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About mollyc

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  1. Thorsen has provided support for the selective enrollment processes for over 10 years. Of particular relevance is our recent development of an algorithm to leverage CPS purchased IPSCII selection silo. When the current vendor was unable to produce the needed functionality to display this year’s selection results, we partnered with CPS to sync data from the current system and display it to parents and administrators via a web portal linked to the current School Mint system. We delivered that solution over the course of 8 weeks resulting in on-time, on-budget delivery. View the full article
  2. Thorsen has worked with various departments at the University of Chicago for over 10 years. As such we have developed student management systems, grant tracking, and alumni giving details, creative services project management systems and created mobile solutions for the Office of Special Events. Within each system, we developed linked to legacy systems (Banner) via a variety of technologies to ensure we were meeting the goals of IT. View the full article
  3. For the UIC College of Nursing developed and integrated application system that augmented their legacy Banner system. Banner was unable to accommodate special case submission and/or process additional key information including referrals and special certification. We partnered with UIC to provide a web-based solution with full integration to their legacy system. View the full article
  4. The College of Education needed a custom database built to monitor student applications and evaluations. We partnered with this group and provided a web-based solution to allow them to track metrics of student performance. View the full article
  5. by 2015 Women of FileMaker Luncheon The 2015 Women of FileMaker luncheon will be held on Wednesday, July 22nd from noon-2 p.m. The luncheon will be held in the Nolita Ballroom at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, Las Vegas during DevCon 2015. Please register in advance at the Women of FileMaker website as seating will be limited this year. You may also join the event via our Facebook Group. This is a great opportunity to network with other women business owners and developers from around the world. We look forward to seeing you there! by View the full article
  6. by Online FileMaker Pro Training: Registration is open for the Fall 2015 JumpStartFM online FileMaker training course. The one-month class begins September 8, 2015. For more information, visit www.jumpstartfm.com or to request a JumpStartFM FAQ email Heidi Rettig at Thorsen Consulting. The JumpStartFM course format allows students to work at a pace that is consistent with their abilities and the distance-learning format is flexible enough to accommodate existing work and personal commitments. Molly Thorsen Connolly is a FileMaker Excellence Award-winning developer and founder of Thorsen Consulting and JumpStartFM. She has been working with FileMaker since 1989 developing custom software solutions, training and high-quality information resources for clients and developers. JumpStartFM is 100 percent online and includes one-on-one feedback, coaching support and code reviews from Connolly and top instructors David Knight, Cris Ippolite, Matt Navarre and Debbie Zempel. by View the full article
  7. by Are you headed to Las Vegas for DevCon 2015? Be sure to attend the keynote on Tuesday, July 21st at 9:00 a.m. This year marks DevCon’s 20th anniversary and the FileMaker team will be introducing scholarship winners Keena Tomko and Jesse Wakley. Tomko and Wakley will represent FileMaker’s “newest” developers and will share the platform with the longest-running FBA developers attending the conference. The FileMaker team will also present what’s ahead for the product and give an update on the business environment. See you there! by View the full article
  8. by New Features and Training Resources for FileMaker 14 The latest release from FileMaker came just after the start of our June 2015 JumpStartFM class. Molly Connolly put together a quick list of tips and resources for developers tackling the changes in FM14: Cris Ippolite has added two videos to his comprehensive training course on Lynda.com. One video covers the new features available in FileMaker 14 and the other offers training on those new features to get you started. Cris Ippolite is a skilled instructor and his Lynda.com videos and JumpStartFM sessions are favorites among our students. Soliant Consulting has prepared a series of short instructional videos for FM14. The free videos “Unboxing FileMaker 14″ are posted on the Soliant Consulting blog and on YouTube. Martha Zink’s demonstration of “The New Script Workspace” is helpful to anyone who wants to learn to write scripts with more efficiency: Richard Carlton Consulting has updated his 30 hour video series for FileMaker 14. This very affordable short course is summarized in the introductory video available on the website. What FM14 training resources are you finding helpful? by View the full article
  9. by FileMaker DevCon 2015 DevCon 2015 is just around the corner and I’m busy planning my schedule and getting ready to help out with the pre-conference training sessions. I look forward to attending DevCon each year and I’m always glad to connect in person with friends and colleagues from all over the world. I thought I’d share my schedule and I hope you’ll join us at one of these events: Wednesday, July 22nd from 12-2 p.m. – “Women of FileMaker Luncheon.” Join us for the 10th annual Women of FileMaker luncheon at DevCon 2015. View attendees and add your name to the list here. “Visionary Bar.” Once again I have the pleasure of organizing the “Visionary Bar.” If you need answers or advice to help you build more powerful applications using the FileMaker Platform, head to the FileMaker Visionary Bar in the Exhibitor Showcase. Get hard-core tech support, trouble-shooting and business advice from the world’s top experts. The Visionary Bar is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday basically starting after the opening keynote until 5PM each day. Molly Connolly will be working at the Visionary Bar after the keynote presentation. Bring your questions or just stop in to say hello! by View the full article
