What was coding boot camp like? Part 2

This is the second part of answering questions about my boot camp experience. Make sure you also check out What was coding boot camp like? Part 1.

I enrolled in coding boot camp in February 2016 and I started at the end of March 2016. It was a 6 month long, part time boot camp at University of Central Florida. I wanted to answer some of the common questions that I get often from prospective students who want to know my point of view.

Logo text reads, UCF coding boot camp offers the only university based coot camp in Florida

What coding knowledge did you have before starting the boot camp?

Almost none. I had watched the YouTube videos of CS50 at Harvard and I had also done a little HTML and CSS editing, but I had not written a function, I could conceptually understand how a program ran, but I really was a noob.

I’m in college and I’m considering dropping out to attend boot camp. Should I do it?

Umh, I’m not your mom. (And yes I actually have been asked this question).

My thoughts on the matter are this, if you haven’t gotten your Bachelor’s degree and you won’t be getting a ton of student loans from going to college, stay in college. A Bachelors degrees is required for many software engineering jobs, even if it’s not in software engineering. I’m not able to help you evaluate your specific situation. The boot camp has admissions advisers you can talk to, you can talk to the guidance department at your college and also to friends and family, but I’m just a stranger on the internet, I’m not going to tell you to drop out of college.

Do you think the program was worth it?

YES!!! For me it definitely was. I would not have been able to learn as much as I did in such a short time period if it wasn’t for the boot camp, the curriculum and the staff was amazing. I definitely got my money’s worth.  Does that mean that you will get your money’s worth? I don’t know. It depends on how committed you are. I have a “Successful Coding Boot camp experience formula“, it is up to you if you’re going to have the same successful experience. If you set your mind to it, you will be able to accomplish a lot in a short time period.

I wanted to get a college degree in programming, but I didn’t have the luxury of time and the money to do it. I was going through major life changes at the time when I found the boot camp. I was hired at the largest insurance company in Florida as a software engineer two months after graduating from the boot camp. That is incredible to me, it’s such a life altering step. So YES, the boot camp was definitely worth it.

Should I read any books?

The boot camp I went through didn’t require any books and in fact recommended to stay away from them as it might confuse you. I would say, if you think of them as reference books, get

  1. HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites
  2. JavaScript and jQuery: Interactive Front-End WEb Development

But really, if you want to get a book, get a book. If you’re not in a boot camp, I’d say any way you want to learn to code, is up to you. The more exposure you have to code and coding concepts the better. Do what works for you.

 

Do you have questions that you’d like me to answer in a future blog post? Go to my Contact page, fill out the form and let me know what’s on your mind.

What was coding boot camp like? Part 1

I enrolled in coding boot camp in February 2016 and I started at the end of March 2016. It was a 6 month long, part time boot camp at University of Central Florida. I wanted to answer some of the common questions that I get often from prospective students who want to know my point of view.

Logo text reads, UCF coding boot camp offers the only university based coot camp in Florida

What was the most challenging project?

The final project was the most challenging, I spent so many hours trying to learn Angular and figuring out how to do things like user login and authentication. I used up all the office hours I could to get help, I got one session of tutoring and I used a service called Hackhands to get extra help. I was getting really frustrated because when I went to get help, I would spend time on such basic things like folder structure that I wasn’t seeing much difference on the page, but I didn’t realize at the time how important getting basic things like folder structure right would be.

What was the most challenging homework assignment?

I think all the homework assignments were tough, they are meant to challenge you. The one that brought me closest to tears was early on in the program, it’s called Hangman. We had a recommended assignment and then an alternative that is an easier assignment. I now recommend anyone going through the boot camp to do the easier assignment, if you can finish that in a couple of days do the recommended assignment. These assignments are tough and when you start this program with no coding experience, trying to do even the easier assignment is a real challenge.

What helped the most?

Creating habits where I was constantly coding helped me enormously. I can’t recommend enough having set time every week that you spend coding and also if you can try to do it with someone else who is on a similar level to you. I was working full time, going to boot camp part time and coding every minute that I could in between. I think what kept me motivated was that one of the TA’s, Victor, created a workshop for the students that were interested in extra challenges. He not only came up with additional material to compliment the boot camp lessons, he created coding challenges for us to solve, for example he wrote code and had big blanks in it that had to be filled out in order for the program to work. Having someone who was that invested in helping me succeed really kept me going and I wanted to make sure I was not wasting his time when I came to those workshops.

Are there any outside resources that you used to help you learn?

I did get a subscription to Code School, which has now been acquired and adopted into the Pluralsight platform. I also would read documentation, watch YouTube videos and I would use Mozilla’s Developer docs a lot.

Edit:

I wrote the second part to this, go check out Part 2

Why are you Princess Code Warrior?

I was working at Florida Blue, as a junior software engineer, the department I was in was being built and we were adding new teams frequently and were being shuffled around. We had one person who was cared a lot about titles who wanted a new title and a raise, that was not something that was available to him, so that person made the ultimatum either I get the title or I leave. That person ended up leaving. Our IT department manager came and talked to us, said that we could have whatever title we wanted to as long as we did the work.

On the spot I asked if the title Princess Code Warrior was available. He said yes. Since then I have kept the title Princess Code Warrior.

To me that title means that I’m a woman, a developer and I’m going to do my best to overcome my coding challenges. I’m going to work hard and I’m going to keep learning. I intend to be in this field for the rest of my working career, so I’m going to make it an awesome one.

Logo Princess Code Warrior with a pink crown on top of the text

New Girls Who Code Club starting in Chattanooga, TN

There’s a new club for girls interested in learning to code coming to Chattanooga, TN this fall. I’ll be starting a  Girls Who Code club at ChattLab, the makerspace here in Chattanooga.  This club is for girls in grades 6-12th.

Girls Who Code logo

Girls Who Code Clubs are free extracurricular programs for 3-12th grade girls, that teach participants about computer science (CS) in a fun and safe environment!

GWC Clubs take place throughout the academic year. They serve as a safe place for girls to spend time together, learning about CS and building their confidence.

Clubs provide participants with a sisterhood of supportive peers and role models, and an opportunity to use their skills to positively impact their community.

Clubs are hosted at non-profit locations, such as schools, libraries, and colleges/universities. They are led by volunteer Facilitators, who use the curriculum and resources provided by Girls Who Code on our learning platform, Girls Who Code HQ.

For information on this club and to be informed when the club starts up, e-mail Edna at edna@edna.tech