Alumni Stories

From Classics to Coding: One Alum’s Unexpected Career Switch

Josh Hirshfeld / 15 November 2016
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With a background in Classics and entertainment, Savannah Scott isn’t necessarily someone you’d expect to become a web developer. Then again, if you ask Savannah whether there are any similarities between coding and Classics, she’ll tell you, “You’d be surprised.”  

Savannah was kind enough to chat with us in her brief window between finishing our Online Web Developer Program and starting her new job as an Associate Software Engineer at influencer marketing platform Thuzio. Take a look at our conversation below.

Can you tell us a bit more about what you were pursuing before learning to code? What drew you to Classics and working in television?

After graduating from Colgate with a degree in Classics, I knew I wanted a creative career path, but I wasn’t exactly sure what that would entail. I spent two years in luxury jewelry, and ultimately made the transition into television because I enjoy great storytelling. I love when a series ropes you in and the plot slowly unfolds over time, and wanted to be a part of that process.

It seems like a cool industry to be a part of—so what inspired you to switch paths and learn to code?

savannah scott 3

Savannah looking toward the future in her shades.

While television fulfilled me creatively, I was still missing an outlet for my analytical problem solving skills. I started googling things like “careers for creative problem solvers who love languages,” and one of the hits led me to a free introductory coding course. Shortly after that, I found myself printing “Hello World” onto an otherwise blank page. From there, I was hooked!

What brought you to Flatiron School’s Online Web Developer Program in particular?

I spent a month or two devouring whatever free online coding courses I could find, after which time I decided that this was absolutely something I had to pursue. I started researching coding bootcamps and course offerings, and ultimately decided on Flatiron School’s Online Web Developer Program because of the community element.

I was working full time, so I knew that learning online was the best option for me, but I also wanted to make sure that I didn’t feel isolated or alone. I wanted classmates and peers, and I knew that having access to instructors would be incredibly important along the way. The way that the Learn.co platform is set up introduced me to fellow students, and gave me almost around-the-clock access to instructors whenever I needed help. I tested out the free introductory course and, when I had finished, I missed it so much that I knew I had to apply to the full Online Web Developer Program!

Can you walk us through an average day of learning to code on Learn.co? Were you studying full-time? Balancing with a job?

As I was working through Flatiron’s Full Stack Web Development curriculum on Learn.co, I also had to balance a full-time job, which definitely required a lot of time management. On a typical day, I would get to my office two hours early and work through a lesson or two, then study on my lunch break, only to get back to it after work. I spent a lot of nights and weekends in coffee shops!

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What was your favorite part of the Learn.co experience?

My favorite part of the experience overall was the Ask A Question button. After a while, you start to get to know the Learn Experts and other students who respond, which was a great way to feel more connected and supported.

What was your favorite thing that you built?

Definitely my AngularJS assessment! I built a recipe keeper, to keep track of ingredients and recipes. I love working in JavaScript, so right off the bat I was excited about this assignment, and adding dynamic front-end functionality was just icing on the cake.

Coding and Classics… are there similarities?

You’d be surprised! The thing I loved about Classics was the actual act of translating. My texts were mazes of intersecting lines indicating which adjectives or prepositions belonged to each noun. With coding, there are similar nuances, and there’s still that aspect of balance, whether it’s defining variables, injecting a function, or closing a loop (or even remembering to add those JS semi-colons). I never would have expected them to be so similar, but at the end of the day both coding and Classics are comprised of fairly structured languages.

Congrats on your upcoming job at Thuzio! How are you preparing to start your role there? What are you most excited about?

Thank you! Aside from getting to work with code full-time, I’m most excited to learn about scalability, and expanding upon an existing code base. For the most part, I’ve been preparing just by keeping my programming skills fresh, looking over my notes and repos, and playing around with some new apps. I’m really looking forward to continuing to expand my skillset and to growing as a developer.

'Coding isn’t easy... Be curious, take a walk, and ask questions!' Click To Tweet

Any tips for others learning to code?

Be curious, take a walk, and ask questions! Coding isn’t easy, and there’s definitely a balance between digging into a problem, and hitting a wall. If you haven’t really dissected the issue, be curious and play around with it. If you have worked through it, and you’re still stuck, ask for help—there are lots of resources available, and it will only strengthen your understanding of a concept in the long run. Sometimes, though, you just need to take a walk and clear your head.

To follow Savannah’s coding journey, check out her Github.


Interested in learning to code like Savannah? Try out our new Bootcamp Prep course for free!

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