  10. by Kimberly Carlson is VP of Operations but is new to FileMaker. After about a year in her position at MSN Media, she decided to take the plunge and join the June 2015 JumpStartFM. “I’d never heard of FileMaker before last August,” said Carlson. “I started working with Matt Navarre at MSN Media full time in September, and I’ve been aching to learn it ever since.” After the live kick-off event on June 1, Carlson completed the JumpStartFM training plan. Completed by each student who participates in the course, this document begins the conversation with the instructors that helps them tailor JumpStartFM to the learning goals of each individual. The JumpStartFM training plan asks students to identify a set of desired learning outcomes for the one-month course as well as a few short-term and long-term goals for their careers. Kimberly Carlson says, “After my conversation with Molly Connolly, we agreed that my initial goals for JumpStartFM were set way too high. Molly has so much experience training new developers. She helped me take on a more realistic approach given my experience with FileMaker is fairly limited.” After discussing her training plan, Molly and Kimberly agreed on a revised set of learning outcomes. At the end of the JumpStartFM FileMaker training course, Kimberly will be able to take on QA and testing; billing clients after just one month. The training plan also asks JumpStartFM students to identify some measures of success so that they can evaluate their progress toward their own learning goals. Even after just one week of JumpStartFM, a new developer like Kimberly Carlson is able to measure a change in her FileMaker skill set: “What used to take me ten minutes now takes me ten seconds. What seemed overwhelming at first is starting to flow. It’s really quite satisfying to know I can create a button that performs a script and WORKS.” by View the full article
  11. by New Format for JumpStartFM Online FileMaker Training JumpStartFM just wrapped up its June session and this group of students is the first to try out the new format for the course. The June 2015 class kicked off with a live session led by Molly Connolly. Using a web-conferencing program, students received an overview of the course and its objectives and students had the chance to introduce themselves to one another. Registered JumpStartFM students receive a login that enables access to the live presentations, recorded instruction videos and course assignments. This format allows for flexibility for students with busy schedules. If you can find wifi or have access to a personal hotspot, you can go to class! The second session was a recorded presentation on professional skill building for FileMaker developers. In this screen shot, you’ll see some of the tips Debbie Zempel gave JumpStartFM students in the Design & Usability lectures: Many self-employed developers join JumpStartFM when they are ready to take their skills to the next level. Other developers might be trying to position themselves to take on more responsibility on company projects. Students are telling us that the convenience and flexibility of JumpStartFM’s new format makes it much, much easier to find time for professional development, which is great! The next JumpStartFM session is scheduled for September, 2015. Send us an email if you’d like more information about the next class. by View the full article
  12. by Billable Tasks to Assign to Junior Developers By Molly Connolly Summer is a great time to hire and train a new college graduate. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about how junior developers can quickly get up to speed and start contributing billable hours to client projects. A junior developer can handle all support call logging and, after some training, even provide the client with some initial help. This responsibility allows junior staff to become familiar with clients’ issues and see patterns across projects. Do simple custom changes, billing the client one hour in three. Participate in quality assurance and testing; data entry (creating test data); data cleanup and interface cleanup. Take charge of drafting weekly reports for the team and report work flow blockages to project manager. When these tasks are complete, a junior developer could use his or her time to: Watch videos, read FileMaker books, forums, listen to podcasts and work through FTS. Provide administrative support to marketing staff or assist with new client proposals. Several managers use the month long JumpStartFM course to train junior developers. If you have a budget for training, this may be the quickest way to on-board a new hire. What are some of the things on your plate that you wish you could delegate to another staff member? Can any of these items be broken into small pieces and assigned to a junior developer? I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts about managing junior staff in the comments section. by View the full article
