What’s your backstory?
Over the last decade, I have worked in the fields of human services through a multitude of roles. My career started as a social worker, supporting adolescents in the foster care system. In 2009, I was hired as school counsellor on a team that opened the first charter high school in Philadelphia, PA to exclusively serve foster care youth. I continued my work as a school counsellor at a blue ribbon high school in Philadelphia. As our second child was born, I took on the role of stay at home parent (which was the hardest "job" I've ever encountered), but was able to work part-time, building out an online tutoring program in Camden, NJ. As our youngest began full-time preschool, a friend of mine suggested I apply to Camden Enrolment, a nonprofit that provides a one stop shop for families to learn about and apply to Camden public schools. In 2018, I was hired as their Director of Data & Operations. My role is to maintain a unified enrolment system, analyze school enrolment data/trends, maintain our website, and run all human resources and operational tasks.
How technical are you? What tools did you use before no-code e.g Excel, Google docs, project management software?
Before getting degrees in Social Work and School & Mental Health Counselling, I was a Computer Science major. I love technology, but I quickly learned that coding was not for me. I can't pinpoint exactly why, but it just wasn't for me at that point in my life. Throughout my career, and especially now, I always relied on various tools to quickly build out internal systems. For example, utilizing Google Suite to create communication processes for administration and teachers, tracking school-wide attendance trends through Google Sheets, as well as tracking projects at a brand new high school.
Have you ever tried learning to code? If so, what happened?
Yes. A lot of times. In school and on my own. It just never clicked for me. I very much admire those that can code and want to contribute to that world in some capacity. I think nocode is my version of that contribution.
How did you first get into no-code?
At my current job as a Director of Data & Operations, I have to wear many hats. With that, I needed to quickly build out processes and applications that support my team and my work. While identifying this need, I stumbled across #nocode on Twitter. At that point, there were so many tools and resources available. And not only that, people were (and still are) willing to share their expertise to other nocoders. Because folks were so helpful in the early going, I've started to share out what i'm building/built, in hopes to help newcomers.
How has no-code enhanced your skillsets? Do you use it at work or in your spare time?
I mainly use nocode in my professional life. It has definitely enhanced my skillset. As I transitioned from a lot of counselling-type work to more logic and data driven work, nocode has really helped me bridge that transition in terms of creating processes that reflect logic, but also support the needs of my team and the needs of folks we provide service to.
What impact has it had on your career (or life)?
The major impact nocode has had on my career (and also personally) is an increased confidence in building processes and applications for others. When I tell the folks that we work with that I can build exactly what they are looking for in a rather short period of time, it's as if I've discovered fire. That really is all thanks to nocode. The ability to connect applications with significantly powerful backend solutions has been extremely helpful.
Can you give specific examples of things you’ve built with no-code, what they do, how they work, and how they’ve been received by users?
The first nocode application I built was a human resources portal for my team. We needed a space where employees can get everything they needed in terms of insurances, staff information, and a collection of links that we frequently use. I built this portal through Glide. Glide allows you to build a web app from a google sheet.
Zapier has been my go to for connecting all of our various applications. We use HubSpot to track our interactions with families and school staff, Simple Texting to provide 2 way texting support, and Webflow to run our website and our educators directory. Here's a few of the zaps I use to connect everything:
1. Newly created contacts in HubSpot are zapped to a list in Simple Texting to create a master outreach list
2. New email/text alert subscribers from Webflow are zapped to Simple Texting, a contact is created in HubSpot, and our Director of Partnerships & Engagement receives an email to add the new subscriber to our Smore email service.
3. Any time my team fills out the "Educator Directory" google form, that educator's information is added to our master google sheet, then zapped to our Webflow CMS, a live item is created on the website, and our Director of Partnerships & Engagement is emailed to conduct training outreach. It should also be noted that we use Jetboost for the search and filtering features on the Educators Directory. I cannot recommend this nocode tool enough.
What advice would you give to non-profits who are just discovering no-code?
The first piece of advice i'll give is to not be afraid to try. There is such a low entry in terms of cost. Often times, there's no cost to try no-code tools.
The second piece of advice is to reach out to folks like me (shameless plug, but I can help!). I would love to work with you to build out your vision by utilizing no-code tools. You can reach me on Twitter @refreshmyjawn, through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on LinkedIn.
What are your thoughts on the no-code movement in general? Where do you think it’s going?
The no-code movement is here to stay. There is so much value for nontechnical folks to be able to build out amazing products for themselves and their organization/business. I can definitely see the benefits of nonprofits and educators utilizing no-code tools to expedite their work in supporting others in a variety of capacities.
What do you see as the barriers that might slow its adoption?
For many folks, technology is scary. Especially building something on a tech platform. The beauty of no-code tools is it takes the stigma of coding out of the equation. You can now build something through simply writing out the steps and not necessarily having to take the next step of writing the code to build out those steps. The building through no-code is much more intuitive for nontechnical folks.
What or who inspires you?
I draw my inspiration from those that are willing to help others. We live in a time where we have to support each other. As folks begin to bring their ideas to life, my first thought is, how can I help? And more specifically, what can I build to make their lives or organization better?