Jess Harrelson background
Learning To Code

Meet Course Report Scholarship Winner Jess Harrelson

Josh Hirshfeld / 15 August 2016

Last June, we partnered with Course Report to offer a full scholarship to our Web Developer Course in New York City—specifically for people with non-technical backgrounds. Today, we’re thrilled to announce Jess Harrelson as the winner of the scholarship.

We spoke with Jess about her background as both a musician and video producer and what led her to pursue learning how to code.

Tell us about yourself. What were you pursuing before exploring programming?

I went to college at Belmont University and studied Songwriting and Music Business. After graduating I started a small label and worked with a couple of bands (including my own at the time) in Nashville. I eventually moved to New York and worked several odd jobs while getting settled. Finally, my college internships with several music companies payed off and I got hired to do video production for ‘stache Media. At ‘stache I worked in Premiere Pro and After Effects creating lyric videos, pseudo videos, and pre-roll spots. During most of my post-grad life, I taught myself bits of coding on the side whenever I had time.

What got you interested in code and why did you decide attending a coding bootcamp was right for you?

While writing and playing music in Nashville, I started learning how to make websites for my friend’s and my bands. I listened to a podcast that talked about a One Month HTML course and I decided to go for it so I could make my own websites instead of using Squarespace.  From there I was hooked. I started teaching myself some HTML and Javascript and then began learning Ruby on Codecademy. Once I moved to New York, I began attending Women Who Tech – Ruby On Rails weekend courses. During those events I met so many awesome people involved in tech and started to feel like coding could actually become a real career path for me. After dedicating more and more of my time to coding, I started enjoying it more than ever. I would get so excited to leave work at the end of the day so that I could go home to code. That’s when I realized I should just go for it and try to code for a living. I wanted to make a career change and web development felt like the place to go. I figured that going to a coding bootcamp would help ease me through the struggles of a complete career change post-college, so I began my research.

What made you choose to apply to Flatiron School?

I started telling all my friends that I was trying to get into some coding bootcamps in New York and asked for advice on which schools to go for. Flatiron School was on the top of my list because it seemed to really encourage creative thinkers. A couple of my friends are graduates of the school and raved about it to me.

What are you most excited about learning at Flatiron School?

Honestly, I’m most excited about simply having so much time dedicated to studying web development! After spending several years learning whatever I can on the side of full time jobs and on the weekends, it sounds like a total luxury. I’m also excited to put all of my pieces of self-taught information together into full cohesive lessons, and finally develop the tools I need to build all these crazy ideas for programs I have.

How are you prepping for the first day?

I’m continuing to work through the Learn pre-work and getting in touch with people I know who have attended Flatiron School to get some advice on how to best use my time at the bootcamp. My goal is to be finished with the pre-work a couple weeks early so I have time to review and make sure I’m totally ramped up and ready for bootcamp. I’m also keeping track of all my little project ideas that I can start building. I’m very excited to get started but happy to also have some time to properly prepare.

What’s your perspectives on how programming and your other creative pursuits relate?

For some reason, when I play guitar I have a limitless attention span; hours go by and I don’t notice. The only other thing where this has happened to me has been coding. I get started trying to solve a problem and time just seems to slip away—in a good way. I feel like this happens because coding and songwriting both follow similar processes. Understanding the interaction of structure and creativity in music is a great way to think about code. Also, when you create a song you have to be able to take a risk and put yourself out there. There are guidelines to follow, like keys and chord progressions, but initially the page is blank. I feel like with coding it’s the same thing—you learn the proper tools and guidelines, but in the end you’re taking an initial risk in simply creating something new.


If Jess’s untraditional path to coding has inspired you to pursue programming, you can explore our online campus right here

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