This summer, in August, I won access to a 10-month web development bootcamp through Practicum by Yandex for completely free; thanks to Danny Thompson(@DThompsonDev on Twitter)! This is my humble review of experiences thus far in the program.

First, I should mention that I am technically not at the 6 month mark in the bootcamp. Due to unforeseen life issues I had to defer my official start with YPracticum until their 11th cohort which began in December. They were incredible helpful and supportive of my situation as it was unclear when I’d be able to begin at first. Their program allows for two 1-month long hiatuses as needed in your learning, so I chose to front load my hiatuses as I new once I overcame a few things I could be wholly committed. Again, I can’t emphasize how flexible they were – definite good first impression.

woman in tech bootcamp in front of laptop

How it works…

YPracticum has a structure to their bootcamp that I expect is relatively standard from the research I’ve done. There’s an introductory and free coding prerequisite that showcases the flow of the bootcamp while covering some beginner level topics with HTML and CSS. You get access to a Slack workspace in order to discuss any questions you might have and to address any potential bugs in the system on the web. Their team is supportive and responsive for sure.

Once you complete the intro course you’re prompted to purchase the bootcamp if you wish to proceed. In my circumstance, having one the bootcamp in a giveaway, I was redirected from this prompt once I put in the e-mail I registered with so I can’t speak to ease of use in signup for the payment section. Once you’re assigned to a cohort, a Community Manager (who is responsible for fostering a positive experience and soliciting feedback and organizing community events throughout) will reach out to you via Slack to pull you into your respective cohort’s space. There’s some introductory documentation in a Notion manual that will help you acclimate to the flow you can expect.

man and woman in front of laptop at tech bootcamp

YPracticum applies an Agile methodology approach to the scheduling of the bootcamp activity. This means that the material on their web platform is organized into sections called sprints and you follow a sprint schedule for all your work and projects. It’s generally a two-week period where you’re expected to study the material and begin work on the project by the end of the first week and allowed opportunity to revise and iterate on the project to meet the brief standards in the second week.

I spend 20-25 hours per week working on bootcamp in addition to my own time studying other dev-related topics outside of this along with a full time college student schedule (CS degree 🤓). It’s manageable for sure if you’re working full time as long as there is a reasonable degree of discipline which you possess. My advice is start early so you know you won’t miss the deadline and get it out of the way, 1-2 hours a day goes far!

It’s also worth mentioning that in the code review process you’re allowed four attempts to pass the specifications of the project brief; so, it’s worth taking notes when you’re reviewing the material and completing the examples before you start the project. The reviewers are through but fair in my experience.

Where I’m at…

So far, being 2 months into the actual material and 3 projects completed I feel good about my decision to go with YPracticum over handing out significant cash for some of the other options on the market at the moment. The Community Manager set the stage appropriately for the whole experience and the other staff involved in the learning process are experts in their field, knowledgable and reasonably responsive when they are called upon (some, if not most, are international so you may not get an immediate response but it hasn’t set me back at all). You get access to a tutor that acts as a group guide, doing live coding examples relevant to each project sprint and the two that I’ve met have been US based, so while staff may be across time zones – the ones you interface with most often are US based from what I can tell.

The cohort I’m in is comprised of international students across many timezones so sometimes peer to peer communication is a bit asynchronous but there’s a good blend of folks in my time zone (or working when I’m working, if not local geographically). It’s been an invaluable experience for me to engage with folks at my level of learning and is a pleasant bonus for a remote bootcamp that was intended to be 100% online from the start.

The projects have had an increasing level of difficulty as I’ve progressed through the material, but it’s not been such that I feel they are outside of what should be expected once you’re through studying. It’s reasonably challenging, in a good way. The last project I did was on responsive design, it has a reputation of being a more involved project but I really enjoyed the challenge and review process.

group of people collaborating around their laptops

What’s next…

Sprint 4 starts the 6-weeks of JavaScript study before frameworks and other backend technologies are introduced and I couldn’t be more excited. I plan to begin a series on my experience in this bootcamp and will definitely share another post after the JavaScript immersion has taken place.

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