What was Shantell Smithson's experience at Suncoast Developers Guild?

By: Taitum Ridgway
Last Updated: October 24, 2019

We're pleased to announce one of the winners of SwitchUp's gift card giveaway, Shantell Smithson!

Shantell is a graduate of Suncoast Developers Guild, with a background in creative writing. After discovering a love for coding, and it's similarity to writing poetry, Shantell decided to jump in. Because of Suncoast's values, and positive reputation in her community, it made a great fit. With help from Suncoast, Shantell is desiging websites for artists and nonprofits, and even continuing her bootcamp education.

We sat down with Shantell to learn more about her experience at Suncoast, unique challenges she faced, and her advice for students considering enrolling in a bootcamp!

1. Tell me about your background. What was your educational experience before joining Suncoast Developers Guild?

I have a BA in Creative Writing with a Minor in Film Studies. I find writing code quite similar to writing poetry. Clean.

2. What made you decide to pursue a career in tech?

II fell in love with code and the visual rendering that follows.

3. Why did you decide to attend Suncoast Developers Guild? What were your goals for the program?

The SDG family is known and loved in our community. I respect their mission and share similar values, like build up and give back.

4. There are an increasing number of available bootcamps. Why did you decide to choose this program over others?

SDG is local, non-profit and fun. (And really good at what they do).

5. For you, what were the pros and cons of attending a bootcamp?

The con was information overload in a short amount of time. I have Aspergers and sometimes my processing gets over-stimulated and shuts down. Too, the Pro was information overload. I love to learn and be challenged. SDG was so helpful both academically and emotionally that I felt empowered and ensured to succeed.

6. Tell me a little bit about the course structure. What did you like best about the environment and teaching style?

We started the morning with a code challenge then went to the lecture. After lunch, we had lab time and could work independently or collaboratively, and the instructor was there to answer questions we had with assignments. My favorite part about the lessons and Mark’s teaching style was the examples used during the lectures. For instance, instead of “Let x = Sally has twelves eggs,” (or something traditional), Mark would use superheroes and aeronautical terms. He say, “Okay, class say we have Batman, Wonderwoman, Black Panther, and Spiderman.”) Language has such an influence on how we participate and learn.

7. How did this program prepare you for a career in tech?

I completed the program with a Full Stack Web Development Certificate. The program taught me to code both front end and back end. Furthermore, each Friday we had Career and Soft Skills Development. During these sessions, Katherine would teach us fundamentals such as LinkedIn, resume building, etc. Recruiters and business professionals also shared their time for us to learn the industry and conduct mock interviews. SDG is very integrated with the Tampa Bay tech scene.

8. What challenges did you overcome to get where you are?

I overcame some social phobia and sensory issues. My peers, as well as the faculty at SDG, were amazingly supportive.

9. Tell us about what’s next. How do you plan to use your newfound skills as you build your career?

Currently, I’m enrolled in a Digital Marketing Course, studying all things SEO. I’m designing websites for artists and nonprofits.

10. What advice do you have for people who are interested in attending a bootcamp?

Go for it. Just remember to breathe, and that it’s only one piece of your life, not the solution nor the summit. Laugh, be curious, treasure the wow of it.

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