Sydney Stern Miller, January 26, 2021 | 5 min read

From Sales & Marketing to Software Developer & Business Owner

Alec is many things: a Northwestern graduate, a VFA Fellow, a musician, a successful business owner, and an all-time favorite amongst the team at Tech Talent South. Alec has a passion for Blockchain technology and the decentralized web as well as being an advocate for artists. He brings a liveliness and positive attitude to whatever setting he is in. He’s one of those people you can’t help but wish to be friends with. 

Alec believes that working as a team has the greatest impact for the collective good. He has experience in sales, marketing, programming, teaching, and has been a musician for over 13 years. You can find him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

What were you doing before TTS?

I studied Entrepreneurship & Music Technology at Northwestern. After graduating in 2018 I joined the Venture for America fellowship program. I began my fellowship working at Launch Pad New Orleans, a co-working startup with locations in momentum markets across the country. I was a Sales/Marketing generalist and spent most of my time managing our sales funnel, conducting outreach and running the company’s social media accounts. Unfortunately, the co-working industry was hit hard by COVID-19 and I lost my job – this prompted me to tackle my long-term goal of learning to code!


What course(s) did you take with TTS?

I took a full-time code Java immersion course with TTS. I decided to take a full-time course because I wanted to make a serious commitment to the learning process – full-time immersion allowed me to dive in and cover a lot of material in a short period of time.


How did taking this course remotely impact how you connected with your cohort and instructors?

Taking the course remotely was a bit strange at first, but I adapted! I quickly realized there are more benefits than caveats to remote learning from a student perspective. Screen sharing at the click of a button and staying in pajamas all day to name a couple…


Tell us about your favorite project!

My favorite project was my personal portfolio. I built it at the end of the course, and it really felt like a culmination of what I had learned. I used nearly every technology that we covered in the course: Bootstrap, Java, SpringBoot, Thymeleaf and more. I also implemented some advanced CSS and JavaScript which I learned on my own.


How has what you learned at TTS impacted your life?

I am still pushing forward with my coding journey every day – my experience with TTS taught me that learning is a constant for programmers regardless of one’s level of experience. I learned how to ask the right questions, and how to be resourceful as I continue to deepen my knowledge.


What has been the biggest challenge in your tech journey?

I would say the biggest challenge has been finishing projects. I spend a lot of time watching tutorials and reading documentation, and I sometimes struggle to get myself to follow through on the *many* project ideas that I have. I think this is a symptom of imposter syndrome – I convince myself that I am not advanced enough yet to build the projects that I want to build. One of my resolutions this year is to break this cycle and build as much as possible!


What have you learned about yourself over the past year?

I have learned how little control I have over external events and their impact on my life; I have also gained a powerful awareness of what I DO control. This time last year I could not have predicted that I would lose my job and move back home. I also could not have predicted that I would be a proficient web developer let alone a Teaching Assistant for a code bootcamp. Beginning this journey was a conscious choice, and I choose every day to remain committed to it.


What are your personal and career goals for the future? Dream job?

I am increasingly interested in Blockchain technology and the decentralized web (also known as Web3). I am also passionate about music; I have been playing guitar for 13 years, and I manage a YouTube channel where I regularly post covers and guitar lessons. The music industry faces a number of issues that I believe Blockchain/Web3 can solve. For instance, the music industry generates more than $50 billion in annual revenue, but only about 12% of that goes to the artists. Compared with the NBA or NFL where players receive close to 50% of total revenue, 12% is embarrassingly low! I don’t have a specific dream job in mind, but I would love to work at the intersection of music and emerging technologies (such as Blockchain) to help artists capture more of the value that they create in the digital economy.


What projects are you working on now?

I have a few projects in the pipeline right now, but I am most excited about my guitar teaching portal. I am a freelance guitar instructor, and I am building my own web app to manage lesson materials, scheduling, payments and more. This will allow me to manage the entire process of onboarding students and tracking their progress without the need for any middlemen.


How has your background been useful in getting you to this point?

I have always been motivated by learning (so long as the thing that I am learning excites me). My concentration at Northwestern was “Learning & Organizational Change”, so I have read and thought a lot about different learning styles over the years. I think that my adaptability and openness to the learning process has allowed me to progress quickly.


When you’re not coding, what do you like to do in your spare time?

When I am not coding, I spend my time managing my YouTube channel, playing/teaching guitar, reading and cooking! I also love to travel, but unfortunately COVID has put my travel plans temporarily on hold.


What is your favorite quote, mantra, or piece of advice?
“With just one polka dot, nothing can be achieved. In the universe, there is the sun, the moon, the earth, and hundreds of millions of stars.” -Yayoi Kusama


LAST QUESTION! What is something that makes you unique?

I have lived in China – twice!