCoder Q&A With Jeff & Jane

Jane, from Kansas City, and Jeff, from St. Louis, met in the middle of their two hometowns during college at the University of Missouri-Columbia. A few years and many adventures later, Jeff saw an online posting for LaunchCode Kansas City’s free CS50x course in the Spring of 2016. The course was free and only six blocks from their home, so with nothing to lose, they signed up. After completing the course and attending a LaunchCode HappyHire networking and interview event, Jane landed an ongoing apprenticeship at Kansas City startup SET-Works. Meanwhile, Jeff has been using his newly-expanded skills in his day job as a front-end developer. He has also gone on to pay it forward as a teaching fellow in LaunchCode’s latest course, LC101. They’ve even recruited some friends to sign up for other LaunchCode courses!

How did the reality of class differ from your expectations?

So much — it was way more information than we expected, and the pace of the class from start (learning C programming language) to the end (web development) was grueling, to say the least.

Can you tell us about a highlight from class?

During a “Tech Extra” segment in the first month or so of class, where the professor has you sign up for presentations on any project you’re working on, Jeff presented his Arduino project. It’s a cat laser cannon that uses simple coding of Arduino robotics components with a microcontroller, input and output that can be controlled with a motor.

LaunchCode helped me get back into the swing of learning after college, and taught me that I truly am excited to be a life-long learner.

How was LaunchCode helpful to you?

Jane: It helped me land my dream job with an amazing company! Jeff: LaunchCode helped me get back into the swing of learning after college, and taught me that I truly am excited to be a life-long learner.

Is LaunchCode important for Kansas City?

LaunchCode is important for KC because we are on the tipping point of becoming a major player on the national tech field. Increased support for learning in the field of programming means that we’ll become more known as a feeder city for all those technology-driven jobs! SET-works creates software for people who work with intellectually disabled people and helps them monitor their casework. I feel the like the things I do there help the community by helping those people become more effective in their jobs.

Jeff, what inspired you to mentor the next class?

Both to get better at Python and to help others have the awesome learning experience we enjoyed!

What would be your advice to someone interested in signing up for LaunchCode’s next class cohort?

I’d recommend anyone doing this. Be aware it takes a lot of work — it’s a challenge. Get a coding buddy! This is hard, and it helps so much to have someone close to you taking the class and sharing in this crazy hard, rewarding experience.

Jane, tell us about your new position!

Currently, I am an Apprentice with the best company in the world: SET-Works! It’s a small KC-based startup specializing in the creation and support of software for staff who work with the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) community. I am learning every day, answering support tickets, taking part in conference calls with clients, and learning more about what it means to be a computer engineer.

What is the job environment like?

I am working with the three engineers on Agile development and support of SET-Works. We are a tiny company — I am only the seventh employee! We work in a space called Cowork Waldo, and sometimes the engineers work remotely. I work with all the engineers in person, in the office, via instant messaging, email, video conferencing and conference calls. We use a program called FreshDesk to manage support tickets for the SET-Works program.

LaunchCode gave me the confidence I needed to seek out a job in the tech industry, and provided the network support I needed to connect with a fabulous company that needs my skill set!

Do you feel LaunchCode prepared you well?

Participating in LaunchCode gave me the confidence I needed to seek out a job in the tech industry, and provided the network support I needed to connect with a fabulous company that needs my skill set.

What one thing you learned in class has proven most useful on the job?

Iterative development! Thanks to Eddie [our course instructor] for stressing that point time and time again in our class! Taking things bit by bit, and breaking a problem up into its most simple building blocks has been an incredibly useful tool to add to my problem-solving toolbox.

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