Meet the 12 latest CodeCraft graduates

by Tessa McLean
June 15, 2016
After 10 weeks, Boulder’s CodeCraft School has graduated their Spring 2016 class. The curriculum is JavaScript-based, preparing the students for junior and entry-level positions. CodeCraft’s program is 50 percent fundamentals and 50 percent real world projects, meaning the graduates already have something to show for themselves in their portfolios. We caught up with 12 of the students in this class to ask them about their experience.
You can contact these graduates via their hyperlinked profiles.

Student: Mark Newcomb

Where are you from? Originally I am from Hays, KS. I live in Thornton now.
What was your life before CodeCraft? I would try to go through online programming tutorials and make sense out of the more advanced concepts, but ultimately felt I needed a live instructor to guide me through the tougher parts.
What led you to pursue web development? Building a web page gives you a worldwide audience for your ideas. CSS can be a great creative outlet, while programming languages are the satisfaction of "making things happen." I wanted to learn how to be a part of the group of people who are content creators/publishers on the internet and not just consumers of it.
What have you learned at CodeCraft? A much richer understanding of JavaScript, as well as learning exciting new ways of doing things like MongoDB, React, Angular, Node, and the skills to learn any framework that will come up in the future.
What are your post-graduation career goals? Gainful employment as a front-end junior web developer, either in Denver or Boulder.
What has surprised you about your experience at CodeCraft? The breadth and depth of the JavaScript language and libraries we've learned in a very short amount of time.
What do you love most about programming/coding? It's great when you finally get something to work, and knowing that your skill level just went up a little in your brain, like an internal "level up."
Fun fact: I have recorded a live session of one of Michael Jackson's touring drummers. It was a great experience.

Student: Sean Ryan May 

Where are you from? Born in Lankenau Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. Spent my entire childhood in Jupiter, FL.
What was your life before CodeCraft? Baking pies at a gluten free bakery in Broomfield, CO. Coaching Rugby for a high school rugby club right down the road from the bakery.
What led you to pursue web development? It has always been a hobby of mine. I was introduced to programming in high school and have been an avid computer gamer my whole life. I have helped family members with personal business websites and felt that the time had come to take this hobby in a professional direction.
What have you learned at CodeCraft? Javascript. Lots and lots of javascript. CodeCraft was most helpful in understanding the landscape of web development. That there is much more to learn about web dev than what was taught in our cohort.
What are your post-graduation career goals? After graduation I want to find full time employment as a web developer and further hone my skills. I would like to turn some of my own ideas into web apps.
What has surprised you about your experience at CodeCraft? The amount of emphasis that is put on placing you into your next job opportunity. I certainly feel I already had many of these skills, but have never been given the tech view on applying and interviewing.
What do you love most about programming/coding? That you are a blend of engineer and artist. Writing code is like building a machine that can construct and display itself. The future is going in a direction that will require the ability to communicate with computers.
Fun fact: Barefoot if possible, sandals if not.

Student: Heather Carlson

Where are you from? Prior Lake, Minnesota
What was your life before CodeCraft? I was Region VIII Communications Manager for Team Rubicon, a nonprofit Disaster Response Organization.
What led you to pursue web development? Realizing that I could build something to enhance the way our world interacts with one another in a meaningful and productive way.
What have you learned at CodeCraft? JavaScript - Front end and back. I've focused on the MERN stack with React as my main framework. Prior to coming to CodeCraft I had learned HTML and CSS but have furthered those skills while here.
What are your post graduation career goals? My goal is to join a team of individuals driven by serving their communities, whether through work or through their own free time.
What has surprised you about your experience at CodeCraft? The connections I've made with students in my class. I was led to believe Dev's avoided human interaction at all costs. ;)
What do you love most about programming/coding? Building something useful. The fact that I have the ability to make people's lives easier through technology.
Fun fact: I once lived in a 56 square foot ice house for two months.

