Abbey NorthcuttJuly 14, 2020
Abbey is a nonbinary (pronouns: they/them) web developer currently working on entertainment industry software at Intercard, Inc., where I specialize in Angular and .NET Core. I’m currently living in St. Louis with my fiancé, and fellow Truman graduate, Andrew Peake. I’ve held a variety of very odd jobs since graduating, including a telephone operator, legal assistant, and (very briefly) author wrangler. I was fortunate enough to land my current position after graduating from the LaunchCode Codergirl program. I can usually be found shaking my fist at 500 errors, stir-frying anything I can get my hands on, and doing impressions of my cats as dispossessed Victorian orphans.
What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?
I graduated in 2015, with a concentration in Mass Communication/Journalism.
What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?
I worked with the Truman Media Network as Assistant Editor for Detours, Truman’s travel magazine. I also wrote semi-frequent articles – I had an absolute blast driving around to remote spots in the tri-state area and writing about them.
I was also an SA for Blanton-Nason-Brewer Hall my junior year, wrangling a bunch of delightful med students.
Did you go to grad school? If so, where? Was it immediately after you left Truman or did you wait? Why?
I didn’t end up going to grad school, mostly for love. My partner was already in St. Louis, and I wanted to follow him as soon as possible to find work and housing.
What was your first job after graduation?
Like many fresh out of college 20-somethings, I ended up in customer service! I was a Visitor Services Representative for the Saint Louis Science Center. I handed out a lot of maps, answered a lot of phones, and made people very angry about parking fees.
What work do you do/What are you doing now?
I switched career tracks pretty dramatically and now I’m a web developer. I maintain a few web applications at Intercard, Inc., such as a party planner and an online storefront.
How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?
I frequently find that I’m the most natural communicator on my coding team, which is a big deal when you’re dealing with clients and upper management. I end up writing all of our group emails when we want to express something specifically and professionally, and I have a liberal arts education to thank for it.
Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?
Publication Design and Layout drove me up the wall with how exacting it was, but it turns out that having a good eye for design and understanding the principles of it is pretty useful for a developer when working with CSS. InDesign is my go-to for making mockups now – thanks, Professor Krause!
What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?
Honestly, I’d say it was graduating at all. I had a lot of personal challenges during that time – getting out of a long-time abusive relationship, coming to terms with my sexuality and gender identity, and being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease all in my junior year. My fellow classmates and friends really helped me through that time, and I actually ended up graduating early. I think that’s a bit of a miracle.
Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?
It’s been said before, but the price point is hard to beat. You can study without having a huge financial burden hanging over your head. I think it also encourages folks to really study what they have a passion for, instead of trying to aim for something that’s going to erase their debt.
What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?
Join TMN, you won’t regret it. You’ll make a lot of close friendships there that will be forged in the fire of journalism, and it provides fantastic experience for work-world communication. It’s got the most fun meetings I’ve been to since, and I got to brag forever to anyone who would listen that I was on the radio.
What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?
Since I didn’t end up in a communication role, I’d say that even if you do the same, your COMM skills will be of great help to you. Managers of all stripes appreciate a well spoken employee who can organize their thoughts during meetings and connect well to others on their team. I’m the go-to person on the web development team for giving presentations and drafting important emails for this very reason!
What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?
Being able to go anywhere in town in about ten minutes – at maximum.
What tag line would you create for the COMM department at Truman?
“They put us so far away because we’re too powerful.” (Editor’s note: Makes sense to us.)
If you could come back to Truman and teach a class for a semester, what would be its title and what would it be about?
I would come back and resurrect my ill-fated JINS course, Women in Video Games. I was so bummed out when that class fell through, and the subject matter would have been fascinating to learn about. I would happily chatter all day about dating sims and social penetration theory to my poor students.
What did we not ask that you think is important for people to know?
Value those free resources you have while you can. I still find myself pining for Pickler and all of those nice spaces just to hang out or have a get-together.
If you want to take a look at Abbey’s work, they maintain Shindigger and Web Sales, two web applications that can be seen on the websites for Billy Beez Entertainment, Hinkle Family Fun Center, and Nascar Arcades.
If you would like to learn more of Abbey’s story, you can follow them on LinkedIn.