"Ruby on Rails was completely new to me when we started the first quarter. After the first two classes with Jeff I was completely overwhelmed... Three months later and I was proficient in back-end programming and I am confident tackling any web application."
- What Problem He's Solving: Creating private social networks to help families stay connected.
- First job: Ridgefield Ski & Sport
- Favorite place he's traveled: Copenhagen, Denmark
- John in three words: Hard-working, alpha male, jackhammer
Learn about the app John built to connect his family.
Why are you at Starter School?
I am at Starter School because I want to gain the skills necessary to do meaningful work in a world that is controlled by technology. I don't just want to enjoy technology, I want to create it.
What's one thing that you have been surprised by at Starter School?
My classmates. We come from all age groups and backgrounds, yet we are all here to learn how to build web products together. I have never been in a learning environment where the students are so determined to learn the material. It is motivating and inspiring.
Is there one experience that stands out for you at Starter School?
HACKATHONS. By most Fridays I am so burnt out with code that I want to crawl into my bed and hibernate until Monday. Hackathons are a great way to push the students passed that plateau, build some products, and have a lot of fun doing it.
What was the first day of Starter School like?
Day one was like any other first day of school. Except we were in 1871. And the faculty were really cool. And the students were extremely excited and motivated. And we got to meet alumni who have great jobs or started their own companies. And we spent time setting up our coding environments instead of going over syllabi. So I guess it wasn't your typical first day of school.
How do you explain Starter School to your friends, family, and/or significant others?
Whenever I tell people that I went back to school they say "Oh that's great, you're going back to get your MBA!". Not exactly. I respond by saying "I go to the Starter School, a small software development and entrepreneurship program in downtown Chicago."
Were you intimidated to learn anything that ended up coming easy to you?
Ruby on Rails was completely new to me when we started the first quarter. After the first two classes with Jeff I was completely overwhelmed. I thought I would never understand the material let alone stay up to date on it (we cover material very quickly). Three months later and I was proficient in back-end programming and I am confident tackling any web application.
What makes Starter School different than other classes/schools you've been to?
Three main differences:
- No grades
- Teachers who are here to help us learn, not to follow a curriculum
- An unprecedented level of commitment by the students
What are you building right now?
I am currently building a web app I call FamilyRoom. The job that FamilyRoom does is keep families closer together when they are separated geographically. The app creates a private room online for families to securely message, share content, and video chat.
What makes an ideal Starter School student?
The ideal Starter School student is someone who has a passion for technology, has a product in mind they want to build, and has the aspiration to run their own business.
Who or what inspires you and why?
I am inspired by those who create. I am inspired by those who say 'fuck the status quo' and do things their way. I am inspired by those who stay humble after success.
What's something you've done in your life that you're most proud of?
Quit my job to take on a large amount of debt to enroll in a program that was completely unproven. Four months later and I could not be happier or more confident in my decision.