  13. by By Molly Connolly Over the years I’ve found myself in a position to both hire developers and help developers find good jobs. Since I talk to both developers who are looking for work and developers who are looking to fill FileMaker positions, I thought it might be helpful to share a list of things you could do to strengthen your own job applications. Whether you are looking for a full-time position or work as a sub-contractor, including this information will increase your chances of getting hired and winning the salary you’re looking for. If you have anything to add to this conversation or you’d like to submit a question, please leave a comment! I’d love to hear your thoughts and develop these ideas in future posts. Molly Jobs in FileMaker: 5 Things to Help You Get Hired 1. Submit a sample file. If your previous work is proprietary or was created as part of a team so you aren’t able to showcase your skills, then build a simple file that shows me that you can build something yourself. Your sample file tells potential employers much more about your skill set than your resume ever will. Show us: You have decent design skills. Submit sample file that uses a template; that lines up fields, has decent navigation and is easy to use. You have decent Quality Assurance skills: Check your tab order, don’t leave me hanging, and give me a user name and password that works. You know how to properly implement standards (I don’t care if you use anchor-buoy or not, I just want to know that you are consistent) You understand relational design: Build at least 3 tables in to your sample file. I’d love to see a few complicated join files The scripts and calculations you’ve included demonstrate that you know what you’re doing. 2. Get certified in the current version of FileMaker. Certification is the path toward making more money and getting jobs quickly. Seeing Certification on a resume is a metric that makes it easier for companies to identify you as a viable candiate and typically qualifies you for a higher rate of compensation. While Certification won’t demonstrate your development and consulting skills, it will be an indication of your commitment to learning and the time you’ve invested to study and take the exam. I wouldn’t wait to submit your resume until you obtain or update your certification, I’d just put it on your “to do” list. Better yet, initiate and commit to the Certification process and include it in your cover letter as work in progress. 3. Focus your resume on FileMaker experience. When I’m reviewing candidates for an open position I spend the most time looking at your sample file. But before I send candidates forward to the hiring manager I do make sure each candidate’s resume is a good match for the job description. Here’s a brief checklist of items to strengthen your CV: Make sure your resume has a focus on your FileMaker specific experience. Highlight your FileMaker experience either at the top of the page as a list of bullet points or in your cover letter. Go into detail about your skill set and project experience. If you’ve implemented a security system using LDAP or integrated using ESS, the hiring manager wants to know about that. Do you have consulting experience? Describe how you’ve analyzed, designed and implemented projects for your clients. Have you provided training and technical support? Tell us. 4. Write an honest cover letter. Don’t beat around the bush! Tell me what you want. If you don’t want to be a technical lead because you prefer to put your head down and just code go ahead and say so. If you’re looking for work as a sub rather than a position as full-time employee, tell us how many hours you want. If you are great at technical support but want to manage projects and developers, put it out there. It’s helpful for me to get a picture of where you love spending your time so I can better refer you to the places where you can be the most successful. 5. Be realistic about [what the market will pay]. The company who owns the project ultimately assumes all the risk of the delivering the project to the client. Decide if it’s worth it to you to earn a lower rate because you can rely on someone else land the sale, sign the contract, manage the project and be accountable for any budget overruns or issues. As a sub-contractor you’ll make $35-85/hour even though you may be billed out at $100-175/hour. Don’t assume all that extra cash is going into your employer’s pocket. Typical project profit margins are 20-30% in our industry. So before you set your sub-contract rate at $100/hour (which no one will pay), do your research on what it really takes to land and manage a project on your own. If you’re ready for the risk–there are plenty of resources to help you get there. In the meantime, I often encourage people to lower their rate to stay busy rather than waiting for the big fish to come in. Additional information: Looking for full-time work? You might find it helpful to review salary levels I put together in a previous blog post, “How Much Do FileMaker Developers Make? If you want to spend time developing your technical, consulting, and project management skills, we spend a lot of time digging in to these topics in my JumpStartFM class. by View the full article
  14. by A Profile of 2015 DevCon Scholarship Winners: Keena Tomko and Jesse Wakley by Molly Connolly and Cris Ippolite We are happy to announce the winners of the 2015 DevCon Scholarship! FileMaker developers Keena Tomko and Jesse Wakley were selected to attend this year’s conference in Las Vegas*. For their award, each will receive a full conference pass. Please find below selections from both candidates applications essays. Not that many years ago, Keena Tomko found herself newly widowed with a family to support. “In addition to all the emotions you would expect, I was also faced with a very practical problem: Money. I had massive medical debt and no idea what to do next.” Tomko came across FileMaker Pro almost by accident. “For over a year, I studied FileMaker on my lunch hours and commutes, squinting my way through online tutorials and videos. I organized every aspect of my life into tables and fields and had recurring nightmares about conditional value lists. Finally, through a friend, I found my first client and I launched my business (Prism Database Design) in 2014. Tomko’s