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Alumni Stories

Beyond the Bootcamp: Sharnie Ivery, Spotify

Changing His Life and Career with Code

Josh Hirshfeld / 28 March 2017
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In our Beyond the Bootcamp series, we chat with members of our alumni community about their career journeys. What new roles have they taken on since graduating from Flatiron School? How did they get to where they are now? What advice do they have for new programmers following in their footsteps?

Sharnie Ivery has had quite the career reinvention. Before Flatiron School, Sharnie had an unfulfilling role “working in a warehouse, picking up groceries, putting them on a power jack, loading them onto a truck. I hated it.” Learning to code allowed Sharnie to turn his career around. He now works as a software engineer at Spotify, building features for artists and loving his career.

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Learning to Code

For Sharnie, programming started as a hobby. He used code to build his personal website and customize his MySpace page, but he didn’t realize that one could make a career out of programming. Sharnie spoke with a programmer who would occasionally work on tech issues for the warehouse. He told Sharnie about the amazing career opportunities in tech, but said that companies will only take you seriously if you go to school. “I decided to go to a community school in upstate New York – and I stayed there about a month,” he says, disheartened to learn that they were only teaching “super outdated HTML.” Shortly after that, Sharnie found Flatiron School.

Takeaway #1
Sharnie’s advice for code newbies is to focus on building things. According to Sharnie, even if you don’t have the technical knowledge yet, “you’re motivated by this thing you want to build and that’s going to push you to watch videos on YouTube or read tutorials on how to do a certain things or how to play with Amazon Web Services. And maybe five months later, you’ll realize how far you’ve come and how much you’ve learned. And you have this cool thing that you built!”

The Flatiron School Experience

Sharnie says a four year computer science degree didn’t seem like the right fit for him. “It was too slow,” he says. “I wanted to be in a tech company fast. It was very clear to me that a bootcamp was the right choice – to be around people who are super smart who are going to teach you exactly what these tech companies need in engineers.” For Sharnie, Flatiron School felt like the “right place to be for me; there was just something that kind of made me feel comfortable going to Flatiron School.”

His favorite part of the experience was spending eight to ten hours a day around “people who are just super motivated to achieve the same goal –  it’s kind of like a mastermind for engineers. I really enjoyed just being around those people and coming in every day, doing the work and just knowing that eventually we’d all land awesome jobs in tech.” Being around all those people, according to Sharnie, pushes you to go beyond average and “to just be great. Even now at Spotify, I try to do a little bit more than what’s expected of me.”

Takeaway #2
Sharnie’s advice for new programmers considering Flatiron School: “Reach out to people that you know went to Flatiron School. Go to Flatiron meetups, get to know people there. And just be prepared. Don’t say you want to be a software engineer but you’ve never written ‘Hello world!’ in HTML or JavaScript. Do some learning on your own first.”

Life at Spotify

Sharnie’s first job out of Flatiron School was as a software engineer at BounceX (home to Flatiron alum Sam Owens, who we profiled earlier in this series). After leaving that role, he considering going a more entrepreneurial route until he heard from a friend at Spotify that they were accepting applications for a new fellowship program. “I didn’t really expect much of it but I decided to go for it anyways and then, you know, the rest was history,” he says. “They decided to bring me on and we went through six months being embedded in the team here at Spotify that works mainly on the artist page and artist identity.” After those six month, Spotify offered to bring Sharnie on as a full-time software engineer. He currently works on building features that help artists manage their presences across the entire Spotify platform.

For Sharnie, the biggest surprise he had in his software engineering career so far was learning how important it is to have a “business mindset.” As he explains, “Overall, it’s just good to have that kind of mindset because it helps you, when you’re writing code, get the company to the next level, really. You’re not just writing code to make the platform pretty or move faster. Ultimately, the company needs to make more money.”

Takeaway #3
The ultimate quality that Sharnie feels can help software engineers excel in their careers is to never feel complacent about learning and improving oneself. “I’m proud of my accomplishments,” he says, “but I never feel content, I guess. I never say, ‘I just did this awesome thing; let me stop going.’ I always think of ways I can improve whatever it is that I’m doing, and that’s the reason why I never stopped building. I want to learn as much as I can because the more you know the more you grow. I’d say that I was willing to spend an extra hour before I go to sleep to learn something or continue building because I know that there’s benefits to doing that.”

What’s next for Sharnie?

“I’m shooting for a 30 under 30 in Forbes,” Sharnie laughs. “I’d say I’m just going to learn as much as I can here at Spotify and try to be a great contributor to the company.” Beyond that, Sharnie still feels an entrepreneurial drive. “The next step most likely will be starting my own company because there’s kind of a burning desire deep within me to be an entrepreneur. I have big things planned for the future as well we people that I’d like to help.”


Ready to start your own programming journey? The best way to get started is our free Bootcamp Prep course. Stay tuned for more installments of “Beyond the Bootcamp”!

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