Alumni Profile: Drawing on the Mobile Makers iOS Bootcamp, Claire Jencks transforms herself from app-building rookie to published app author and ever-evolving app developer
With the swirl of technology all around her in San Francisco, Claire Jencks hungered for a new path.
Feeling she had become stagnant in the educational environment in which she had worked since her college graduation in 2011, Claire desired a career more relevant and aligned with the world’s future.
“People are excited about technology and motivated to learn about it,” Claire says. “I wanted to be a part of that universe.”
In early 2014, Claire ventured from her San Francisco home to Chicago to partake in Mobile Makers Academy’s iOS Bootcamp. For the Oregon native, who describes herself as “computer savvy but not tech savvy,” the intense, eight-week stint at Mobile Makers proved to be one of the most challenging, yet inspiring experiences of her life.
Going from tech novice to bona fide app builder, Claire learned software development patterns and coding tools, built small iPhone apps from the ground up, and slowly learned to accept “not having to know it all,” a departure from her career in education and role as subject matter expert. Frequently during her eight-week Mobile Makers experience, Claire faced uncertainty and doubt (read her blog), feelings often magnified by technology’s seemingly endless possibilities.
“I’ll admit there were some tears along the way,” she says. “It was tough for me to be bad at things and to be a beginner at something as an adult, but I had plenty of people to look up to and a supportive environment that helped me get through.”
Claire’s Mobile Makers experience culminated with the development of “Little Tree”. Teaming up with fellow Maker Calvin Hildreth, whom Claire describes as a “super-talented programmer,” they built the Little Tree app to put a 21st century, digital spin on the choose-your-own-adventure books kids have enjoyed for generations. The end goal is for users to be able to read each other’s work as well as submit their own stories, thereby creating an interactive and novel literary experience.
“Calvin actually pitched this idea and I liked how it was so creative and different,” says Claire, who holds a degree in studio art and is herself a creative writer and accomplished artist.
After Little Tree published in the Apple Store in May, Claire returned to San Francisco and began seeking a tech job. Through Mobile Makers chief instructor Don Bora, she connected with Mobile Makers alum and fellow Bay Area resident Natasha Murashev, who encouraged Claire to apply for a position on the mobile team at her company, financial giant Capital One. Claire did just that and landed the position in July. Her team is now building a mobile banking app for small businesses.
“I wouldn’t be at all qualified to do this without Mobile Makers,” Claire says. “I’ve learned so much about what can be achieved when things are broken down into small parts and when you’re open to collaboration.”
In the process, Claire has morphed from tech outsider to tech insider, relishing technology’s ever-beating pulse and promising opportunities.
“This whole experience not only jumpstarted my career, but also my life,” she says.
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