business is doing well and she’s using her experience to inspire new developers! “There are many other people who are in similar situations — bright and willing to work but with no clear path before them…I formed a coaching group, “Developing Women and Men” and my group is diverse: three stay-at-home moms, two people with disabilities, a couple of college students, a few people from Clay County, WV (the job market there is almost nil, but they have internet), two musicians who train and will work on the road, a good guy with a felony in his past, three college graduates stuck in low-paying jobs, and my fourteen year old (because she’s old enough to start working and she’d rather design layouts than find a babysitting gig). So, the DevCon scholarship will also benefit the careers of nineteen (and counting) other potential developers who will get every drop of knowledge I can absorb while I’m there.” 2015 DevCon Scholarship winner Jesse Wakley has worked with FileMaker for a number of years in the healthcare setting. “I have used FileMaker whenever possible in the hospital setting, and I’ve created FileMaker solutions for physician groups as a consultant, all of which are actively in-use today. The largest database is a multi-million record solution for managing collections.” Wakley’s commitment to ongoing learning is evident in his completion of the entire collection of FileMaker training videos available on Lynda.com Wakley has also begun working on completing the FileMaker Training Series or FTS in preparation for DevCon. Employed by the same hospital for nearly a decade, Wakley recently learned that his position was being cut in an organizational restructure. “My goal is to replace my current employment activities with FileMaker development,” says Wakley. “I have loved working in FileMaker from the first version I purchased – FM10. I am entering a phase in my life that makes the timing of DevCon and this scholarship of particular value to me and I’m very appreciative of the opportunities the conference experience will bring.” Keena Tomko and Jesse Wakley were chosen from a very competitive group of essays! Please keep an eye out for Tomko and Wakley at 2015 DevCon in Las Vegas and say hello. We would like to thank all the FileMaker developers who submitted an application to the 2015 DevCon Scholarship. *Two full conference passes to 2015 DevCon were provided by Thorsen Consulting and i-Solutions. by View the full article
  15. by I recently posted about the importance of identifying the type of developer you are or aspire to be. In that article I differentiated between two types of developer: project and support. In this post I will expand on the attributes of a support developer and why those attributes can be important when expressing interest in a new FileMaker development position. A key revenue generator for any FileMaker consulting business is the maintenance of existing systems that are already in production. The FileMaker platform’s rapid development and flexible nature lend itself perfectly to a constant flow of modifications, enhancements, and upgrades. New work from existing clients is the cheapest work to get because the business relationships have already been established. The owner of a FileMaker Business Alliance Platinum Level company once told me that over 80% of that company’s yearly revenue comes from system maintenance. There’s an incredible amount of value in doing it well. Support developers specialize in maintaining existing systems, what I call support work. They are able to quickly troubleshoot and fix code that may have been developed many years ago by developers who are long gone, on archaic unsupported versions, with techniques that only made sense at that time. They often have a broad knowledge of FileMaker’s capabilities rather than a deep knowledge in only one or two specific areas. They are multi-taskers who have no trouble changing gears at the drop of a hat, touching dozens of different systems in a relatively short period of time, and maintaining a sense of focus and calm amidst sometimes stressful, and often times completely chaotic situations. They can communicate with brevity, accuracy, and a positive tone, even when the news isn’t so great. In many FileMaker shops, the perception is that support work should be relegated to junior developers who are less experienced, and big new custom projects should be saved for senior developers. This is baffling considering how important it is to maintain ongoing relationships with great clients who provide consistent work and (hopefully) consistent payment. While support work is invaluable for junior developers to quickly acquire a breadth of development knowledge, a blend of support and project work alongside senior developers makes more sense for everyone, including the clients. The bottom line is that support work is a critical part of any FileMaker development shop’s bottom line. If you love fast-paced problem solving, the challenge of working on several different systems in a short period of time, and can stay calm and communicate well under stress, then you are probably what any FileMaker shop is exactly looking for in their next hire. Be sure to express those attributes when discussing new opportunities with prospective employers and let them know the value of what you can bring to the table. At Thorsen Consulting, we’re not interested in just filling positions. We work with many development shops around the country helping them find talented developers like you. We have our finger on the pulse of the FileMaker industry and we want to help you find the right opportunity so you can maximize your skills and get into your development zone. So let us know what you’ve done and what you’re looking to do, and let us help you find the right place to do it. by View the full article
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