Stephen ForbesBy: Anne Maxwell
As Stephen Forbes’ senior year at Kansas State University approached, the computer science major didn’t have a strong idea of what type of career he wanted to pursue. He had some experience with server management and IT, but lacked a sense of just where he belonged.
Luckily for Forbes, the right fit came looking for him.
His senior project was to create a website, which was a bit daunting for someone lukewarm in his studies. But a friend told Forbes about the Coding Academy he had completed through Rural & Remote and Forbes felt it could be the direction he was seeking. He started taking the self-paced, online coding academy curriculum in addition to his university studies and suddenly, his future became clearer.
“It was amazing, honestly,” says Forbes. “Even in just the first month-and-a-half, I went from being one of the students in my group at school who was passive and not always understanding how code needed to work on websites to leading projects.”
What was the difference that Rural & Remote Coding Academy offered?
“It is laser focused,” Forbes explained. “At a university, you’re looking at the broad strokes of many different coding languages. In the coding academy, you are deep diving into a specific framework that is just a lot more hands on and you’re getting a lot more specific technical skills to help you right then and there.”
Forbes said he also appreciated the mentors who were there for him every step of the way through the process.
“You have really great support,” he noted. “The mentors that are assigned to you along the way can change, which can be a challenge. But, so many of these mentors have gone through the program themselves that they have such great first-hand knowledge of being a student … they understand exactly where you’re at and what you’re going through.”
Forbes didn’t have to wait long to put what he learned in the Coding Academy to practice. This past year, he participated in an internship made possible through the Dane G. Hansen Foundation. The coding academy graduate was tasked with building two webpages for Ellsworth County Economic Development. Forbes developed a page to connect renters with property owners.
“They needed a place for landlords to post their available properties, and renters looking for a place to be able to have that information,” he said, adding that the page was launched this summer.
Another area needing ease of communication was the jobs board.
“They needed to have the availability for larger companies to post openings and have that traffic routed to their website to apply, and they also needed the capability for smaller companies who didn’t have online application processes to be hosted,” Forbes explained, noting he wanted to make sure applicants information on the site was directly sent to prospective employers. “I didn’t want the companies to have to constantly check the site – it’s all emailed directly to them to make it easy as possible.”
Going the extra step is just one of the ways Forbes shows how much he enjoys working directly with clients and knowing his customers. That’s why he’s not bound for a large city to use his skills. He’s actively searching for a remote opportunity to allow him to put down roots in Lincoln.
“I’m from San Antonio and Kansas City, and then started school in Manhattan,” he said. “I moved to Lincoln a couple of years ago for a personal relationship and after school, plan to make that my home. That’s truly one of the best parts about going through the coding academy and having this experience. I don’t have to completely uproot my life to chase a career. I’m not interested in corporate culture. I want to be a part of a community and have those connections. It’s a lot more personal and I get to be where I want to be.”