Follow Addie Schmitz’s Coding Journey from Overcoming Broken Code to Mastering It
When she was a business analyst at an not-for-profit tech company, Addie Schmitz’s day involved a lot of meetings, updating licensing requirements for agents and brokers, updating business rule documentation, and providing support to the customer service team.
“Over time, I found myself wanting a new challenge,” she said. So Addie hopped online and stumbled across the KU Coding Boot Camp.
She liked the program’s comprehensive curriculum, its emphasis on building a portfolio, and the focus on becoming competitive in the job market. And the best part: she didn’t have to spend four more years earning another degree and starting all over again.
She enrolled, and took the boot camp while still working full-time.
Late-night coding sessions and an amazing support system
Addie was surprised to find out how relaxed the instructors and TAs were, which made the classroom atmosphere much less stuffy compared to her college lectures.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I didn’t know if there was going to be a very formal instructor that you would find in a typical undergrad class,” she said. “My instructor and TAs were fantastic—so down-to-earth and willing to talk through anything multiple times.”
Addie described nights when her code was broken, and she wanted to throw her computer against the wall in frustration. She sent many a late-night Slack message to her instructor and TAs, and they responded immediately.
Giving help to people displaced by tech
For her first project, Addie and her team coded a workout application called Workout with Sassy Addie (the name refers to her motivational voice recordings). “We wanted to make a funky workout generator that could provide tough love and motivation to keep going,” she said, adding that she was inspired to make the app because she enjoyed working out and living a healthy lifestyle.
Townify, Addie’s second group project, is an application that allowed users to build a virtual community around sharing skills and abilities with users who needed them.
“For example, if I didn’t know how to knit and someone else on our website did, then they could provide their time and skills by spending their ‘currency’ learning it,” she said, adding that her group wanted to target people who were out of work due to advances in technology.
With Townify, Addie appreciated the upskilling similarity it shared with her coding program. “Kind of like how this boot camp allows someone to start a new career, we wanted to help people do that—learn new skills that couldn’t necessarily do elsewhere,” she said.
Due to a family situation, Addie was compelled to work remotely on this second project. Although this was a challenge, the boot camp offered a live coding session, enabling Addie to see what her classmates were working on in real-time.
Tracking handmade bows for infants
For her final project, Addie and her team created a tracker website for a small company that makes handmade bows for hair. The company gained a cult following of over 40,000 bow-collecting moms—or “bow moms”—on Facebook.
“The owner is a wonderful lady who donates a lot of proceeds to charities that help children, so we wanted to give something to her,” said Addie.
A daughter of a member of the group was a brand rep struggling to field customer questions because of the company’s inefficient inventory tracking system. “They were using an Excel spreadsheet that wasn’t working,” she said, explaining that the new tracker lets you see different collections as well as past and current bows.
“It was a cool way we could be creative and help these ‘bow moms’ with a real-life problem they were having,” she said.
Powering through a jam-packed schedule
“Am I doing the right thing? Is this the right thing for me?” Addie recalled wondering shortly before the start of the program, thinking about her full-time job, the 45-minute commute to class, juggling class time with homework, and her desire to keep current practices like cooking and working out.
Despite the initial challenges, Addie said that the people more than made up for it. “I’m a very social person, so being able to have great, encouraging people on your side makes it easier,” she said.
“If I were asked to do it again, I would go in a heartbeat,” she said.