Since Course Report is based in New York, so we try to attend as many bootcamp hiring days and student presentations as possible. A couple weeks ago, I went to the Fullstack Academy hiring night at their new classroom in New York's Financial District, where each student group presented very quickly on their final projects that they had completed throughout the course, then they met with prospective hiring companies. All of the final project ideas were really thoughtful, but one of the projects that stood out to me was called Splyt and it was created by three women- Lindsay Levine, Kamilla Khabibrakhmanova and Emmie Salama.
I knew I had to hear more from these ladies about their experience at Fullstack, and I'm so excited to share our conversation with our readers! We talk about their experience at Fullstack and as women in tech, and they even walk us through Splyt and show us what they were able to actually make in their 13 weeks at Fullstack. Watch the video and read the full Q&A below!
Liz: Lindsay, Kamilla and Emmie, introduce yourselves and start by telling us what you were up to before you enrolled at Fullstack.
Emmie: I graduated from NYU with a bachelors degree in Speech Pathology. After I graduated, I realized I didn’t really want to go into that field and decided to work for a year and figure out another career path. During that year, I took Computer Science classes at night at Queens College and fell in love with computer science.
Kamilla: Before Fullstack, I spent three years in Austin, Texas, working at a tech company called Indeed.com. I was managing the Russian site, doing a lot of marketing and product support. I started dabbling in coding to try to make some things easier, and to see if I could automate tasks that were previously manual.
Lindsay: I dropped out of McGill Engineering two years ago; I was studying software engineering there, so I’ve been exposed to computer science and web development for quite a while but I wasn’t convinced that it was what I wanted to do, so I did a lot of soul searching for a few years. Ultimately, I realized this is what I want. I found Fullstack and talked to Nimit- it was the easiest decision in my life after talking to him.
Liz: It sounds like all three of you had somewhat of a technical background, either working in a tech company or having taken computer science courses. What was your goal in doing a bootcamp? Was it to get a job, get a promotion, to start your own company?
Emmie: Because I was in a Master’s of Computer Science program at Queen’s College, it felt like the professors were theorizing everything and I wasn’t getting to build anything. Fullstack was appealing to me because I could build, which was more important than getting a degree.
Liz: Was the ultimate goal to get placed as a developer at a company?
Emmie: For me, definitely.
Kamilla: For me it seemed like the quickest way to actually get a job as a developer. I know people who took night classes and slowly worked their way up, but it made more sense to me as someone who’s young and has no obligations to just go and try it out full-time for three months.
Lindsay: I wanted a job. I did have a bit of web development experience before coming to Fullstack but I didn’t think that experience made me employable, so I thought a bootcamp would help.
Liz: Kamilla, you came from Austin to New York- how did you find out about Fullstack in New York and what was your research process when you were looking for a bootcamp?
Kamilla: I actually took a part-time class at MakerSquare in Austin before applying to full-time bootcamps. I did a lot of research, and I mostly looked in New York City or Austin because I have family in New York and I was already based in Austin.
Once I had my interview, the decision was easy. My interview with Nimit was the best that I had.
Liz: Did anyone else apply to other bootcamps in addition to Fullstack?
Lindsay: I applied to a few others- Flatiron and App Academy in New York, and gSchool in San Francisco.
Liz: Was there an overwhelming reason why you chose Fullstack in the end?
Lindsay: Like Kamilla said, it was Nimit! I was able to be really honest and open with him about what I wanted and my past and he was really accepting and understanding.
Liz: Emmie, did you only apply to Fullstack Academy?
Emmie: I actually applied to Fullstack’s Flex Immersive - Fullstack is the only bootcamp I found with a really well thought-out Flex program. They accepted me but Nimit also gave me the opportunity to join the fulltime cohort and I should just jump all in.
Liz: As women who are starting your careers in tech, what has been your experience as female developers?
Kamilla: I worked at a tech company and our department was pretty much 50-50; we had a lot of women. But I did see that the development team was definitely mostly male. That did contribute to my decision to try and do this because it seems like the development world really needs a lot more girls in it. We need to have a stronger voice.
The world is becoming more dependent on technology and we’re only letting one gender drive all of its development.
Liz: Lindsay and Emmie, what was your experience like in undergraduate/graduate Computer Science classes as a woman?
