These Boot Camp Learners Merged a Class Project With a Client Assignment—and it Paid Off
When Mariño Carranza, Shad Lee, and Jenn June enrolled in the University of Washington Coding Boot Camp they had no idea just how hands-on the course would be. Together, they have been working on an impressive, high-stakes group project—one that’s not just inspired by a real-life cause but is directly impacting it.
Completing a project with real-world implications
Jenn works for a mission-driven company called The Informatics Applications Group (TIAG), where she’s currently the user experience research lead of a new software as a service (SaaS) program for the first-responder community. The program is called mResilience, and it consists of resilience training for first responders as well as an accompanying mobile app, “mRes.” For the first boot camp project, Jenn and her group took on coding the front end of the program’s product page.
The TIAG graphics team provided the group with a polished mock-up of the web page to use as a guide, allowing them to work from a real-life roadmap and gather a sense of TIAG’s expectations.
“TIAG is very supportive of boot camps,” said Jenn. “Over the years, they have hired folks from various boot camps. This was another great opportunity for them to see firsthand what we boot camp students can do.”
The team’s efforts are supporting an important cause. The resilience program provides resources and support for first responders and law enforcement officers.
“It’s important for these individuals to have access to information about first responder wellness and any issues that they or their colleagues may be experiencing,” said Mariño. “They can use the program site to retrieve meaningful information.”
Learning valuable lessons along the way
Jumping into boot camp and beginning work on a high-stakes project—with a real client nonetheless—was a unique and enriching experience for the group. They’ve learned many lessons, but the biggest one was about the work that goes into web development before the coding even starts.
“We learned the hard way that planning ahead is a necessary step of the process,” Shad said. “It didn’t cross our minds to define font and coloring classes at the beginning of the project. Everyone had a different way of implementing the same effect in our own pieces—and we ended up spending extra time unifying our code during merges.”
Shad quickly became the designated code “reviewer” who was in charge of unifying all the stylistic differences among the group’s code. Even when it felt a bit tedious, he appreciated the opportunity to work for a client so early on in his education—and his group members agreed.
“Spending more time on the planning phase could have saved us some headaches, but it was a learning process,” Mariño said. “At the end of the day, it was wonderful to work with partners who shared the same sense of responsibility and desire to get the job done correctly.”
Finding gratitude in the learning experience
The two most motivating parts of the project were knowing their finished product would be live soon—along with the overarching sense of fulfillment that came from contributing to a real-life client project.
“I had no idea I was going to be working on a live project when I started boot camp, and this increased our drive and focus in a way that was palpable,” said Mariño. “We were working for more than a passing grade.”
As far as the rest of their boot camp experience goes, they have been incredibly impressed with their instructor and TAs, in particular Catherine Pham.
“It’s rare to see students take a bootcamp project and launch it into the real world,” said Catherine. “So seeing this group take on a live project was both gratifying and motivating. I became personally invested in seeing this project to success, and I am proud of the work the three of them have done.”
Going into the program, Mariño wasn’t completely sure what he wanted to get out of it. But it quickly became clear to him that whatever the future holds, he has made the right decision. The TIAG project has helped him home in on software development as he begins searching for jobs.
“There are big companies here in Seattle,” Mariño said. “But I want to do something that has a local impact like TIAG’s program does.”