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JennyJudova (they/them)
JennyJudova (they/them)

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How I became a developer in 95 days or my journey into code

When does a journey begin? The moment you have an idea to do it? The moment you commit and buy tickets? Or with the first step, you take out of your house?

In 2019 I started learning to code although it was an easy decision for me there were a few failed starts. I did not start with development but with Data Science. I did not check what os was needed for the online course - turns out the course was done for Windows, so installing everything on a Mac lead me to do a bit of Java and a lot of tinkering. Data Science did not stick but that did lead me to learn Python. And then to come across free code camp and discover JavaScript. Of course, as 30% of the internet is WordPress and WordPress is PHP I also tinkered with PHP.

My first GitHub commit happened on the 2nd of April 2019. Sometime in May-June, I realised that I am more excited about coding at home than my day job which I loved. So I started looking at BootCamps and if I could afford them.

GA pre-course work

I applied for GA got in and handed in my 2 months notice. This lead to 40 days of waiting and working on the GA pre-course homework. Then on the 2nd of September came the course. The course lasted 60 workdays and it took me 35 days (35 days that I was actually job hunting) to receive a job offer.

It took me 95 days to go from knowing some Python, JavaScript, CSS, HTML and PHP to be able to create a full-stack application to getting hired as an engineer.

JJ laptop

Why a Bootcamp?

I found it incredibly hard to carve out time to learn while working full-time. I needed to immerse myself into code an on-campus full-time course seemed like the best option. I choose to do it in person in class rather than online because education is never just about learning but also about the network and the peer group that educational facilities provide. For what it's worth being able to plug into a
developer network from the get-go made my journey less lonely.

The stack we learnt was impressive: JavaScript, React, Python, Django, CSS, Sass, HTML, SQL, NoSQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB. 

And the people I met, well my cohort bonded :)

SEI 43 on a night out

How much did it cost?

The course together with 5 months of being unemployed cost me £12k. I will add two caveats here I am not including my flat and bills into this sum. The second is that I pretty much lived as I always did. I did not live as frugally as I could have, to give an example when I needed to splurge on 120-pound trail running shoes I did.

Trail running shoes

What was the schedule like?

I am militant when I study. I was this way in school, at university and Bootcamp. I took the idea of the Bootcamp a bit too far.

I would come to GA between 8:30–9 am, I would do my life admin stuff until 9:30 am. Then we had a stand-up and then classes until 4–5 pm. Then I would either do homework with my class and stay until 7–9 pm or head home eat and do homework in solitude. On weekends it was more homework.

Weekend coding

Before I started the course I promised to myself that I will make time to go to the gym at least 2 times a week and run 5k at least 2 times a week. I did find myself at the gym in some ridiculous hours like 10 pm. But I only had 1 or 2 weeks where I missed either a gym day or a running day.

Friday was the only exception to most rules. We would go for a group lunch and after the class finished at 4 pm we would go to a pub. As weeks went by and we got more comfortable with each other our pub stays went from 'just one drink' to 'last orders'.

Did the Bootcamp help with job hunting?

GA is very careful to promise only things that they can actually do and deliver on. I found the outcomes team incredibly supportive and useful. They by no means did the job hunt for me, but job-hunting would have been a lot harder without them. The most important guidance they offered was around putting together my CV (something I am bad at), creating opportunities to meet previous graduates, and organising Meet and Greet.

Meet and Greet

The truth is most Junior developer roles are not advertised. So your options are either to cold email people or to find opportunities where you can meet them in person. Meet and Greets are career/talent fairs organised my GA. When I had mine I got 5 interviews, and one company waivered the interview process and jumped straight to the coding challenge.
Another career fair worth looking into is Silicon Milkroundabout.

Evening coding

Was it scary changing careers?

For me, the idea of not doing it was scarier. That said it was an adjustment. 

I had to get comfortable with learning again, with not knowing and with being out of my comfort zone. Getting over the fright of making an idiot out of myself by asking something dumb. And reminding myself that there is no such thing as a stupid question.

I have to admit I enjoyed going back to school for a short time because for the first time in years I did not have to think about or worry what comes next my biggest worry was what to do for my final project.
It was also great to discover new things about myself my likes and dislikes and explore my interests in industries such as finance, cybersecurity and compliance.

Weekend projects

Would I recommend it?

YES. But ask anyone of any profession if they would recommend others to join their profession and the answer is usually 'yes'.

My one advice is - do some coding before you hand in your notice and decide to become a developer. A career as a developer is sometimes positioned as a 'silver bullet', a quick way to improve your life and gain access to the well-paid tech sector jobs. I am definitely one of the people who are happy to spread the word about the 'good news of being a developer'.

But if you don't enjoy coding you will not become a developer.
Do some coding to figure out if you enjoy it or not.

Coding is not that hard to pick up, you don't need to be a math wiz or the smartest kid in class. It also does not take that long to pick it up, but the learning curve at the beginning is very very steep. Make sure that you enjoy coding because if you do not you will find it impossible to learn. Spending 12 hour days unemployed and learning to code when you hate coding is an impossible task. And if you enjoy coding well these 12 hour days will be some of the happiest in your life.

JJ laptop

Top comments (1)

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Congrats! I'm definitely a big proponent of taking the plunge. You'll never be 100% ready, might as well get doing it!