Reclaiming his passion for coding, Andrew Webb used his ambitious project at Mobile Makers Academy to land an iOS developer job
As an elementary school student, Andrew Webb played with computer code the same way many of his contemporaries played with Legos. He began learning QBasic as a third-grader and later experimented with C++, HTML, Flash and Java.
Attending a small liberal arts college, however, he put code aside in pursuit of an English degree. When he entered the working world, landing in graphic design work and then in the pet services industry, code remained on the bench.
“I floundered a bit as a professional until I really took the time to analyze what I wanted to do long term,” Andrew says. “I went back to what I loved doing, and that was coding.”
Uninterested in another bachelor’s degree, Andrew explored learning alternatives, soon discovering Mobile Makers. He visited the Academy’s Chicago headquarters during the fifth week, as students were getting started on their final projects.
“I was able to see what that group was tackling, what it had learned through five weeks, and I left sufficiently impressed,” he says.
Andrew enrolled in Mobile Makers in January 2014, a decision both strategic and personal.
“Mobile is so new and fast-changing, so I didn’t feel veterans in the field would have an insurmountable advantage over a newcomer like me,” he says. “Plus, I wanted to get back to the puzzle of coding and the act of creating.”
Andrew approached Mobile Makers’ iOS Bootcamp with ferocity and spirit, describing the experience “as something between a really awesome summer camp and the most intense class you’ve ever taken.” When charged to create a simple breakout game in the bootcamp’s second weekend, Andrew exceeded the assignment’s basic requirements by adding visual assets and music.
“I killed it,” he says, “and it was all out of joy.”
Empowered to run with the classroom lessons and explore new possibilities, Andrew learned how to use different programming elements, but, more importantly, when to employ those programming patterns. His confidence soared and he decided to complete his Mobile Makers’ experience with an ambitious capstone project. He presented an idea to his cohort as basic as it was bold: Who wants to do a SpriteKit game with me? Fellow makers Gulé Sheikh and Fletcher Rhoads signed on.
“Truthfully, I didn’t know how to gauge the difficulty of that idea,” says Andrew of employing SpriteKit, a novel graphics rendering and animation infrastructure that Mobile Makers’ curriculum did not specifically cover. “Mobile Makers had pushed me so much and I wanted to extend that by learning something new rather than simply implementing learned concepts.”
In the group’s resulting gaming app, Objective: Seafood, Captain Ceviche defends himself from wicked sea creatures.
Using SpriteKit, meanwhile, turned out to be a wise and fortuitous decision for Andrew. Within days of graduation, he landed a full-time iOS developer position with Eight Bit Studios, a Chicago-based firm seeking a developer with SpriteKit knowledge. Andrew is now Eight Bit’s resident SpriteKit expert.
“This would have all been very difficult without Mobile Makers,” says Andrew, who has since become a Mobile Makers mentor. “I had the structure of people expecting a product every single day as well as immediate, in-person access to strong, talented developers, which pushed me to rediscover a passion and learn new skills.”
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