From Barista to Developer: Meet Jenna Porterfield

Jenna Porterfield is a 2014 Interface graduate who went from barista at Starbucks to web developer at iNet Solutions Group in less than a year.

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AIM: How did you decide on pursuing web development at Interface?

JP: I was nearing graduation with a degree in interactive digital media when something unexpected prevented me from attaining my degree. Before I received the news, I had a job offer that didn’t require a degree. I didn’t return to school that year and after that it was hard to get back into the IT field. Web development was something I always wanted to explore, but I lacked the degree or experience to get started.

I knew Shonna (Cofounder and Managing Director at Interface Web School) because she came into my Starbucks location often. One day we got to talking about Interface and she told me that there were still a few openings for the following semester. I applied and was accepted into the program with 11 other people and started pursuing my education in web development soon after. I was really excited to be one of those who were chosen.

AIM: Was it intimidating when you first started?

JP: Most of the students had zero experience in web development before the program, so it made it less intimidating and more empowering to try something new with everyone.

The partnership between First National Bank and Interface is a powerful one. Having “real world” IT people from First National was extremely helpful in a number of ways. The one-on-one interaction and the constant feedback really helped me excel at Interface, having those personal relationships while learning was invaluable.  

It’s awesome that more and more employers are realizing that women carry weight in the IT field and I know that I am more marketable and confident going forward after Interface. As a mother of three working at Starbucks, they really helped me get my foot in the door.


AIM: What are you currently working on?

JP: At iNet I get to wear a lot of hats. My main job is taking websites that look like they are from the 90’s and transforming them into something that is more sleek, mobile optimized/responsive, effective and [that] will have better SEO. I get to put our clients back on the map with their competitors, which feels great.

If customers have problems or questions, I am the one that gets to help them. I get to teach customers how to use new technology, and it’s very rewarding.  After working at Starbucks for so long, I love that I still get that one-on-one interaction with people.


AIM: How does it feel to be working for iNet, rather than making coffee?

JP: It feels great! This is definitely the job where I feel most confident, and I love that I can make a real difference for people by finding new and creative ways to solve problems. I’ve also more than doubled my income since I graduated which feels unbelievable to my family and me.


AIM: How do you keep up with the changes in web development?

JP: It can be a challenge, especially with the new changes in SEO criteria and mobile-friendly websites. I’m constantly searching the Internet for new solutions to problems. It’s interesting and challenging all at the same time.

I also try to stay in the loop with tech magazines like WIRED, discuss new trends with my co-workers or reach out to my local network from Interface. Shonna created a Facebook group for all of the graduates, so it’s really nice to see that support.


AIM: Any tips for people interested in pursuing web development?

JP: If you have a solid interest in web development, give Interface a shot. If you have that passion, they’re an amazing group of people who will help you develop your skills and open doors through their innovative processes and networking opportunities.

If it is something you are interested in, don’t let your fear overcome your goals.


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