What it’s like to be in a Tech Bootcamp, Part 3

What it’s like to be in a Tech Bootcamp, Part 3

My First Impressions with Flatiron School

A bit more than a month ago, I wrote this post to update my status on attending bootcamp for Software Engineering and Web Development. I started at Flatiron School that same week and I loved it. They have you jump right in but provide ample support in case of shell shock. I especially enjoyed that right away we’re developing exclusively in our own environment so not only are we practicing code but we’re utilizing the command line (or CLI) and various other tools. It wasn’t long before things got challenging but they offer support via slack and live pair programming sessions if you’re really stuck, plus there’s always the network of peers at your level and beyond that are willing to help. Resources are plentiful.

For me, personally, it wasn’t long however before I realized that the job I was working to pay for this bootcamp at the tune of $1,200/month was going to interfere with my ability to learn. I was on my feet 9+ hours per day and that was wearing me thin, but on top of that, there was a factor of OT and the start of the fall semester looming in the future. My ability to code consistently at the level of effort I felt necessary was minimal and the stress piled up. I decided the timing wasn’t right for this bootcamp because frankly, I didn’t want to half-ass it and that was starting to happen after my fourth week in the program. So, not for lack of interest, I have withdrawn from the amazing program at Flatiron School.

The decision was made easier by the discovery of a work benefit that was previously unbeknownst to me: free college tuition.

 

College Ahead!

college lecture
Photo by Dom Fou on Unsplash

While a lot of folks insist a degree is not required to get a job in tech, I don’t think anybody would deny they can be beneficial to have. When I got laid off from Project Management in the outsourcing industry I tried without result to break into tech as a PM and, despite my years of experience on technical and tech-adjacent projects, I was told time and again that candidates with a degree were given preference. So, for me, accomplishing a degree in tech is a matter of principle and addressing obstacles head-on.

I’m incredibly grateful to the leadership at Walmart to allow their employees to pursue the acquisition of in-demand skills and schooling for no cost while they are employed with the company. This is something that the outsourcing companies I’ve worked with never offered and I believe it will have a tremendous effect on the lives of those who choose to engage those benefits. I never would’ve expected my summer job to help invest in my future career.

There was very little barrier to entry, I just had to be a U.S. employee (part-time or full-time) and get accepted to a participating school/program.

As of this week, I am officially participating in the SNHU Computer Science program with a concentration in Software Engineering. Anticipated graduation: 2024.

I feel tremendous relief not only about the tuition assistance but the slower pace. I found I was stressing myself out and bringing my mindset to a low point by trying to rush into tech when the pandemic hit and I was laid off. This decision feels right to me, I can code 4–8 hours a week before work and progress in school after work and on my days off and I like that.

laptop and phone on desk

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article…

You can expect a post from me at a minimum of every two weeks on topics related to my journey and if you have any questions that I’m not answering please don’t hesitate to reach out to me (comments, DMs, tweets, etc.)

What it’s like to be in a Tech Bootcamp, Part 2

What it’s like to be in a Tech Bootcamp, Part 2

My Motivation for Becoming a Software Engineer

Difficult Roads Lead To Beautiful Destinations

5 months ago, I wrote the introduction to this series highlighting my experience with YPracticum Web Developer Boot Camp. I was about to broach the intensive JavaScript sprints that spanned across 6 weeks and I could not have been more excited!

Then…

Imposter Syndrome and life got in the way.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I’d like to start fresh and share my motivation on why I am pursuing Software Engineering.

Shortly after I made that post, I became overwhelmed with my school assignments and lower-than-expected grades. This lead to a feeling of deep impostor syndrome.

Then, I had a challenging health issue pop up. All these factors culminated to prompt me to take an extended hiatus from YPracticum.

During my time away from the console, I spent some time introspectively beating myself up and questioning my dedication. I concluded the following:

  1. I have a passionate interest in technology and computer science that has not gone away. Before my career “diversion” (as I call it) in the BPO space, I was enrolled in a computer science degree fresh out of high school and I loved it.
  2. The creative and analytical sides of me converge on the problem-solving challenges that learning to build with code provides. It’s been all I’ve thought of most days, trying to overcome hurdles in online lessons and brainstorming ideas for sites and solutions of my own.
  3. There seems to be inherent security and a certain lifestyle that a job in tech can offer and that is positively appealing to me. It is not possible without hard work and grit, as to be expected.

My Decision to Leave YPracticum

Goodbye Friends

After my hiatus had run its course and I decided to re-enroll in boot camp, I had lost my scholarship status.

Given that I would be expected to pay installments or upfront for my education experience, I considered the opportunity seriously and decided to evaluate other boot camp offerings for comparison.

Before I had won my scholarship to YPracticum I was going through the enrollment process with Flatiron School and a few other options but I backed out when I found out about the scholarship opportunity.

Now that I would need to consider my investment in material terms other than time, I put all options back on the table and eventually went with what I thought would provide the most value: Flatiron School.

The career services offering from Flatiron School coupled with the results I read in their public jobs reports convinced me the value was there for the price point.

Looking Ahead with Flatiron School

I spent the rest of my Spring focused on college and my health and have completed June with a focus on the prerequisite work for the Software Engineering FLEX program with Flatiron starting July 5th.

There are key milestone projects throughout each of the program’s 5 phases so I will cultivate a portfolio in my learning process. There will be significant networking opportunities and I plan to learn in public through my blog and Twitter platforms.

Men walking through pathway
Photo by Tom Parkes on Unsplash

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article…

You can expect a post from me at a minimum of every two weeks on topics related to my journey and if you have any questions that I’m not answering please don’t hesitate to reach out to me (comments, DMs, tweets, etc.)

What it’s like to be in a Tech Bootcamp, Part 1

What it’s like to be in a Tech Bootcamp, Part 1

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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