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Ellaine Tolentino
Ellaine Tolentino

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My coding bootcamp experience.

Hello there! I'm writing this for memories-sake and also to give an insight to people who are curious about what goes on in a student’s life in a coding bootcamp.
By no means I'm an expert or that everything will be the same for every student experience. This blog is specifically about how I experienced it, my feelings, and what were the struggles I faced during the bootcamp.

So, why did I decide to enroll in an online coding bootcamp? Going back to school has been in my plans for awhile now. Never really pulled the trigger on going to school until COVID hit the cities hard and I would have to be off of work for awhile. Coming from an interior design and hospitality background I didn’t know if I’m prepared enough for taking up an online class about software engineering.

Getting used to things..

The first day of school was nerve-wracking. The class starts at 9am ends and 6pm. During these first few weeks is where I started getting to know my cohort-mates and also learn new things like utilizing features of my computer, setting up my local machine environment to prep it in working with code.

Jack Black in Jumanji
EVERYTHING FELT SO FOREIGN TO ME and I felt lost. I reminded myself that I am not alone.

My struggle during this phase was trying to get that groove between doing labs(online homework/lecture) during and after class while also trying to accumulate new information from class lectures. It was tough learning how to learn again since I haven’t been in school for 8 years (Graduated college in 2012) and the majority of the time, I do schoolwork for 10-12hours and that’s including the 9am-6pm online class. I know I could’ve stopped doing school work right after class but I was scared that I will be left behind if I don’t.
The project for this phase is through pair programming and it was fun yet a little frustrating since I feel like I am not contributing enough. (Heavy impostor syndrome attack for sure!) My partner and I got through and we did good! All worries were just in my head. We made an event/game finder app through CLI (Command Line Interface)

Advice: Invest in a good computer, set up a comfortable space to work knowing you would have to be in front of the computer more than 6hrs a day, and make a habit of adjusting your time that’s in line with your school hours before the program starts. Here's my current setup!

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Am I worth it?

Sigh.. the first hurdle is out of the way and here’s comes the next. After finishing the first phase, a serious case of impostor syndrome hit me and the first question that comes to mind is, “Am I worth being in the 2nd phase?!” It dawned on me that there is so much to learn and that I should not rely on just the information that is given to me. In this phase of the bootcamp, I am developing my skill in researching better and also learning how to ask the right questions, or when and how to ask for help. In this phase, we now are working with a bigger group for our phase 2 project.
One memorable element of this phase for me is learning a different pace of workflow as your team builds an app. The dynamic is so much different than just a pair programming project. I sort of figured out where I excel on parts of our project and know where I need work on. It’s great to know your likes or strengths early on during this program.

Advice: Voice out concerns! Your feelings are valid! Be a team player and don’t be afraid to make friends! Your classmates definitely are the ones that could relate since you’re all going through the same thing.

First Solo Project! I did it!

WHAT??! I know right? I got to build my first solo project during this phase of the bootcamp. I was so scared at first since for the past two phases we’ve always been grouped up for project week. A little excited too since knowing I would have full control of my time and elements of the project. Impostor syndrome still is kicking in a lot during this phase.

Towards the end of project week, my body was running on fumes but the weird part is, it didn’t feel super tiring like I was expecting. I was sleeping around 2am-4am each night during the last few days of project week to finish little details and to look for bugs on my project. As the presentation day gets closer, I feel more excitement than exhaustion towards the fact that I’ll get to see different baby apps me and my classmates made!

Some screenshots of my project:

Wireframe of the app

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Game on Hard level + fantasy vector theme:

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Feeling a little behind.

Phase 4 here we go! This phase went by quickly for me. After all lectures and labs on the first few weeks, next thing we know it’s project week again! I felt a little behind in the sense of ‘do I know enough to be a good teammate?’. We were taught not to chase the green checkmarks on labs but it’s bothering me that I wasn’t able to zip through all of it. A lot of after school time working on labs and rewatching lectures happened and poof! It’s project week for phase 4!

This time we were split up into groups and the amazing part of it, I was grouped with the friends I made in the bootcamp! It was great, I got so excited to work on our project since these are the people I ‘hang out’ with on zoom breakout rooms a lot. We made a solid plan and work around each other times flawlessly and were able to finish our project on time for the presentation. The tricky part was figuring out how are we dividing labor during these times since Christmas break is coming up. We worked around each other’s schedules and made a pet game app!

Advice: When I feel like the impostor in me is kicking in, I tell myself "Compare yourself to the old version of yourself. Not to others, but yourself. See how much more you know now than days, weeks, or months ago?"

Here are some screenshots!

Log in page:

Log in page

Sample gameplay with a pet

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Capstone project(Graduation!)

Dun dun DUN DUNNNNN! The final phase of the bootcamp! So much pressure since the bootcamp is coming to an end!! So much has happened in the first few days of the phase and I don't know what to feel! A little overwhelmed but I know we all got this! Now we're kind of on our own. This whole phase is purely for that capstone project and it served as the final challenge for the bootcamp. For this project, we have to apply all we have learned. I am thankful that we had a taste of doing a solo project during the 3rd phase so being solo isn't as unfamiliar as the last time.

Here are some screenshots!

Main page on light mode

Main page on light mode

Sample product page

Sample product page

I am so thankful to have met my classmates and to learn from them! There are so many differences/quirkiness we have yet we can relate to each other one way or another! I was so scared going back to school thinking I wouldn't make friends or get to know anyone. I was totally wrong. So if you're thinking about trying something new, this is a sign that maybe you should! <3
Shout out to my cohort-mates/friends I met along the way!!
Zoom call screenshot
Zoom call screenshot 4 people

By the time any of you are reading this, I probably have graduated and now venturing the jungle of job-hunting. :) Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!

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