Meet Mike: Starbucks Shift Supervisor Turned Full-Stack Developer

Mike Elliott was teaching himself to code and taking on freelance development projects while working at Starbucks. When he decided he wanted to pursue web development full time, he came to Seattle and enrolled at Code Fellows to put the final polish on his skill set. He shares about his experience and some pro tips for incoming students.

Michael Elliott
Image source: LinkedIn

What were you doing before applying to Code Fellows?

I was working as a shift supervisor at a Starbucks in Salt Lake City, and working on freelance front-end development gigs when the opportunity arose.

Tell us about your time in the course. What were the highs and lows?

The first week was overwhelming even though I came prepared to take on whatever came. It was very intense all the way through. I spent roughly 100-hour weeks entirely on coding and networking. Not a ton of time for food or sleep. The end was a relief, but made me hungry for more. So I started teaching with them and involving myself as much as possible after.

What was the hardest part for you?


Was the experience what you expected it to be?

No. Honestly I didn’t know what to expect. I got a lot more out of it in different ways than I was expecting without question, and vice-versa. There was a lot more social and personal interaction than I was expecting, and didn’t realize how important that was until later.

How and when did you realize that the social aspect was important?

When I noticed that everyone in the community was going to meetups what seemed like daily.

In what ways did your background help you?

I had mostly people/leadership skills and front-end development experience, which both helped immensely in networking and the UX/front-end side of the stack, not to mention connecting all the pieces. I also have the personality type that is constantly looking for new challenges, which Code Fellows certainly was.

What are some of the projects you created?

I made a list-making app that allows the creation of lists that can be infinitely nested, an app that curates and categorizes good code-learning resources, and an app that makes the bar line at events go much, much faster. That last one was for Startup Weekend, but very much helped by Code Fellows.

Which project are you the most proud of?

Beautilist, because of the general experience of the first time working on a team with someone on a deadline.

Can we see some of your projects from the course?

Sure! You can find [the source code] here:

How big was your team during each Project Week? Did you get the chance to work with any students outside of your course?

The first team was two people, and the second team was four. We got plenty of chances to work with outside mentors and networking buddies through meetups, etc. And the TAs were a huge help as well.

Did you feel prepared for a development job after you graduated?

Mostly. I’ve outlined the interview process in a blog post [on my blog]. To put it simply, it wasn’t easy and I had to go through a lot of them to even get used to the flow.

What are you doing now?

I was a Software Development Team Lead at Overstock until just last month when I became a Full-Time Front End Engineering Instructor for The Iron Yard in Salt Lake!

Any advice for future students?

I spent a lot of time on this post outlining advice I generally have for anyone going down this path. Top three ultra-shortened tips would be:

  • Build apps, make websites. A bunch of them.

  • Network. Meet and converse with anyone you can.

  • Finish what you start.

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