From Tie-Dye Art to Coding Masterpieces: Anna Sylvester’s Decisive Turn on Her Career Path
If you had asked Anna Sylvester a year ago what her future holds, she would have talked about living in the mountains making tie-dye fabric art. Today, however, Anna is living in Atlanta and focused not on cloth but on coding.
Anna’s fascination with coding began when she discovered Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp. In fact, she was so enthusiastic about coding and app-building that she landed a job before she even completed the program.
Building her future
The first project Anna worked on at boot camp was called Hawt RN, derived from the phrase “hot right now.” It uses geolocation and Twitter so that you can get tweets within a certain radius of you.
“We thought it would be good for small businesses because you can see what is happening in the local area, and companies can market themselves toward whatever hyper-local trends they’re seeing,” she said.
While she didn’t realize it at the time, the next two projects Anna worked on would ultimately shape her future.
When the boot camp instructor let students out for a 30-minute break, Anna realized she and her classmates would often forget what time they needed to be back. This inspired Anna’s team to create a Slack bot that would allow the instructor to individually remind everyone that they had to be back in a few minutes.
“I had a lot of fun on this one,” she said. “I created the front end and put a lot of creativity into the design, including some monkeys.”
As a joke, Anna’s team even put a game on the front page.
“The whole point is not to waste time, so we thought it would be funny to put a time-wasting game on it,” she said.
Getting the kinks out
Anna’s final project was a small-business inventory application that allows users to easily scan inventory—both incoming and outgoing—with a handheld device.
“We downloaded a bunch of inventory apps and tried to identify what they were lacking and how we could make ours better,” Anna said. “We wanted ours to be streamlined and straightforward.”
The results have been extremely positive, so much so that a retail company is considering beta-testing the small business inventory app. If they do, it will help get the kinks out and ensure the app is ready for the market.
To Anna’s surprise, her amusing Slack bot project also proved life-changing. It played a pivotal role in her application for an internship at BitPay, a fintech company that is creating ways for ordinary people to use cryptocurrency.
“Around the time of my interview, I had put the boot camp projects in my portfolio, and they were especially impressed with the Slack bot app,” she said. “Basically, I got a job because of that project. I did all the front-end stuff, and I put a lot of work into it.”
BitPay was so impressed that instead of offering Anna an internship, the team offered her a job. She became an associate developer before she’d even graduated.
“I thought I wasn’t even going to get offered the internship,” she said. “They use the software Angular, and we are learning React in the boot camp. But the program teaches you how to learn. And when I explained that to them, they were impressed.”
Confidence and coding
Boot camp helped Anna master coding. But one of the most important skills she learned during the course was how to speak intelligently and confidently about her projects.
“In job interviews, I used to be too humble and self-deprecating,” she said. “But I gained so much confidence at the boot camp, and I am sure that also helped me get the job at BitPay.”
Anna’s big takeaway from the Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp? If you put in the effort, you can do anything.
“The limits are endless to what you can do with your coding skills,” she said. “It just depends on how much time you want to put into it. Utilize the fact that you’re surrounded by people who are all coding. If you have an idea, do it. Do it in the boot camp. When the program ends, you won’t have that group of people anymore to help you with the project. It’s a really exciting time.”