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My experience with a coding bootcamp

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Why I became a developer

When I was in middle school and high school I had the opportunity to mess around with a robot and really fell in love with the coding side of things. I enjoyed telling the robot what to do and immediately seeing the results on how clear your instructions were to the robot. In high school, I was in a technical academy and decided to pursue Mechanical Engineering but the prerequisites were just so mundane that I would just lose interest in the courses. I wasn't driven by A's and 4.0 GPA's, I wanted to get involved immediately and ended up leaving that for some other work-related courses.

At one of my jobs, I had a coworker that went through a bootcamp and had suggested it but I dismissed it and didn't think much of at that time. My HR manager suggested at one point that I should look into it but I also dismissed it. After leaving that job I really started thinking about what I enjoyed a lot and realized it was coding was similiar to robotics and decided to jump into and remembered my co-worker and HR manager had suggested I look into a bootcamp

What is a bootcamp

A coding bootcamp is an innovative new form of short-term, intensive, and often immersive education designed to provide aspiring tech professionals the technical skills they need to start careers in software engineering and other tech fields.

Why did I chose a coding bootcamp

  • I'm a hands-on learner and that is the best way that I retain information.
  • Coding bootcamp's are a lot shorter than a 4 year CS degree
  • Companies like Google and Apple are no longer requiring a college degree to get a job I didn't see any reason why I should go through a 4-year school to break into coding.

I had the time and some money saved up to focus on the bootcamp so I pulled the plug and jumped in.

How I chose a coding bootcamp

My priorities were price, location, and online reviews. I looked at some of the local bootcamps that were offered to me but the thought of paying for parking every day in downtown for 4-6 months for 8 hours just scared me away (looking back I could have parked further out and used public transportation to get to the location). So after figuring out that I didn't like the idea of spending so much money for parking I decided to go for an online bootcamp.

The structure of the coding bootcamp I chose

For 6 months I would work solo through the curriculum and would meet with a mentor twice a week for a 1-hour session to discuss my progress and if I had any questions. After completing the course I worked with a career coach that guided me through revisions of my resume and helped me respond to emails from companies if I wasn't certain about my response.

Mistakes that I made while going through the curriculum

  • I graduated at the wrong time
  • I didn't request a different mentor sooner. I need someone that would have kept me on track better and push me to get more done with the amount of time I had on my hands
  • I got too attached to my personal projects and tried making them as perfect as possible before submitting them and not just making them barely pass the requirements so that I could move on with the curriculum
  • I asked too many people that same question and got different opinions which left me in the same spot that I started

My review of my bootcamp

  • Some of the mentors were there for the money or weren't cut out to be mentors. Other mentors weren't as familiar with the MERN stack and would give you answers from StackOverflow that you have already tried.
  • Mistakes in the curriculum weren't corrected at all it seemed like. I would ask myself "How many other students noticed this mistake and reported it and why is it still here, it's an easy fix".

What I'm thankful for

  • The mentors that really loved their jobs as developers and as mentors and weren't there just for the money
  • The student's that I met along the way and was able to become friends with and still stay in touch with even though we never officially met besides in online sessions
  • That I was introduced to meetup's and was able to meet other developers in my city, I didn't know what meetups were before this

What I would have done differently

  • I think I would have potentially selected one of the local bootcamps and would have figured out the parking situation downtown. I believe a bootcamp that has you work in a group on client projects would have helped me gain actual-world experience sooner. I might have chosen a bootcamp like Epicodus where students finish their studies with a five-week internship.
  • If I were to take my bootcamp again I think I would have gone the group route that way I could get that experience of working in a group.
  • I would aim for graduation in mid-late December. I graduated in May right before everyone goes on vacation during the summer and then you have a little bit of a hiring season in the fall before the holidays and few posts during the holidays.

Please share your experience in the comment section

  • Bootcamp grad? What is your experience with the bootcamp that you went through?
  • Hire a bootcamp grad? Did you notice any differences between bootcamps and what do you think a bootcamp could do differently?

Top comments (2)

yvesgurcan profile image
Yves Gurcan • Edited

Thank you for sharing, Russ. Sorry to hear that you were disappointed by some of the people that were supposed to help you learn. Do you feel like you could have gotten maybe a similar kickstart if you had dedicated all the time you spent at the bootcamp learning on your own (starting projects, reading documentation, and so forth)? I'm glad you learned about meetups. These are amazing opportunities to learn something new, meet people, and even try your hand at speaking! They're also free most of the time and sometimes provide pizza to attendees :) I would recommend going to a meetup such as if you want to start networking!

russ profile image
Russ • Edited

My pleasure Yves.

Sorry to hear that you were disappointed...
It's alright it's life, you'll run into those kinds of people everywhere so one just needs to learn how to move on and not hold a grudge against them.

Do you feel like you could have gotten maybe a similar kickstart if you had dedicated all the time you spent at the bootcamp learning on your own (starting projects, reading documentation, and so forth)?

Looking at the moment I decided to choose a bootcamp:

  • I had no connections in the software development world besides coworkers at my previous place of employment.
  • I wouldn't know which language to learn and would be going between different review sites and looking at pro's and con's of each language
  • I would have avoided web development because I'm not a designer.
  • I would have bogged down in documentation and not getting hands-on experience with building projects

I'm not sure if going the self-taught route would have done much good to me before the bootcamp. I decided on the accelerated route with guidance and access to mentors in the industry.
After going through the bootcamp I have learned a lot for sure. I have learned that:

  • Web development is not just designing
  • A lot of developers are friendly and ready to help
  • Meetup is awesome for networking with developers
  • Freecodecamp is a trusted source for going the self taught route
  • Udemy is another great option if you read the reviews on the courses

I would recommend going to a meetup such as if you want to start networking!

I do attend meetups quite frequently I just need to work on talking to new people and getting out of my bubble more frequently (have gotten better since I started this journey). I haven't attended the Front End Small Talk meetup yet tbh, I'll definitely consider it in the future.