Student: Katherine Preucil

Where are you from? I’m originally from Sun Valley, ID, but have been living and working in the Boulder area for a few years now. While Idaho will always be special to me I am happy to have found another home near the mountains.
What was your life before CodeCraft? Before CodeCraft I was working in the area as a graphic designer, first at a regional publication, then as a freelancer. I started Lavish Craft, a business through which I offer brand development services and plan to utilize my Fine Arts education to sell fine art prints. Throughout this process I have realized how much fun it is to continue expanding my knowledge.
What led you to pursue web development? Since I have started working as a freelance designer I have been talking with a few clients about web design and recognized that it would be an asset to Lavish Craft. In working on my own company website I realized there was a lot I didn’t know about developing websites and started looking into how to start narrowing the gap.
What have you learned at CodeCraft? CodeCraft has really opened my eyes to the tech industry. Not only have we learned the fundamentals of programming in addition to frameworks and a backend language, but also have discussed varying viewpoints on what being a programmer means. I love to think about development as another art form.
What are your post-graduation career goals? After CodeCraft I hope to work in a great team to become a better programmer while contributing to the design experience. I plan to continue expanding my knowledge of frameworks and languages. 
What has surprised you about your experience at CodeCraft? Coming from an art and design background I expected to really gravitate toward front-end design, but I have discovered an enthusiasm for backend development. I love how challenging it can be. It feels like a game in which every success, big or small, means I have won and can move on to the next challenge.
What do you love most about programming/coding? I love the feeling of success when my code works the way it was intended. It’s quite addictive and with how fast the industry is developing there will always be a new challenge to accomplish.
Fun fact: I’ve been a vegetarian for years, but thanks to a recent secret santa exchange now own some bacon balm (a chapstick that tastes and smells like bacon). Let’s just say that I am confident I am not missing anything now.


Student: Rick Mottola

Where are you from? Originally from Orlando, Florida.
What was your life before CodeCraft? I was working as a bartender while studying Computer Science at the University of Colorado Boulder.
What led you to pursue web development? I have always loved both technology and building things. Web development allows me to work in a field where I can do both. I find solving challenging problems with code to be addicting, and I get a great sense of accomplishment from working on things that can potentially better the lives of many people. 
What have you learned at CodeCraft? My time at CodeCraft has been an amazing experience. I have learned so much in such a small amount of time. Building individual and collaborative projects with time constraints while learning concepts and tools on the fly has been invaluable real world experience. CodeCraft has taught me how to be autodidactic in the tech world. 
What are your post-graduation career goals? Post graduation, I aspire to work for a company that does exciting things and improves the lives of others. As long as I am working towards something interesting and beneficial to society, I will be happy and enthusiastic about my work. I hope to end up with a company where I am surrounded by like-minded individuals who value hard work and want to make big impacts. 
What has surprised you about your experience at CodeCraft? How much I have learned in such a short period of time. I have learned and utilized so many incredible technologies in my time here at CodeCraft, including but not limited to HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, JavaScript, Node.js, MongoDB, and a multitude of NPM tools and front-end frameworks such as React and Angular. The fact that I went from having zero knowledge in these technologies to feeling comfortable with them and using them to build tangible things in just 10 weeks is kind of mind-blowing to me. CodeCraft has been such a game changer in my life. 
What do you love most about programming/coding? I love that you can do almost anything imaginable with code. Whether you want to build a video game, a social network, work on artificial intelligence and robotics, or even make scientific software that controls the orbital mechanics of spacecraft, all of these and so much more can be accomplished with computer code. No other field of work allows so much flexibility and freedom of imagination. 
Fun Fact: I don't know about fun, but I spend most of my time learning things. I truly love to learn. I still go back and work calculus problems from college, I write Hiragana and Katakana characters daily in my quest to learn to write in Japanese, I read many books, and I research and try to understand fields which are a bit out of my reach in order to keep myself challenged and engaged (such as machine learning). If I'm learning something, I'm happy! This is probably why web/software development is my calling. 

