A Millennials Journey- The road to a Fulfilling STEM Career
Check In # 3
So your girl has been seriously super busy this past couple of months. I want to dive into what has transpired since my last check in, if you are new to my journey I would encourage you to check out my previous check in’s here.
I am beyond blessed to share that I was accepted into the boot camp program!!!!!!! I would totally be lying to all of you if I wasn’t beyond excited and slightly nervous to learn in-demand skills and of course become a part of the tight-knit technical community here in Atlanta. The application process was extremely competitive as the school prides itself on small class sizes and accepting only the best talent.
During this check-in, I want to provide an overview of my experience with the application, scholarship and pre-work processes and provide some tips to make sure you stand out. Stay tuned as these tips will be sure to help as you pursue your educational pursuits and beyond.
Let’s see where to begin, I gave myself 3 months to research programs, search LinkedIn profiles/schedule informational interviews with alumni and read course packets/syllabi. I wanted to get a diverse set of perspectives to ensure I had a comprehensive understanding of what to look for in a boot camp. I would highly encourage anyone interested in a coding boot camp to do extensive research- coursereport.com is an excellent site that allows you to read reviews on various boot camps.
I will preface and say not all programs are the same, some may have more relaxed admissions standards than others. What really intrigued me about the program, I ultimately selected was the multi-layered approach to selecting prospective students. I went into this career transition journey with the mindset that I would have to work my butt off and overcome challenges to get my foot in the door and that’s exactly what it took to get through this process.
I personally dedicated at least 4–6months of self-study using free online resources before, I even started the application. I wanted to have a certain level of confidence in my level of understanding of the basics before I dove into the application process. Feel free to check out my last check in to read about the free resources that helped me get started.
The application took approximately 30–45 minutes to complete. The questions were pretty standard as far as wanting to know more about your goals, motivation, and passion for the coding/development field. I applied for the program right before the holidays (I know I know, not the best move on my part lol). A week or so passed after the holidays and I never received a confirmation from the school regarding my application. I decided to call the school to follow up.
I spoke to the Campus Director and she was so sweet and genuinely apologetically about not sending the next steps email. She shared that things around the office were quite chaotic around the holidays. We had a really pleasant conversation and I expressed how eager I was to move forward in the process.
Tip- BE PERSISTENT!!! I could have easily assumed the school wasn’t interested because I never heard back. If this is something you really want, you have to stay focused and keep your eyes on the prize.
Tip- Be very clear and genuine as to why you want to get into the tech field and try to craft a story that is unique to YOU!.
The next phase of the process was a take home code challenge. It consisted of 5–7 coding exercises that were pretty similar to those that I had practiced in the 4–6 months prior to submitting my application. The more your practice coding, the more confident you will be to knock out any coding challenges. We were provided up to 3 chances to submit the coding challenge test.
Tip- Also practice your typing skills as well, it will help you code more efficiently which will save you time during these coding challenge.
I prepared for my interview by going over the boot camp’s website with a fine tooth comb. I wanted to ask thought-provoking questions that would make me stand out. The interview style was pretty laid-back, she asked a few deeper questions regarding my goals, time management skills and work ethic. I actually met the Campus Director in person at a Demo Day for graduating students and she ended up giving me a tour of the school.
Due to meeting in person a few days prior to my interview, we were actually able to complete the interview via Skype. The interview lasted about an hour and I was super comfortable as we had established names with faces and even discovered myself, the founders and she all went to the same alma mater. (What are the odds!! #gobulldawgs..#UGA.)
Tip- Try to attend any kind of meet up or demo day for your program, it’s an excellent way to meet the staff and talk to other students.
Tip- Always have an enthusiastic attitude when interacting with staff/alumni. I treated attending the demo day as a way to showcase my social/communication skills before the actual interview with the school. Always be aware that people are watching you and sizing up your personal brand.
I would encourage everyone to seek boot camps that offer some kind of scholarship opportunities to their students. This was an added bonus in my decision making as I found it difficult to find adequate federal funding specifically for boot camps. I applied for a diversity scholarship, shared my story and what I hoped to learn and give back to others from the program. I found out a few days later, I received the scholarship and sent a heartfelt thank you email to the Campus Director and Team.
Tip- Always get in the habit of sending thank you letters. You would be amazed at how that small gesture can work wonders in establishing your personal brand and people taking you seriously.
Within a day after completing the interview, I received an acceptance/welcome letter for the program and next steps for completing pre-work. This pre-work is NO joke! I have countless exercises to complete, youtube lists to watch, several books to read and even daily typing exercises. I am excited and feel blessed to have chosen a program that really put the effort into crafting pre-work assignments to ensure all of their students are well prepared for the fast pace of the program and to ultimately ensure our marketability during the job search.
I am currently in the midst of chipping away these pre-work assignments and thus far, like everything else it has had its ups and downs but I know mastering this pre-work will allow me to be even more confident and fearless come April when my program starts.
Tip- If your school offers, pre-work treat it like a GIFT and do NOT procrastinate. I treat my pre-work like a job and divide my assignments into daily and weekly tasks to ensure I don’t get overwhelmed by all of the information.
Tip- Make sure you have an outlet to handle the stress that may come while you complete the pre-work. For me, I enjoy working out, meditation and trying new vegan recipes. Find an outlet that brings your peace and joy.
I know this was a lengthy post today, but I really wanted to provide as many details as I could for those of you considering going down this path into the STEM field. I have met some of the most amazing and welcoming people in this field and I am super excited about building community and uplifting other underrepresented groups within the Tech Space.
As always you can check out more of my published writing portfolio on
PorschaJohnson.com. Feel free to also click the blog tab to check out my personal blog posts as well.
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