Emmie: The few classes I took I was one of three women in the class, especially because it was a night class. To be honest, I know of the misogyny in the field but I’ve never seen it firsthand. Coming to Fullstack, I was worried that would be an issue but it never was. I completely forgot about it because Nimit’s rhetoric on the first day was knowing that the lack of women is an issue and this is how we’re going to fix it here at the Bootcamp. It was kind of amazing. I’m still waiting to see that firsthand but I haven’t seen anything yet.
Liz: Were there a lot of women in your class at Fullstack Academy?
Lindsay: There were four others besides me. Out of a class of 25.
Liz: Did you notice anything in particular that Fullstack did to be supportive of women?
Lindsay: I was just mentioning to Kamilla, we do weekly or bi-weekly “ladies meetings”. It’s led by the female staff, Shanna and Charlotte. We'd all get together and talk about how we’re doing and how we can support women and make sure nothing feels sexist.
Liz: It sounds like the MEAN stack curriculum was important to the three of you. Now that you’ve finished the course, are you satisfied with the actual curriculum and the material that was taught?
Kamilla: I’m definitely glad I chose to a coding bootcamp that focused on MEAN stack. It really seems to be where a lot of development is headed. I think that the main thing we learned was that it doesn’t really matter what framework you learn; it’s about learning how to learn. So while we focused on Angular, Express and Node, I think it’s really easy for us to go and learn a different language. I heard that a lot of people don’t get jobs in the same frameworks that we learned.
I’m definitely glad I chose the MEAN stack because it does give you a good foundation.
Liz: Tell us about Splyt. First, how did Fullstack approach these capstone projects? How did you decide to work together on a project?
Emmie: At Fullstack, everybody pitches their ideas. Actually, Splyt wasn’t an idea that was pitched. Kamilla, Lindsay and I realized we just want to work together on something, and Splyt was born from that.
Liz: So you actually decided to work together first and then figured out the actual project afterwards. How long did you spend on Splyt in total?
Lindsay: We spent a little more than two weeks. We were working all day. I live really close to Fullstack so I was in the building often. I would be watching TV at home at 11:00pm and check my email, and I would have 6 new emails from Kamilla that Github had sent me- we definitely put a lot of time into it.
Liz: Can you share your screen and show us the actual product, what it does and walk us through how you built it
Kamilla: Splyt basically has two parts. It has a Chrome extension and there’s also a web app. We wanted to make it easier for people to manage the way they listen to music. If you’re online and on music blogs, YouTube, Tumblr and Facebook, there’s no centralized place where you can actually play these files. Then you still have to have those tabs open and remember them.
So we built the extension to automatically scrape each page that you open in your browser. Lindsay knows more about how the extension works because she did most of that.
Lindsay: As I was showing you as Kanilla was speaking, the extension just checks whatever page you go to, to see if there is audio embedded on the page and makes it add-able to your playlist in our web app.
Here we’re on this random blog that I always go to, and I can just go ahead and add it and it scrapes the page. You can see the number at the top of the page.
Then we’ll head back to the playlist and you’ll see these songs that I grabbed from those two pages are already here. The player’s global across everywhere in the app. You add a new playlist or follow someone – I think Emmie and I are following each other
Liz: So you can follow friends and what they’re listening to?
Lindsay: Yeah. I have in my friend music feed over here songs that Emmie has added.
Kamilla: Yeah, we also built this in case you get bored with your friends’ and your own songs that you’ve added, you can search for songs to add. It searched YouTube and SoundPlug for whatever you want. What should we search for?
Liz: Probably Taylor Swift.
Kamilla: So it just searches… here we’re searching SoundCloud… Taylor Swift is not on SoundCloud… then it just instantly adds that to your playlist. If you scroll down here you’ll see the two Taylor Swift songs we’ve just added.
Liz: And it’ll scrape any song from a site or will it also for from Spotify?
Kamilla: It will look for Spotify embeds from around the web but we didn’t want to support or try to support playing Spotify audio in our player because you need the actual native app to be open to play it. We just didn’t want to but we do let you bookmark it, so if you find a song it’ll show up I the extension popup and you can add it and keep track it it in your Spotify bookmarks.
Liz: Are there things you worked on for Splyt that you didn’t learn in class? How did you approach that when you didn’t know how to do something?
Kamilla: I’d say that there’s always something that we haven’t learned. Most of the app was just figuring out new stuff. We had a lot of support; we always had people helping us if we got stuck on something. That’s the main thing about learning at Fullstack, is that you have the support around you.
