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8 Q&A's for Bootcamp Students in 2020

This week I did a Q&A for Fullstack Academy's (FSA) Bootcamp Prep students - copying out my answers here! This was the bootcamp I went through 3 years ago so I'm always happy to give some time back to people going through the same career change I did.

Table of Contents


What made you want to start writing a book about coding careers?

It was a couple of factors - i had 2 months off between jobs before i was going to join AWS, and then my most successful writing to date had been a career advice essay, so I went where my readers pointed me to go!

What is something you wish you knew during the bootcamp and right after graduation (while looking for a first job)?

  • take it easy on algorithms, even Google doesnt have time to test you on writing heap sorts in their technical interview. Most of Cracking the Coding Career is not tested (at least at our level)
  • social pressure is helpful when jobhunting - there is a huge “Cliff” after graudation when people tend to slack off and veg out and dont know how to get into the grind of the job search. organize weekly standups with friends and report what you did and what you will do.
  • read technical books like YDKJS and go thru workshops like frontendmasters/eggheadio. solidify your fundamentals, there was a lot of rushing during the bootcamp
  • more:

Are there any podcasts/coding talks that you recommend listening to for beginners?


In particular, check out the BaseCS and CodeNewbie podcasts - just go thru the back catalog! lots of good stuff! for career transition stories i liked the Freecodecamp and Breaking Into Startups podcasts as well.

What was your (career) background before joining FSA? what made you choose FSA?

I was in finance before FSA. I chose FSA by applying to a bunch of bootcamps (flatiron, hackreactor, GA) and picking the one with the hardest entrance exam. theory is, if the exam is hard, everyone i study with will also be high quality. also i think “exam” is the wrong word. more like a short technical interview.

In addition to the coursework at FSA, did you have to learn anything else (programming language, framework etc) to secure your first job at a programmer?

No. plain and simple. i only needed to know html/js/css. i got my job from the very first person i sat down with at FSA’s hiring day. probably got lucky lol

I understand you graduated from FSA in 2017? In last 3 years with increase in bootcamps and bootcamp grads, do you think industry's outlook towards bootcamps have changed?

No the industry’s outlook hasnt changed. if anything, its better, bc many bootcamp grads are sr devs now. i would say that the covid recession has made the post bootcamp job search a bit harder. but i still see jr devs getting first jobs all the time so its not 0.

I was wondering what drew you in to apply for a job at AWS, what certs did you get and/or study tools did you use before applying, and how was the interview process?

I applied for AWS because i knew my now-manager for 2 years and i wanted to experience the BigCo life. I didn’t get any certs, at all. interview process was mostly alright, except the final onsite day! a lot of tough questions. if you get there i’ll be happy to coach you thru it!

for more on my AWS story

I really do want to work remotely, do you have any insights / recommendations for that route ?

Yes - contribute to open source, write a lot. when you work remotely, people have to trust that you can be self motivated (more than the average in-office worker) and that you can communicate very well (since you have to replace hallway/watercooler/casual meeting chats with slack/github/internal memos)

In particular contributing to open source demonstrates ability to take issues, clarify requirements, and execute independently, in a code setting.

When you apply for these kinds of jobs with proof that you can already work well under a simulated “remote” setting then its much easier to say yes!

as an example - this is something i just did for work, today it has no difference at all from normal open source work, except that i get paid for it lol


That's it - if you're currently considering or going through a Bootcamp, feel free to leave further questions here or @ me on Twitter or buy my book :). Good luck, this is a scary journey but you can do it!

Top comments (2)

perpetual_education profile image
perpetual . education

We love hearing about how boot camps worked out! We wrote a list of ways to vet boot camps: Do you have anything you think we should add? Thanks!

annietaylorchen profile image
Annie Taylor Chen

Great post Shawn... I read through your github ama as well. One thing is: I want to work with the tech stack Iearned, used, and liked. I don't want to work with wordpress (unless only use it as headless cms) any more. That's for sure limited a lot of junior jobs and a lot of freelance jobs too. Right now it's a pretty tough time, so I figure if I don't get job yet I will just continue learning... perhaps dig deeper into computer science stuff I didn't have time to learn or bite through CTCI.