Harrell said, “Going back to high school, I wasn’t sure of what major I wanted to study until the month of July, less than a month from my first day of college. A big influence of going into the STEM field was my Computer Science teacher, Mrs. Ehresman. She was the one who introduced me to these job possibilities. During that summer, I researched what IUPUI offers. I found that Luddy, formerly SoIC, was offering a new major called Full-Stack. When reading the description, it sounded like an opportunity that I didn’t want to miss out on. Who doesn’t want to say that they graduated from Luddy with two degrees in three and a half to four years?”
Sexton had slightly different reasons for choosing the major. “I’ve always been a big nerd. I want to learn a little bit about everything, and that has always been true. I could never be happy just learning about one side of a program. For example, I was a theatre kid in high school. I couldn’t just simply be on the acting side, I also had to get into tech theatre to see what that was like. The same principle has applied when it comes to development for me. I was never satisfied learning just about front-end development. I also wanted to learn about the back-end of development, I wanted to learn about UX/UI design, database design…I wanted to know it all. For me, it helps me become a more well-rounded individual so that no matter what part of development I eventually go into, I’m able to communicate with anybody on the team because I have a fundamental understanding of their roles,” she said.
Each student had their own take on the challenges and benefits of learning full-stack skills. “One of the unique challenges is definitely figuring out how to pace yourself. When you can do it all, it can be very easy to slip into a mindset of actually doing it all. But most of the time, that simply isn’t necessary. It can be really tempting to get lost in the finer details, but keeping the big picture in mind is definitely the most important. In a way, it is a benefit to be able to dream big and pin down all of the details, but at the same time, it’s very easy to make a simple project that is much more difficult because elements of it are easier. Perhaps the biggest benefit, however, is the ability it gives you to communicate with a team. When you understand what exactly a role entails, it opens much more meaningful conversations with colleagues. In our field, it’s easy to tamper back with what we talk about because we are used to speaking with people who don’t quite understand what we do. But being able to talk with someone who does makes it that much more rewarding. I like being able to provide that type of communication to the team, and even act as a sort of translator in some situations,” Sexton said.
Sexton chose Luddy for several reasons, the first of which was the simple fact that she didn’t have to live on campus as a freshman. “As someone who knew early on that paying for college was entirely my own responsibility, I needed to choose where I went wisely. Being able to live off-campus from the start, especially when I could commute from home or save money living in an apartment, was extremely important to me. Outside of that, Luddy Indy was known as a good program to go into if you had started in the computer science program at my high school. With word of mouth and a great financial decision working in my favor, it was an easy decision.” Harrell also appreciated the locale, “I chose to go to Luddy Indy because of the location of the school. Being located in Indianapolis, there are plenty of events and networking opportunities to grow in and attend. I was also attracted to the campus of IUPUI and could see myself being a part of the community.”
Harrell, who will graduate in December 2023, is planning her next step and said, “I do hope to quickly enter into my career in one company located in the Indianapolis area. My goal is to start out making and designing web applications. Once I have enough experience I plan on owning my own business and possibly building a well-known app that all walks of life can use.” Sexton is also exploring options. “Currently, I’m hoping to get a job in some area of development. I would love to get a full-stack development position itself, but I’m certainly going to be happy if I get a job working even with simply PHP. I’ve come to really enjoy the language and feel it would provide a better career path over simply being front-end development, but I’m not entirely turned off by the idea. One day, I’d love to come back and get my master’s degree, but I would like some time in my field first.”
Harrell and Sexton both offered advice for those considering studying full-stack development. “There are some elements of it you’ll love, and some elements of it you’re not going to enjoy as much,” Sexton said. “That’s part of any degree path that you choose, and coming into this expecting to love every little bit of it will end up hurting in the long run. But it’s also okay to not love every side of it. You’ll be learning so many fantastic skills to give you a bright future, and if anything, it lets you go to whatever area you find you love the most. It’s a way to get a broad perspective without too much sacrifice or extra course-load!”
“If you are thinking about full-stack, I would highly recommend it and say go for it. I got to meet a wide variety of people with all sorts of majors. Full-stack does sound overwhelming, but I promise you it’s not. You will still have time to do the activities that you want to do. First year of college you get exposed to all sorts of classes. You may end up liking all of them like me or discover you are more interested in one major. Really college is the time to discover yourself and your desires!,” Harrell added.