Lindsay: But not necessary staff support. There was a student, Sam, who was working on the same extension at the same time so it was really awesome to have him help out when we got stuck.
Liz: Can you tell us about a problem or an issue that you ran into while you were creating Splyt and how you got over it?
Lindsay: For the first half of our time working on this, we weren’t 100% sure we would get this player to work and be able to stream SoundCloud YouTube and other audio in the same player. But we were clever about it. If anyone who’s watching this is familiar with Angular, we used object orientation and Angular factories to make our global player ignorant about where the song’s actually coming from. We have a class for YouTube, SoundCloud and Tumblr. I don’t know if you guys knew this but SoundCloud artists can set their music to either streamable or not streamable. That was another problem, where you can’t actually plug the source into an html5 audio tag because they just don’t want you to. So we had to use the SoundCloud widget API.
So we’re using two different approaches to stream in SoundCloud depending on what the artist wants. We have two different Angular factories depending on whether the SoundCloud artist wants their song to be streamed. All of these factories and classes do the same roles. They all have the same methods like Play, Pause, Current time, Duration and so on.
Liz: Are there plans to launch Splyt to the public in the future or was this strictly a class project?
Lindsay: Yeah; we’re a day or two from being able to release it to the public. We have a few people testing out some last-minute stuff. The extension’s on the web store but only to specific users so hopefully by next week it’ll out be out for everyone to install and download.
Liz: Thank you for taking us through that project! It’s always cool to see what you were actually able to accomplish after learning for three short months.
One of the questions I get most often is about job placement. How did Fullstack prepare you for interviews, resume building etc?
Emmie: They definitely helped us a lot with that. During the Senior phase we had a lot of technical questions every morning. Shanna, who’s our job guru, helped us through everything like resumes and LinkedIn. We could come to her with any question we had, so it was a very helpful environment for that specifically.
Liz: Did you go through the hiring day process?
Lindsay: Well, these guys are going to be Fullstack fellows, so they didn’t go through it but I went through it. It was pretty much like intense speed dating with really cool employers. It was a lower pressure situation than having real interviews because you’re just in and out, quickly getting to know each other.
Liz: Lindsay, are you on the job search now or are you focusing on Splyt? What’s your status?
Lindsay: I’m doing a bit of both. I’ve been searching around this week but I’ve also been in the classroom at Fullstack. Kamilla and I are here right now just finishing up some things for Splyt.
Liz: It’ll be great to see where you end up. Emmie and Kamilla, since you are going to be Fullstack Fellows, can you tell us a little bit about that? What is a Fullstack Fellow?
Kamilla: The Fullstack Fellows program is the same length of time as the Fullstack program- 13 weeks after you graduate- and it’s split into two parts. The first part is where you’re helping new students, answering any questions they might have. Then during the second part you work on a project which is either working on Fullstack software so you get some experience on something that’s used by people daily, or else you can create your own workshop. You focus on one thing to teach people and then create an exercise that they have to build to learn about a certain subject or tool.
Liz: Did you have to apply for the Fullstack Fellowship?
Kamilla: Yeah, they have an application process and there are interviews. It depends really on the cohort and how many people apply.
Liz: Well congratulations both of you for doing that.
So, was Fullstack worth the money? Would you recommend it to a friend?
Kamilla: If you’re looking for a career change and you’re interested in development, I would definitely recommend Fullstack. I wouldn’t recommend it for people that hear developers make a lot of money, so want to become a developer. You have to be someone who wants to learn; I don’t think I could’ve learned this much in such a short time if I didn’t love it.
Emmie: Because it’s such a big time commitment as well as a big life commitment. It’s three months but it’s three months focusing on one thing and you have to really love going in every day. We spent our entire days at Fullstack and I didn’t feel it at all.
Liz: Like you didn’t feel burnt out at all?
Emmie: Yeah, exactly.
Lindsay: I loved coming here every day. I’m sad to have to leave the people. One thing that’s unique about Fullstack is that the people here are all really special and overwhelmingly kind and giving. They definitely made the experience for me and I would recommend it to anyone who’s considering coding. It’s definitely a great decision.
Thank you all so much for joining us and sharing your experience. We can’t wait to see Splyt live; we’ll send it out to all of our Course Reporters once it’s live in a week. Thanks!