tl;dr My school helped me get a career in something I'm passionate about, and it was only 7-months. This is a much better alternative to a 4-year degree, which I had already tried (not for programming) and failed at. I would be much more in debt had I gone back instead of going to a programming school, and in less than a year I'm employed and proud of having my first career.
I finished a coding school last month and am very happy with my decision. I had done a year of self-teaching before I tried my chances, and the hardest part was realizing that I would have more debt on top of my student loans. But, because I had explored programming and enjoyed learning through the struggle, I knew this was something I wanted to make a career out of.
I started with FreeCodeCamp and came to realize that I loved the struggle of completing their challenges, and because I remained interested in the content I was able to figure out the challenges and work my way up to more difficult ones. I also enjoyed their active online community, something I didn't have where I lived at the time.
Then I moved and after almost a year I finally applied to a school and was accepted. I chose this school because of their community and because they are a non-profit. It's a seven-month intensive program, and we explored more than just writing code. We talked about soft skills, we worked on group projects so we could experience how that might be in the field, and we learned about programming fundamentals. We were encouraged to have a mentor, which we could choose from a long list of alum who were willing to take their time and use it to teach someone else. And for the professional side we had projects to put on our resumes, assistance with reaching out and connecting with people to learn about company culture before applying and towards the end of the program we focused closely on programming interviews and how to negotiate with your job offers.
I'm very thankful for this program, and I am glad I didn't have to go back to college, which would have put me so much more in debt and I would have to wait four more years before finding a job. And I don't think that when I was college there was a front-end specific program, just CompSci (which, the 101 class taught us Java and almost scared me into not being a developer, though now that I've learned a language I am confident in learning others, but only when I feel that the time is right). I graduated last month, and I started my first job last Monday.
I will say that not everyone has time or is fortunate enough to do that much experimenting with programming before trying to commit to a program like this. Sure, a software development job sounds great because you can make some decent money, but if you don't enjoy it, why pursue it? I knew I genuinely liked programming because I studied it on my own for so long. Also, there aren't many schools like this out there, and some of the people who went through the 3-month boot camps ended up going to my school, because they did not know what to do next. It's sad, but yes, most of those bootcamps are a scam. However, my school actually cares about its students and tries to help them land fulfilling technical careers.
Thanks for sharing your experience, it's great to hear you've landed a new role and congratulations on coming so far. It's great to hear you've completed such a balanced course. Soft skills are so important because development is all about collaboration and working with people.
I love the way you say you 'enjoy learning through the struggle'. Part of the reason I enjoy what I do is because it is so challenging. But when you come out the other side and see what you've achieved, how far you've come, it's a great sense of accomplishment.
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