Student: Joe Minock

Where are you from? Howell, MI.
What was your life before CodeCraft? I've been in the startup/ web technology world for the last 12 years and most recently founded and exited (buyout) an activity registration and payment platform in the K-12 Education Market. Before that, I spent many years as an e-commerce consultant, designing and building e-commerce sites using Volusion and Shopify.  
What led you to pursue web development? I've always been on the business validation and process development side of startups and have subsequently worked with, and spent a fair amount on great developers. As such, I wanted to expand my skill set by learning Javascript to complement my self-lead effort to learn Ruby on Rails.  
What have you learned at CodeCraft? Javascript is tough. I've certainly learned a lot, but most importantly, I've learned the important fundamentals of Javascript and how to be a better learner of it and other languages. I look forward to graduation and spending more time focusing on JS and the frameworks that we were introduced to at CodeCraft. 
What are your post-graduation career goals? I would love to join a Boulder-based startup (Post A Round or Stable Funding) or tech consultancy that works with startups and scalable applications where I can learn and contribute to quality outcomes. 
What has surprised you about your experience at CodeCraft?10 weeks goes by fast. Early on, I felt like a deer in headlights and that we might be moving too fast. As time has passed, I've managed to absorb more than I thought I would and I'm happy with the outcomes of the program. Further, I've found that an unintended outcome has been a broader range of code reach and confidence when coding in Rails. 
What do you love most about programming/coding? I love being able to dig deep into a problem and now be able to develop a minimally viable solution and iterate upon it. Additionally, through the expansion of my skills beyond Ruby on Rails, I'm now better positioned to use a broader range of frameworks and libraries to solve a range of problems. 
Fun Fact: When I'm not working with technology, you'll find me on my bike, skis, in my hiking boots, or a climbing harness. I've been ski racing for ~18 years and coaching for 12 years. After exiting my last company, I spent the winter coaching full time and skied almost 80 days. 

Student: Tyson Gray

Where are you from? Denver, Colorado
What was your life before CodeCraft? I’ve worn various information technology and creative art hats over a span of a decade before I decided that I wanted to learn the latest web app technology and CodeCraft fit perfectly with what I was looking for. I’m happy that I found CodeCraft.
What led you to pursue web development? Being a netizen and loving the internet since my teenage years has really driven me to make the big leap into web apps as my line of work.
What have you learned at CodeCraft? A great mix of coding and people skills that I will be able to take on to my next journey. The teachers and curriculum at CodeCraft have been engaging, every single day I feel I’ve learned something new or helped someone out.
What are your post graduation career goals? I plan to attend many web developer meetups and Hackathons, and network with anyone I can. And apply all the skills I’ve learned here in continuing my education and achieving my web developing dreams.
What has surprised you about your experience at CodeCraft? I've really enjoyed the comradery that has come with being around people with similar drive to learn this stuff.  I’ve also been surprised at how many people I’ve met with just having the face to face time.
What do you love most about programming/coding? Mostly that it’s changed how I not only approach a coding problem but I’ve noticed how I approach solutions to daily life.
Fun fact: I sometimes can’t help it but doodle draw a character on something. I also like to DJ music and get people dancing at parties.

