Mandy Arola

Doubling Down on Software Careers

Picture this: you attend a tech school or a university for a small deposit, and if you don’t get a job with your degree, you don’t pay tuition! A dream, right? Well, that dream has become a reality with Nashville Software School (NSS)! The Lipstick Economy Podcast welcomed Mandy Arola, Director of Marketing and Communications of NSS. They delved into the remarkable journey of NSS over the past decade and explored what lies ahead for this organization dedicated to fostering equal access to high-paying tech careers. With a firm commitment to empowering individuals from financially disadvantaged backgrounds and underrepresented groups in the tech industry, NSS is spearheading a transformative movement.

Led by Mandy, their marketing efforts are focused on crafting impactful product messaging and driving growth to double the number of graduates within the next five years. Join us as we delve into their mission to provide a career path, not just a job, for those who have historically been marginalized in the tech workforce.

What does NSS do for the Nashville community?

Recognizing that financial constraints can deter talented individuals from pursuing their dreams, NSS has devised an innovative tuition plan that removes this barrier. Students at NSS are required to make a modest upfront deposit, and on top of that, they are granted a scholarship.

Students then can defer the rest of their tuition until they graduate and land a tech job. If they don’t get a job in tech, NSS wipes the slate clean, leaving no financial burden. But with an impressive 90% placement rate, graduates who do secure tech jobs collaborate with NSS on a pay-it-forward plan, ensuring the next opportunity tuition student can seize their chance. It’s a transformative approach that eliminates the fear of financial burden and provides a safety net for those taking the leap into the tech world.

“Very proud to have that 90% rate, and we’ve maintained that for really our entire 10 years and continue to hold that true as the tech market grows here in Nashville,” Mandy says, “there’s a lot of opportunities to tie their previous careers into this new opportunity, which I think is what makes our program so special and what the community really loves about it. It’s not like we’re not separating you from what you did before. We’re finding a way to bring those skills together and make them even stronger.”

From breaking down financial barriers to embracing individual backgrounds, NSS is an unwavering force for change, championing the cause of underrepresented individuals and reshaping the face of the tech industry, one success story at a time.

How does NSS support employers?

Tech businesses are booming in Nashville, which means NSS graduates are lined up to help fill those needed tech roles.

“I think it’s done a lot for our business community,” Mandy expresses, “We did a podcast last year with a few community members and business members who spoke very highly of the program and how it’s helping them, but it’s been really cool to not only see how they’re hiring our grads but also what our grads have been able to do within those positions and within the community. We’ve had a grad who on his second or third job was hired by a large organization and really advocated for hiring junior developers from NSS. That was a graduate who kind of opened the door to bring in junior developer roles into that organization, and so they are continually advocating for each other and helping lift up students that come behind them into the community.”

What does marketing look like for you?

For every new business, word of mouth is the first step in marketing, and that can be a powerful thing. For NSS, that has played a huge role, but new steps are ahead for bringing awareness of this great opportunity to Nashvillians.

“We do a lot of storytelling and a lot of content marketing, and really that opportunity to help folks picture themselves at NSS and to picture themselves in a tech career is important to us. And so finding ways to get those stories out there into the community and be discoverable is really what we focus on,” Mandy explains.

“We want to create opportunities. Not everybody has a chance to run into an NSS grad. So, we host a monthly info session. For our web and software development info session, we bring alumni every month into that. And so it gives them a chance to actually talk to a grad and ask them the questions. What is a class like? What can I expect for work outside of class? Am I gonna have a bunch of homework? And they can ask all of those questions of somebody who’s been through the program and have that connection. So even if they don’t know someone who’s been through [NSS], we give them that opportunity.”

What does the future look like with tech intersecting marketing?

“There’s so much more happening and more opportunity for marketers to take advantage of the technology tools that are out there. We’re not all web developers, we’re not all data analysts, and we have to rely on developers and data analysts to do our jobs, right? To give us the data we need to make sure the web pages are working properly. And there’s such a strong relationship between those three roles. Those three roles will still have that strong relationship. But I see the opportunity for marketers to be a little more self-serve,” Mandy says.

And because of that, marketers are able to expand their abilities while techs are able to expand their work.

“I think that then allows the developers and the data analysts to focus on things that are even more intensive. If we can take the lighter lifts off of them with AI tools and things like that, then they can focus on the things that they love to do that are more challenging and engaging for them.”

To learn more about NSS and the opportunities they have available, visit and say hey to Mandy if you see her!

Resources and Links

Nashville Software School:

Mandy Arola on Linked In