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Exploring New Horizons: A Project Manager’s Take on our iOS and Android Design Bootcamp

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Holley Silirie

Editor’s note: Holley Silirie was considering her career path when she enrolled in our iOS and Android Design bootcamp. There, she learned the mobile design skills she needed, allowing her to explore new options.

As many of us do, I find myself continually examining my career path and reflecting on where I’ve been and where I am going.

I’ve been a digital project manager for a few years, but design has been the focus of most of my career. When I heard about Big Nerd Ranch’s iOS Mobile Design and Android Mobile Design bootcamps, I knew it was just the thing to give me the mobile design skills I needed.

I was interested in this particular training because I felt it would complement either one of my careers—design or digital project management—and enable me to explore new territories.

iOS and Android Design

Putting My Worries to Rest

On my way to Big Nerd Ranch West, I began to consider the long hours of the bootcamp and thought to myself, we can’t possibly have be learning from 8 in the morning until 10 at night. I knew it wouldn’t be a vacation, but the immersive nature of the bootcamp was a little intimidating.

These worries were put to rest as soon as the class started. It wasn’t like sitting in a lecture hall at those conferences where you’re just watching the clock.

The accessibility of instructors Brandy Porter and Angie Terrell was super impressive, too. We had meals with them every day and talked about the class and the content, openly giving our feedback. Their expertise and preparation for the class was truly amazing!

Brandy and Angie had a great mix of being open and responsive to questions, but also kept us on track because we had so much content to cover. I know this was a challenge, because everyone had questions about their personal projects and experience, but Brandy and Angie gracefully steered the class back to the curriculum. They always had examples, references and experiences to back up what they were teaching. They injected humor and fun to keep things interesting.

My Fellow Scholars

Being in the remote location helped us all get to know one another, adding to what we got out of the class. We ate all of our meals and hiked each day together. Everyone there was a working professional, so you were able to learn and benefit from each person’s unique experience, questions and thoughts. There were developers, usability people, entrepreneurs who wanted to make their own apps, and a couple of professors. I was surprised at the diverse backgrounds of my fellow scholars; I had expected them all to be user interface designers.

Distraction-Free Learning

I can’t lie; Big Nerd Ranch’s emphasis on distraction-free learning made me roll my eyes a little at first. But as the week went on, I came to really appreciate it. It was nice not to be distracted by everyday life and to be able to really focus on learning. It was a double bonus: being able to get away from my day-to-day work and learning new things in the process.

We took daily hikes to stretch our legs and our minds and see the area. At first, part of me thought this sounded fluffy and unnecessary, but it was actually incredibly important. It helped us focus, appreciate where we were and talk about what we’d learned while we were walking.

Attending the bootcamp was a remarkable experience, rich with learning, designing, talking and exploring. The class content was invaluable. It was much more in-depth than I anticipated, which impressed me, and it was really well organized. I feel invigorated!


Designers and developers (and project managers!) interested in designing apps for iOS and Android can sign up for our iOS Mobile Design and Android Mobile Design bootcamps at Asilomar in California, or our beautiful new location at Callaway Gardens in Georgia.

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Holley Silirie

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