Kendra Davis may be a newcomer to the world of coding, but she is a master of her primary craft: playing the violin. Davis, who until recently lived in California with her husband, built a career for herself as a freelance musician and music teacher.
Last year, in an effort to live closer to family, Davis and her husband moved to Charleston, South Carolina. “Some of our family lives in Tennessee,” Davis says, “but we wanted to live on the beach and be near the water.” So, they chose Charleston, a “lovely” city near the ocean.
“Since I was a musician and my husband was a programmer, we just felt like we could work from anywhere, so we just said let’s move and see if we like it.”
Getting to JRS Coding School
When Davis arrived in Charleston, she was faced with building a new cohort of students and connecting with a new network of orchestras and fellow freelancers. “I didn’t have a lot of students right away,” says Davis, “and I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to.” She began to consider alternative career options. Her husband had an idea.
“He suggested I try computer programming,” says Davis. “He thought I’d be really good at it.” So Davis, with no coding experience, began to learn. She spent some time working with online tutorials, introducing herself to the tech scene. That’s when she discovered JRS Coding School.
Davis was immediately drawn to JRS Coding School. “My biggest challenge with self-teaching was the lack of structure,” she says. “I felt like I wasn’t devoting as much time to learning as I wanted to, because I would get distracted too easily. So, the idea that I could really devote my time to this for 12 weeks, eight hours a day, was really appealing. That was the piece I was really missing from self-paced learning.”
Life at JRS Coding School
Indeed, Davis has been pleased with the structure that JRS Coding School has provided. Classes there run from 9 am to 5 pm, with a break for lunch. Davis also spends time reviewing her coursework at night, after she’s eaten dinner.
The hours are long, but her days fly by. That’s because no two days are the same, says Davis. “What I really enjoy about [JRS Coding School lead instructor] Tom’s teaching style is that he teaches several things at once. While we’re learning about an aspect of coding, we’re also learning how programmers work in the corporate setting. We might work in a group much like we would in a real world scenario or learn the tools of the trade, like GitHub.”
“The idea that I could really devote my time to this for 12 weeks, eight hours a day, was really appealing.”
Davis believes those exercises, like collaborating with colleagues or learning how to access lines of code, help separate the experience of coding school from self-paced programs. She also benefits from the built-in micro-community of instructors and classmates. Having access to industry veterans like Tom Wilson has been invaluable, says Davis, as has been working with her fellow classmates. “Everyone is very open to helping and talking through our challenges,” says Davis. “It’s not a competitive environment; we all help each other out because we’re all more or less in the same boat.”
They may be in the same boat, but Davis does admit that she has a slight edge over her classmates, thanks to her musical background. “I feel like I can look at code and see all the little details better,” she says, “and I wonder if that comes from reading music for so long.” She also acknowledges that her years spent teaching music have helped her better understand how people, including herself, learn new concepts.
Since her move to the east coast, Davis has continued to play the violin, joining a few local orchestras and performing at an occasional wedding. Following graduation from JRS Coding School, she sees music as a hobby more than a career. “I don’t want to completely give up my music,” she says, adding that the flexibility of the coding profession will allow here to continue to perform in the evenings. “But it will be nice to have a steady job, doing something I enjoy.”
In the meantime, Davis is focused on gaining as much knowledge as possible. “We’re already halfway done,” Davis says. “It’s flying by. Our days are very busy but it’s really fun. I just want to get as much experience as I can.”