Student: Tom Blanchet  

Where are you from? Boulder, CO.
What was your life before CodeCraft? Graduated from CU with a math major/comp science minor. Spent several years out of college trying to find good work using my degree, spent many years self learning how to code better. Ended up getting a few internships, but all of them were short term, unpaid, and didn't go anywhere. Other than that, I've attempted projects with friends, occasionally tutored, and worked a few service jobs.
What led you to pursue web development? I explored some web stuff in the past, but I never really tried more than basic html, css, and javascript. Since the web seems to be the place where everything is going these days, I wanted to become more familiar on how to throw things at it and hopefully find a job that would continue letting me do just that.
What have you learned at CodeCraft? So many things! At this point, I feel more than comfortable setting up a webpage front-end using a number of different frameworks and an express node server alongside a database to store and manage data to work with an application. (And I've learned a few tricks on how to make it look good too!)
What are your post graduation career goals? Find a job that I want to do.
What has surprised you about your experience at CodeCraft? Mostly how much I was able to learn! Because of my coding experience, many of the hardest hurdles for others were not hurdles for me. However, just because of the class size and how fast we went, there were many things (such as web frameworks and several aspects of web design) I had never heard of or seen before that I feel like I have a good grasp of now.
What do you love most about programming/coding? I have always loved the problem solving and messing around with the possibilities of the logic around it.
Fun fact: Narwhals do not actually have a horn on their head, it's really just a large tooth that protrudes through its forehead.

Student: Ryan Basmajian
Where are you from? 
New York.
What was your life before CodeCraft? I was a student at CU Boulder studying psychology with a long history in computers and decided I wanted to focus my career in development.
What led you to pursue web development? I was unhappy with my college curriculum and programs and had always wanted to work web development. I decided that a change to a boot camp was the best way to accomplish my goal.
What have you learned at CodeCraft? I have learned more than I can explain. I have learned not only how to develop web applications but how to learn and find passion in what I do. 
What are your post graduation career goals? My post graduation goals are to further my learning in the work force and become a better developer every day.
What has surprised you about your experience at CodeCraft? My biggest surprise has been how much fun I have had learning web development. A task that seemed extremely daunting to me on my own, has become a passion and i've found true happiness in what I do.
What do you love most about programming/coding? I love being able to create what I want and spending time learning. There is an endless amount of knowledge to gain and I am overjoyed to be able to do it daily.
Fun fact: I spent two summers living in spain with host familes during high school.

Student: Mary Camacho

Where are you from?
I grew up in Madrid, but have lived in Denver since the mid-90s.
What was your life before CodeCraft? I've been in tech since the 90s. I was self taught mostly in database development and then web development but most of my career has been either in technical management or as a startup founder.
What lead you to pursue web development? My company JoyaSolutions is a web application development shop. While I typically lead the business and operations of the company, I also conceive of applications, do UI/UX and I manage a team of developers. In the past I’ve done quite a bit of the less interactive web development. I think knowing a craft all the way into the weeds of things gives a perspective that is valuable – I can empathize with the people who work for me and can better lead because I understand the challenges. Add to that, I can evaluate the work better and can stand for it with clients and partners.
What have you learned at CodeCraft? The MERN stack. And how to be competent with creating and modifying dev environments. I’ve always taken a technical role in the work – but now I can go deeper especially in some of the newer technologies. I have been the primary product lead for the creation of several SAAS and mobile products, but the configuration was always shared between me and one of my developers. Now I can do more of it myself. I can also bring in some new libraries and frameworks to our work, including React and React Native as well as Node on the backend.
What are your post graduation career goals? I build products. I’m going to continue building products – hopefully ones that people really enjoy using and that make some difference. JoyaSolutions continues to work with various clients around Denver on their products, and I’m in discussions with a few startups about tech Cofounder/CTO roles as well. I am also building a very social app as part of my experience with CodeCraft and I may continue working on that and doing some market testing with it.
What has surprised you about your experience at CodeCraft? I found that I knew both more and less than I thought I knew. I would get stuck for hours on things that should be simple like setting up my local development environment or doing an AJAX call and then I would breeze right through something like configuring SSL or continuous deployment.
What do you love most about programming/coding? I love being able to take something from the spark of an idea to a functioning product that people can use. I like all parts of that process: ideation, design, development, testing, management, and configuration. I also like all the business work that it takes to ensure that the product solves a real problem, has a real market and is viable in terms of producing an ROI. Now I can just do more of it myself which is ideal when developing and testing an MVP in the startup world.
Fun Fact: I play soccer and manage the all-women’s team called Optimists United – they are a blast and help keep me sane and fit.

Student: Janet Huchteman

Where are you from? I moved to Denver from Tulsa, Okla., in 2005.
What was your life before CodeCraft? I’ve spent most of my career at a Fortune 500 oil & gas company, working as a graphic designer and communications specialist in Corporate Communications. Before moving here, I talked my director into letting me work remotely from the company’s Denver office, which I did for 10 years.
What led you to pursue web development? I had experience with content management systems in recent years, but never much opportunity to learn web design. When oil and gas prices plummeted in 2015, the company I was working for decided to close its Denver office, and I was laid off in its reduction in force. I quickly learned that companies are still looking for graphic artists who can design for print, but they want those same candidates to be proficient in Javascript, HTML and CSS, too.
What have you learned at CodeCraft? I’ve really learned more than I originally hoped to get out of the program, which was Javascript, HTML and CSS. The back end knowledge has given me a much broader understanding of how everything works together. I liked the bootcamp’s variety, which included daily lectures, one-on-one instruction, external speakers, mock interviews and resume review.
What are your post graduation career goals? I plan to stay in the Denver area and would love to get hired full-time as a front-end developer or similar role that combines my design experience with the skills I’ve learned at CodeCraft.
What has surprised you about your experience at CodeCraft? It’s been a totally new way of learning, in that any classes I’ve taken in the past always involved textbooks you study to learn the material. This has been more challenging since it’s not really taught from a book. Although there are many books available, as well as online videos, blogs, tutorials and class lectures, it’s all about learning how to use the multitude of resources available to us.
What do you love most about programming/coding? I love seeing the results when the code works! I always liked math, because you either got the answer or you didn’t. Coding is kind of like math (and actually uses a lot of math) — and it either works, or it doesn’t.
Fun Fact: I’m one of nine kids — six girls and three boys — who actually all get along and like to spend time with each other. I think growing up in a large family was a great foundation for getting along with different personalities in the workplace and knowing how to manage a budget.

Student: Melissa Johnson

Where are you from? From the sea to the mountains! I moved here from Florida 3 years ago and haven’t looked back. Colorado is the best place I’ve lived.
What was your life like before Code Craft? For the past 10 years, I have been an entrepreneur and business owner. I have owned a wellness/yoga center, a doula group and am co-owner of a home theater company. Building businesses from the ground up and being able to sell them successfully and watch them grow in the hands of someone new is so rewarding. Most recently (and currently), I am running my own web design company.  It’s an exciting work-life-play juggling act.
What lead you to pursue web development? It was time to dive deeper into web development and see if I have the chops to be a full stack developer. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but am so glad I took the chance and went for it.
What have you learned at CodeCraft? I have learned more than I anticipated. This has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. Not only did I learn more about development, but how to think like a programmer. This training altered my perspective and how I approach problems. It also reminded me of what it’s like to work with a team. Business ownership can sometimes be isolating, so working with a team and pair programming allowed us to see how the others in the group approached the problem which can be so valuable when you’re faced with a difficult issue. 
What are your post graduation career goals? Coming from such a diverse business background wearing so many different hats, I am keeping an open mind about the future. As a big picture person, I enjoy project management as well as website design and development. Hoping to find a position that includes some variety of these while also continuing to grow as a full stack developer.
What do you love most about programming/coding? Honestly, I love how challenged I am by it. It doesn’t come easy, and I work at bending my brain in that direction, but I love that challenge and look forward to having more time to practice by developing new projects.
Fun fact: I have an 8 year old who is just getting into coding and is helping me with my final project.
Some responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Got a tip for us? Shoot us an email or follow us on Twitter @BuiltInColorado.

Jobs at CodeCraft School

Colorado startup guides

Best Companies to Work for in Denver & Boulder
Coolest Tech Offices in Denver & Colorado Tech
Best Perks at Colorado Tech Companies
Women in Colorado Tech